Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Relationship after baby

I was prepared for our relationship to change as a result of Little Man's arrival, and things have changed. Not really for better or worse. They're just different.

I knew our relationship was pretty solid -- it was a major factor in my choice to proceed with a high-risk unplanned pregnancy at age 43 -- but it's proving even more solid than I'd thought. Or perhaps it's that having a baby together has gelled things for us even further. It feels good. Feels right. We're relaxed and happy with each other most of the time, and that impacts Little Man. He's a very easy, happy, loving baby. In the past month, as the baby has gotten a little more independent of me, M has really stepped up his game. He takes Little Man off my hands and has learned to distinguish between a fussy baby that he can console, and one who can only be consoled by mommy. I actually got to spend an hour digging in the garden this weekend, putting arabian jasmine and hibiscus in the ground, and digging up and transplanting a bird of paradise, some fountain grass, lavender, and rosemary. I got dirt under my fingernails and sweat in my eyes and it felt good!

I really like the relationship I have with Little Man's father. He's a good man, a kind and appreciative man. His biggest complaint about me is that I don't give him enough opportunity to do things for me. His second biggest complaint is that I'm not back to normal emotionally. I know that he was looking forward to having me "back" once the baby was born, and I did warn him that I'd still be under the influence of hormones while I'm lactating, but, well, I'm just not as unflappable as I was before-baby, and that is hard on him.  There are moments when he really irritates the hell out of me. Most of the time I know it's about me -- know that he is who he is and if something he does irritates me, that's about me, not him. It's not his nature to deliberately try to piss me off, and sometimes... sometimes I have to remind myself of that. Just like I remind him not to take my irritability personally. Being over-tired and hormonal does strange things to people, and all we can do is try to keep our heads and be compassionate with each other in the aftermath of any heated exchanges.

He's still my best friend, M is. I enjoy his company. He makes me laugh. I can talk with him about just about anything. He's communicative about his unmet needs, which keeps baby-related resentments to a minimum. He's incredibly supportive. He's always asking me what he can do for me, how he can help me achieve my goals. I'm incredibly grateful that he is such a strong breadwinner that he can support our family on his income alone -- in the Bay Area, which is so incredibly expensive to live in. And in exchange, I do my best to be frugal. He is often exasperated by my frugality, so he doesn't give me a hard time when I do spend money. I've done really well with regards to spending on the baby -- scored a lot of great stuff on Craig's List. I actually just bought the first item of baby clothes at a store last week -- an outfit for family photos next month.

Before the photos, we're going on a trip to Puerto Vallarta. I wanted to get some experience with airports and flying with the baby before heading off to Canada to meet M's family at Christmas time. When he asked where I wanted to go, I told him a quick hop to Las Vegas, or LA, or maybe San Diego for a night or two. He knows I don't care for Vegas or LA, and he wasn't interested in San Diego, so he suggested Hawaii. I love Hawaii, particularly the Big Island, but for a first time flight with a 5 month old, a 5 hour trip is daunting. However, given that we do have a passport for Little Man already, that opened up the possibility of flying south, to Mexico. Cabo San Lucas was our first thought, but then a friend suggested the more tropical Puerto Vallerta, which is just a 3.5 hour flight from SFO. Given that we were in Bali just a year ago, I've definitely got what we need for the tropics -- including SPF 50 for the baby.

As for Little Man, he's developing quite well. He's not the butter-ball people expect breastmilk-fed babies to be, though he does have a little roll on each of his thighs. He's sitting up under his own power most of the time -- until he loses interest in being upright, and then he falls over like a puppet. He's started taking control of his bottle from me when he doesn't like how I'm holding it, and as long as it's not too full, he can feed himself. Now that I've finally gotten rid of laryngitis and am talking to him more, he's more talkative -- doing his baby babble. I am amazed by how his dexterity improves daily. His strong little legs support him very well when I've got them shoulder-width apart, and his balance is improving enough that he can stand unsupported for about 5 seconds at a time. He's a cheerful baby, charming people with his big grins, and is rarely fussy or cranky in public. I took him into San Francisco to meet up with Jem and her daughter Rosie for lunch and a museum tour and he did great the whole trip -- including both legs of the BART ride.

Life is good. Not at all what I expected for myself at this age. But good. I'm blessed, and I know it.

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