5am on February 11, 2016 was a miserable time. My sweet Emma was a little over a week old, and I was a dirty, overly tired, moody, hormonal zombie. I had zero idea how to make her stop crying that night, and I had been awake for a long, long, long time. The interesting thing about sleep deprivation is that you will, in fact, start to lose your mind. Pair that with an endlessly crying baby, trying to learn how to breastfeed without it hurting so bad you wanted to rip your nipples off, and a million hormones surging all across the board, and you have one really touchy and out of sorts mom. I was that mom. I’m not ashamed to admit it, and I know I am not alone in that particular moment.
I’m not a crier. I didn’t cry on my wedding day, and I didn’t cry when Emma was born. But, this particular morning, I broke, and sat crying in the dark corner of the nursery, desperately trying to comfort my screaming baby. It was then my husband came out of the bedroom, and saw me crying. I thought he had come out to help comfort Emma, or even me. Instead, he looked at me and said, “What’s the problem? I don’t know why you are crying when I haven’t slept and have to go to work.” I have never hated my husband, but at that moment, I did. And it was that moment, of what felt like complete despair, and terrible judgment on my husbands end, that I pulled away and decided I had no support system in him and needed to be strong on my own. That was the moment I deamed myself the married single mom. That was the beginning of a terrible spiral into what almost cost us everything. That was our first, of many, missed connections.
One of the most difficult things about having a baby is learning to balance your new life. There is this bundle of perfection that needs every waking moment you have, and every bit of energy you have to muster up. Yet you still have to shower, eat, care for a dog, clean a house, do laundry, and somehow make time for your spouse. It’s insanely taxing and emotionally draining at times. I guess I took for granted the connection that I had with my husband prior to having Emma. I knew it was there, but never recognized it, until it wasn’t there. And moms, if you value your marriage, you need to take steps to preserve it. And dads, if you are reading this, and love your wife, you need to try very hard to make an effort as well. Your wife is under a tremendous amount of pressure, and needs support. This is new ground to maneuver and you must tread lightly to stay strong together.
Up until the day Emma was born, Erich was my very best friend. He was my rock, my provider, my love, my whole world. We were so excited about Emma, and we had so many plans of how perfect things were going to be. Then Emma came crashing into our lives, and nothing at all was perfect. In fact, it got really nasty. It all started at 5am that morning, and just snowballed out of control. I felt so alone, and so on edge all the time. I had zero normalcy to the life I once knew, and I didn’t even know who I was at some moments. I looked in the mirror and saw this shell of a woman I vaguely knew, but didn’t understand any of how I felt. I just sort of felt dead and beat down. I did not feel attractive, I did not feel smart, I did not feel useful, and I did not feel like being touched by anyone because a tiny little person was attached to me nonstop. To top that off, I had a spouse who seemed to either not notice, not know how to address the situation, or simply did not care. All of those factors infuriated me a little more each day. Up until the point that I didn’t even really have anything to say to him outside of basic conversation that revolved around the baby needs or bills. And then one day, I didn’t even want to talk about that so I sat on the couch silent, or would move into another room. He didn’t even seem to care as he sat on his phone looking thru Facebook or whatever other social media platforms he fancied.
***SIDENOTE: Indulegnce in an iphone/laptop will aid in the death of your relationship!!
When passion and lust die out in a relationship, you better pray that there is an underlying basis to keep it together. There better be real love, tolerance, and patience there, or your relationship will fail. Each party needs to make an effort. And when one member of the party falls, the other needs to stand and be strong to hold the other up. Our baby was born in February, it took until August to make that happen. We went thru a lot of dark days. I’m not even sure that Erich understood the magnitude of how far removed I was until one day in August day when we had bickered so often that I told him I was leaving for a while. He stormed out, drove away, and called a little while later asking what was going on with us. I could hear in his voice that he actually was concerned, scared, and just as lost as I was. And that was all it took for me to be back on board. I just needed to know he noticed and cared. He came home, and we talked once the baby went to bed. Actually talked like we used to before our lives were cluttered with diapers and feedings and toys scattered about.
The next day, he called from work, and asked if I wanted to go camping without the baby. We had never been anywhere without her, so this was very scary to me, but I knew if we didn’t go we were going to be in bad shape. Leaving Emma behind, and skipping town, was the best decision we had made in a long time. We packed up our RV, went hiking, stayed up late talking and laughing together, slept in at our leisure, and rekindled the very last ember that was burning in our relationship. I remembered why I loved him so much. And I think that he started to see me as his wife again, and not just the run down mom I had become. And we both saw the need for us to take time together.
If you don’t take time to maintenance your marriage, you will have no marriage. And we had not even tried to maintenance anything. I’m not sure if we were so niave that we just believed our marriage would work on its own, or if we simply took each other for granted, but regardless, you actually do have to put forth effort. And we had not had date nights, no time alone, no nothing for months and months. Turns out, these things are incredibly important, whether you think they are or not. To keep intimacy alive, you actually have to put forth effort to stay intimate. Mindblowing, I know. You have to hold hands, look each other in the eye, laugh together, cook together, cuddle up on the couch, get away, and remember why you valued this person in the first place.
Since then we have gone on our much awaited (and far past due) honeymoon, went camping again, took a trip to where it all began for us, and valiantly make an effort to keep each other a priority. Grant it, life has smoothed out as Emma has aged, and we are still adjusting at times, but we learned a valuable lesson in marriage maintenance.
So, why am I telling you this? I write this because I know I am not alone in this situation. I see women on social media forums ask every single day how you keep romance alive in a marriage with a newborn. I understand they are grasping at the same thread I was, and I feel for them. It’s a terrifying place to be.
Moms, you are not alone. It’s hard to be a new mom. It’s hard to be a seasoned mom. And I imagine it’s hard to be a dad that is pulling the financial burdens of the family. It’s imperative that you find common ground, keep communication open, make each other a priority, and remember to stay connected. Take time for love. Because love is what brought you this new bundle of joy that fills your home, and heart ,with so much new life.
And it’s only love, and a lot of effort, that can help you stay connected.