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How Having a Baby Ruined My Marriage (Kidding, Sort Of)

I always cringe now when I hear someone on a TV show (or God forbid, real life) say something about how they want to have a baby so that it will bring their marriage back around.

Having a baby didn't really ruin my marriage, but it sure did change it. Greg and I had only been married for two months when I got pregnant. Heck, we had only been together for a YEAR AND A HALF total when I got pregnant. That's almost short enough to warrant a bad Katherine Heigl movie, no?

The changes to our relationship didn't wait to start until Veronica was born either. No, they started around the time that I began spending the afternoons into evenings lying in a miserable first trimester mess on the couch, moaning something about seasickness and then falling asleep mid-sentence.

This was the same couch that I used to lie on when Greg and I first moved into this apartment, when we were still starry-eyed with new love. I'd lie one couch and he on the other, and we'd gush over how in love with each other we were.

I'm not sure how long that really would have lasted, but surely a bit longer.

I'll pause here to say that this isn't a post about how I wish we hadn't had Veronica. You already know that's not the case. I can't even imagine a world without her, let alone my world. Rather, this is a post about how I miss what my marriage was before she was here, and how important it is to me to continue to cultivate a deep and sustaining relationship with my husband.

 Anyone who has a child will tell you that their relationship has changed. There is no way around it. Where there was once two, there are now three (or four or five or six), and all of that energy that you had between the two of you is now concentrated somewhere else.

Being a parent is like trying to navigate a staircase with a pile of two by fours. The two of you don't have a minute to look at each other. You're so busy watching your footing and the bends in the staircase. You're struggling to maintain your strength, your hold, the balance of the thing between you. You are deftly connected, but also held apart.

The changes are immediate. The day she was born Veronica crashed down between the two of us like a meteor. My relationship with Greg suddenly became one of negotiations and schedules and discussions about who would take what task. We couldn't leave the room without letting the other one know. We also bickered where we never had before, and at the end of the day when she finally went to sleep we were both too tired and too overwhelmed to give anything else to each other.

Veronica went to Ohio yesterday with her grandparents for three days, leaving Greg and I alone in the house. It is our first time without her since she was born. And again, the changes have been immediate. We went out last night and slept late in each other's arms. We're going to a yoga class together later, and then to dinner and a movie, all the kinds of things we used to do. The best part is that none of it is scheduled or dependent on a babysitter or centered around Veronica's needs.

This morning I got in the shower without first telling him I was going to do so. Do you have any idea what a big deal that is?

When you have a kid you can't just get in the shower. You have to first make sure that the kid is okay, and then that the other person watching the kid is okay, and then even so, you hop in the shower and scrub up as fast as possible and by the time you get out someone is usually crying anyway (hopefully the kid).

And that's where the shift occurs. Where we were once two independent people, in love and appreciative of each other's own lives and schedules, we are now like one of those three-part Chinese dragon costumes, each one of us dependent on the other in order to just take one step forward.

 Does it sound like I'm complaining? I'm not trying to. I'm just trying to explore the parenting relationship as it pertains to marriage. We have now been with Veronica for as long as were together without her, and soon that time we had just the two of us, will be long eclipsed, a tiny, distant memory filled with sweetness and naiveté.

 Working on my marriage is one of my goals for the Good Enough Project. Before we had Veronica I didn't have to think about our relationship much. It existed and flourished on its own, but now it is something that requires nurturing and attention in order to function at a high level. And that's okay, I'm up for the challenge.

Greg was the one who suggested this mini-break from V. He brought it up one weekend over a month ago, right after I had a complete meltdown, worn thin from lack of sleep and personal time.

We should let my parents take Veronica for a few days, he said. It would be really good for us, he said.

I balked at first. And I even balked again yesterday. I think I could probably go my whole life without ever being away from her. But then I thought about me and Greg and how we need this. Veronica can only benefit from having two parents who are happy and in love with each other, right?

Having her and raising her together has been an incredible experience. In a million ways it has indeed brought us closer. There is no one in the world I can talk to about her like I can with Greg. We made something together, and she is beautiful and magical and so, so real.

But so are we.

Two of my favorite pictures from the first six months of our relationship:

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N620582437_235562_4769

 

 

 

20 Comments

  1. Well done…the grandparents get to bond with their granddaughter and you get to have time with your husband…a win, win situation!!!

    Comment by Theanne on October 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm

  2. How wonderful =)
    This post made me think of the following lines that I had read somewhere
    “Relationships are forever. They are eternal. Not just permanent in this lifetime. Once you establish a relationship, it is an eternal relationship.”
    And relationships would always be changing and evolving for the better, I hope.
    I love reading about you two, it makes me smile!

    Comment by Nima on October 26, 2010 at 12:06 am

  3. I’m happy to say that it only gets better, Claire. 42 years into this relationship thing, with the kids gone for good for a while now (there was some back and forth stuff for a few years, and because we love them so much, that was all good too :-) we get to snuggle each other to sleep after spending time doing things together during the day, and we cuddle awake to a wonderful new daily adventure each and every morning. The Golden Years, you say? I’m thinking this might very well be true! Not only do we still have each other, but we have all those shared family memories to marvel over. You and Greg will have not only that, but this remarkable written and photographic reminder of how it *really* all happened. None of this “No, Honey, don’t you remember? It was Veronica. The other one wasn’t even born yet. We were still living in Chicago! Yes, I’m sure, because when your parents came to take her, we…” Oh, believe me…without the blog…:-)
    Make a few more memories before she comes back again — proof-positive that the “you” outside of parenthood is simply set aside, not gone.

    Comment by Carroll on October 26, 2010 at 12:49 am

  4. So glad you’re getting to spend some time, just the two of you! And I’m sure you’re right about it making you better parents.

    Comment by Sophie on October 26, 2010 at 1:31 am

  5. Adam & I spent a whole Saturday alone together this past weekend. Went out to Cirque du Soleil, and had Japanese dinner together. It was just so nice.
    Of course, we’d been together for 10 years before our daughter was born… so its a little different.
    But still, our oldest is 6, and its the first time in a long time either of us can remember not having responsibilities for a day other than to ourselves & what we wanted to do.
    We all need that now & then, I think.
    I’m glad you got some time together!

    Comment by kelly @kellynaturally on October 26, 2010 at 7:42 am

  6. Great post! I’m not at all good at describing how I feel about our marriage since we had our first son and it was wonderful reading (and agreeing) with so much of what you have written.
    Today is the first time that my 4 year old son has gone away without us. BUT, we now have the 10 month old so we’re still not alone. Damn! We should have let my mother take him earlier :)

    Comment by Amanda on October 26, 2010 at 8:09 am

  7. Ha….I bet two children is just a whole other story! Glad you got a little bit of time together today!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 26, 2010 at 8:54 am

  8. Yay, thats so nice! Glad you got to have such a fun day together. Greg and I talk sometimes about what it would have been like if we had waited a little longer before having a baby. The conclusion I always come back to though is that it would have hard no matter what, it would have changed us no matter what. But still, maybe we wouldnt be so wistful sometimes… Ah, the mysteries of life.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 26, 2010 at 8:56 am

  9. I think it definitely is. And we are SO excited to see her tomorrow!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 26, 2010 at 8:56 am

  10. Ha…this comment made me smile. How sweet to imagine. The Golden Years….sounds pretty nice, Carroll.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 26, 2010 at 8:57 am

  11. Oh, what a lovely quote! Thank you!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 26, 2010 at 8:59 am

  12. It really is. The only other time I was away from her was when I went to LA for the weekend in August. I had such a hard time with it, but when I got back I discovered that she and Greg had bonded in such a deep, new way, and I was so grateful for that. Hopefully the same will happen with her grandparents.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 26, 2010 at 9:02 am

  13. this is a beautifully written post full of honest feelings. it amazes me how you insert disclaimers about not complaining, when i do not hear complaining at all in your posts. i hear longing. i am glad that greg heard it too and proposed this separation. it will be as good for v as it will be for you two. imagine falling in love with your husband all over again with this rich connection of a child as a base.

    Comment by tony davis on October 27, 2010 at 11:04 am

  14. Im glad to hear that I dont sound like Im complaining. (And we had a truly marvelous time.)

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 27, 2010 at 7:56 pm

  15. Catching up on your blog tonight. Great post. Totally agree in every way.

    Comment by Evelyn on October 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm

  16. Thought you might!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on October 28, 2010 at 8:38 am

  17. I am currently experiencing this change in my marriage. Our son is just 2 months old. I actually typed into google “a baby ended my marriage” because sometimes I am afraid that my husband will walk away as he has a very hard time understanding why I have no time and energy left to give him. This popped up in my search and I was glad to read it. I knew that change was going to happen, but the depth of change is unexplainable to those that do not have children. Hopefully we will find a way to connect again as things start to calm down a little. I would give $500 to have a family member take my boy for a night of uninterrupted sleep and cuddle time with my husband. Too bad they all live so far away!

    Comment by Terilyn on November 8, 2010 at 11:32 am

  18. Aw, hold strong! It gets better. Those first few months are the hardest. Your husband will bond more with the baby and you will also have more time together as your little guy matures. It really is such a hard transition. I recommend lots and lots of communication between you and your husband.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on November 8, 2010 at 1:09 pm

  19. I wish we would have known you then. Ken and I would have happily taken V off your hands on occasional weekends!

    Comment by Ron Stempkowski on December 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm

  20. It fundamentally changes your relationship. Takes away the joy of eachother.. Takes away your ability to focus on eachother.

    Did you marry for eachother or to become slaves to your child?

    Comment by Martin on January 16, 2012 at 6:04 am

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