So life has been turned pretty much upside down since my last post. 5 weeks ago our lives, our marriage and our world were shook in the most magical of ways, with the safe delivery of our beautiful daughter. So here we are, just a few short weeks into a whole new life, navigating feeding times and nappy changes, and grappling with our identities to find our new place in the world. Exploring how our precious ‘plus 1’ will fit into our lives, and how our marriage will evolve to embrace her…
A Labour of Love
After weeks of preparation, relaxation, hypnosis and affirmations, I was fully prepared for an extended ‘first time’ labour. With the iPod maxed out with plinky plonky spa music, we spent the last few weeks of pregnancy eagerly awaiting the first twinges of labour. Little did we know that we would have no time for the tranquil, calm build up to established labour that I had so painstakingly prepped myself for. Nope! An unheard of 2 hour labour; a mad 12am dash to the hospital (potentially breaking all kinds of speed limits), and a blur of delivery room drama, and our little pudding had arrived within 10 minutes of climbing onto the hospital bed!
Now I’m not going to delve into the gory details of my birth story, because in a nutshell that was it. The minor details of the day have already become a hazy memory, thanks to the wonder that is gas and air and the mind’s natural phenomenon of helping a new mother to forget.
But what I do recall, above all things, is the emotion that overcame me as I gazed through a hedonistic fog at Andrew cradling our newborn daughter. And he gazed right back at me. An unspoken communication which we both understood:
We did it. Look what we made.
In that moment, the intimacy between us that I had felt dwindling in the last few weeks of pregnancy, came flooding back in waves. We were about to embark on a whole new adventure…. yikes!
Bringing us closer together
Our pregnancy journey had come to an end in a dramatic finale – but our lives as parents were just beginning (and still are really!) Now just over a month in, and still none the wiser of what we are actually doing, Andrew and I have gone through a rollercoaster of emotions. Experiencing the greatest highs and suffering some pretty tough lows. Sometimes all within the same 24 hour period.
In one breath, welcoming our daughter into our lives has brought a newfound sense of solidarity to our marriage. We split the feeds, nappy changes, bottle sterilising, washing (so, so much washing!) fairly evenly. Andrew ran errands and did everything he could to make my post-partum recovery as comfortable as possible… making regular trips to the pharmacy and even bringing home brand new PJs for me to lounge in! (Scoring him some serious hubby points!)
We encourage each other when we’re feeling we’re not good enough, and we fight tooth and nail to make sure we still have regular date nights (even if it is just a reheated freezer meal and a movie) and make the effort to take trips out together.
As we did throughout our pregnancy, we’ve been keen to capture every moment. The magical….
…and the not so glamorous…
Seeing Andrew through the lens, capturing the beauty of his bond with our daughter makes my heart melt, and I swear I love him more and more.
We continue to write in our baby book – even making a date night out of it. This is still a great way to communicate with each other about how we are coping and adjusting to our ever changing world.
Getting this insight into each others’ minds has helped us to understand each other, and realise that this journey affects us in different ways.
So it’s safe to say that our daughter has brought us closer together in a sense, rekindled an intimacy we felt lacking during pregnancy and given us our own little cloud 9 to float around on.
Or at least, for the most part…
Not without it’s hardships
Bringing home a baby has not been without it’s strains. Sure, I knew about the sleep deprivation. I knew about the crying and the unsettling to our singleton routine. But what I hadn’t been prepared for was the conflict and even resentment that certain situations flagged up…
Now whether it’s just my control freak nature, or the fact that I had spent more time with our little pudding since Andrew went back to work, but every so often I would watch him burping her, or dealing with her during one of her famous meltdowns and insist to myself that he was doing it ‘wrong’. I feel incredibly guilty even admitting this, but in true honesty I really had to bite my tongue and resist the urge to take her and soothe her myself.
But of course, he isn’t doing anything wrong at all. He just doesn’t do things the way I would do them. And this, I think, is an important lesson to learn early on. There are going to be times – plenty of times – in her life when we disagree on how to handle things. I only hope that when those times come, we can continue to communicate with each other and come to some kind of agreed decision making.
Now resentment is a pretty strong word, and one which I shamefully use. In those early weeks all emotions are heightened, and when you’ve spent what seems like hours trying to soothe your baby only for your partner to swoop in and quiet her within seconds, it’s a tough task not to feel even the slightest hint of resentment. Or when you’re wide awake frantically trying to get your baby to feed and you here the dull snores erupting from beside you in bed… that’s a tough one to stay neutral about too!
But then in the harsh light of day, when the dust has settled from her latest epic meltdown, I realise that this isn’t all about me. I realise that this is a learning curve for both of us (well, all three of us really), and those small niggles that ail me, will be the same for Andrew. The lesson I’ve learned from this: don’t take it personally. We are both in the same boat.
We’ll get there. We are both still learning. Both still trying to understand her and what she needs. Both still trying to understand and make sense of our new roles as parents – individually and together…
How did those first few weeks of parenthood affect your marriage? Any tips and advice? Share with us on Twitter @LoveinmindBlog