When my husband and I first saw little Doughnut in a sonogram, we were beyond elated. As a couple, we thought we were ready. I mean, how complicated could it be? I’ve read up and learned everything I could, so this is a change we were well prepared for.
When she finally arrived, we fumbled through the days but things were manageable. But what we did not expect, and were totally caught off-guard about, was the change in us. Or more specifically, in our relationship.
Dotting parents, forgotten spouse
In the midst of playing the role of dotting new parents, we were absent for each other. As day became night and night became day, all of our time and attention were focused on the tiny 6-pounder, whose tiniest cringe and softest cries made us drop everything we were doing and sped to her side.
Soon enough, the cracks started to show. My husband – the man I vowed to spend the rest of my life with, through thick and thin, in good health and in sickness – had become one of my least favourite person in the whole world. After having a baby, nothing he did seemed right.
With little Doughnut crying almost 24/7, sleep deprivation, hormones and everything else that went wrong, we began pointing fingers at one another. Different parenting styles, upbringing, who needed more rest and every other petty matter would just trigger a fight. Our world turned upside down and inside out, and the supposed joy of having a new baby was somehow short-lived. We just couldn’t find the happiness we thought we ought to have.
This went on for a while until Doughnut became a toddler. While we agreed that our daughter’s needs were most important, fulfilling those needs came at the expense of our time as a couple. Our social life was close to zero, and all our attention was focused on the baby. And to make things worse, the other party was always at fault because the baby was only a baby and can do no wrong.
It gets better
Looking back we realised how naive (and in denial) we were. Now that Doughnut is 3 years old and we can breathe easier, things become instantly clearer. Before she came, our love and attention was solely for each other. After she arrived, everything was halved. Or in our case, the entire 100% went to her. So that’s 200% for her and none for each of us. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that this equation just isn’t going to work.
And all the arguments, squabbles, quarrels and fights? They were all because of LOVE. Prior to having Doughnut, our fights were about love; our love for one another. After having her, our fights were only about her. But when we looked deeper, it was all about how love has evolved — it was how we wanted to love her in our own different ways. Two things were undeniable though: that we both loved her more than anything else, but we should have loved ourselves and each other more. Because, THIS is what through thick and thin was all about.
So, if I have to summarise the whole experience, it would be:
1. When you become a parent, don’t forget to be a husband / wife.
2. Everything happens because of LOVE. Love the baby, but love each other and yourselves too.
3. With a baby, life goes on. And there’s life beyond the baby.
4. Whatever you have for baby, save some for him / her too. Patience, especially.
5. Ladies, be a wife first, then a mother. And guys, happy wife means a happy life.
I’m not writing this to boast about how we got back to “happily ever after”; we are still nowhere near that. It takes time and it takes the both of you to work it out. When you are ready and all up for it, then it’s time for another round of excitement looking out for those two blue lines.
Lai San is an ex-marketer living in Jakarta but her heart has never left KL. Mother to 3 years old Doughnut, she is close to total cure of her OCD with a toddler to clean up after at home. When not stuck in a jam, she writes freelance as a cover up for her total inability to cook, bake or sew.
Image Credit: American Pregnancy.