Big Henry had a checkup today, still in the 99th percentile for weight, height, and head size (I told the doctor the head size wasn't really surprising. People in my family can't find hats that fit). While we were in the lobby he decided to puke down the side of me, a nurse was nice enough to help wipe the two of us off with kleenex (that's how you know you have a good pediatrician's office, by the way). Big boy had two shots and only cried for a bit-I still want to bawl when I see them stick the needle in him.
But earlier, when I went to pick him up from daycare, he was in one of the "extra" onesies we give them, which means he had some sort of bodily fluid explosion and the outfit we dropped him off in was unwearable. (We have a don't ask/don't tell policy about these incidences). It's gotten pretty cold here, so I called Ben and told him we were going to run by the house and pick up some pants and a shirt so he wouldn't freeze. I pull up to the house and Ben comes out, hands me an outfit, and kisses Henry, and we hit the road to the doctor.
Here is why I don't let Ben pick his clothes out often. When I looked closer, I realized he'd given me a red corduroy button down dress shirt and a pair of black fleece sweatpants. WTF. I used to think I wouldn't care what my kid wore, because God knows I don't pay attention to my own appearance and have been known to wander out in public looking homeless, but I do have some objections to my son going out of the house looking like a hobo or a mental patient. But we had no choice, so we went formal on top, casual on the bottom. And Ben thinks I'm being ridiculous and too critical...
Afterwards we had a lovely visit with some friends who had a baby about eight weeks after we had Henry-it was really nice to talk to another mom. My childless friends are invaluable-they remind me that there's a word outside of me and my kid and that most people really don't want to hear about every little cute thing that he does, but you need other moms, too. Not just for baby stuff, but for life stuff-they understand the transformation you've gone through. I was bitching about Ben a bit, and my friend said we'd need some girl time-her husband was home. I certainly don't want any of my friends to be unhappy or argue with their spouses, but it was almost a relief to hear that they'd had some of the same arguments we had.
Because face it, having a kid is a test on your marriage or relationship. Your focus changes and your life changes and I think sometimes partners expect everything to go back to normal, but you don't feel like the old you. Not just in a physical way (although spending nine months looking progressively more like a walrus and then having a small human being torn out of me certainly didn't make me want to head to Victoria's Secret and throw down in the bedroom) but your mindset. I imagine dads feel really, really bewildered.
My tendency is to joke and minimize things, but you know, I really don't want to trivialize this because I didn't read a book that dealt with it adequately. This time can be really hard for even the most solid of partners. It can be depressing, and isolating, and make you feel like you're not sure that your partner wants to stick things out with you. You might differ on your ways of handling issues, or avoid conflict altogether by not talking. But you're not alone-I have yet to talk to a couple with children who didn't go through this on one level or another. I think a lot of people are ashamed to talk about it because you think the world expects you to be so happy because you have a beautiful baby, and you are. As I told a friend of mine who said something about babies causing marital troubles, it's nothing about the baby, he's great. It's us. I think it can be just easier to blame it on the thing that caused the change, if that makes sense.
Not to make anyone think that things are just falling apart, because they aren't. But part of this blog is humor and part is honesty, and if you're a new mom alone with a baby then you already feel set apart, and even little arguments can start to drag you down. Trust me, you're not alone. You're not just figuring out a baby, you're figuring out a new part of yourself.
Now if I find any answers, I'll let you know. Actually, I won't, I'll write a book and go on Oprah and buy my own freaking island because I'm pretty sure I'd hit paydirt.