Having a baby changes everything in a marriage

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Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

*This article originally appeared on Her View From Home.

I know you’re nervous. I know you’re excited. I know you’re feeling a love you never thought possible. A newborn baby, or a child placed in your arms—your child.

You’ve been overwhelmed by polite smiles and unsolicited “words of advice” about how to care for your new child. Most of these you can take with a grain of salt. Every child is different, and you will figure out what works best for you and your family.

But there’s one that I have to underline: kids change everything.

If you birth a child, your body changes. Any disposable income you had pre-kids will now go toward diapers and footie pajamas. Your once tidy home will become a bottomless pit of laundry and baby bottles waiting to be washed. It’s true—kids change all of these things.

But there’s something else lurking in the shadows—your relationship with your partner. It’s the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it but they don’t want to acknowledge it.

Remember that person you loved so much it actually hurt your heart to be away from him? Remember that person you spent hours and hours talking and laughing with? Remember that person you walked down the aisle toward and promised to love and cherish forever? When kids arrive on the scene, your relationship will be challenged like it never has before.

Raising kids is hard. The sleepless nights (or years) of babyhood. The constant touching as little ones climb on and cling to you. All of the things you must remember: When did the baby last eat? What time is the doctor’s appointment next week? What are we having for dinner tonight? The feeling of being so needed will burn you out like you’ve just ran a marathon 10 times over.

Kids are excellent at siphoning out your energy. ALL. OF. IT. And parenting is work—a labor of love. With all of this extra devotion going toward a new dependent person, your romantic relationship with your partner often hits the brakes.

And no, I’m not just talking about sex. If you’ve recently had a baby, are still nursing said baby, and/or struggling with postpartum mental health, sex is probably going to be the furthest thing from your mind, and that’s more than okay. But that quality one-on-one time you enjoyed spending with your spouse before having kids is suddenly replaced by a crying baby or hyper toddler who refuses to sleep.

Kids bring an added commitment. You’ve added another title: Mom. Of course, children will often be a priority for you, especially when they are small and so dependent. But my advice is this, don’t forget you have another relationship that requires some TLC—your marriage.

I say this not to add to your already overflowing plate, but to make a conscious note of it in your mind. And certainly it isn’t all on you. Relationships are the culmination of two people—two parties responsible for putting in the work.

What I’m saying is that kids change a marriage. Things will never be as simple as they were before kids. But the addition of children does a beautiful thing: it brings attention to what made you fall in love with your spouse in the first place. You see your partner in a whole new light.

When kids come along, you must find a way to connect to your partner. Find out what love languages he speaks and communicate what speaks to your heart. Make the time to be together now. Don’t wait until the fog of parenting has lifted and you realize you’ve simply become parents and not lovers.

Gestures don’t need to be of the grand variety. Little things go a long way. Sincere I love yous spoken softly in the dark. Bodies brushing up against each other as you move around the kitchen. Holding hands when you finally venture out of the house. Little love notes and “I miss you” texts throughout the day let each other know that while there is a new responsibility demanding your attention, your spouse still has a deep-rooted place in your heart.

 

I Gave Birth to Barnacle Babies

Photo by mauRÍCIO santos on Unsplash

I live smack dab in the middle of the country, no oceans around for more than a thousand miles. And yet, I have barnacles.

I took sail on my mother ship not knowing what to expect. I had an idea of what my course would look like, but you never truly understand motherhood until you are living it.  While I always imagined a close, loving bond with my children, I had no idea the severity of attachment would be so strong.

To my surprise, I was born not one, but two barnacle babies.

I don’t adhere to any parenting type (helicopter mom, tiger mom, crunchy mom, etc.). I’m just going with my gut and doing what I feel is right for me and my kids. Apparently feeling my way through motherhood has resulted in securing a strong attachment with my boys. I’d never even heard of attachment parenting until a few years ago when I started to research why my first baby wanted to be near me 24/7.

He started screaming at daycare drop off when he was four months old and didn’t really quit until he was well over two. Yikes. It split my tender mom heart to pieces every time I left him.

At almost four, he’s still very much attached to me. And his little brother? Possibly more so. If it isn’t me or his familiar daycare ladies, he will cry and/or run away. If I’m in the kitchen trying to prepare dinner, he’s usually right there, clinging to my leg. I sit on the floor in the living room and both boys fight with each other who gets to sit in my lap, despite me having two (large) legs – one for each kid.

I know there are people out there who will tell me “Enjoy it while I can.” “They don’t stay little for long.” Blah, blah, blah. And I love my boys and how much they love me. That is no question. But here’s the thing: being so needed is so exhausting. Being climbed on and whined at WEARS ME DOWN. When they finally go to sleep, all I want to do is crawl into bed and enjoy my personal space while I have it. Because I know only a few hours later, the cycle will begin again.

Here’s the thing, moms, if you have kids who want to be with you, near you, on you, you don’t have to love every second. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Don’t let anyone guilt you about desiring some space – a single moment to yourself to catch your breath. It doesn’t make you a bad mother. We all know that we love our kids more than anything, but raising kids is hard. It’s physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. And if you’re an introvert like me, so much talking and physical touch zaps your energy.

I’m learning so much as a mom, about myself and what’s really important in this life. And the fact that my boys love me so much that I’m the first person they run to for anything is a blessing. I hope to always have a close bond with them.

So while my babies’ attachment may have caught me by surprise, I will nurture that bond and reinforce that I’m their safe space. Unconditional love will radiate from this mother ship right onto those barnacle babies.

 

There’s nothing quite like the magic of babyhood

*This article originally appeared on Her View From Home.

Big brown eyes bordered by long delicate lashes lock with mine. Chubby cheeks grow rounder as a toothless smile spreads across his face. His feet kick excitedly and his arms reach out toward me. If I could freeze time, it’s moments like this that I’d keep forever.

There’s nothing quite like the magic of babyhood. But it is so fleeting. Pink, squeaky newborns quickly turn into soft, chubby infants, who become mobile masters of mischief. Then, before you know it, you’re blowing out a first birthday candle, celebrating your baby’s graduation into toddlerhood.

And after all the late-night feedings, early morning snuggles, fevers, colds and coughs, first foods, and oh so many diapers, you’re left with the realization that your baby has grown, and you find yourself surprised that you miss all of the difficult and not so pleasant parts of caring for a baby.

The love for my kids hit me like a ton of bricks when my first was born. It was shocking. As someone who believed she was strong and independent, my love for that baby brought me to my knees. He was mine and my purpose was to love and protect him.

I soaked up every moment with my first, experiencing all the newness of babyhood like a new mother does. Every milestone he met was an exciting new adventure.

Things are different with my second child. As I’ve watched my first baby grow into an active, conversational 3-year old, I fully understand how fast time really goes. And despite my best efforts, the universe has not granted my request to slow down time.

So I look at my second baby and know how fleeting this stage is. His soft, round cheeks will soon be the slimmer frame of a toddler’s face. His chubby hands that grip my fingers will roughen with play. His drooly baby babbles will someday form the coherent words and sentences of a pre-schooler.

While I’m excited to watch him reach all the milestones that an infant sees in his growth, it also tugs at my heart. Because I know that this baby is likely my last baby.

There’s such a bittersweetness of the last of the firsts. The last first smile. The last first crawl. The last first baby giggle. I would bottle it up if i could, to breathe in as time continues to transform my babies into boys, and one day, men.

While others are rushing around life, I’m desperately trying to grab a hold to slow it down. So if you’re wondering where I am, you will find me soaking in every moment of my last baby. You’ll find me doing the sleepy-eyed shuffle to the nursery to feed and comfort my son while others are sleeping. You’ll find me laying on the floor while my baby crawls and drools all over me. You’ll find me holding his sturdy, soft body until it feels like my arms will break off. You’ll find me so overwhelmed with love that I look at my kids and wonder how did I get to be so lucky?

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Photo by Julie Johnson on Unsplash

I tried a weighted blanket. Here’s what happened.

Turns out weighted blankets aren’t miracle workers. At least not for me.

I believed weighted blankets were the unicorns of the sleep world, and catching one would surely grant me immediate access to an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Oh, the things you believe when you’re exhausted.

Weighted blankets have become a trendy thing. With me, it started last holiday season. Target had them as a Black Friday deal for only $50. Weighted blankets, at least high-quality ones, can run upwards of well over $200, depending on the size you get.

I didn’t manage to snag one at that price, so I let it go for awhile. Then, recently my co-worker introduced me to the website Meh.com, which featured a weighted blanket for only $35! Being suspicious of it’s price, I ultimately went over to Amazon and found one for $50 and decent reviews. So I bought it.

I waited anxiously for my magic blanket to arrive. When it did, I was like a kid on Christmas morning.

I couldn’t wait to go to bed that night and try it out. My thought was I’d throw that 15 pound blanket on me and it would wrap me in its heavy hug and put me to sleep and keep me there all night, trapped like a happy little hostage.

My husband watched me with reservations. He only sleeps with a paper-thin sheet that he’s had for probably at least 15 years, and he’s also claustrophobic, so the idea of a weighted blanket being on him to sleep was not appealing at all. He told me I was going to get too hot.

I didn’t want to listen. No one should speak ill of my magic blanket.

The first night it was an odd sensation having 15 pounds of beads and material draped over my body. I kept my arms out and pulled the blanket down to just below my shoulders. Even in a camisole and shorts, I was getting warm.

I kicked a leg out to cool myself. Surely, I just needed to get used to it.

Night One brought no magical sleep. I would try again.

Night Two, I was less enthusiastic for sleep. It’s like I knew it wouldn’t be what I hoped but was in denial.

After two nights of feeling like I had a sprawled out toddler on me, heating my body like a little furnace, I threw in the towel. Weighted blankets are not magical wizards of sleep.

The next day, I folded it up and returned it to it’s package. I had also purchased a minky fleece cover that I never even opened (can you imagine the scorching heat?!).

So I returned the weighted blanket and cover, and in my never-ending quest for sleep, I purchased a memory foam cooling pillow, which I love. Next up, a new memory foam mattress. I will sleep well one day, right?

 

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Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

My mom bod is a gift

*This post originally appeared on Today Parenting team

I look at a photo my husband took of me and our boys at a recent outing. Like most pictures of myself, I let out a heavy sigh as I analyze how I look in the photo. Our boys are so beautiful I often feel like I blemish the moment captured on camera. My mom bod sure isn’t the same that it used to be.

My mom bod has some extra pounds than my pre-kid body did.

My mom bod has thicker thighs and rounder arms.

My mom bod has a softer tummy and wider rear.

My mom bod has grey hairs and dark under eye circles.

My mom bod doesn’t fit into tight clothes like it used to.

My mom bod is tired, but it is oh so happy.

Those extra pounds came from growing and carrying two babies, and nursing them for over a year.

Those thicker thighs and rounder arms provide the support and shelter of mom’s arms.

The softer tummy provides the perfect comfort for snuggles.

The grey hairs and dark circles are reminders of late-night lullabies.

Form-fitting clothes have been swapped out for clothes that give me the comfort to chase around my two little boys.

My mom bod isn’t what I imagined it would be, but it’s a gift.

I was blessed to grow and deliver two healthy babies. I was able to provide nutrients for my babies for well over the first year of their lives. My body reflects this journey, and for that I am grateful.

As a woman with type 1 diabetes, I wasn’t sure what my motherhood journey would look like. I wasn’t sure if healthy pregnancies were possible. But I worked hard to be as healthy as possible for my babies. My body gave me two precious gifts, so how can I be mad at it for giving me everything I had ever hoped for?

Your mom bod might not be what you imagined, and maybe you don’t always like the way it looks in pictures, but it worked hard to make you a mom. Maybe it’s time we start cutting our mom bods some slack.

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