One of the things that scared me the most towards the end of my pregnancy wasn’t the thought of labor or even the fear of bringing a newborn baby home. (I mean, don’t get me wrong, both filled me with a healthy dose of fear on occasion). 😉 But for me, the ultimate fear (one that I kept hidden for the most part) was that that the newest addition to our family might negatively influence my marriage. I had heard the stories. I had read the books. And after spending six beautiful years with my best friend and soulmate, I ached at the thought of anything coming between us.
I ached at the thought of change.
Nate and I had traveled together… We had purchased our first home… We went on dates often and just enjoyed the simple pleasures of life. We talked, snuggled, laughed, and spent so much time together without ever getting tired of it. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about our marriage up until that point, and I was saddened at the thought of marriage as I knew it ending.
We both faced parenthood with the realization that marriage was now going to take more work. We were going to be a family of three, not two; so time together wouldn’t be as readily available. Because of this, we made plans ahead of time to communicate. To make time for each other. To go on dates.
We faced that change head on, so that we would be okay!
And for the first few weeks, we were. In fact, we were more than okay. Nate took on this gentler, care-giving side that I hadn’t even known existed. He’s always been really sensitive to my feelings; but he’s generally a typical, clueless guy when I’m sick in bed. 😉 However, during my first few weeks home from the hospital, it’s as though he channeled my mom! He prepared all the meals, constantly made sure there were beverages and snacks by my bedside, and – when he saw that I was doing a little bit too much – he banned me to the bedroom for a day of watching television, caring for baby, and recovering from the C-section. He even insisted on changing all the diapers himself, as he knew that learning how to breastfeed was such a huge task for me.
He was so unbelievably sweet!
He was nurturing in a way that made me cry from pure relief. He was absolutely everything I needed him to be, and – quite honestly – I felt as though we had never been so much in love. We’d snuggle together with our precious bundle of joy between us; and I had to wipe tears from my face, because I was just so happy.
As weeks turned into months, however, the strain of little sleep and long, busy days began to take its toll. Every baby comes with its own set of challenges, but even the simple task of feeding Brady was overwhelming. Around two weeks old, he had gas issues that we couldn’t figure out, and he spent hours and hours screaming inconsolably from the pain. He vomited.. a lot. He wouldn’t nap or sleep. I woke up every two hours throughout the night, sometimes more, to feed him. To rock him. To walk him around the room, hoping he might find some comfort.
And quite frankly, it wore at our nerves, especially since everything within us ached to help our baby feel better. But we couldn’t.
So we began to take it out on each other…
If Brady’s screams rose to a level that I emotionally couldn’t handle while Nate was holding him, I’d snap, “Nate, what are you doing?”
To which Nate would reply in frustration, “I don’t know! I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t help him. What do you want me to do?”
We were strained, exhausted, and busy in ways we never could have imagined. It all felt so much bigger than us. And so gradually, day by day, despite our determination to not let ‘that’ happen to us, our focus began to shift to survival. We’d go days without a kiss, and – even then – the kiss would be a quick peck. I suddenly couldn’t remember the last time we had hugged… Intimacy, what was that? And since I was nursing and caring for a baby that was constantly choking on his acid reflux (in addition to getting up every two hours), that little baby soon began to sleep between us. We didn’t even have the evening hours to cuddle together.
One day, it all just seemed to come to a head… (to be continued)