Baby and Marriage
My last few posts have focused on my favourite stories about my relationship with my husband; however, our relationship hasn’t always been easy. Of course, marriage is never easy—it requires constant effort and commitment. Add a baby to the mix and it’s infinitely more challenging (for us it was, anyway).
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Cakes’ birth was really traumatic and Sean had to take on so much responsibility. For the first few days he did all of the diaper changing and feeding; he exclusively finger-fed Cakes (a very time consuming process) because we were still hoping to breastfeed and the nurses who were “helping” us had us terrified of nipple confusion; he was worried sick about me. Needless to say, childbirth was as exhausting and stressful for him as it was for me.
We made it through the first nightmarish week, but parenthood continued to be a struggle. She was up every two hours during the night; she was colicky and cried every evening; I was spending hours each day pumping breast milk; the construction of our new home was delayed and we were trapped in our one-bedroom apartment; it was a scorching hot summer, so we could rarely leave our air-conditioned prison.
Parenthood was not what we had expected. Of course, it is wonderful--it was also devastatingly hard at first: hard on both of us and hard on our marriage.
After the first few months, things did get better: we slept more; she was no longer colicky; I was healthy again. There were still challenges though. The division of labour became an issue. Sometimes one or both of us would resent the other, thinking we doing more of the work. We would alternate night feedings, but he could not help me pump milk every three hours. He took on all of the cooking and grocery shopping, on top of his job. I resented doing most of the housework.
The additional work a new baby brings to the home, brings another big adjustment—lack of time; specifically, lack of alone time. When the baby slept, I would greedily hoard those precious hours to read, or watch tv. Spending time with my husband became the last priority in a busy day. I also had trouble adapting to being at home. I really missed my friends at work and envied him for having so much time away from us to go to a job he loves.
Lack of physical intimacy was another a stress on our marriage brought about by baby. I wouldn’t even consider sex for months after the birth and didn’t really enjoy it for a full year. For once in my life my breasts were magnificent—but I couldn’t stand for them to be touched. I felt fat, unattractive, and tired all of the time. He couldn’t help but take my rejection at least a little bit personally.
On the positive side, having a child together taught us a lot about each other. I have a new regard for his patience and dedication. He saw in me, a strength he didn’t know existed. In our baby’s nurturance, we found a common goal that superseded everything else and united us like nothing else could. We learned what was truly important to us and how to work as a partnership.
Our daughter is 15-months old now and our marriage is stronger for having weathered the stormy past year. After the initial turmoil, life has finally improved in many ways. We have time: time to pursue our own interests, time alone, time with friends, time for each-other, and time as a family. We have love: physical love, emotional love, committed love, crazily intense love for our daughter. We have confidence and commitment: we’ve survived this—we can handle anything, can’t we?
But can we handle a second baby? I’m sure we could. Do we want to? The short answer? Nope. Not yet at least.
Labels: on motherhood