Yin Houping, 34, never imagined marrying her best friend's son and having another child after being paralysed from the waist down in an accident in 2017 and divorcing her husband in August 2020.
Yin first met Huang Junping, 51, her best friend and current mother-in-law, in Yichang, Hubei Province, central China, after the two became neighbours in 2014; at that time, she had just lost her three-year-old son in a drowning accident, Yin told the South China Morning Post.
"If there are only two of us in this life, I am willing to take care of you until we are both old," said Zhao Yingfeng.
Yin became close to Huang whom she found to be understanding of her grief. The two soon became close friends.
When Yin's second child, a girl, was born in 2015, Huang assisted her in caring for the baby.
However, misfortune struck Yin again, and she became paralysed after being hit by a falling tree branch in 2016. She stayed with her mother, while her husband and daughter remained at their home.
After the accident, her husband wanted a divorce which she refused until 2020 as the couple barely saw each other for over three years. Her husband took their daughter to live with him.
Her husband asked for a divorce a year after the accident but she rejected as she wanted to keep her family together. However, in 2020, she eventually gave in after the pair had lived apart for over three years.
After hearing about Yin's divorce, Huang was worried and suggested her son, Zhao Yingfeng, now 30, who had no girlfriend at the time, to go out with Yin.
She believed Yin's outgoing personality and her son's introvertedness would complement each other. The two had never met as neighbours because Zhao had already left home at the age of 18 to work.
Yin contacted Zhao in December 2020, but originally she thought that by telling him about her situation and many problems she would scare him away.
"I'm incontinent, I could stain my sheets and pants at any time, and I might not be able to have children in the future. Are you okay with that?"
To Yin's surprise, instead of being discouraged by her problems, Zhao offered solutions.
"I discussed it with my parents, and we don't mind whether you can have children or not," Zhao said. "And if the sheets and pants get dirty, I'll change and wash them for you, it's not a big deal."
"His mother showed him my videos on Douyin, and he finished watching nearly 200 of them in two days," Yin said. "He told me he started to have feelings for me after that."
After Yin fell from her wheelchair and broke her bones in 2021 she could do little but lie in bed. Zhao took full responsibility for her care, including cutting her nails and washing her hair.
"It was then that I really accepted him as my future husband in my heart," Yin said.
After Yin recovered, the two registered their marriage in October that year and finally became husband and wife, and will be welcoming their first child in two months.
Yin is very excited about the baby, but Zhao is more concerned about her body, she said.
"He once told me: 'If there are only two of us in this life, I am willing to take care of you until we are both old, and I am a few years younger than you, so I can still carry you then'," Yin recalled.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.