Marriage After Baby: Finding Your New Normal
Relationships are hard. Marriage is hard. Babies are hard. Any combination there of is incredibly difficult, sometimes feeling darn near impossible. When I was pregnant, I had this perfect mental image of what life would be like when we got home from the hospital. We would come home with our baby boy and he would be all snuggly and wonderful and the three of us would cuddle all day and be all cozy and comfy in our little home. I honestly have no idea what kind of la-la-land my head was in, but that is really what I thought. And of course, when we got home, we were cozy and comfy and cuddly for a day or two, but very quickly a lot of different realities set in. You have to be quiet around babies (aka walk on eggshells so they don’t wake up), you are sleep deprived, and as a new mama your entire body feels like it was ran over by a truck trying to heal from the trauma of birth. All of these things are made worse by crazy postpartum hormones that wreak havoc on the few mental faculties you have left.
Bless my husband for taking care of me through it all, because I’m pretty sure I went slightly insane. (If you are a new mama, know that this is completely normal and will end! Make sure to seek medical help, if necessary!) I cried and cried out of nowhere with very little capability to express what I was feeling. I would try, but not much came out except for more tears. My biggest issue for several days in the beginning was the transition from a family of two to a family of three. It was hard to lose my alone time with my husband, the intimacy, the attention. Mind you – we had been together for eight and a half years before our tiny baby came along. Eight and a half years of his undivided attention had come to a very abrupt end. Does that mean that I was jealous of my newborn son? Not at all. I was elated to see my husband love on him and take care of him, I just felt alone at the same time – alone and in a whirlwind of new roles, confused about what to do or where we would go from there. I knew I wanted my son to be showered in love from my husband, I just didn’t know I would feel like I was losing some at the same time.
In the coming days, we realized that we had to work to make time for us. I say work – and that is exactly what I mean. As new parents, you absolutely have to carve out the time for yourselves or there won’t be any. It will vanish into that place that all time goes and you have no idea where it went. Poof! Luckily, it is possible if you make it happen. When Chunker was very small, we would steal a few moments on the couch to snuggle, kiss, hug, or just talk about something other than a dirty diaper! It might not seem like much, but I craved the oneness I had once had with my husband. Those few moments together of being a wife and partner, rather than a mom, saved my entire day, therefore making me a better mom. As Chunker got older, we were able to carve away a few more moments and make supper together again or lay in bed and talk for a while when he was asleep (I promise, you will figure out how to make that happen without holding your baby constantly). Eventually, I even felt ready to let a few of our family members watch him so that we could have a date night out! Before we knew it, we had our own new kind of routine that emphasized our marriage as much as our child, so that we didn’t become solely absorbed into parenthood and lose what we mean to one another.
I learned that it is not selfish to need those moments together. You are human and you need time with your partner. After all, that why you married that person! You both need time to be the “old you”. Time to act silly, love each other, and share your life. Having a baby does not mean that part of your life stops, it just means that you have to work harder for it. You have to love the person with everything inside you – and they have to love you just as fiercely – to find your way to a new normal for your ENTIRE family. Every second, every moment, every day is work. It’s very hard work and is easily pushed to the way side with this new baby that needs all of your attention. It is doable, though, and I would even say a necessity. We struggle every single day to make find time for us, and some days we fail, but we keep working because we are worth it.