References to "life with your partner after baby comes" were short and not very comprehensive in the books I read. There were hints about making time for each other, not letting the stress of a new baby come between you, and adjusting to the lack of together (i.e., naked) time, but the details were fuzzy. And strangely enough, I didn’t feel like I could go ask my girlfriends about it either. I mean, I’d asked them everything else and their pregnancies and babies (at this point, I know almost as much about their lady bits as my own) but this felt a little too personal, a little too invasive. My girlfriends were more likely to offer up intensely personal medical stories about their deliveries and about trudging through the early weeks with their newborns than they were about their relationships with their partners. It reminded me of a strange, anti-
Sex and the City alternative universe where all the women are sitting around drinking grape juice and pretending that men don’t exist.
And so, in an attempt to shed some light on this super-secret classification of relationship stages, may I offer up this handy cheat sheet of ways your relationship can change after the birth of your little miracle:
You Will See Them In A Whole New Light
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? You’re going to watch each other go from non-parent to parent, one of the most significant life changes there is. In some ways, my husband will always be the polite fraternity guy I met in my sorority’s foyer when I was eighteen, but now he’s also a super-dad, making airplane noises and flying our little one around the living room. Our day-to-day lives went from "work, Netflix, wine, and movies" to "work, baby, snuggles, and applesauce pouches" (yes, the applesauce was for us too; there isn't always much time for anything else).
Your Old Ways of Showing Love May Not Fly Anymore
We show each other love by holding the baby up to each other’s face for kisses, by taking turns with errands and diapers, and giving each other free time. He is the most accommodating person ever when I randomly fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon, while I try to return the favor by only giving our son quiet toys first thing in the morning. It’s a far cry from the lazy weekend mornings we spent lying in bed and cooking elaborate breakfasts, but I’m not complaining.
Your At-Home Habits Will Slowly Change Now That Someone Else is Lurking Around Every Corner
I used to casually drop F-bombs a lot more than I do now, while my husband watched more a lot more horror movies. Neither of us would sweat it if dishes stayed in the sink overnight, or if the carpet needed vacuuming. Now? We kind of have our ish together a bit more than before. Just like we don’t want him to pick up pebbles and dog hair from the floor, we don’t want our little to pick up our non-awesome habits like randomly telling someone to "get the f*ck out of here." Something tells me that wouldn’t fly in preschool.
You’ll Show Them More Vulnerability Than Ever Before
Sure, my husband’s seen me sick before, he’s seen me through major disappointments and family emergencies. However, the thing about those occurrences is that they’re typically disruptions, not your normal, everyday stuff. But bringing home a child? That’s going to last a while. Combine the desperate exhaustion with the change in routine with the regular bumps and challenges that come with a newborn (in our case, it was a difficult time with breastfeeding) and you’re both running on empty for weeks on end.
You’re Going To Feel Like You Have More In Common
Chances are, you and your partner are going to be the only two people in the world who know what it’s like to parent your particular child. They are going through almost the exact same things you are, at the exact same time. My husband is the only other person who recognizes those first words our toddler is attempting that sound like gibberish to everyone else, the only other person who knows which bedtime books he needs on any particular day, or whether he’s asking for snacks out of hunger or boredom. We now have something in common that supersedes every other shared interest we’ve ever had.
Sex Will Never Be The Same
At least, not for the first fifteen months after birth, which is all I can officially speak to. Granted, every birth experience is different and every woman’s body is different so of course your mileage may vary. Trust me, though — it’s different.
You See Each Other Grow Up
I’ve seen him leave birthday parties early so we can make it home for bedtime, say things like, “He should be eating more vegetables,” and, “I got this new all-natural diaper cream at the store,” and leave for an early workday after getting up multiple times in the night to soothe a teething infant. I thought I was proud of him before, but seeing him now is so awesome that it’s actually humbling.
Time Together Becomes Especially Precious
A couple years into our marriage, my husband and I decided that we should try to spend more quality time together. So once a week, we took advantage of our child-free lives by going out to eat and frolic around our city. We’d hold hands and order dessert and take leisurely walks wherever we felt like going. However, since our son arrived, there’s really nothing aimless about how we spend our alone time. There’s always a countdown now, until our little bear wakes up or until we’re due back home. The weird thing is, we love what we've traded that in for as much as we miss it.
Images: margejacobsen /Instagram; Giphy(4)