The man in your bed

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.

10 thoughts on “The man in your bed

  1. Such an important topic and great advice. My husband got up with me for every feeding and one of my favorite memories “us” during that time is that we had some silly times in our sleep deprived state singing and such. It’s amazing how much you can love your partner even more after going through the first year of twin parenthood together.

  2. It’s good to know I wasn’t the only weirdo with an odd baby sleeping arrangement in those first months! They were in a variety of places in the living room for the first 2-3 months and it drove me nuts. But we also did the 2AM handoff, just like that. I think in our hopes that we’d each get some amount of uninterrupted sleep, we didn’t bring them up to their room (like 6 feet from our room) until they were getting the hang of going back to sleep overnight… Oh, not my favorite memories!

    Life is better now in a million ways, but as for happy husband stories, nothing makes me happier than hearing M sing goofy songs to our kids. He knows a million of them!

  3. A fellow mom of twins told me, when mine were 2 months old, that nothing you and your spouse say to each other in the first three months count. We have extended that to include what we say to each other between 1 and 5am. (Nothing good ever comes of remembering these things in the morning). My favorite early memories—long walks with the stroller and itty bitty sleeping babies. We were lucky enough for my husband to have the first 6 weeks off of work, and we spent hours and hours pushing that stroller and enjoying the spring weather (and sleeping babies).

  4. Love it! I’m glad we had already been through becoming parents before the boys arrived. I think we laughed a lot more at our various, ridiculous situations than we would have/could have if it was our first time out of the gate. The “please and Thank You” advice is killer – takes two seconds but goes a long way. And touching each other. Even if it’s just a little butt pat on your way to picking up one of the screaming children. A little human contact (of the non-parenting kind) can work wonders for making you feel like there is life beyond diapers!

  5. Luckily, my hubby did all the feedings at night with me…i was SOO lucky. He was such a trooper. But now thinking back…we did some pretty funny things in the middle of the night due to sleep deprivation. I remember one time just falling asleep sitting up in the bed with my daughter facing me in her boppy…i woke up(an hour later) and the bottle had hit the floor…and she was sound asleep. Thank goodness she didn’t somehow roll off the bed. I agree with all these suggestions!

  6. This is excellent advice! My husband and I are sorta newlyweds, so we’re just getting used to each other’s ways, and to throw twins into the mix, ahhh! It’s been fairly easy so far. He is the best. husband/dad. ever. I have definitely had one of those BAD moments as described above, though!

  7. I have had MANY of the bad moments listed above! (I think this article is currently my favorite as this weekend my husband and I ended up not talking to each other for a few hours because he refuses to find a place other than on top of my coat and purse to hang the boys bottle bag. Cynthia – I agree with everything you said!

  8. I wandered over here from Penelope Trunk’s blog, excellent points and articulated so well. I think I cringed a little just thinking about the exhaustion and all the duties. How does anyone find balance? I’m scared I’ll never be able to juggle parenthood gracefully. Good points though, I will carefully follow your advice if I ever have kids.

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