A friend asked me to write about people who have a baby to save the relationship. I've waited until today to write this post because I wanted to wait until I felt like I could do it without coming across like "la-tee-da I know everything about relationships because my relationship is the best ever." I wanted to wait until I could share a story about my marriage getting a little beat up by our children. I wanted to wait until I felt like a shitty wife, in addition to a shitty gage of how much dry spaghetti to cook for 4 adults, as well as a shitty person to drive behind on the highway (because 55 is my happy place. Sorry guys.)
And here we are.
We are in the weeds.
We've got Chicken's stomach bug, Buster's sleep regression, and both of us trying to continue to operate our own lives while wading through puddles of shit on less than 5 hours of sleep.
On days like today we snap, as tightly wound and utterly separate as two guitar strings.
So today I am not coming from a place of superiority. I'm coming from a dark, dark, sleepless, poop-spattered place. Nevertheless, this deeply flawed blogger in a bathrobe is going to write a little bit about what I like to call the worst idea ever:
Having a baby. To save the relationship.
Having a baby to save the relationship is like intentionally contracting HIV to lose those holiday pounds.
Yes, you'll probably lose some weight if you get HIV.
You will then have HIV.
Having a baby to save the relationship is like thinking, "oh man, I really want to remember that website where they're selling those chia pets that grow into green beards on gnomes. I should get it tattooed on my forehead."
Yeah, same deal.
Getting a web address tattooed to your forehead is a foolproof way to remember that web address.
You now have http://www.chiagnomes.com tattooed to your forehead.
Which means you will have to have bangs.
Having a baby permanently alters the course of your life, and if you're in a relationship, then it permanently alters the course of your (plural-you) life together. It's not like a weekend trip to New Orleans or joining a co-ed soccer league. Babies aren't a sexy little escapade guaranteed to rekindle the flames of romance.
Babies are sweet, miraculous, adorable, wonderful darlings. And it's a good thing they are, because if they weren't not one of them would survive past teething or at most the age of two. Because babies are also bottomless, uncompromising pits of urgent need.
You're like, "I'm gonna go brush my teeth."
Baby's like, "I just shit in my own hair... aaaaaaand now I'm rubbing it in."
You're like, "Oooh, honey you look good. Let's make out on the couch."
Baby's like, "Yoo hoo! It's time for my monthly sleep regression."
You're like, "I just have to finish cutting up these vegetables for dinner. It'll take 5 minutes."
Baby's like, "I AM SCREAMING!"
You're like, "Honey, how was your day at work?"
Baby's like, "I dropped my binky."
You're like, "OK, here's your binky. Now. Honey, how was your day at work?"
Baby's like, "I dropped my binky again."
You're like, "I quit. I can't do this anymore."
Baby's like, "(nuzzle up into your neck) (looks into your eyes) (smiles) (he doesn't do that for anyone else) (I love you too.)"
I'm a little short on sleep, so rather than weaving an elegant segue from the most perfect words, I'm just going to drop some lists on you.
Having a baby may change your life and relationship in the following ways:
1. You may discover how much joy lives in rediscovering all of life's firsts through the bright eyes of your child.
2. You may fall more and more deeply in love with your partner, as you watch him or her blossom into the kind of creative, loving, joyful parent that every child should have.
3. You may end most of your days proud of your fledgling family. You may end most of your days showing each other pictures you took of the baby and giggling under the covers.
Having a baby may also change your life and relationship in the following ways:
1. You may discover how exasperating it is to have to just fucking wait it out until your kid is old enough for you to start enjoying him. Not all people love babies. Lots of great parents? Noooooot wild about babies, actually. For some parents those first couple of years are just making deposits in that old-age-home-bank. "I changed so many fucking diapers, Alastair. You better put me somewhere nice."
2. You may wake up one morning to discover that your partner is a selfish bastard whose life has not changed as much as yours has. You may sit silently and watch him do everything wrong, leave his dirty dishes on the table for you to clean up, leave her shoes right in the fucking doorway to the bathroom even though you've asked her 18,000 times not to fucking do that.
3. You may end your day feeling like you'd be less claustrophobic buried alive Kill Bill-style.
But no matter what, having a baby WILL change your life and relationship in the following ways:
1. Everybody is going to have to get comfortable in the #2 spot. Not every time. But most of the time.
Great story from work? Yeah, see I can't listen to that at all right now because Herbert is screaming and my blood pressure feels like it's 6,000/290, so I'm going to feed this baby right quick and you will wait and that won't make your story any less awesome. K thanks.
Oh, you wanted to get a workout in today? Yeah, see, the baby's got a fever and needs to be walked around this room 14,000 times before he'll fall asleep... so...
Date night? Do you mean "the night we go out to dinner and talk about the baby and you check your phone every 4 minutes to make sure the babysitter hasn't called and then we go to a movie during which you hold your phone in your hand and check it every time it vibrates and then you lean over and whisper "IT WAS JUST MY MOM I'LL CALL HER BACK." That night? Is that the night that we're calling a date?
2. You will discover what you're made of. And what you're (plural-you) made of. No getting around it. Babies are pudgy little truth bombs.
3. You will remember what it feels like to fall in love. Maybe not the first time that kid lands in your arms, all covered in goo and squalling like a gull at the hot dog cart. Maybe not for a month. Maybe not for a year, although you should probably go talk to somebody if that's the case. But someday, somewhere along the line you will topple head over heels in love. I promise.
Maybe that's where the appeal is - producing your very own perfect love out of an admittedly iffy coupling. Maybe the transformation is what's driving people to get knocked up with partners they don't really like that much. Maybe it's a fear of loneliness, or the ticking clock, or being left behind when all the people you went to high school with have baby's first Santa pics up on Facebook. Maybe it's just reading Us Weekly and thinking preggo celebs are totes adorbs. I really can't say. All I can say, from my personal experience, is this:
I believe I have a strong marriage.
Ryan and I have been together for ten years. We have learned how to fight fair, when to hold em, when to fold em, and when to kindly say "Yeah, babe, I told you so" (That was a trick, Ryan. The answer is never. Fucking never.)
We are equipped with good communications skills, and two hearts that badly want to say "I'm sorry," when all's said and done. Our foundation is solid.
I believe he has my back no matter what. He's game. I believe he loves our family more than anything and wants what's best for us. He's in. I believe that he knows the same is true of me, that I'm game, and I'm in, 100%.
And we're still in the weeds.
Please, please don't have a baby to save your relationship. It will work, in that you will have cemented your bond with your partner forever and ever. But it will not work, in that having babies does not fix problems; rather, it merely intensifies whatever you were feeling before, and after baby you pretty much don't have time to be polite any more.