‘I was afraid to be alone with him. My phone records were being watched meticulously. I wasn’t allowed to work past a certain time. I felt like I brought this on because I couldn’t give him a child.’ Woman survives abuse, marries again and finds happiness

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“My first husband and I met when I was 14 years old. It was in one of those old AOL chat rooms. He was a few years older than me and lived around 3 hours away at the time. When he graduated high school he moved to be closer to me, even though I was still only 16 years old. My parents had me young, and I knew I wanted to go to college and get married before having a child, so it was around this time that I visited my family doctor to figure out my options for birth control. After the intake exam, I remember being asked the date of my last period, but I didn’t know – it had been months since my last one. After a few tests it was determined I had PCOS and having children would be very difficult. At the time, not much information was given to me, just that infertility would be in my future. Life carried on, I put that information in the back of my mind and moved on. Meanwhile, my boyfriend was a dream come true. He had moved across the state to be with me and we had our future all planned out. The day after I graduated high school, I moved in with him and shortly after, we became engaged. We were both in college and working full time, living the dream of young adults!

Woman who was in abusive relationship stands smiling beside wooden post with sign on it
Courtesy of Julie Zinser

We moved into a bigger apartment after a year of marriage and it had a second bedroom. Even though we both had been told I wouldn’t be able to have children, we hoped and dreamed to have a child. I can still remember the names we picked out, all of them started with a J, just like ours. I continued to go to school and work, while he finished his degree and stayed working full time. I was exhausted daily, my job was managing a retail store and some nights I would fall asleep after we had closed while finishing paperwork. Things started to change quickly in our relationship. It seemed like the more I worked and tried to do better for us, the more I was in trouble. I wasn’t allowed to work past a certain time, I wasn’t allowed to study on campus, and I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere without him. My only friends were his friends. I was constantly reminded of how miserable he was because he moved away from his family to be with me. I thought that maybe if I could give him a baby, he would be happy. I managed to make a few friends in college who were living a life that was foreign to me. I had no idea a relationship didn’t involve begging to stay an hour over after my class to work in study groups. I had no idea that this control was abuse. My phone records were being watched meticulously, and every few days I was questioned about who I was talking to and why. The final straw came on my 21st birthday. We had a few of his friends over and a couple friends of mine over to celebrate. I ended up going to bed around midnight because I had to work early in the morning. My best friend told me the next day that my husband had tried to sleep with her while he was drunk. I was in a daze for months. My grades in school began dropping and I never left the house.

Woman who was in abusive relationship smiles at restaurant table wearing pink happy birthday headband
Courtesy of Julie Zinser

A few months after this incident I can remember sitting in my car, late at night, telling my husband I wanted a divorce. We were broke, I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it on my own, and he reminded me often that I wouldn’t be able to pay bills without him. We made the decision to wait a couple months until our lease was up and we would both move to our own apartments, somewhere much cheaper. I packed my things, and then his things as well, since he refused to acknowledge this was happening. One night while I was packing the kitchen, he became so upset that he threw a glass baking dish at my head. Thankfully it missed, but I was scared enough to begin the divorce paperwork the next day. We met a notary in my work parking lot to sign the paperwork because I was afraid to be alone with him. I felt like I had brought all of this on because he wasn’t happy that I couldn’t give him a child.

Right around this time a coworker of mine asked me to text a friend of his and play a prank on him. I can’t even remember what this joke was, but I remember laughing for the first time in months. I continued to text this friend and finally we agreed to meet. Our first date was at his house, we ordered pizza, played board games, and watched a movie. Looking back now, I see how dangerous it could have been to meet someone in a private setting instead of public, but it goes to show you how sheltered I had become. Early on, I learned that Michael was also divorced, and had two children from this relationship. I really felt excited, this took so much pressure off me to give him children, I felt myself relax and enjoy dating him. We quickly fell in love and the kids were an important part of our life, they even came along when he asked me to marry him.

Woman smiles as she sits beside boyfriend on ground next to Christmas tree and presents
Courtesy of Julie Zinser

I was the happiest I had ever been. My new husband was kind, loving, and we had our own little family. I never gave up on the dream of having my own child, and we agreed to start fertility treatment after only a few months of marriage. This was such a long process of tests and trying new medications, and eventually we were referred to a specialist. At the very first appointment the specialist did more tests and more blood work to try and come up with a plan for us to get pregnant. I found out that day that I was actually pregnant, but my numbers were so low they knew I would be miscarrying, and unfortunately they were correct. While this was heart breaking and sad, I remember being in awe of the fact I could really get pregnant. I was under the impression this would never happen for me, this brought us so much hope! We began an aggressive treatment of shots each night to help my eggs mature, ultrasounds multiple times a week, and more shots to induce ovulation. I’ve never been so emotional in my life, but we did this over and over to make our dream come true. I can remember seeing the first pregnancy test come out as positive and just crying into my husband’s arms! We were thrilled!

Pregnant woman smiles holding her stomach while her husband and his two kids kiss her stomach
Kimberly Hannah/Farm Truck Photography & Design

My pregnancy went fairly smoothly, I was truly glowing. I had never felt so beautiful in my life. I didn’t mind the morning sickness or the sleepless nights because I was just so happy to become a mom! We chose not to find out the gender of our baby and while this made everyone else around anxious, we were thrilled to have this huge surprise. At 36 weeks we discovered the baby was breech, and went in for an ultrasound to try and turn him or her. During the ultrasound they found I had almost no fluid left, making the procedure impossible. We were told we had 3 hours to go home and get back to hospital, we were having our baby that night! I had never been so scared. I was being prepped for my C-section, shaking, and all alone while my husband waited outside to be ushered in. I closed my eyes and just thought how this was all worth it and I would meet my baby any minute. The surgery began and we were both nervous and shaking, holding each other’s hands. I remember lots of noise and talking, my doctor called my husband’s name and he was crying. He couldn’t even talk. He whispered, ‘It’s a girl,’ in my ear and we both were weeping. She was so beautiful, the most perfect baby I had ever seen. The best and most important moment of my life was the first glimpse I caught of her little red body laying in the warmer next to my husband.

Husband and wife smile looking into each others eye while husband holds newborn baby girl
Kimberly Hannah/Farm Truck Photography & Design

Our daughter is now 3 years old and my life has come full circle. I am married to the most giving man I have ever met, and we have a miracle child together. She is the light of everyone’s life, including her older brother and sister. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would have a loving husband AND a beautiful family. Our life isn’t perfect, we have had traumatic miscarriages, arguments, and the ups and downs of life, but we are happier than we could have ever imagined. Our daughter knows her story and knows she has siblings in heaven looking down on her. Her bright and bubbly personality fills up the empty space in my heart from all of my other children in heaven.

Little girl with pink glasses stands in parking lot with silly face
Courtesy of Julie Zinser

I can honestly look back and be thankful for my journey of infertility because without it I would have had a child whose father was abusive, and I most likely would have stayed in that unhappy marriage. I look back on the early days of my first marriage and I am so thankful for the unconditional love and support I now receive from my husband Michael. Looking back, I can remember all of the nights I laid awake crying and praying to God for a child. Now I lay awake thanking God for my Miracle child who was born in the right place and at the right time. My time was not God’s time, but I never gave up hope.

By sharing my story, I hope some other young woman is able to realize she is worth more then what any controlling man tells her. Doctors are not always correct, miracles are made every single day, and God will always provide. I never take for granted the miracle that is our daughter. We often sneak into her room together late at night and look at her with wonder and awe. Not a day goes by we don’t thank God for how perfect our lives turned out to be.

I keep the very first ultrasound picture of her heartbeat in my car so I can look at it every single day and be reminded to trust that everything happens at its own time, and it will be better than I could have ever imagined.”

Ultrasound picture of baby woman had after several miscarriages
Courtesy of Julie Zinser

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Julie Zinser of Greenwood, Indiana. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more amazing stories of surviving abuse here:

‘My new wife is younger and we have a daughter.’ He smashed photos of my sons. I am worth more.’: Woman escapes abuse, alcoholism, creates her own recovery program to give back, ‘I survived for a reason’

‘I have very little memory of what happened next. I woke up to his friend’s girlfriend dragging me across the garden. She was screaming, it was such a terrifying scream. But why? Whatever she had seen had terrified her.’: Woman escapes abuser to finally marry ‘amazing man’

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