by Brooke Wade
Let’s be honest. We love to look (and post!) pretty pictures and glorified captions just like the rest of you, but we have big respect for a mama that can keep it real. Brooke Wade is a mama to two in Northern California and is the first to admit that sometimes sh*t gets hard. Really hard. Life with one baby had her admittedly smug and self-congratulatory by her mad parenting skillz, but adding a second (not as easy as the first) baby to the mix had her take a closer look at what life is really like for her growing family. Stress, sleep deprivation and exhaustion wore her down and she’s opening up with HEYMAMA to let you know, you are not alone. Read on…
My husband Jason, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in May of 2010. It was the hardest year of our life. So we thought.
You know those parents you read about who seem to have it so easy? Blessed with the perfect baby who latches like a champ and sleeps through the night at seven weeks? Yeah, we were those assholes. Our son came into the world like he was on a perma-high. He was so mellow and pleasant…a real angel. We thought parenting was easy AF. He was our golden boy, but more importantly, we were slaying the parenting game. We were experts. We talked shit about difficult kids and judged other parents, just like any unflawed parent would.
For this moment, we were undoubtedly blessed: Jason was in remission, our relationship was on the upswing, and we were ready for more.
Nineteen months later, we had our daughter…and everything changed.
Life with two babies is never easy, but we had no clue what we were in for. Our new daughter Clover’s relationship with sleep was like a one-night stand. It happened sporadically, felt great for all involved, but never lead to any real consistency or commitment.
As a nursing mom (for 12 f–king months), I was waking up four to eight times a night. I was knee-deep in sleep deprivation. I was a dick. I was everything I always swore I would never be: impatient, irritated, testy, snappy, agitated and anxious. I had a full time job and I was waking up all through the night, every night. We had a “Stage Five Clinger” who was privy to infection. We spent days in the ICU, many in urgent care, and countless days of missed work – often unpaid.
My husband and my relationship was put to the test, to say the least.
It’s not often enough you read about what really happens in a marriage after you have kids. Of course it brings you closer and there are some incredible aspects, but people hesitate to open up about the bad parts… the nitty gritty of what’s really going on. People seem scared to be vulnerable in any public forum, like it’s taboo or the kiss-of-death. Like putting your relationship on a reality show or tattooing your spouse’s name. It’s easy to find blog posts about stretch marks and saucer-sized nipples, but not your post-baby marriage. Weird? I think so too.
Kids change everything. Seriously, everything. Not just your vagina morphing into some sort of anatomical silly putty, or one of your nipples suddenly becoming inverted after your boobs have shrunk 3x their size and have become malleable enough to fold in half. Or the bickering over parenting style or whether or not to allow cartoons with breakfast. Sleep deprivation brings out monsters. I became a different person for over a year. My husband of several years forgot what life was like before I was a total bitch.
At the risk of sounding wildly understated: We were in a rut.
Guys can be assholes too, don’t get me wrong. Have you ever had a sick husband? Ugh. It’s like having a baby who understands what you’re saying, but pretends he doesn’t just so he can crap in his pants and puke on the bathroom floor with no repercussions. It can be worse than a child—they’re able to verbalize their requests, yet they whine and moan more than a dog in heat. If you’re like me, moms are only this sick after too much wine on a rare weekend. Ok, sometimes a weekday. I digress.
My husband actually does a ton to help with the kids, (more than most husbands I know, actually) and wasn’t too pleased with that depiction above. So maybe my barf and shitting memories are from life in our twenties, so sue me. #mombrain. (Which, by the way, is an excuse I plan to use until the day I die.) But all men are babies when they’re sick or when they haven’t had enough sleep. I would rather listen to Kanye go on a narcissistic rant than listen to a dad try to say they’re tired or sleep deprived. Husbands take note—if you don’t have boobs or answer to “Mama” countless times a day, don’t complain about sleep deprivation. Save yourself some passive aggressive remarks, deadly stare-downs and some serious resentment.
Marriage with kids is by far harder than just parenthood alone, in my opinion. The fact that we’re supposed to care for living beings (not just plants, which I usually kill) and keep a marriage fulfilled is just crazy and overwhelming. Not to mention the physical act, because we all know we put that shit off like the plague and play dead like an opossum on the regular. Unless I’m drunk. Then there’s at least 7 minutes of energy in me. Amiright? You know you agree.
If you feel like this, just know it’s totally normal. I’ve talked to very few (if any) new moms who are like “my marriage is better than ever!” It hardly happens. If it does, you’re either the blissful asshole I was at first, or it’s a total lie. It’s human nature to give all of yourself to your child, so the marital love tank inevitably takes a toll. I’m no Marriage and Family Therapist, but my advice would be to keep communication open, acknowledge the “change,” and consciously work to make things better. As much as I understand why things have gotten tough and I can rattle off excuses like I can Dumb and Dumber quotes, it doesn’t get better unless you work at it. Jason and I are constantly talking about our issues, and often times seeking therapy to rectify them. I’m not afraid to admit it. I’m actually proud to admit that we take our relationship seriously enough to continuously get the most out of it. We don’t settle. We know how we were before times got tough, so we strive to make that our reality.
How are you coping with married life and parenthood? Has your relationship taken a toll? I’d love to hear. Let me know in the comments below.
Photos by @lifestylebytavio