June 8, 2010

Readers' Choice: Marriage Before and After Baby

I thought long and hard about this post before I sat down to write. Because talking about marriage before and after a baby isn't as simple as sharing about our latest diaper explosion or experiences with solid foods. The reality of nurturing a marriage after a baby has a whole lot more to do with raw emotions brought about by sleep deprivation, who rinsed the last stack of cloth diapers, and quick kisses stolen between nap times than it does about some idyllic, glass slipper fantasy.

Many of you already know that the hubs and I got married in January 2009 and we kicked off our marriage with a honeymoon up the Gunflint Trail. For those of you who aren't familiar with Minnesota, that means that we could see the Canada from our cabin. And the temperatures were somewhere in the neighborhood of -20 degrees Fahrenheit. YES, I WORE LONG UNDERWEAR ON MY HONEYMOON.

We settled into our lives as newlyweds, doing all of the things that newlyweds do. And it was great, the American dream minus the 2.5 children.

Don't get me wrong, we knew we wanted kids and because of this, we weren't as careful with prevention as we could have been. Our thoughts on getting pregnant? If it was meant to be for our family, then it would happen.

Ever heard of Fertile Myrtle?

As you may have surmised by the title of this blog, we got pregnant and had ourselves a wonderful little boy. Looking back, neither of us would change a thing. We love being parents, but it's certainly not without challenges.

They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I say, try throwing pregnancy into the mix. It's like shooting heroin into a monkey and locking him in a room with your grandmother's fine china. Marriage is hard enough without forcing your new husband to listen to you list off all the foods you want to eat at 1am as he's trying to sleep. Or begging him to get you a french onion bagel from Brueggers at 9:57 at night.

Food was important during my pregnancy.

Once the babe arrived, there was a whole new set of challenges. How do you eat dinner without losing your mind to a crying baby? How do you juggle housework, sleep, a baby, and marriage without feeling resentment toward your spouse? And how do you deal with the fact that sex just isn't the same after pushing a child the size of a small bowling ball out of your ho-ha?

We're not experts or marriage gurus, but we're starting to make our way through these challenges. The hubs and I have learned to entertain the babe with one hand while shoveling food into our mouths with the other. We have learned to employ that God-sent piece of equipment, the baby bouncer. And we do occasionally eat in shifts.

We've learned that housework doesn't always have to be done. If you've been over to my house and seen my kitchen, you'll understand that I have a supernatural tolerance for dirty dishes and unopened stacks of mail. Let's face it, until I grow another 50-inch belly, my nesting days are over.

Together, the hubs and I have learned that we need to communicate constantly to avoid resentment. After long days of work and taking care of a teething infant, we could both use a break. But taking our exhaustion out on each other is about as helpful as beating ourselves over the head with a two by four; it only makes things worse.

We've learned to be patient with sex. Birthing a 9lb 14oz baby vaginally doesn't occur without some sort of damage and let's just say I did not come through THAT experience unscathed. Because the hubs is a great guy who would go to the ends of the earth and back to avoid hurting me, he was very patient while things healed. And even when I dug my seductive attitude out of the back of my closet and gave him the green light, he was very careful. But things were different, THANK YOU EPISIOTOMY AND 2ND DEGREE TEAR. Despite buying stock in KY and the most patient husband a gal could ask for, it took MONTHS before things got back to normal.

So what's the secret to staying in love and sticking it out? For us, practice, patience, and God. We do our best to make each other feel special whether it's a backrub, a kiss, or washing out that stack of poopy diapers. We don't get it right all the time, but we're committed to each other and to our marriage. When we fail, we don't throw in the towel and start dialing attorneys. We talk. We pray. And we hope that the baby doesn't wake up while we're snuggling.

Can you have the glass slipper fantasy along with a baby? Sometimes. When you're up for a 3am feeding and you're so tired that you can't remember your own name, you probably won't be feeling like Cinderella. But when you watch your husband hold your son and make him giggle, don't be surprised if you look down to see a pair of shiny, glass slippers.

8 comments:

  1. What an AWESOME post!!! I totally agree!!!

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  2. What a nice post! I am a bit worried about that. Right now my marriage is just about perfect and we are TCC - I just want to keep my beautiful marriage and add a babe - is it possible?

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  3. This post brought tears to my eyes...my husband an I are going through this exact stage of our lives right now, so it really spoke to me! Thanks for sharing! :-)

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  4. I'm glad other people liked the post- I think it really helped me take a step back and appreciate what we have as I started to think about what I wanted to write.

    And to Not There Yet, it is possible to keep a beautiful marriage and add a baby. It will take work and some of the dynamics of your marriage will change, but the end product can be just as amazing!

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  5. I'm only two months ahead of you, and could totally relate to your post:) Loved it! Thanks!

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  6. I loved your last paragraph and think you described it BEAUTIFULLY!

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  7. You are 100% right on. My fiance and I had a wonderful relationship pre-baby. We never fought, we absolutely adored each other. Then came baby, which I thought would bring us closer. It only tore us apart. I have a lot of resentment built up towards him. But I'm slowly unloading it and trying to put myself in his shoes. And everyday I pick my battles. Fighting over him not wanting to feed the baby just isn't worth it!

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  8. Thanks so much for this post, Alyssa! I can totally relate right now. Baby is now 7 weeks old, and we have yet to do the "deed", because I am so scared of how much it is going to hurt. Bless my poor husband and his ability to wait for when I am ready. Hah!

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