Celebrating 15 Years of Marriage, in Sickness and in Health

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by Jackie Babiarz |

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When you’re dating someone, you can guess how they will be as a husband or wife. I knew my husband, Billy, was going to love me for better or worse, in sickness and in health. You don’t, however, know what your partner will be like as a mother or father.

When I was pregnant with our firstborn, Cammy, I imagined Billy being home from work at a reasonable hour to spend time with our children. I imagined him teaching them sports, helping them with homework, and inevitably embarrassing them at a certain age.

After Cammy was born, Billy was totally hands on, unafraid of anything that might shake new parents. While Cammy hit her first few milestones on time, she stopped progressing around 9 months old and then started to regress. I knew in my gut something was neurologically wrong. Whether Billy was in denial or just didn’t know how a child should progress, he wasn’t concerned. As I imagine most people do, he just took the doctor’s word that Cammy was a little delayed and would catch up.

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As months went by and Cammy was still not progressing while her cousins within six weeks of her age were developing rapidly, Billy began to wrap his head around the idea that something was off. After countless appointments, therapists, and specialists, a physiatrist finally suspected that Cammy had Rett syndrome. When she described it, I was still holding out hope that she was wrong. Billy, on the other hand, knew it fit. It was the only thing that made sense.

I was eight months pregnant when Cammy was officially diagnosed with Rett syndrome. I slipped into a depression for several months. With a newborn, a 2-year-old with profound special needs, and a wife who could only get out of bed to care for the kids, this was the darkest time in our lives. The vows of for better or worse, in sickness and in health were taken to a level we never fathomed. This was more than he or I could ever have imagined as husband and wife and as parents.

But Billy held our family together until I was strong again.

Another couple with a special-needs child put it perfectly when describing how the trauma of Rett syndrome affected their marriage: While all marriages have cracks in them, Rett syndrome magnifies those cracks. You learn quickly if you’re strong enough to make it. While this is not how we foresaw our lives, there is no one I’d rather be on this journey with.

Happy 15th anniversary, dear. I love you.

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Jackie and Billy Babiarz on July 7, 2007, the day of their marriage. (Courtesy of Jackie Babiarz)

Note: Rett Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Rett Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Rett syndrome.


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