Some time around the 3rd month, I rolled over one morning after a (blissful!) 4-hour stretch of sleep to find a man in my bed. As I rubbed my sleepy eyes to get a better look, I wondered…”who was this mysterious fellow that I had, apparently, spent the night with?”, and then I noticed that he looked suspiciously like an exhasted version of the man I married a few years back.
When B and I first found out that, “Surprise! It’s twins!”, after the initial shock, I found myself more in love with my husband than ever before. Those 9 months of waiting and anticipating were amazing! We’d go out to dinner and talk endlessly about how, in a few months, we’d be bringing our boys hiking, camping and out to dinner. We found ourselves constantly repeating, “I can’t wait when the boys….XYZ”. We’d plan our future as a family right from the dinner table.
What was missing from all of our discussions was how having twins would affect our marriage.
Fast forward 9 months and, although the love was still there, our relationship as husband and wife changed. Drastically. For the first 3 months, instead of B the Husband, I was now co-habitating with B, the Father of my Children. He went from Husband to Teammate/Nightshift worker/Sandwhich maker/Diaper changer/Guy who poured my miniscual amounts of EBM into little plastic bags to be frozen. Our deepest conversations usually happened at 2am (the end of his “shift”), when my Teammate would give me a quick report on what time each kid peed, pooped, slept and ate. We’d slap eachother’s hands with a “TAG! You’re it!” gesture and we were off to our respective posts. B to the bedroom for some zzz’s before getting up to go to work and me to the family room where I would watch over the babes.
Oh, those first months were tough! Between sleep deprivation, hormone fluctuations, doctor’s appointments, visitors, and breastfeeding struggles, there just wasn’t enough time for “us”. Rarely did we kiss, rarely did we hug, and rarely did we have enough energy to ask how eachothers’ day had gone. For two people who once decided to share the rest of their lives together, this was quite a change.
No book, magazine, pre-birth class or best friend can prepare you for the post-birth relationship that you’ll have with your spouse. There’s the BAD: You’ve just washed the 21st bottle of the day and the sink is finally empty until your husband decides he can’t take the extra 1.3 seconds to put his dirty silverware in the dishwasher (where it belongs). You yell. He yells. And then the babes start yelling (even louder than you both combined) and procede to projectile vomit all over the couch cushion that you just steam cleaned for the millionth time since D-Day. And then, of course, you forget what you were even arguing about because you are both attempting to rescue a kid from Lake Vomit. And then there’s the GOOD: The kids are both quiety asleep in their bouncers, keeping their Soothies in place. The dinner that your neighbor graciously prepared is piping hot and ready to be enjoyed. You both sit down at the table (at the same time!). And finish the entire meal, all while engaging in conversation that doesn’t include the word “poop”, before the kids wake up to be fed.
Because hindsight is 20/20, I compiled a list of little things that you and your spouse can do during the first (exhausting!) months in an attempt to shift the focus back to the real reason why you started out on this Great Adventure called Parenting: LOVE!
- Say “please” and “thank-you”. It sounds lame, but they aren’t called The Magic Words for nothin’.
- Take a break, alone, at least once a day. And no, pumping breast milk in a quiet (and kid-free) room does not count.
- Take a break, together, once a day. When both kids are asleep, try to spend a few minutes re-connecting, even if it’s just doing the dishes together for 10 minutes (though, this isn’t really a “break”). Talk about your day, ask your spouse where he’d like to go on vacation (in 2 years), or what book he’s looking forward to reading (and yes, you will read for pleasure again one day! I promise). Just don’t talk about how exhausted you are and that you’re not sure if you’re going to make it through the next day without a stiff martini.
- Hug and kiss your spouse. Seriously. It only takes a second.
- Focus on the positive. The first few months are rough, but they will also be filled with some of your most cherished moments. Enjoy the little things that matter. Sure, feeding two infants at once is anything but easy, but really…how many people in this world get the chance to do this? Just knowing that you ARE doing it is and, by god, it’s working!, is reason to celebrate!
- Don’t keep a tally. Maybe you had to fold the 4 loads of laundy that have been sitting in the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper for 2 days straight, but your spouse fixed the wobbly wheel of your used Snap-n’ Go (without having to ask him!) that you discovered after today’s pedi appointment.
- Plan your first night out. Someday…soon…there will be a time when you and your spouse can get the hell out of the house. Together, sans the bundles of joy. It’ll be exciting and it will be terrifying. But, it’s got to happen sooner or later…and, anticipation is the best part! What restaurant will you go to? What will you order? Will you be able to finish an entire glass of wine without feeling highly buzzed?
It was’t until the sixth-month mark that I finally started to recognize the man in my bed. Even if I’d occassionally find that same man on the couch, after kicking him out in the middle of the night to make room for two squirmy kids.
Our babes are almost 13 months now, and B and I are still attempting to figure out the delicate balancing act between career, children and marriage. They say you can’t have it all. But damnit, I’d like to try.