Cary and I have always had a really deep love for one another. I knew after our first date he was the one. I called my girlfriend the morning after and said “that’s the man I’m going to marry.” He made me believe in love at first sight. We have been through some really rough times; a deployment, me living in Virginia and him in Texas, my drunken alter ego and some things too painful to talk about but through it all I don’t think that either of us has ever doubted our love for one another.
Don’t get me wrong there are days I know he doesn’t like me and days I want to poke his eyeballs out but we always come back to our deep-rooted love. Because of this, when we found out we were having a baby I knew we would be okay; maybe not right away, but we would always be okay.
Here we are 9.5 months after our sweet girl and I feel like we are just getting back to “us.” That little baby changed a lot, for both of us. The first two months were really hard for me; learning to be a parent is so difficult but then you add in breastfeeding and I almost thought I couldn’t do it. Like I was failing both my baby and Cary. He went back to work after the first week and would typically golf once a week. He obviously made sure it was okay, which it was, I could survive but it doesn’t mean resentment wouldn’t build up. I didn’t resent the fact that he was out golfing or doing fun things; it wasn’t the actual action, it was that he COULD do those things. I felt like ‘here I am recovering, learning and physically can’t leave her for more than a few hours because of breastfeeding’ so literally I couldn’t do the same things he could.
I resented the fact that he could sleep all night while I had to get up every 2 hours to pump to keep my supply up since Teagan was sleeping through the night fairly early on. As the months have gone on I believe that finding time to do things alone for myself whether it be getting my hair done or visiting friends is especially important to our relationship just as his alone time is.
I would feel guilty on maternity leave if he came home and the house wasn’t clean. I remember one time he simply said, ‘none of that matters, your only job is to take care of our baby, I can handle everything else.’ Now, Cary is not very good at picking up after himself daily, let alone two more people but just the fact that he extended me some grace was enough for me to settle and just know he loved me and supported me.
Our intimacy level has obviously changed just due to exhaustion and just the after baby hormones. He has never once made me feel like a jerk for it. Up until recently, body image was a huge issue for me. While I got back to pre-pregnancy weight around month 4, I realized that during pregnancy I lost what little muscle mass I had and everything just felt squishy so I really never wanted to be touched.
Every time I would try to run or do any high intensity work out I would end up with a clogged milk duct and if you’ve ever had one you know how it’s not worth risking again. So basically it’s taken me a long time to get back here and let’s be serious…I’m still far from being in a bikini. If we have another baby, I am really going to try to maintain my muscle and exercise during pregnancy so it doesn’t take me 9 months to feel sexy again.
For me, I felt like the biggest challenge in the months after baby was feeling distant from one another. My attention has shifted from us to her and suddenly it felt as though we had nothing in common.
His focus shifted to excelling at work so I could eventually stay home with Teagan. Which I am now and I could never fully express to him how grateful I am. It really just felt like he didn’t understand my struggles or acknowledge them. My biggest lessons learned for us is to be present. Once Teagan goes to bed, I want to relax and catch up on things but just small things like being present in conversations with him is really imperative for both of us. And when I say present I don’t mean having a “conversation” while one person is on their phone and the other is on their computer. Put the devices down; when we do those are the conversations I cherish the most.
Another really important thing is acknowledgment and affirmation. It’s really not that hard in general to say “thank you for what you do.”
My list of how things changed for us after having a baby could go on and on but then no one would actually read this. The main take away: once you are parents, your marriage matters more, not less.