I'm usually pretty open with our personal lives, and I've received a few questions about how life is different as a married couple now that Ada has come along. It isn't that I've been avoiding the topic. It isn't that things are bad between us. They just are what they are . . . and there isn't a ton to write right now.
Well. You know me. There's always stuff to write!
When I took my maternity leave in early November, we planned to see a few movies and go on a few last dates before everything would change. Then we were (pleasantly) surprised by Ada's arrival -- two weeks early. Thankfully we had taken a Babymoon and savored other dates during my pregnancy.
When she was fresh out of the oven, Stephen and I went into what everyone told us would be "survival mode" -- I fed the baby, Stephen changed and comforted her, we slept and ate in shifts. We spent time together as a family, but rarely felt like a married couple. We were soldiers at war together, really. Ada's a wonderful daughter, but she has been somewhat cranky from the beginning. Not necessarily more than other newborns . . . but I'd say she's intense.
Couple? Schmuple! There was no time to care. The focus was on Ada and staying sane with little sleep and tons more responsibilities/worries.
Of course, as time went on we started to get the hang of things. At least a bit. The term "quality time" has taken on a wildly different definition now that Ada's around. Going out on a "date" could mean anything from going out for a proper dinner and, if we're lucky, movie . . . to something more realistic, like going grocery shopping together sans-baby. It's incredible how fun walking down the aisles at the store can be when you're free from responsibility for a blissful hour or so.
Any other parents out there feel absolutely exhausted when you finally get away from your little one? The first movie we went to, I sunk down in my chair and almost immediately fell asleep! So much for romance.
We try our best to treat any time we get alone as couple time. We try. But recently when my parents watched Ada for a few hours, we spent almost the entire time talking about her and even decided to drop by Toys 'R Us to get her a pool and some other summer stuff, eventually heading home early to spend time with her.
Do I think this is pathetic? Yes. A little. We swore up and down we'd never be those parents. But quality time now isn't always just about the two of us. We see a whole new dimension of our coupledom and Ada's such a focus, of COURSE we end up talking about her.
One of the strangest ways our relationship has changed is in way of what we now consider romantic or being kind to one another. It used to be dinners and presents. Kisses and hugs. Sure, those things aren't entirely absent from our new relationship. But I much more appreciate when Stephen takes a night-time crank shift (as Ada inevitably wakes at 3AM and screams for 45 minutes while we attempt to drop her feeding) than get a dozen roses any day.
For him? He thanked me up and down for putting Ada to sleep, giving him the opportunity to head out with the runners club tonight on an evening group run. Grand gestures are much less grand these days. Our needs and desires are basic . . . and though we do care very much for one another, I think the best way we can show our love is by making sure we each get time to do the things we want to do.
Balance is tough stuff.
As much as things are great, when you have two exhausted people under one roof dealing with new challenges day in and day out, there's bound to be some heat. Not the sexy kind either. More like small, but near-daily spats and the
But did I mention we are tired? Oh, I did? RIGHT.
I don't consider conflict a failure or a sign that our marriage is going to crash and burn. Through conflict we find out more about ourselves and one another. We actually discover new ways to work together. We've gotten stronger with each new issue or stressful situation simply because we've had to grow and learn throughout the process.
I guess this isn't exactly what you guys were looking for. Our lives aren't terribly romantic right now. I can't sit here and type out how a baby has magically made our love for each other more intense and meaningful. There's a lot of that deep stuff going on right now, too -- but we're still too tired to think about it in a coherent way.
What can I say is this: Having a baby hasn't been the death of our marriage. Far from it. We are seeing one another in a new light. What Stephen is like as a dad. What I'm like as a mom. This first year is going to be a lot of adjustment. A lot of catching up. A lot of firsts and new things.
Above all, I think the best we are doing for one another right now is respecting our individual needs and finding new value in our relationship as a threesome -- a family.
Can you relate to things not being all champagne and roses? Or do you have a completely different experience with your partner/relationship post-baby? Just leave a comment or email us at writingchapterthree [at] gmail [dot] com.
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