Thirty four weeks today.
Thirty four whole weeks since this little madam arrived.
Thirty four whole weeks of love.
This week, we were gifted with the luxury of time.
Some child free time on Monday (thanks Aunty Jen) and some at the weekend (thanks Granny Trisha) which has been lovely. My husband had the public holiday off, along with the weekend, which meant we got to spend some quality time together. We took it right back to where we started, with some lovely hill climbing on Monday and a leisurely dander around a lovely loch yesterday. Not exactly riveting to many, but right up our street and just what we needed after a tough couple of weeks.
You see, as much as people can try and warn you, you’re never really fully aware of how much a strain it can have on your relationship, having a child. Even the strongest of marriages can find themselves with a little pull in its seams with the arrival of this very demanding (yet super cute) being. We’d gone from a couple who would take a spontaneous trip up north to climb a munro, to having to meticulously plan out a trip to the supermarket, in (what felt like)the blink of an eye. Nobody can prepare you for that….
Recently, things had been getting a little on top of us. We’d been spending a lot of time in the house/garden and on top of the daily stresses having a baby brings, our house is a renovation project and there’s been a LOT of work going on, which inevitably brings another boatload of stress. Because of the fact we’re around each other more, yet not getting out and about as much, the usual petty arguments happen. This then snowballs into something much bigger – after a few weeks of bickering and sniping, we ended up stopping, taking stock and having a really honest discussion about how we were feeling.
It ended in the realisation that we both felt a little taken for granted; a bit ‘lost’ and that we desperately needed to make a little time for ‘us’ again. To make the effort and just re-discover what makes us ‘tick.’ Just as i discussed a few weeks back about ‘losing a bit of myself”, we realised that we’re lost in our marriage a little bit. We’d fallen into the trap of him coming home, me asking how his day went – ‘fine’ – him asking how Liv has been – ‘fine’ – and then jumping straight into the bath & bed routine, before finally diving head first into bed, exhausted and asleep before we could even mutter ‘love you.’ We’d lost track of what having a proper conversation was.
And admittedly, I almost came to resent him at times….. I resented him for the fact that his life seemed to carry on as ‘normal’ (Disclaimer: I absolutely 100% know that his life did NOT continue as normal, but it feels like that at times when you’re the one stuck at home day in, day out) when he left the house. Olivia could have a horrendous night, and be moaning, crying and fighting against everything, yet he just gets to walk out the door for work. I found it hard that he gets to sleep at night, gets the 20minute shower in the morning, the chance to eat his breakfast at his work without interruption. I resented the fact that he could make last minute plans or pop for a haircut without thinking about childcare.
A huge part of me feeling like that was because i had been struggling a bit personally, as i wrote about a few weeks ago. So its incredibly unfair on him, for me to have felt that way. I’m one of the lucky ones in the way that i have a VERY hands-on husband. He helps out in every single way possible with Liv – feeding, bathing, changing nappies – to the point where if he’d had functioning, milk producing nipples, I’m pretty sure he would have tried to breastfeed her at the time. So it’s very unfair of me to feel like his life has remained the same when it’s been thrown on it’s head too. Juggling full time work and caring for a baby must be extremely challenging and during the honest discussion we had, he actually admitted how difficult he finds it, leaving for work in the morning when he knows how tough a morning I’m going to have. How he feels almost guilty over it. He struggled during the newborn period to see how much I was beating myself up over breastfeeding, and he felt a bit useless that he couldn’t help out in any way during those exhausting night feeds. It allowed me to see it all from his perspective. Embarrassingly, I just always assumed he was fine and that he just adapted naturally, when that’s just not been the case at all.
There is so much focus on maternal mental health and people will often check in to see how I’m doing, ask if I need a hand etc. Yet, I doubt anyone does the same to him. Men are just expected to get on with it and be the ‘strong’ ones. Why, when their lives have also completely changed and becomes a million times harder? Listening to him explaining the way he had been feeling and how he had struggled at times, really made me take stock and realise that he feels just like i do. We need to prioritise each other again at times. We need to have proper conversations, some time for ourselves away from Liv, and being ‘mum & dad.’ As much as we miss her, it’s important that we work on our marriage too, in order be the best and strongest unit FOR liv.
Both of us have changed and grown significantly since Liv arrived, so inevitably, our marriage has changed too. It’s impossible to have a child and your life remain exactly the same and although we’ve struggled at times, a lot of the changes have been positive. And yes, we’ve lost a bit of ourselves but maybe we have to lose bits of ourselves to make space for all the love we will feel for our child. And if that’s the case, it’s more than worth it.