Despite our strong desire to have a baby, my husband and I were a little worried about how it would affect our marriage. After all, for nine months friends and strangers looked at my growing belly and shared with us unsolicited horror stories of blissfully happy relationships gone to pot once a newborn was thrown into the mix.
So we braced ourselves for the worst and tried to shove as much romance into the pregnancy (which was no small feat since I felt only slightly sexier and lithe than Snuffleupagus) in case it was our last opportunity until becoming empty nesters. Fortunately though, the reality nearly nine weeks after the birth of our exquisite daughter is we’ve never been more in love.
Initially I was concerned that the act of giving birth itself would throw a wrench into any future amorous plans.
While bringing a baby into the world is undoubtedly a blessing and a miracle, literally squeezing a baby out is downright gruesome and not for a spectator with a weak constitution. After pushing for two hours, our baby was born via C-section (leave it to me to have my one small body part be my pelvis).
Still, I can only imagine the nightmares Rick might be harboring from the memory of those two hours before the surgery, although he swears it was nothing but sunshine and roses. He’s clearly a bald-faced liar. I think it’s sweet.
I’ve been sure to give Rick updates throughout each day so he doesn’t feel left out on the baby’s progress while he’s at work.
Many would likely approve of our open line of communication, though most relationship coaches probably would have advised me against sending him a cell phone picture last week of our smiling baby with the caption, “No rectal stimulation necessary! I pooped on my own!” Nevertheless Rick called immediately after receiving it so we could bask in the baby’s, uh, moving achievement together. Really, we’ve never been more connected.
And although there’s no doubt that in a healthy marriage being physically close is just as important as a spiritual bond, I find it utterly romantic when Rick takes the baby out of our room at four in the morning and goes downstairs to sleep with her on the couch so I can get a few consecutive hours of shut eye without being disturbed by her gurgling noises. Waking up alone has never felt so good.
Having a baby has changed the way Rick expresses himself. When the baby juts out her lower lip in a pout when she’s annoyed, Rick gazes at her lovingly and says, “You look just like your momma.”
Or when she cries until someone picks her up, he’ll remark, “She knows exactly how to get what she wants. Just like mommy.” Eight weeks ago? Not so charming. Now? Adorable!
These days Rick is also much calmer when watching football games. Last season he’d always pace the length of the living room tensely, yell at the television or jump up and cheer for hours at a stretch. But during one recent game when his mother was visiting he was the one reminding her to keep it down.
“After all,” he told her. “It’s just a game and we don’t want to send the wrong message to the baby.”
A month after the baby was born we celebrated our second wedding anniversary. At first we planned on going out to dinner — with her.
“Why don’t you get someone to watch her so you can have the evening to yourselves,” my sister asked.
“Because I’m worried no one else will be able to figure out how she likes to be held when she’s trying to fall asleep and then she’ll get upset,” I explained. “So we’ll just bring her with us and then we won’t have to worry.”
“Ugh. Don’t be a parent who never leaves her kid with a babysitter. It’s not good for your marriage,” she warned.
“No one else will really understand her,” I protested.
Married for 11 years with three kids, I could hear my sister rolling her eyes over the phone.
It was a moot point anyway, because the baby woke up that morning with a little cold so we knew we definitely wouldn’t be taking her anywhere or leaving her with anyone. Instead we decided we would light some candles, eat a lovely meal and watch a good film.
But after a day of delicately applying saline drops to the baby’s nose and trying to soothe her congestion, the best we could manage was ordering takeout, eating on the couch and watching the baby sleep for a few hours before we fell asleep. It might not be the stuff of a fairytale ending, but for us, it’s a fine romance, indeed.
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