Having a child immediately rocks your whole world. (Not that I'd know. We never had A child. We started with two.) Babies change everything.
For 6.5 years of marriage, Casey and I were a duo. We had a perfect little family of three (because clearly Rory is family). But then, we added two new little people and the whole dynamic changed! The changes to our marriage and our relationship were difficult the first time around, in part because they were so unexpected. And they shouldn't be unexpected. We should have known that things would change. Marital satisfaction studies have repeatedly shown that having kids is one of the biggest stressors any relationship will ever undergo. Just think about how many marriages end shortly after the baby arrives and you'll recognize just how true this is.
Well, this time we know what's coming. In six days our worlds will be rocked. In six days we'll expand into a family of six! The dynamic will change again. Our marriage will change again.
This time we know what's coming and, more importantly, we know we can get through it together. So to call this a baby panic is perhaps a stretch. But it's certainly something we need to think about and be cognizant of again this time.
It's so easy for me as pas a mom to allow my whole world to revolve around the tiny little nugget in my arms. But that isn't healthy! Before we were parents, Casey and I were a unified pair sanctified in holy marriage before God. And that spousal relationship needs protected and prioritized. We've all heard the phrase "No one gets between me and my man" Well, it applies to adorable preemie twins. And it applies to their singleton baby brother.
Keeping the marriage going won't be easy again this time either. Knowing they are coming won't make the challenges less real. In fact, this time they'll be multiplied! Because we'll have three! (On that note if ONE MORE person tells me just how easy it will be this time since we'll only have one baby, I just might scream. We'll have three babies. Unless the commenter plans to take care of the toddlers for a while?!)
So, the challenges:
- No more time! Casey leaves the house at 5:45/5:50 every morning. I'm still sound asleep. And the times I've attempted to wake up with him, he hasn't appreciated my efforts. He isn't his best self at that time and just grunts and glares at me. Casey gets home at 6 most nights, just as the twins are finishing dinner. This gives him an hour to play with them before we start our bedtime routine. We used to eat dinner during this hour, but lately it hasn't been happening. So, we eat at 7:45/8 after the boys are asleep. By the time dinner is over we are exhausted and have a dilemma: spend time together actively engaging in our marriage or go our separate ways to veg until bedtime. Most nights we do a decent balance of both, but this doesn't compare to the amount of together time we got pre-kids. And adding a newborn with a 24hr feeding schedule to the mix will certainly put a strain on the cohesive conversation and together time.
- Prioritizing kids! We make cute babies. And man do I love these boys. Just yesterday Davy pointed to a plastic toy dinosaur on the counter and said "di-o-saaaar" and melted my heart. He's been imitating Casey and forming the sounds for a while now, but this was the first time he gave some comprehension of its meaning. Seriously, cute. Of course neither of my kids have a clue who mama is though. Tripp is determined to climb as well (better than?) his brother despite being quite a bit shorter and struggling to get his leg up on the furniture. He spent a good twenty minutes yesterday just practicing climbing on and off the living room ottoman. So endearing! But despite the cute, despite the neediness, despite the dependency I know we have to prioritize each other. A tiny new completely dependent little boy won't make it any easier.
- Effects of sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep makes us both short, impatient, critical, snippy creatures who sometimes forget we're on the same team. When I'm fully rested and on top of my game it's easy to remember Casey has my best interests at heart, loves me, and to try to always give him the benefit of the doubt when something upsets me. When I'm tired, oh man! We still have low sleep nights around here, but it's nothing like the newborn stage. And I have a feeling the newborn stage will be harder this time because if the baby gets his best sleep from 6-10:30AM (like the twins did) I won't be able to sleep along with him because I'll need to be taking care of the twins! Chasing toddlers is exhausting. Chasing toddlers while sleeping baby hours won't leave me in the best mood in the evenings. And so I am going to really have to focus on remembering to give Casey the benefit of the doubt and remembering the awesome things he does rather than get snippy and critical.