When my husband and I discovered I was pregnant, like every other parent we were both delightered and bewildered. Our daughter was planned, though *whispers* not exactly motivated by my broodiness. Or his.
I’d always anticipated being a younger mum (mid-twenties, as opposed to mid-thirties; which is actually not that young, biologically-speaking). Only the closer I came to my ‘ideal-mum-age’, the less ready I felt. And the longer I demurred.
I thought about the world we live in; and from a detached perspective, I decided that bringing a child into it was not the kindest thing for us to do: there is such capacity for hurt and harm and hardship. As a would-be mother, I was in the omnipotent position to ensure with absolute certainty that no child of mine would ever have to endure the pain of a broken heart; a broken bone; a broken promise.
Then, as my biological clock began ticking, I found myself in a moral quandary.
Fears for the Future
Ultimately, though we were not feeling especially broody, the torrid dread of regret usurped the long list of cons we were adding to every day: a superficial life of luxury lost out to the primal lure of Mother Nature. And so we decided to try.
As I used to do before a long run, I began the mental preparation for the life-long marathon of becoming a mother.
But if I was anxious, my husband was utterly terrified. His biggest concern was of what a baby would do to us – he was fearful I’d neglect him in favour of our daughter. I was unperturbed and tried to reassure him: our marriage was solid; a child would surely make us more devoted to each other and our family; watching him with our baby could only serve to strengthen my love for him.
I quickly fell pregnant with our daughter, and we took it as a sign that she was ready to join our family; we embraced the impending chaos.
Adjusting from Two to Three
I cannot understate the cataclysmic disruption an infant causes. I’m not talking the carnage of baby-related paraphernalia (though be under no misapprehension – when they require entertainment, that’s a whole other aspect of disarray). I’m referring to the foresight my hubby had. I’m referring to my husband’s foresight. I’m usually the one with ‘women’s intuition’ (read anxious foreboding) when it comes to sensitive situations, while he is more is usually relaxed and nonchalant.
With hindsight, I may have been a little naïve. Okay, sure, I hold my hands up – I was indisputably ignorant, perhaps even supercilious. While all the things I believed were true, it transpires that actually, a tiny baby has the capacity to comprehensively alter the dynamic of your relationship – to a potentially devastating degree. And the ability they have to do so is inexplicably colossal for their size! (Proportionally about the same as the piercing wail that emanates from their tender lungs.)
Suffice to say, it has taken until our daughter is not far off 18 months old for us to regain some equilibrium. (I can’t be certain, but the fact she’s just started sleeping through the night may be more than a simple coincidence.)
Embracing Your New Dynamic
My intention is not to alarm parents-to-be; my aim is simply to highlight my misjudgement, in the hope that others will be better placed to avoid the same mistakes. We’re all fallible, and if anything is going to prove that, a baby will. Absolute faith in our relationships is wonderful, but refusing to acknowledge the possibility of our marriage being vulnerable to any circumstances could be disastrous. I’m not ashamed to admit I flailed for a while there.
Having said that, I’ve also seen that despite our fallibility, we remain unbreakable – if not quite untouchable as I had mistakenly believed (so much so I had it engraved on my husband’s wedding gift).
Forewarned is forearmed, and preparing for the inevitable challenges you’ll face as a couple will stand you in good stead to weather the storm, as we have done.
As fledgling parents, we’re naturally predisposed to be utterly attentive to our young, which is honourable and commendable. But by being so focused on the infant, it’s highly unlikely that they are the most vulnerable entity in the home: we may inadvertently be putting our relationship in jeopardy.
The irony being, of course, the greatest danger for our baby becomes a broken home; the legacy of which is often more damaging than that of a broken bone.
If you take care not to neglect your marriage, you’ll come through the other side with the most valuable gift you could provide for your new child: a secure family.