Everyone said life would change after a baby. I can truly say I didn't really believe that it could be all that different. Hah!!! Boy was I a fool. What was I thinking? Though I do think it is the type of situation that you can never really understand until you are on the other side.
Anthony and I have a been a party of two for so long. We have been together off and on (mostly on) since 1998. I was a college freshman and he was a sophomore and we met through a friend on a random Friday night and the rest is history. It still makes me laugh that we went from flirting at a party in a dirty college apartment to being married with a baby! If only I had known that my life was changing that night, I might have had a little less vodka and worn a cuter outfit. I guess it all worked out in my favor. We have been married for 6 years this month. For 5 long years it was just the two of us. We did what we wanted, when we wanted. Dinners out every week, weekend trips, concerts, lazy Saturdays. We were a little family of two. When we got pregnant I told Anthony what I was most worried about--having to share him with another person. I was so used to having him all to myself and I worried that our marriage and relationship would change once we added a third party into the mix, especially one that would be so high maintanence for roughly the next 18 years. Then Alice came into our lives and everything became a little different, but not in the way I was worried about. It is different because we no longer put ourselves first. We are more apt to help each other without complaining and eye rolling. There is more love in our house than ever before. We both love the baby in a way that we did not realize was possible, and that changed our love for each other. The minute I had Alice I loved Anthony more than ever for helping me to create this perfect little person. I love seeing him be a daddy. Listening to him talk to her is hilarious and seeing her sleeping peacefully in his arms reminds me of why I fell in love him. It is funny how having a baby alters you. It doesn't change who you are or what your core beliefs are, it alters you in little ways. Parts of you become softer, now that you are so emotionally connected to another human being, and parts become tougher because you have to protect that little person. Those changes carry over into other relationships and make you a better person for it.
I am glad for our relationship that we waited so long to have a baby. I am not saying this is the right thing for everyone, but it certainly was for us. I wanted a baby so bad those first few years, but it was never the right time. Thank god for small (and big) favors. Sure, being married is more complicated than being single. But is really just like gaining a roommate who you say "i love you" to and share a tube of toothpaste and a bed with. Life as you know it basically stays the same. We have discovered the real changes happen when you bring a baby home from the hospital. No more spur of the moment movie and dinner dates. No more meeting friends for a beer. The world now revolves around a 7lb baby who has no idea what havoc they are causing. The sleepless nights alone are enough to cause marital strain. Add in endless laundry, colic and projectile pooping, and things really start to get dicey. Fortunately through it all we have remained a team. We have repeatedly said since Alice arrived that we are so glad we waited a few years. We worked out all of our new marriage kinks and are comfortable with each other. No matter how much you love someone when you get married, there are things you learn post-marriage, and every year of being married adds to that knowledge base. You discover what drives you crazy about your spouse, like how they squeeze the toothpaste (Anthony), or that they leave their drawers open just a crack (me). You figure out the best division of labor--who likes to clean the bathroom (me) and who is best at cleaning the floors (Anthony). We agree that had we started with babies straight out of the gate, before we had our marriage stabilized, we may not have made it through these first stressful weeks without losing it on each other. Sure there are still fights--I leave the wipes container open and he leaves bottles everywhere. There will always be times when one of us has just had enough and loses it, but hopefully they will be few and far between. As long as we remember why we started loving each other then we will come out the other side intact. Our time as a married couple has made us stronger parents, and being parents has made our marriage stronger. Win-win situation.
I certainly don't think this is true for everyone. There are plenty of parents out there who started their marriage and parenthood at the same time and have incredibly strong relationships. I also know plenty of married couples who love each other in amazing ways that have no kids, and never will. Every relationship is different and we all have to do the best for our own lives. We all live and love differently and what works for some does not work for others. What worked best for us was getting settled into being a party of two before we expanded our number of seats at the table.