When two becomes three
A friend recently asked me if she should expect her relationship with her partner to change much when their first baby made his or her long awaited arrival.
Every couple is unique, and every individual handles change in different ways, but I felt quite confident in telling her that things definitely would change. I mean, how could they not?
As a fairly anxious person in general, I did not like the thought of my relationship with my other half changing when the baby came along. We had many years together as just two, lots of getting to know each other, ups and downs as everyone has, and we were in a really great place together. Life was good. We had found our “flow” if you will, and life just felt balanced.
Perhaps what I didn’t consider enough was the fact that this change wasn’t going to be a negative thing. In particular hormonal moments I feared that this change would somehow mark the end of “us”, which made me feel sad. And yet, we couldn’t have been more excited and ready to welcome our little baby in to the world.
In reality, what changed was the “us” part. Two became three. Us became three. Things had to shift a bit, routines re-jigged, and let’s be honest - the entire world as we knew it did a 360’ turn. Suddenly the familiar was nowhere to be seen, uncertainty loomed in the distance, fear of not being good enough parents, terrified of not knowing how to look after our baby properly, financial worries, sleepless nights and a formerly tidy house in utter disarray. The boat had well and truly been rocked, shall we say.
It soon became apparent that we had to find a new “groove” of sorts. The familiar would soon be here again, but in a different light. Life as we knew it had been replaced by the biggest adventure of all. The biggest challenge, and the greatest love.
To love something “together” is a profoundly special experience. But to love something that you made together is off the charts. Nothing can really prepare you for that part - it’s incredible. A bit of you, a bit of me. A miracle really.
And yet it isn’t quite as simple as allowing the love for a tiny baby to guide your relationship into a new place. It’s about actively and very consciously caring for your relationship, and your partner, as though it were as delicate as your newborn. Sleep deprivation can do awful things to your mindset. It can make the days seem darker, and often bleak. Sometimes it can portray you at your absolute worst. This is the moment when the supportive partner is more important than ever.
Suddenly It’s the cups of tea, the running of the baths, the “let’s order a take-away”, the “I’ll do it”, the “you’re a great dad”, the genuine enthusiasm that comes with discussing the contents of your baby’s nappies, the scrambling on the landing searching for Calpol, the “you go back to bed, I’ll do it”, the “you look lovely today”, and the seemingly mundane and banal of tasks that guide you to this new place in your relationship.
It’s not always easy, but sometimes it’s about choosing to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, submitting to the everyday and the domestic, embracing the change and trusting in the next chapter of two becomes three.