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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Do I Even KNOW You??? Marriage with kids...the first year

Sister is about to have a baby.  I'm totally psyched.  Said baby is nicknamed "Nugget" for the time being as they have yet to decide on a name.

Look at that little bowling ball belly!  Love it!!!

Yes, I've given my 2 cents (even though it wasn't asked for)!  Yes, I was shot down immediately.

No hard feelings though.  The last piece of advice I gave (upon realizing that anything I suggested wouldn't work) was to make sure you were comfortable yelling that name over and over again while being blatantly ignored.

Anyway, I was thinking about what I could get for them when Nugget arrived.  After all, I have two babies...I should have excellent gift ideas, right?  WRONG!  I can't think of a thing.

Then I started thinking about how much wisdom I have.  Seriously...I am a wise being (no, not a wise ass).

What was the thing about having a baby (babies) that surprised me most?  The effect the whole thing had on my marriage.

I think this surprises most couples because we all live in denial for so long...oh, having a baby won't change us that much...oh, we'll still be able to go out...oh, we'll definitely make time for each other...oh, he can help me with the baby at night.

God, it's amazing the lies we tell ourselves, right?  There's no way to avoid it.  We're all scared shitless, but we have no choice but to lie to ourselves.  The lies get us through the pregnancy  We're freaking out enough about the fact that there is going to be an entirely new BEING in our lives who is completely dependent on us without mentioning the effect it could have on your marriage.

So, I've tried to think about some things I could mention so that Sister and BIL aren't caught completely off guard. 

Here's what I've come up with (feel free to add your own pieces of wisdom in the comments, but please, don't make them better than mine.  I really like Sister to think I'm the wisest person in the Universe):

  1. Get over yourself and ask for help.  You're not going to want to do this, but it will make your life a zillion times better.  Your husband is there.  He wants to help.  Put him to work.  Make him feel useful.  Get him involved.  It is not admitting that you can't do it all, but you're creating a bond between him and new baby.  He's freaked out too...push him off the cliff.
  2. You will hate your body for a while.  You will judge yourself much more harshly than your husband.  Plus, if he's living in the same house as you, he'll be too bleary-eyed to see you (and your newly found "problem areas").  That will work to your advantage.
  3. There will be nights when you think he's absolutely about of his mind.  Husband spent nights beating the living shit out of his pillow when the Crazies wouldn't sleep through.  Apparently he thought this was helpful, but I thought it was certifiable.  I have a friend whose husband would sit on the end of their bed, holding the baby, rocking back and forth, repeating "Ican'tfuckingbelievethis.  Ican'tfuckinghandlethis.  Thereisnofuckingreasonforthecrying.  Shutthefuckup!"  Amazingly, their children, their marriage, and his sanity remained intact b/c she took over all nighttime wake-ups even though she was working full time too.  He just couldn't handle it and even though it's not "fair," it's a lot better than your psychotic husband inadvertently hurting one of your children.***
  4.  There will be times when you are overwhelmed (either by sleep deprivation or hormonal imbalances) and you just need to say "tell me what to do and I will do it."  I specifically remember getting to this point when one of the Crazies was sick.  I'd be questioning whether or not to give them medicine or call the doctor.  I'd hem and haw for a while when I just needed someone to tell me what to do.  It's overwhelming which is why you have a partner.
  5. Talk to each other.  This sounds obvious.  You live in the same house.  You have to communicate, but communicating is different from actually talking.  Sit down and have conversations.  Write notes about things you want to run by your husband/wife and make time to do so.  Discuss your parenting decisions.  Discuss whether or not you REALLY want to return to work.  Discuss your health.  I think this is so important because you can get so lost on the day-to-day stuff of just surviving the first year that you forget about the fact that there are some really important discussions that need to take place too.

Here are some tidbits from my FB friends (you didn't know I did this, did you, Sister???):
  • Get the baby on a schedule.
  • Be REALLY nice to each other (even if you have to fake it).
  • Let the middle of the night arguments go.
  • Go out alone for an hour or two when you're really missing your old life.  Chances are, you'll be running back home soon enough.
  • Take full advantage of helpers.
  • Don't stick to a plan too rigidly (i.e. breastfeeding if it's not working).
  • Let your husband take care of the baby and feel successful even if it's not the way you would do things.
  • Enjoy a couples weekend away in the first year.
  • Allow each other a girls/guys night out every now and then.
  • Know that it does get easier.
  • Communicate and be willing to compromise.
  • Work as a team.
  • Know how to recognize that the other parent needs a break.
  • Ignore the petty issues.
  • Keep at least one hobby/activity that is yours and yours alone.
  • Pray for each other.
  • Have sex, even if you think you're too tired.
On a more personal note, Sister and BIL, I think you're going to be wonderful parents and Nugget is so lucky to have both of you on her side.  What you both bring to parenthood will create a wonderful union of intelligence, humor, patience, drive, enthusiasm, and love.  I can't wait to see it all happen...even if it's mostly via Skype!

So, that's all I have...thoughts?  Additions?  Well wishes for the new parents-to-be?  

***  Disclaimer:  This is one of the most gentle men I have ever met, but he couldn't deal with the sleep deprivation.  It shocked me when she shared this with me.