My Relationship Before and After Giving Birth

How My Husband and I Met

I had been single and on dating apps for over two years before I met my husband. At first, I used them for fun. As time went by, I realized that I genuinely wanted to have a family. I wanted a home. I wanted to love and be loved. I hardly met men I could see myself with in the long term. After some disastrous experiences and heartbreak, I wasn’t sure I’d meet anyone who would want the same things.

I had almost given up hope when I tried out the app Hppn. That’s where my husband and I met. Right away, I noticed he was different from other guys that wrote to me. He didn’t send a dick pic or asked for sexy photos, for starters. We agreed to meet for a drink. On our first date, we talked for hours. He was kind and a bit shy.

We started to spend a lot of time together and got severe within a few weeks. I deleted all dating apps from my phone.

After six months, we moved in together, and he proposed almost a year after our first date. I knew early on in our relationship that I could start a family with him. We wanted the same things. We shared the same values.

We became a team. A strong team. We cleaned, shopped, and took care of the house. We cooked and tried out recipes. We planned our wedding. We traveled. We discussed our past, present, and future. We trusted each other. We were friends, equal partners, and lovers.

Our relationship has never been perfect. Like any other couple, we had our disagreements. But we managed to work things out and learn from our mistakes.

Parents to Be

Pregnancy brought us closer. Together, we went to every doctor’s appointment and a prenatal course. Each week, we read about what was happening in my body and our child's development. We discussed my birth plan. We bought and read books on parenting. We designed, painted, and decorated our baby’s room together. We shopped for clothes and other essentials. We learned how to bake butter cookies for our baby shower and handmade the decorations.

He was with me throughout labor and during delivery. No one had ever seen me in such a vulnerable way. He remained calm and reassuring. When I had my baby lying on my naked chest, we exchanged a look of pure love and gratitude.

Baby Arrives

Of course, the arrival of our baby filled our hearts with joy. But the truth is, we weren’t doing so great after I gave birth and the weeks that followed.

At the hospital, we were busy learning how to change diapers, feed our baby, and try to get some sleep. There wasn’t any time to think or talk about how our relationship was about to change.

Once we were home, as the inexperienced parents we were, we were getting to know our baby. We worried if he slept too much, gaining enough weight, or spitting up so much milk was normal. Our baby got a cold in his second week, and we worried some more. We always wondered if we were doing things right.

I went through several rough weeks. Postpartum was challenging, and recovery was slow. I didn’t feel like myself at all.

False expectations

When you are in a relationship, there is an expectation that the other person should know you. They should know you well enough to act the way you want them to act. Yet, as much as we love someone and they love us, our partners are not mind readers, and neither are we.

For the first month, stress built up, and sleep deprivation didn’t help. We bickered over whether the water was too hot during a bath or if I should feed the baby even if he had eaten not long ago. At times, I got frustrated with his family, which caused friction. There was stuff bothering us, and we weren’t talking about any of it.

My husband and I went to the hospital as a couple, and came home as a family. We needed time and space to figure out what that meant for us. We found ourselves with a new person in the relationship. An incredible cute, little person who took all of our energy.

We survived the first month, which some people told me would be the hardest. To me, the second month was more demanding. My husband and I felt more distant. We felt like strangers. We didn’t think like us. As the weeks went by, things would get better, but they didn’t. He went back to work, and I was home with the baby all day.

One night, our son wouldn’t stop crying. We tried everything we could think of. We were both tense, and our frustrations exploded. A few days later, we talked. I told him that he didn’t help me with the baby, and he responded that I didn’t let him.

According to Brené Brown, we tend to build a story in our heads about what the other person is thinking or feeling based on assumptions. We suffer for a "story" we tell ourselves that isn’t true.

We were both making assumptions about how the other felt. For instance, during the first month at home, I thought he was bored. He thought I didn’t trust him with the baby. Neither were true. It took a crisis to let out our frustrations and have an honest conversation. We both agreed we would be more vocal about our feelings and thoughts.

Besides there being communication issues and hurt egos, there wasn’t any time for us. I was exhausted and felt undesirable. The last thing on my mind was intimacy. Not only that, but I stopped being affectionate towards my husband. It happened unconsciously. I was consumed with our baby.

At the start of our baby’s third month, I began feeling better. We slept a bit more. We both felt more confident about ourselves as parents and their choices.

The thing is, if my husband is not okay or if I’m not okay, our family will not be OK. Our children will be affected by everything that happens between us. If we’re happy, he will be happy. I want him to grow in a healthy and loving environment. I want him to know that all emotions are valid and that it’s important to voice them. That starts with us.

We’re entering our fourth month as parents and adjusting to our new life. There’s a long road ahead. We’ve been communicating more and making time for each other. We’re enjoying our time as a family. We cuddle on the couch when we can. I hug him and kiss him like I used to. We found each other again.

I’m seeing my husband in a new light. I’m seeing him as the dad I knew he would be: caring, patient, attentive, and loving.

There’s no doubt that we will face new challenges. Our relationship will continue to evolve. We need to remember that we were a team initially, and we should always be one.

© Andrea Huls Pareja. All Rights Reserved.

Writer. Creative artist. Photographer. Feminist.

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