Expecting your first child is an exciting time in a relationship (when I say an exciting time. Exciting for you and your partner - boring as hell for everyone else).
"We are going to be actual grown up parents," you exclaim, waving around a urine-covered stick, "to a cute little baby!"
You get a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate, after sensibly consulting Google as to whether you can have one drink while pregnant. I discover that yes you can...and no you can't...and that it is ok once a week and never?! In the end you decide to just go with the most reputable source you can find (or the one which allows you to actually have a glass of wine).
From this day forward you talk nothing but baby names, stuff you need to do before the baby arrives and pregnancy symptoms. You decorate the nursery and Google everything from Do I need an electric breast pump? and How do I change a nappy? to What the hell is a Gro-bag?
Sunday lunches at the pub are replaced with strolling around Mothercare hand-in-hand, smiling at babies and discussing the pros and cons of three-wheeler prams.
You talk of parenthood and how amazing it will be. You smile, you laugh, you lie in each other's arms watching One Born Every Minute... It is a special time.
Make the most of it.
Because as soon as the baby arrives - the honeymoon is over.
NINE MONTHS LATER
The baby wouldn't sleep so we couldn't sleep. She cried for three hours every evening and we had no idea why. We were sleep-deprived, stressed and quite frankly, really getting on each other's nerves. The love bubble we were cuddled up in pre-baby had burst. Big time.
But it did get better. Eventually.
It must have done because...
ANOTHER NINE MONTHS LATER
"We are going to be parents," I exclaim in terror, "to another cute little baby."
"Shall I go and get some sparkling wine to celebrate?"
"Nah. I am too tired."
It has now been two and a half years since the birth of our first child and we are still together, still tired and we haven't killed each other (yet).
So how do you avoid killing your partner when you have babies? You learn to live by certain rules. Here is my extremely useful guide:
1: NEVER SAY WHAT YOU REALLY MEAN
In order to maintain marital harmony there are some things that are better off left unsaid. These include any reference to being tired (you are never as tired as the other person) and NEVER under any circumstances admit you are trying to skive off babies. Instead claim you are 'just popping to the shop', 'constipated' or 'taking the bins out".
You know what they mean, they know what you mean, but by not acknowledging this fact you save yourselves the hassle of having to argue about it.
2: ALWAYS GO TO BED ON AN ARGUMENT
If the baby is asleep then do NOT waste time doing anything other than sleeping. Chances are the argument was not that important anyway. Grievances like, You Flushed The Chain And Now The Baby Is Awake or I Wasn't In A Mood Until You Said I Was In a Mood And Now I Am In A Mood and Who's Fault It Is That There Is No Calpol Left, are just not worth the effort.
3) DO NOT BOTHER WITH DATE NIGHTS
A 'date night' suggests going somewhere other than the settee post 7pm. I am too tired for anywhere other than the settee post 7pm.
Forget going out on a date. If the baby is ever in bed at a reasonable hour, just sit on the settee in your pyjamas and drink wine together.
4) GET EACH OTHER STUFF
When you are permanently sleep-deprived Getting Stuff becomes a major chore. Before I had babies I used to get stuff all the time. For example, if I was thirsty I would get myself a drink. These days, unless the drink is within arm's reach, then I will just go without. I have even been known to endure an entire episode of Britain's Got Talent rather than retrieve a remote control from the other side of the room.
Forget flowers and chocolates, when you have babies who do not sleep Getting Each Other Stuff is the height of romance. Fetching that forgotten towel, a drink, or even a toilet roll when you are caught short, is the quickest way to a tired parent's heart.