Married at First Sight couple Jamie Otis and Doug Hehner open up to PEOPLE about marriage, parenthood and their heartbreaking miscarriages
On March 23, 2014, the pair said “I do” within minutes of meeting each other for the first time on the reality television series Married at First Sight. On Saturday, they’re celebrating their five-year anniversary as a married couple.
“People laughed at us when they heard we were doing the show,” Otis tells PEOPLE exclusively in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “Now here we are!”
As the first couple paired up by the show to make it to the five-year mark, Otis, 32, and Hehner, 36, recognize it’s not only a huge milestone from them personally, but also for MAFS.
“I don’t want to sound corny, but we owe our lives to this TV show and the experts that stuck with us,” Hehner says. “It was life-changing for us.”
“We’re very happy with where we are,” he adds. “We’re still growing as a couple.”
Though the pair was married at first sight, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. On their wedding day back in 2014, Otis broke down and cried shortly after exchanging vows with Hehner.
“I had a panic attack and thought that I made the worst decision of my life,” Otis explains. “I instantaneously took one look at him and was like, ‘Nope, it’s not going to work out.’ There was no chemistry, I wasn’t really attracted, there was no butterflies.”
Over time, that all changed thanks to Otis’ willingness to give Hehner a shot.
“If I had been very close-minded, I would have missed out on the love of my life,” Otis says. “I would have missed out on becoming a mom with this amazing man who is a spectacular father and all because of what? Because I was scared we didn’t have chemistry? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
“There’s one quote that always resonates with me: ‘God knew my heart needed you,’” Otis says. “That quote really resonates with me because I was at such a point of pain and despair before I got pregnant with her. When she came into the world, it really healed my soul. I’m beyond thankful for her. She’s the absolute best thing that has happened to us.”
According to her parents, Henley Grace is starting potty-training at just 18 months old — of her own accord.
“We didn’t want to start potty-training at 18 months old, but she’s been asking to go to the potty which is crazy,” Otis says. “So I’m like, ‘Okay, I guess we’re going to start potty training? Like what?'”
Hehner adds: “She knows her way around the kid’s YouTube, which is unbelievable. She’s starting to eat with a fork and a spoon, and she’s just awesome.”
Though Otis and Hehner — who recently launched their podcast Hot Marriage, Cool Parents — are beyond thankful for their little girl, there has been some heartbreak throughout their efforts to expand their family. In the years since they’ve welcomed their daughter, Otis endured a chemical pregnancy (a very early miscarriage) in September 2018 and another miscarriage in January while trying to give Henley a little brother or sister.
- For more on Jamie and Doug, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
“Jamie and I both want to have more kids, and we know now that it’s not a perfect process,” Hehner says. “I know, for me, it’s something that makes me guarded anytime there is a pregnancy announcement. As much as you want to always honor having the miscarriages, you want to be positive for the future. That future involves increasing and growing our family, and we’re doing everything that we can possibly to make that happen.”
Otis says she “genuinely never thought” she “would have such a difficult time” trying to have another successful pregnancy.
“I try my best to think positive, but when you go through it time and time again, it’s hard,” Otis says. “I’m doing everything I can. I literally just had my labs drawn [recently] for a bunch of different tests to see if I have any sort of blood cot disorders. We’re trying to figure out why my body is not able to keep a baby alive inside me.”
“I’m tracking my ovulation as best I can,” she adds. “I really believe knowledge is power and as much as we want to sit back and hope that a baby comes, I’m going to do my absolute best to make sure that we get pregnant. But not even just get pregnant, be able to carry this baby and bring this baby to the world.”
For the couple, there would be no better way to celebrate their anniversary than finding out that they’re pregnant with baby no. 2.
Married at First Sight airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Lifetime.