Noah is 10 months old today. Its been 10 months of challenges for my marriage. I feel like Dan and I....
When Noah was born, I feel like a grew a new appendage. A new appendage full of raw nerves, worries, overwhelming love, snappiness, momma lionness, and tons of other things. I felt like I was privy now to this alternate universe where you can see other peoples pain and joy, as a parent. Who is this new person I've morphed into (she's kind of crazy)? With parenthood comes a huge wave of newness that changes the landscape of your marriage/relationship immensely. We had the kind of arguments that you see in movies- about parenting, hurt feelings, sleep deprivation, feeling left out, etc. It was nasty. I can see how so many marriages fail. Luckily, Dan and I are so good. We talk and communicate well, and have morphed into a new kind of relationship now. Here are the major challenges we faced.
1) Noah dominating my full attention, 24/7. Forget anything else in those first 3 months. Noah needed me, there I was. Dan sort of faded into the background. If he said something that I felt crossed me or challenged that in anyway, I snapped at him. My mama lion instincts took over full force. I spent hours on the couch breastfeeding. Dan would try to help in any way he could- when I basically felt tied to the couch he would bring me my iPad, water, snacks, etc. It was a lonely time for him I imagine. However, I was busy staring lovingly at my newborn squish. I had no time to understand how he was feeling- nor did I have the patience to hear it- "GET OVER IT" I would tell him angrily. I think I was so focused on making sure that Noah's needs were met that I didn't even try to understand how Dan was feeling. Ay yi yi, it was not pretty. Would I have done it differently? My actions with Noah, no. My trying to control Dan? Yes. My one mistake was trying to get Dan to feel the same things for Noah that I was. He confessed to me yesterday that he found Noah kind of boring as a newborn. Sure, he loved him, felt protective of us as a unit, and wasn't unhappy. But as far as interaction went, uh, Noah wanted one thing. That was me- or rather, my breasts. Now that he has a full understanding of who daddy is, and can interact, play, etc, it feels more meaningful to Dan. I wish that I had just let things be, and let Dan be the dad, and me be the mom. I wanted him to adore Noah like I did. There is a mommas love, and a dads love. They are both important, and very different. I realize that now. I was trying to force a bond that happens in a different way than the mother/baby bond.
2) Parenting decisions- Sleep training & breastfeeding. Those were our biggest arguments. WOWSA. It was UGLY. I wont go into the specifics because those are altogether very private topics and also will open up a whole other can of worms. What I will tell you is that neither one of us saw the others point, and it was like two brick walls backing up to each other. No give. We had tense tense times there. I feel like I learned a whole other side of my husband that I didn't even know existed I have no idea how we finally made it through, but we did, and we are in the clear. I spent many mornings calling my mom or sister in tears, wondering what to do and how to get through this very trying time. What I knew is that I loved my husband, but that he was making me CRAZY! What else is new, right? The love got us through. My best advice is this: Before things get really heated, just take a breather. Don't feel like you have to get to the bottom of the argument RIGHT then. Time can do a ton to soften a situation, and make things seem easier. Also, remember how much you love that person, and that anger will usually dissipate. I was trying to get Dan to be more like me. Why would I want two of me? I chose Dan, and he is who I wanted to parent with. Once I let him have a voice, things got SO much easier.
3) Sleep Deprivation- I look back on some of those mornings that Noah was up all night and I just want to cry. Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. Enough said.
4) Vilifying the daddy- Its SURE easy to get to a space in your head where Daddy is doing this wrong, this wrong and this wrong. Well, guess what. He is half of the parenting unit, and gets to be a dad. I realize, that yes, I am the mom, which gives me a certain kind of veto power that you can or cant put your finger on, but he is the father, and has a right to at least voice his opinion on the decision making, the mistakes, the time, anything it means to be a dad. I had to do some serious self searching to understand that not only does Dan deserve that right, he is totally and completely entitled to it because of what a wonderful father and husband he is. We have a pretty traditional household in the sense that he works, and I keep the house, watch the baby, etc etc. I LOVE staying home, and I am SO lucky to be able to do that. However, when he gets home, he kicks it into high gear to be there for me. I love his dedication and I lost sight of that for a little while. Support your husband, and ask for support from him. He wants to be there for you. Sometimes that might have to be really specific- like- "I need an hour to go take a real shower, cause its been a few days." Or, "I need to go out for a glass (or 4) of wine with my girls. You got this?"
5) Grass is greener over yonder. Maybe it is, maybe it ain't. But you have the cards you have been dealt, and know what, life is what you make of it. Don't spend your time complaining about what "they" have, and what you don't. Focus on your lovely family. Laugh about the crazy shizz that happens CONSTANTLY! Enjoy it. Cherish it. Support each other. Before you know it, your newborn will be 10 months old, and you will be thinking about having another child. Which I'm sure gives way to a whole new set of issues that will be thrown at your marriage. Gah!
This is dedicated to my amazing husband. I am wicked lucky, and I feel like we are stronger every day. You the best.
Any tips or gripes about that first trying year of being parents? I want to hear them!