Until death do us part, right?
My husband and I have always been pretty simple. We like simple things that you find quality in; our wedding was no exception. We had a simple civil ceremony with only his family (mine couldn’t make it as they were 4,000 miles away in the United States), and a deliciously perfect lunch at Ravintola Haikaranpesä, a scenic restaurant located within a water-tower overlooking lush greenery. Nothing too fancy, but exactly what we’d enjoy – low-key, stress-free living.
Things quickly became hectic, as they do when preparing for a baby, but we had time. I was only 10 weeks pregnant on our wedding day, so we had plenty of time to get ready to bring this little bundle home. Of course, looking back, it feels like just yesterday we were excitedly awaiting our wedding day, now here we are with a 2 month old son.
Anyway, life got the best of us and responsibilities took over. Pregnancy was hard for me as I felt as if I was missing out by not being with my family and experiencing the moments you have when you see your parents more often than once a week on Skype. I knew having my son would be bittersweet as they would not be able to come, but that’s a different story for a different post.
In late December of 2018, we welcomed our beautiful baby boy into the world. Labor was hard and long, but we worked our way through it. Together. My husband supported me through every contraction and leaned over the bed, holding my hand and reminding me to breathe almost non-stop. We labored for nearly two days straight without the slightest break and absolutely no sleep. The exhaustion was insurmountable.
I’m going to be honest here, because no one ever is when they talk about the birth of your child. Everyone wants to paint it as rainbows and butterflies, but it’s f*cking hard. Once you’ve made it through the birth, you now have a baby to take care of. Why did I not realize that I wouldn’t get a decent night’s sleep for months or years? I have no idea what I expected, but running on no sleep makes you cranky and postpartum hormones don’t help. We were quickly shifting from a strong unit to two exhausted parents who knew absolutely nothing.
I can’t even explain how many times I cried in those first two days in the hospital. We didn’t know what we were doing and we were constantly at each other’s throats. We spent the next two months snapping at each other constantly. I threatened to go back home countless times until we finally reached our breaking point.
We both knew we couldn’t go on any longer and the constant threat of divorce that laced every argument was too much. It wasn’t until we had gotten into another argument over sleep at 2am that we finally came back together. After hours of sitting in different rooms, we talked and we agreed.
We couldn’t continue carrying on this way. Our constant fighting was making a difficult situation even worse. In the midst of a freezing cold and snowy night, holding onto each other while our son slept peacefully in the middle of our bed, we made a pact.
No more running.
I knew I couldn’t do this whole parenthood thing without him. I knew I loved him more deeply than I could express and that threatening to go to the US (while I really do want to go home) was unfair and made things worse. I couldn’t threaten to take our son over 4000 miles away from my husband just because we were having a bad night. I couldn’t continue to hold grudges and count the hours of sleep he got. I knew that we needed to reset and come at this differently. We needed to heal.
I’d love to pretend that since that argument things have been great. They haven’t. It’s still not easy and we’re still getting very little sleep, but we are better than before. We agreed that we have to make time for each other and actually put our relationship first. We have to communicate. We have to determine what the bare minimum is to function without constant stress and aim to achieve that. For us, that means laundry twice a week, doing the dishes every day, taking out the trash, and passing the vacuum over the rug occasionally. It also means, cuddling when we get the chance and talking as much as we can once our son has gone to sleep. It’s simple, but sometimes things still don’t get checked off the list.
We’re trying and that’s what matters.
Having a child is a major blessing, but it’s so difficult. It’s so hard to remember to brush your hair and days go by when you don’t remember when your last shower was. Add in a marriage that’s quickly disintegrating and you’ll become overwhelmed with stress and emotion at every turn. Days will feel harder and nights will feel more lonely.
If you’re going through a rough patch in your marriage post-baby, I highly suggest having an honest discussion about the bare minimum. It may seem silly or like common knowledge, but it’s worth it. It helps to get on the same page. It helps to make a pact. It helps to know that neither of you wants to walk away. It helps to know that you can heal. That you have each other.
That you always will.