One of the biggest worries that I had while pregnant was how the addition of a new, tiny person into our family would change our marriage.

Would we be brought closer together through our little bundle of joy that was created out of our love for each other?
or
Would we grow apart because of sleepless nights and the constant care and attention that a newborn demands?

The answer, is simply, “YES”.

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Things were great between Trevor and I for the first few weeks, maybe even a month, with Olivia in our lives. Even though I was recovering from childbirth and we were both trying to navigate the unchartered waters of parenthood, we were still a team. Side by side, strong as ever.

As the months went by, however, things slowly started to change. It wasn’t an immediate shift, but one that crept up on us so slowly that we didn’t even notice it was happening. Suddenly, we weren’t really a team anymore. We were two separate people, no longer really united.

When we first announced our pregnancy, one of Trevor’s friends said this to him:

“Not much is going to change for you,
but it’s going to turn Amanda’s world upside down”.

Trevor and I both scoffed at this comment. Trevor didn’t want to be an absentee Dad. He wanted to be just as involved as me. We thought that this comment would definitely not apply to us.

Except, it turns out that this is exactly what happened.

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My life was upside down, and Trevor’s was pretty much the same as before. He has never been an absentee dad; he has always been in the trenches with me changing dirty diapers, administering Tylenol and hugs, and washing bottles. When I was struggling to breastfeed he would sit in the nursery with me, in the middle of the night, to help support me the only way he could. The difference is that he never lost his pre-baby self the way that I did. He’s added “Dad” to his identity. Me? I went from Amanda to Mom. My new identity was now just Mom and I had no idea where the rest of my identity went.

As Trevor continued with his normal, pre-baby routine of going to work, school, and volunteering, my routine was nothing like before. I would often sleep until 9 am, get up maybe once during the night (but often not at all), and spend my days entertaining, feeding, and cleaning a baby. Trevor’s life was pretty much the same, and mine looked nothing like I was used to.

We weren’t really sleep deprived, and Olivia wasn’t demanding the same constant care and attention that she did as a newborn. Parenting was getting easier, but our relationship was getting worse.

I wasn’t happy. I felt like I was losing my best friend. We didn’t talk or play the same way that we used to. We were treating each other in ways that we never did before; we simply had no patience for each other anymore.

All of our positive energy, patience, and fun was being poured into Olivia. We were  so focused on Olivia that we were simply too burnt out to put the same amount of energy into our relationship. After Olivia would go to bed, we’d spend the evening together eating dinner, tidying up, and watching television. This was generally our pre-baby weeknight routine, but it just wasn’t good enough for our post-baby life.

We were missing the fun. The spontaneous dinners out, the late nights spent with friends, the regular date nights. All of our conversations were centred around Olivia; we barely talked about anything else.

So, we decided to make a shift. We implemented a weekly date night of wine and board games. I’ve started spending more time out of the house, hanging out with girlfriends or shopping by myself. Trevor still gets time with his friends, watching hockey games, or attending events. We will drop Olivia off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house every once in a while to spend a night away from her. Sometimes I’ll even leave Trevor and Olivia home alone for a day or two while I escape to my parent’s house. He doesn’t get annoyed, or make me feel guilty. In fact, he cherishes the time that he gets to spend one-on-one with his little girl.

I’m feeling more like my old self. Just a better version of my old self. Our relationship is back on track, and even better than before. Sure there are still times when we need to put in a little more work, but I don’t expect that to ever disappear. We are kind to each other again. We play, we talk, and we adore watching our little babe turn into a little person.

I’m happy that we’ve gotten through this hurdle. It’s made our relationship stronger, and changed our love for each other. I love Trevor more now, watching him be the best Dad to our little girl, than I ever thought was possible. The fact that we’ve gone through this journey together has brought us together in ways that I never could have imagined.

Five years ago, on our wedding day, I thought I loved Trevor as much as I possibly could. Today, I love him leaps and bounds more. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to love him more than I do right now, but I hope that it’s somehow possible.

So, yes, having a baby changed our marriage. For worse, and then for better.

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