Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Choose You: Staying Connected After Baby

Engagement photo from 2010.
Jane Z Photography

The Stages of Team Griffin

Engagement was so glamorous.  The anticipation, the planning, the excitement.  The question marks and hypotheticals of single life turning into answers and decisions and a confident way forward.  Myself on my wedding day was the most beautiful I have ever felt in my entire life. 

Add a deeper dimension of intimacy, shared closet space and a whole new set of challenges, and that was Newlywed-ness.   Just as fun but way more rewarding, and thus, that much harder.   And that much more 'worth it'.

Once I got past my round the clock nausea, Pregnancy was like being engaged -- but with a whole new level of anticipation and planning.  Amazingly enough, Daniel would say that I was even more beautiful pregnant, swelling and all, than I was on our wedding day.  Gotta love him.

I’ve found that having a new baby is unlike any of these other stages.

Bubble Busters

When I was pregnant, it really really bothered me when other men would say things to Daniel like: "it's all downhill from here" or "your wife will never be the same again" or "have sex now while you still can"…

Whether or not these things would be true, they shed such negative light on what I believe to be the utmost beautiful expression of married love (a child), and I didn't like it one bit.  Daniel never let it get to his head and has always been Mr. Supportive and Mr. Positive, but it always made me wonder: what will our romantic life be like after Penelope is born?  Will it cease to exist?

“I Choose You”

During the hardest times of all the aforementioned stages, Dan would remind me that we are both on Team Griffin, and say to me “I choose you.”  On my ugliest of mornings, at the summit of an argument, following the humblest apology.   These three words have grown to be even more impactful than “I love you.”   A reminder that it’s not just a loving feeling that keeps us together, but a choice that we make every day to believe in each other and believe in our marriage, even when we let each other down or disagree.

These words and this sentiment have become increasingly important since Penny was born.   With my extra pregnancy weight, stretch marks and giant scar on my belly, I’m feeling far-from attractive.  Add the fact that we barely know what we’re doing and don't agree on everything, some serious breastfeeding hormones, a complete change in how we spend our time, and a heavy dose of sleep deprivation... the natural result?

New parenthood for us is inherently the least romantic stage so far.

Keeping Connected

In the midst of the exhaustion and new lifestyle, how do we keep connected?  I don’t have all the answers, nor would I ever claim or even imply that Daniel and I accomplish this every day.  But like a lot of things, I think it comes down to maintaining perspective, flexibility and realistic expectations.  This also means recognizing jealousy and resentment as soon as they rear their ugly heads.   And last; finding time, getting creative and laughing together.

Maintaining Perspective, Flexibility and Realistic Expectations:
To expect that our life (or our love life) with a new baby would resemble our life before baby would be a disservice to our marriage and our parenthood.  Instead, we look at our offspring and we marvel at one another in our new roles as parents.  I choose to admire and love Daniel the Daddy more than any other version of Daniel I’ve known.   Likewise, Dan sees me as beautiful Julie the Breast-feeding Mommy and doesn’t require me to pretend I’m Julie the Newlywed anymore.  Perspective and expectations are huge.

Recognizing Jealousy and Resentment:
It would be so easy for Daniel to be jealous that I get to stay home all day and "hang out" with the baby, or jealous that Penny gets to be physically-on-me pretty much all the time (I love #babywearing).  And it would be easy for me to resent the fact that I haven’t gotten more than five hours of sleep at one time in three months, but Dan can go sleep in a separate room if he needs to catch up on some Zzzz’s.   But no.  These feelings do not belong on Team Griffin.  However they may manifest themselves, jealousy and resentment must be called out and forcefully booted out of the relationship arena.
Words of Affirmation expressed with
a dry-erase marker and a bathroom mirror.

Finding Time, Getting Creative, and Laughing:
We love each other in new ways, sometimes by coming up with fresh ways to speak one another’s love language, sometimes just by reminding one another that we choose this – willingly and lovingly. I confess that Daniel is better at this than I, but I’m working on it.   Today, I packed Daniel a humble light breakfast and put it on the seat of his car before he left for work.  Last night, Daniel watched a (seriously bad) chick flick with me while Penny took her early-night nap, and only made fun of it a little tiny bit.  Little things really add up (and sometimes "little" is all we have time for).

Reaching Out

I would love to hear of other ways that couples with young kids keep the fire burning.  Please message me or comment here if you like.


  1. Your beauty is so clearly apparent in this (and every) photo:!/photo.php?fbid=627648381003&set=t.55200353&type=3&theater

    Most girls (myself included!) couldn't hope to appear that gorgeous on even our best days, let alone immediately after child birth :)

  2. Colleen you are too kind! I am guilty of posting only select photos online, and deleting the ones that I deem less flattering :) Miss you guys!!!


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