This February The Huffington Post UK is running Making Modern Love, a fortnight-long focus on what love means to Britons in the 21st Century. Built on the three themes of finding love, building love and losing love, HuffPost will feature human stories that explore exactly what it is to be in love in modern times
This is a subject that I have been contemplating writing about for quite some time. It isn't a subject that I feel I am able to turn into a light-hearted 'easy read', and I worried that by digging too deep I might distract from the usual themes within my posts, and thus risk changing the entire dynamic of my site.
But then I decided that I didn't care.
This topic is of such significance to my life, that to ignore it would not be in keeping with my aim; to blog honestly and openly about the trials and tribulations of motherhood. My motherhood.
My husband and I have been together since 2007. Loves young dream blossomed, and in 2013 we were married.
We welcomed Winnie in May 2015 and the love I had for my husband grew almost instantly. With every tender kiss he would place on our daughter's forehead, to every giggle-inducing raspberry he planted on her stomach, my heart would simply burst with happiness. I couldn't comprehend it- the feeling was overwhelming.
'This is it' I thought to myself. This is what everyone was talking about. This was the feeling of euphoria that I was expecting postpartum. This was love.
Fast forward a short while, however, and the story unfolded rather differently than I had expected.
Gone were the eager visitors, the first footers, and the do-gooders. Gone were the offers of freshly delivered meals and other niceties that we had quickly grown so reliant upon.
Where once was laughter, now stood silence.
Sleep deprivation played a major role in the struggles we faced as a couple, and after weeks of barely two hours sleep each night, we found ourselves in a haze of tiredness. With heightened emotions, our patience and acceptance understandably wore thin.
We were now two separate beings, working together, coexisting together, but with minds two worlds apart.
Friends and family would offer to babysit so that we could spend some 'much needed time together', but I battled with myself over the thought of leaving Winnie in the care of anyone else.
'She is our daughter' I would proclaim, 'There is nothing that we want to do that we cannot do without her by our side'.
In hindsight, allowing others to help would have greatly benefited our situation. But in my head, we had to conform to the 'picture perfect family' ideology that I had worked so hard to create. Admitting to problems and accepting the help of others was going against every ounce of my being.
After weeks of muffled communication, solely centred around Winnie and her needs, I laid in bed one night unable to sleep. With my husband snoring next to me, I rolled over to look at him.
I noticed his impeccably shaped eyebrows that I had always so longingly admired, I noticed his pouty lips, I noticed the tiny scar just above his left eye, but then I noticed that his beard had grown, and that some of his hair had started to grow with a silver tone scattered through the top. I was shocked. I had slept next to this man for eight months, I had eaten dinner with him, bathed our daughter with him, had copious amounts of photos taken with him, but I hadn't noticed him.
That is when I decided that we needed to reconnect. We needed to find the love again. Through all the nappy changes, peek-a-boos and rocking to sleep, we had lost sight of each other. We were going through the motions and meeting the demands of family life, but were we wholeheartedly enjoying it? All aspects of Winnie, undoubtedly yes, but the others? No. Not at all.
From then on, I made more of an effort. I would compliment him on things, I would hug him more, I would offer to make him a drink if I was heading to the kitchen. Small, trivial and standard gestures that I had hoped would slowly help to mend over the cracks.
In all honesty, I felt like a failure. That I was somehow doing something wrong. I must have been doing something wrong. I was meant to be the happiest I had ever been, living in a bubble of love with my new family. Beaming, strong, exhilarated and head over heels for my husband, like a giddy school girl about to go on her first date. But instead, I felt weak and defeated. Hormones can send you into overdrive and put you on top of the world; but they can also leave you feeling exceedingly numb and overwhelmingly flat. Everyone warned me that our lives would drastically change following the birth of our first child, but I had never thought of it to include such negative aspects.
I distinctly remember thinking that my heart was full with Winnie, and that there was no space left for anyone else.
Thankfully, I see now that the love I have for my husband is equally as overwhelming, I had just forgotten how to feel it.