But it didn’t matter that they were of different races and religions, or that he was a little person and she was of average height. “Every time he walks into a room, I’m happy to see him.”
For nearly four years before they wed, Nikki and Dan were preoccupied by his unpredictable seizures, which caused cognitive issues that threatened his job as a medical researcher. His treatment had to be adjusted.
A year after they were married, life seemed to calm down. Dan’s health improved, and his career went back on the upswing. Their newfound stability “let us get back into getting to know each other,” Nikki says, and with that, “came some learning curves and adjustment.”
In some ways, she thinks, crises such as Dan’s health are easier to deal with than the mundane annoyances of everyday life. “There’s no checking things off in marriage — okay, we solved this, we can move on,” she says. “Things reoccur and you have to deal with them and not make a mountain out of a molehill. It makes me more patient.”
Dan, now 42, wasn’t sure he wanted children, but after getting to know Nikki’s niece, he came around to the idea of fatherhood. Still, the D.C. couple had seen friends struggle with fertility and weren’t sure how easy it would be to conceive. After several rounds of genetic counseling, then decided to go for it.
In the fall, after a year of trying, Nikki, 39, found out she was pregnant. Their baby boy is due May 12. “I was prepared to have problems, but I’ve had a pretty smooth pregnancy,” she says. “I feel lucky.”
Until the day before they left, Lori Powell didn’t know where she and Dan were going on their honeymoon. Dan surprised her with a five-week trek around Europe — London, Paris, Rome, Greece and Turkey.
“It was definitely a trip of a lifetime,” she says. “We just never thought it would be the trip of a lifetime.”
When Lori met Dan through EHarmony, dating a guy in a wheelchair hadn’t been in her “realm of possibilities.” But she fell in love with his smarts and wit and enthusiasm for life. It didn’t matter that Dan, lead nanotechnologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, had been paralyzed in a flag football game in high school.
After a year and a half of dating, they married in August 2009. They were still settling into married life two years later, when Dan went to an emergency room to check out a pain in his side. Doctors found pneumonia. Dan’s body would have a much harder time than most fighting off the illness, so he was hospitalized.