I’ve been asked this question perhaps two weeks into having a baby. It’s a question that comes up over and over again and I’ve been adamant to answer it. Within all of our life changes, I couldn’t yet explain how our relationship had changed. It had, of course, but there was so much work for us to do in multiple aspects, that I was waiting to feel more “experienced” before answering that question.
Changes can be scary and sometimes we are programmed to instantly feel “a change” as a negative. When people ask me that question, I do sense a whisper of fear; how do two people keep their flow when there’s a third little human coming along? or more for that matter…Here’s our experience, hoping it will help yours!
When Kyle and I were first bombarded with a lot of changes, from the moment I started getting morning sickness twelve times a day, we stubbornly tried to hold on to what “was” which created even more friction in the what “is.” We had a hard time looking into what had to become our new daily habits: synchronization of our parenting skills, agreeing, co-parenting and making time for ourselves and each other. We fought hard to salvage the US, which is beautiful, but realistically the first year, our time together decreased and it was really hard to grasp how to work with each other to feel comfortable and whole.
I was breastfeeding Oliver, Kyle was working a lot and we were exhausted on sleepless nights. We were finding new ways to do things, sharing them with each other and finding out what worked for the both of us. Lots of hit or miss, miscommunication, not feeling relatable to one another and loneliness in our own roles at times…Not to mention that newborns, for first-time parents, can be really intimidating. It’s easy to be consumed by worries, anxiety and questions, yet so normal. We had very little guidance, and just that alone was so heavy on us to make sure we were constantly doing the right thing. This is something that we could’ve spared one another, but that stuff is scary! You hear a baby cry for the first time or go through their first fevers….it’s really daunting and not feeling alone in the process but feeling like a team is so important, no matter how scary it might feel.
To read up on my breastfeeding experience, click here.
To read up on my struggles and feelings on becoming a mother, click here.
MOM AND DAD STATUS
Finding your own role as a parent is challenging. Finding it within your relationship can be difficult too. We both realized that we had subconsciously created barriers with each other, thinking that we could handle certain things by ourselves. Believing it was us being at service for our relationship, when really it was just making us even more exhausted and left out.
Learning to work as a team, parenting and being partners was not something anyone ever taught us, we had to teach ourselves. We are at a point where we are so much more confident with the choices that we make individually with Oliver and value the time we have with each other instead of thinking of the time that we used to have. Communication, empathy & agreeing on how we want to parent and be to one another worked really well for us. It’s all a work in progress. Relationships are like plants, you consistently have to water them.
CHANGE IS GROWTH
The motion of embracing changes and forgetting the notion of “change” is something that I realized was much easier than trying to keep things as they were. We understood that communication was really important, I couldn’t stress that enough. We had to learn to communicate in many different ways, through sleepless and overwhelmed days and constant go-go-go toddler mode. It’s definitely not easy but time, gestures of love, date nights and affection make a whole lot of difference.
ENJOY THE PROCESS
Every relationship has ups & downs. Children or not. I’d say a child tests your patience, time with each other and energy. Kyle and I have truly adopted the perception of how fast things go, how fast Oliver grows and how all these things are so temporary. We thrive to feel loved and give love on the daily. To each other and to Oliver. Bringing him up feeling as stable as possible is our main goal and truly makes us happy. It’s easy sometimes to lose sight but we’re always brought back to what our main purpose in life is, to why we are together and love each other. There are days where it’s hard to be in the same room and there are days where we don’t want to leave each other’s side…We all have moods and feelings (and hormones). It’s a matter of understanding that you’re only human! You can’t be perfect but you can try to do your best.
Making time for ourselves and for Kyle and me is really important. We are not as lucky as other people to have grandparents living in our city and both of our moms passed, so the time that we schedule weekly with each other is precious. We used to have date nights at 8 pm and now they moved to 4 pm, in bed by 10 pm because that’s our way to not hold on to the past and make sure we feel good parenting the next day. Or especially me because without 7-8 hours of sleep I can’t function and I’ve always been that way. If one of us is miserable, we’re both miserable. Finding a balance not just for you but for your partner is so important.
Certain things are so temporary…it’s important to be in the moment and not think of how every little thing will affect your relationship. Some things can just be more organic and graciously accept that they will pass even if they feel uncomfortable. Ask yourself, how can you see it with love? How can you put yourself first to be the best version of yourself for your partner, to be the parents your child deserves? Changes can be beautiful or difficult…it’s really a matter of focusing on how you can adapt as a couple, as a team, as parents and as an individual.