He cried when our daughter was born. Twice. I clearly remember his choked voice when he kissed me and thanked me for bringing our baby girl into the world. But by the time we got home, the diaper was on the rose. The baby was crying. His wife (me) was constipated. And the house took on a perfume of spoiled milk.
Pre-baby and post-baby, people talked about engorged nipples. Moms and dads rant about sleepless nights and diaper explosions. There are books written about baby weight, burping, and tummy time.
And we fought. We bickered. We yelled. We disagreed about the appropriate volume for the TV. The temperature of chicken. The necessity of slippers.
I was certain I’d ruined our marriage.
And no one talked about it. Certainly not me. Because to talk about it was failure. Because to admit that this learning to live as a party of three is bat-poop nonsense kind of hard seems to be taboo.
While postpartum depression is dished up like a main course—post-marriage melting doesn’t seem to have made it to the table.
Women—like me—post photos with captions about how amazing their baby daddies are. And they are. And those captions are true. But there’s so much more to it than that. And suddenly at 2 a.m. when you’re deliriously tired and matching your baby sob for sob as you try and soothe their gentle soul by walking up and down the driveway, you feel like you’re the only one.
I remember the first girlfriend I told. I remember saying it in almost a whisper, “Things are hard. WE are hard.”
A seasoned mother of two, she took a deep breath. I heard it through the phone, the long inhale—like she was drawing me in and wrapping herself around me. “It is hard. It is so hard those first months,” she said. “You’re not alone,” she said. “It’ll get better,” she told me. “Give your marriage some grace,” she advised.
And I did. We did. Slowly.
The baby slept, some. We shared the occasional meal without a nipple whipped to the wind. And my husband, who had doubled down at work in hopes of a promotion right before I gave birth, was forced to work from home.
Our love grew deeper. Our marriage regained its footing.
I watched as my big, strapping husband melted at the sight of our baby’s first smile. I saw him learn to lean into her cries, cradling and bouncing her tenderly. I witnessed her steal her way into his heart with giggles.
And I felt our marriage turn back into home. The more grace I gave our relationship, the less I expected him to just know what kind of help I needed, and the more I remembered why we got into this thing in the first place.
We fought. We still fight sometimes. But that deliriously tired sense of failure passed. It faded. It eased. That first bit was hard. Oh, so hard. But it turns out, I wasn’t alone. And if you find yourself fighting with your other half, know that neither are you. Give your marriage some grace.