Clara (C) and I are very conscious of the fact that we come across as a happy loving couple most of the time. We smile together in family photos and say lovely things about each other on social networks. But that isn't to say everything has been smooth sailing since we became parents. The last few months have been a fantastic adventure, but they've also put our relationship through some pretty tough tests.
In the months leading up to Monkey's birth, we were incredibly close. We had time for cuddles and lazy weekends and were able to lead a selfish relationship, only concentrating on each other's needs. Nobody had prepared us for the challenges we would face once we welcomed our new addition in to our lives. That's not to say we would have done anything differently, as Monkey has been the best thing that's ever happened to us. But we both felt if more people talked about the tough times, then it wouldn't be so taboo. We were also inspired by a fab friend, to blog about the tough times as well as all the fab bits.
The first few weeks were a roller coaster of sleepless nights, hormones (not just C's) and short tempers. I think the addition of being new parents with very strong differing opinions, had an effect as well. C had a lot of physical healing to do, which in turn made me feel quite distant. I was unsure if C felt the same way about me, yet I didn't actually talk to her about it. We ended up in a cycle of assuming we knew what the other person was thinking and getting frustrated at the other assuming the wrong thing. Arguments were triggered by the smallest event, like not putting a t-shirt in the laundry bin.
Living in such a small space also contributed to the arguments. We couldn't just take ourselves away from the situation to calm down, having only one bedroom and a kitchen/living room space sort of limits your options some what. I sort of suffered with Cabin Fever. I used to get so frustrated with the clutter and the mess that I would take it out on Kirsty, I used to say to myself "Clara this isn't you, what are you doing?!". I know now that i should gave just swallowed my pride and asked my mum to come over and clean for me, she would have done it without hesitation, but I wanted to be Super Mummy!
I also had a 2nd degree tear from labour and lost a lot of blood so I found it difficult to walk, even to the corner shop. If I walked for more than five minutes at a time, I used to get shaky and feel faint. I didn't heal completely for six months which made me extremely upset; like I wasn't the woman I once was. Having a baby takes its toll on your body and my tummy was so sore, like I had done 1000 abdominal crunches the previous day.
Before having the baby, K and I had a very healthy physical relationship, and because I was so sore for so long I didn't have any physical desires for a long time. Of course I suffered in silence and didn't explain to K how I was feeling. Thinking back now I completely understand why she thought I didn't find her attractive any more, I would probably have felt the same way. She didn't pressure me at all, which I love her so much for but it must have been so hard.
Sitting down and taking the time to talk to each other about issues saved our marriage. I can confidently say that we are close to where we were before Monkey. I say 'close' because having a little one has changed the whole dynamic of our life together, but I adore K and my life wouldn't be complete without her.
Our relationship will never be how it was before the most amazing little person arrived. This isn't to say we love each other any less, we just can't hide ourselves away selfishly in bed all weekend. But since we've talked about how we feel and have learnt to be more patient with each other, things have improved. Trying to find time for each other, be it just a few minutes a day, to catch up, has helped us turn to the same page once more. I'm sure when we are 60 we will go back to weekends in bed.