We are off to the beach tomorrow for a week. We did this same trip last year when Curly was 2 months old. At 14 months, it will be a LOT different and we’re hoping he has a good time and doesn’t get too upset when his thumbs, which must always be available to suck on, get covered in sand. So we’ll be out of commission next week and will return with tales of our adventures and some pictures.
Now for a new question…
From Lez : I would like to know, especially since Strawberry wasn’t sure about the whole kids idea, how has having Curly changed you as a couple? Do you still have eh-hem…..alone time ;) Did having Curly bring you apart as a couple at all?
My first instinct is to say that no, having Curly in the picture did not change us as a couple. We still love, respect and rely on each other as we did before. We still have fun times together, including eh-hem…alone time. We are in most ways the same people as before, the same couple as before. But on second thought, that’s not entirely true. Becoming parents has changed us. Before, we mainly thought about ourselves and each other. Now, nearly every decision is guided by what’s best for our son. That includes trivial things, like what to make for dinner (can Curly eat it? how long does it take to make?) to medium things, like going out on a ‘date’ together (can we find a sitter we trust? can we put him to bed first?) to larger things, like switching jobs (can we live comfortably on the salary now that we have a child? what are the benefits, especially for him? how will daycare work?) We’ve found that we must consult each other and think things through even more so than before. We have to function as a couple on a deeper, more intense level…sometimes on a more mundane level as well.
I say this a lot, but those first few weeks were really difficult. Curly was a very sensitive, very ‘high needs’ infant and had typical infant issues like reflux and gas pain…was not the best nurser…and kept us awake all. night. long. for the first couple weeks. Taking care of him then was the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but it brought us closer. We leaned on each other, cried on each other’s shoulders, celebrated wonderful moments, held one another up, and as suspected, were able to see firsthand the kind of responsible, caring, strong people we believed each other to be. We also saw one another really crack and fall apart under pressure…from sobbing, lamenting loss of freedom, having a short temper, and feeling depressed or not good enough. We saw the best and worst in each other and ourselves and have come out on the other side loving each other as a whole, for better and for worse. Our particular sets of neuroses thankfully get along well.
I think there are two very important components that can tell you how you may be changed as a couple after having a child. The first includes your dynamics: How are you as a couple now? Do you share responsibility or at least split things up equally? Can you depend on each other? Do you know what is important to the other person, and in knowing so, strive to make them happy? Can you handle each other when you’re under a lot of stress? How do you communicate? How do you resolve differences of opinion?
The second includes the temperament and personality of your child (to be). We got a child that is not ‘easy.’ He is demanding but independent. His cries are piercingly loud and he needs routines to feel comfortable. But he is a fantastic sleeper and eater. Basically, this means that during our days together, our focus must be on him and in making sure his needs of the moment are fulfilled. When you have an infant, this of course is very typical. Although I have seen people whose babies are hungry and will gnaw at toys for a while instead of shriek and tantrum at the first tummy growl. I have also seen babies who will stay put when they’re on the floor and not insist on getting into everything, and fast. What kind of child you have will color how difficult your days are. And what kind of sleeper you have will really effect things, too. Dealing with sleep deprivation makes everything worse. We were zombies for a while, but only a short while. Instituting a strict 7pm bedtime (he couldn’t stay awake longer anyway) gave us lots of time to unwind and focus on each other, plus get done the things that needed to get done. And I think that’s a huge component of functionality. As hard as things felt during the day, we knew we’d have our nights to ‘relax.’ If you don’t get a good sleeper, what’s your plan? Will you split night wake-ups? How do you feel about ‘crying it out’? How important is sleep to you?
These past 14 months have held high highs and low lows for us, but it was important for us to make our relationship as much of a priority as our son. We’ve definitely taken advantage of sitters for date nights, we’ve still celebrated important occasions, and after the few weeks that were needed for recovery from birth, we’ve maintained the same level of physical intimacy as before. The boy has certainly added pressure to our lives and somewhat limits the kind of focus we can give each other daily, but we’ve adapted and I truly believe are stronger and closer than ever.