I’ve talked about how having a baby has changed me and made me view life differently. I honestly can’t imagine my life without Jackson and I have a hard time remembering it before him (I vaguely remember this elusive thing called sleep?). But what I’ve never talked, and few people do, is how having a child changes a marriage.
Bry and I are extremely outgoing people. We’re constantly active, enjoy traveling and have spontaneity running through our veins. Before Jackson we were known to get the hiking itch, have our stuff thrown in the car within an hour and be on our way. We’ve driven 13 hours to climb the highest peak in Texas (Guadalupe Mountain) then went across the border to tour Carlsbad Cavern in New Mexico and drive the 13 hours back home without sleep just to be able to order Chinese food and sleep in our own bed. We’ve scaled Enchanted Rock, wandered around Lost Maples and gone mountain biking in the rain (unknowingly 4 weeks pregnant). We were always up for adventure. It was who we were.
Of course we had our disagreements and fights, just like every other couple. But the majority of the time we were happy and carefree with very little worry or responsibility. We’d just graduated from college, owned my car outright and didn’t have many bills aside from basic living expenses.
Then we found out we were expecting and life changed a bit. Obviously we couldn’t go days without sleep or take off at the drop of a hat anymore. Our responsibilities extended further than just the two of us. We had another little life in our hands (and belly) that came before everything else.
People often talk about how much pregnancy brings people together. They talk about how glowing a mother to be is. They discuss how close it brings two people together and connects them with life, for life. And that’s very true. Creating a child with someone connects you to them forever and it bonds you in a way nothing else can (at least in my experience). But that glowing mother to be also comes riddled with raging hormones. For me, I was overly emotional and often irrationally and easily upset. Something as simple as Bry forgetting to grab our toiletry bag could have me hot with anger and in the next second bawling wondering how I could depend on someone so forgetful with my child’s life. Like I said, I was irrational. I didn’t truly believe Bry would be a bad parent or ever question his abilities as a dad to be. I was simply growing a human inside me and with it came all sorts of thoughts and emotions that were beyond my control. As you can imagine it was a very trying period.
Those 9 months tested Bryan and I in ways we never would have imagined. They made us face questions and make decisions that were difficult. When you marry someone, you learn how to become a unit of two but when you bring a child into the equation you must learn how to direct your attention onto the smallest and newest member of your family. You have different ideas and opinions on things like how you should save for your child’s future, which carseat to buy, how many diapers you need before the baby arrives, which pediatrician will be best, etc. Things you never knew you’d ever have to think about suddenly seem like the most important things in the world. It’s part of becoming a parent, especially a first-time one.
Pregnancy tested us and there were times that we were at our lowest points as a couple. I think one of the biggest reasons pregnancy can sometimes cause a separation between two people is that your focus shifts. It goes from entirely being on one another to being entirely focused on this little person. While that is the most important thing in the world, it’s also important to realize that you must still pour some of your energy and your focus into your relationship with your partner. It took us about 6 months to realize that what we needed was a little less time freaking out about the unknown and trying to control the future and a little more time basking in the company of one another. After all, very soon date nights would be a distant memory and romance would take a backseat to diapers and swaddling.
Soon we were making time for us again. Not focusing just on the baby and what we had to do to prepare. We were enjoying being a couple, enjoying romantic date nights out and lazy days in. When we made more time for us, we became more of who we used to be. We became less stressed and happier.
Going through labor was the most incredible experience of my life. I couldn’t imagine having gone through it with anyone else. Bryan was the most supportive partner a girl could ever ask for and as much as we thought pregnancy had brought us closer together, actually having Jackson in our arms solidified our bond. Forever. When I look at my husband the love I have for him is so different from the love I shared with him before Jackson. It’s deeper. It’s lasting. It’s eternal. We share the greatest thing in the world together: a family of our own.
Embarking on parenthood also threw obstacles at us. We had to learn how to work together as a team to take care of our son the best. We had to figure out dirty diapers, baby baths, burping, feeding, naps and nights. When you’re sleep deprived and there’s a baby screaming endlessly, it’s hard to even think. You just wish there was an easy button to figure out what the baby wants and the quickest way to give it to him. But there isn’t.
Luckily, Bry and I entered this phase fairly seamlessly. Bry had a week off of work after Jax was born which was great. I fed Jax around the clock and Bry took care of the house. Jax refused to be put down at this point and was nursing almost nonstop. We’d split diaper duty. As Jax aged and Bry went back to work I’d take care of Jack solely during the day and when Bry came home we’d split diaper duty. At night I’d nurse and feed Jax and Bry would do all the diapers (maybe 1-3 a night). Then Bry switched jobs and began working at 6am (and getting up at 4:15am). So since the new year I’ve taken over Jax duty. During the week I pretty much do 100% Jackson care (happily! It’s my job after all and I am so blessed to be able to be a SAHM). I do all nighttime feeding and changing as well since Bry has to be up so early (before he was working evenings). On his days off we split baby duty. I still end up doing about 90% of the diapers and feedings and make sure Bry gets the extra play time with the little man since their time together is so limited. It works for us!
Aside from parenthood Bry and I are slowly getting back into us time. We have yet to take a real date since baby arrived but we do have date nights once a week. He’s just tagged along thus far (we plan to embark on our first solo date on Valentine’s Day!). We have had a few outings sans Jax and plan to continue doing that at least every other week. We’ve gone on a few runs while Grammy babysat and went to the gym twice. Maybe not very romantic but it’s been fun and a nice time to connect doing something we love.
Kids change people and they change marriages. Sometimes it’s easy to resent one another, especially in the sleep deprivation stage, but remember to make time for each other and time to still enjoy one on one time and it really does make the entire experience even more amazing. Bry and I may not still be able to take spontaneous trips but the trips we take now mean even more to us because we get to share them with our son and the time we get to spend together means even more to us because we no longer take it for granted. It hasn’t always been an easy transition but it’s been so worth it. Seeing my husband as a father makes me love him even more and every day I see him with Jackson I fall for him a little more.