I’m not really worried about becoming a parent. I know a lot of expecting parents have a lot of fears or concerns, feel overwhelmed or wonder how well they’ll be as parents. While I know a baby is going to be a big change and that being a parent will probably be stressful, exhausting and filled with a lot of totally new and frustrating experiences, I’m actually pretty confident that I’m going to be a great parent. (Hubris? Possibly. I’m sure the gods will strike me down pretty quickly if I’m wrong.) My most intense feeling when I think about bringing home a baby, though, is that I’m completely stoked that we’re finally going to have a baby of our own, after years of dreaming and planning.
My biggest concerns about becoming a parent are not at all about how I’ll do as a parent, or even how my husband will do as a parent. I think we both have an immense capacity to love a baby and both want to be good parents so much that we will work very, very hard to be the best parents we can be–and that this serves as some degree of insurance that we won’t completely screw up our child. (A little bit of screwing up is inevitable, but I can live with a certain amount of character-building screwing up.) After finances, I think my biggest worries are about how having a baby will change my relationship with my husband.
My husband and I have an amazing relationship. Even after 2 years of marriage, nearly 4 years of dating, and 7 years of friendship, I’m continually surprised and impressed and overwhelmed by how good our relationship is. It sounds cheesy and cliche, but Kellen really is my very best friend. We can and do talk to each other about everything. Sometimes, even now, when we’re trying to get to sleep at night, I’m reminded of little kids at slumber parties, who won’t go to sleep because they’re too busy chatting and cracking each other up. He is the only person I’ve ever met that I don’t eventually get sick of being around, and when I’m having a bad day or going through something difficult, he’s the one person whose very presence can immediately calm me down and make me feel better.
He’s a supportive, sensitive partner who always does his fair share–sometimes more–both at home and at work, without needing to be nagged or cajoled. Our relationship feels balanced, equitable, respectful. He understands and respects that I’m just not the type who would ever happy being a housewife or stay-at-home mom (no judgment–it’s just not for me), that I love to work and that I love being successful at work, that I would resent being expected to do the bulk of the household chores OR being excluded from “man” work just because I’m a girl. He loves me because of these things about me, not despite them, and that is the sort of acceptance I never thought I’d find in any heterosexual relationship, and certainly not in marriage. I have it, though, and I feel so lucky.
The best part of any day is a toss-up between the moment I come home and get to give him a kiss and the moment I crawl into bed with him and get in some much-needed end of the day snuggling. I know this sounds pretty dopey, but it’s all true. My husband makes my life better–and I’m the sort of person that I can guarantee you would never have married him (or anyone else) otherwise.
A baby changes things, though. It doesn’t just change your schedule and what you do with all your time. It changes your priorities. It changes your relationship with your husband, and it has the potential to change the dynamics between the two of you. I think what I’m worried about the most is that having a baby will screw up the seriously sort of fairy tale relationship I have with my husband. I’m worried that we’re going to lose our connection to each other, take each other for granted, stop taking care of each other because every last ounce of us is focused on the baby. I’m worried that, especially since I’m breastfeeding and I’ll be the one staying home for the first few months, I’m going to be the primary parent instead of a co-parent, and that it’s going to throw off the balance that I so appreciate–and need–in our relationship.
I’ve talked to Kellen about it quite a bit, and I know he understands my fears and does his best to allay them. He has reminded me time and again that he plans to be a completely involved parent. He plans to change diapers and rock to sleep and stay home on sick days and work from home one day each week to take care of Isla all by himself and do laundry and cook meals and, when I am breastfeeding, take care of me so that I can take care of her. He doesn’t view parenting as the province of the mother, and I think it’s obvious to everyone that if either of us is cut out to take care of children, it is certainly him, not me. He really embraces all of this stuff, sees it as important to building a relationship with his child, and that’s a relationship he truly wants to have and nurture–just like he wants to have and nurture his relationship with me.
I’m sort of curious how other people have handled the changes in their relationship once the baby arrived. What did you do to make sure you still had a connection with your partner? And, if it was important to you, what did you do to maintain the balance in your relationship?