“We are going to be actual grown up parents,” you exclaim, waving around a urine-covered stick, “to a cute little baby!”
You get a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate, after sensibly consulting Google as to whether you can have one drink while pregnant. You soon discover that, yes you can and no you can’t and that it is definitely ok once a week and never?! So, in the end you decide to go with the most reputable source you can find (or the one which allows you to actually have a glass of wine).
From this day forward you talk nothing but baby names, stuff you need to do before the baby arrives and pregnancy symptoms. You decorate the nursery and Google everything from Do I need an electric breast pump? and How do I change a nappy? to What the hell is a Gro-bag?
Sunday lunches at the pub are replaced with strolling around Mothercare hand-in-hand, smiling at babies and discussing the pros and cons of three-wheeler prams.
You talk of parenthood and how amazing it will be. You smile, you laugh, you lie in each other’s arms and watch One Born Every Minute… It is a special time.
Make the most of it.
Because as soon as the baby arrives – the honeymoon is over.
NINE MONTHS LATER
“Where is the bloody Infacol?” I shout into the darkness at 2am. “I thought we agreed to keep one up here and one downstairs.”
No one answers me.
“James!” I scream at my husband while trying to keep a crying baby from latching on to my nipple before I had administered the life-changing baby colic drops. “INFACOL!”
Five minutes later he comes in with the Infacol.
“Well, it is too late now. She is already feeding.”
“Oh for god’s sake,” he says, handing me the Infacol. “I thought we were leaving one up here and one downstairs”.
And that was just week two. The baby wouldn’t sleep so we couldn’t sleep. She cried for three hours every evening and we had no idea why. We were sleep-deprived, stressed and quite frankly, really getting on each other’s nerves. The love bubble we were cuddled up in pre-baby had burst. Big time.
But it did get better. Eventually.
It must have done because…
ANOTHER NINE MONTHS LATER
“We are going to be parents,” I exclaim in terror, “to another cute little baby.”
“Shall I go and get some sparkling wine to celebrate?”
“Nah. I am too tired.”
It has now been two and a half years since the birth of our first child and we are still together, still tired and we still haven’t killed each other (yet).
I am no relationship expert, but after years of sleep-deprivation and two wakeful babies, I can tell you that the only way not to murder your partner when you have a baby who does not sleep, is to live by certain rules.
Rule 1: ALWAYS go to bed on an argument.
If the baby is asleep then do NOT waste time doing anything other than sleeping. Chances are the argument was not that important anyway. Grievances like, You Flushed The Chain And Now The Baby Is Awake or I Wasn’t In A Mood Until You Said I Was In a Mood And Now I Am In A Mood and Who’s Used The Last Of The Calpol And Put It Back In The Cupboard, are just not worth the effort
Rule 2: NEVER say what you really mean.
In order to maintain marital harmony, there are some things that are better off left unsaid. These include any reference to being tired (your partner will assume you are saying you are the MOST tired) and NEVER under any circumstances admit you are doing something in order to have a break from the baby. Instead, claim you are ‘just popping out for milk’, ‘taking the bins out’ or, my husband’s personal favourite, ‘I may be some time, I am constipated’.
You both know that the other one is really planning on sneaking into the toilet with their smart phone to skive off babies for half an hour – but by not acknowledging this fact you save yourselves the effort of having to argue about it.
Rule 3: DON’T bother making an effort.
Since we have had babies my husband and I spend a lot of time in our pyjamas, yawning at each other. Sweet nothings have become hushed whispers of ‘I am so tired’ and romance is now changing a nappy when it is not your turn. But you know what? That is ok.
Forget flowers and going out on date nights, when you have babies, simply getting each other stuff is the height of romance. Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than fetching a forgotten toilet roll for your other half. There is little more alluring then being passed the remote control when you are too tired to move, and the words ‘would you like a cup of tea’ from your partner’s lips are guaranteed to lead to the suggestion of an ‘early night’ (wink, wink). And although nine times out of ten, you will get into bed and realise you both want an actual early night – it is the thought that counts.
Rule 4: Give them what they want in the bedroom.
When you have young babies it can be a challenge to find the time or energy to have any ‘romantic action’ with your partner. But try not to worry about it. Sleep is the new sex! Sex will still be there tomorrow, next month or even next year. You enjoyed it before you had babies so you will enjoy it again. So for now give your partner what they really want in the bedroom… to get hot and sleepy between the sheets…
When you have kids it is inevitable that some nights you will opt for sleep rather than romance and other nights you will opt for sex but get teething. You may choose to sit and drink wine in your pyjamas rather than go out on a hot date or watch TV to avoid the effort of a conversation.
But it won’t be forever. So try not to worry.
You are raising little humans together. Falling in love with them more each day and watching in amazement as they smile, laugh or sit up for the first time.
It is exhausting, frustrating and challenging but it is also the most amazing thing you have ever done together.
So empathise, sympathise, make each other coffee, laugh, be kind to each other and you might just survive!
Do you have any unspoken relationship rules that help you to avoid killing your partner? I would love to hear them!