Year Two

I’m not sure how many of you are new parents (or experienced parents — I bow down to you) but if you are, you may nod your head in recognition of this second anniversary scenario:

After an early dinner out at a restaurant, probably our third solo date since having M, and a short visit to a lakeside park to admire the stars, we got back in the car and started in the direction of home. It was just after 8 p.m., I was incapable of stopping myself from yawning over and over, and we were debating whether we should go out for a drink just so we wouldn’t end up at home early enough that my dad would laugh at us.

“Most people aren’t even going OUT until 8 o’clock,” said Matt.

So that’s year two. We did end up going out for that drink but called it a night right after that — the baby actually was more awake than us when we got home.

Anniversary

Second anniversary car selfie — swanky.

I’m a believer in the idea of seasons of life (because this is how I remind myself that I won’t be exhausted forever) and our current season is one that is not particularly glamorous. That’s not to say that I don’t love it — but our couple time, which is admittedly not very frequent, is more centered around pajamas and Netflix than fancy clothes and cocktails.

So our second anniversary celebration wasn’t glitzy, but it was us. That’s what our whole year was like. Maybe it’s easy to feel like you’re in a fairytale romance when you’re still flying high in the newlywed season, but for us, our marriage and our romance drifts toward the practical side, these days. Love isn’t a bouquet of roses, it’s someone remembering to wash the towels.

Anniversary2

In this case, it was a bouquet of flowers from which Matt instructed the clerk to remove every carnation because he knows his wife hates them.

It’s a bucket of ice cream in the freezer after a rough day. It’s the hilarity that is my husband picking out the baby’s outfits and explaining to me, in great detail and seriousness, why he chose that particular combination.

I’ve learned that whatever brand of romance we have, it won’t nurture itself and it requires some form of effort, even if that effort is as simple as agreeing to stay up a half hour later so we can talk and reconnect. Our second year was all about family — growing, welcoming, learning to adjust to the changes. I’m not sure what our third year will bring, but I’m excited to find out.

Reverb13: Inspiration

Who inspired you in 2013? And why?

What gifts did they give you? And how will you carry these forward in to 2014?


Are you guys sick of me talking about my baby and her birth yet? It seems like every We/Reverb, I have some big event that takes over all of my answers. In 2012 I got married, which influenced nearly every answer to every prompt. And 2011 was the year of our engagement and motorcycle trip, which came up often. Maybe next year will be more boring? 😉

Okay. Inspiration. Consider this a bit of an ode to my husband.

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Throughout my pregnancy there were a million ‘Is Matt going to faint during delivery?’ jokes (which, he later told me, actually helped him develop anxiety about fainting that he didn’t have prior, so lesson learned on that one). I wanted to have my mom with me as a backup support person, because much like me, Matt is not exactly Mr. Super Comfortable With Medical Stuff. Of course, M decided to hang out in the womb longer than my mom could stay, so we went into labour knowing it was just the two of us, each a bit of a basket case in our own way.

I felt like I needed someone who could sort of do my functioning for me so I could just worry about getting the baby out — I didn’t want to worry about communicating with people, making decisions, or thinking about anything other than getting from Point A to Point B. I didn’t doubt Matt’s ability to do that, but he expressed a fear that he wouldn’t be able to be 100% there, all the time, so that thought was kind of kicking around in my head as things began.

My first actual painful contraction came with the realization that I had no idea what to do to get through the pain. People had told me a few things — to remember that it was one individual pain (which turned out to not be true with back labour, unfortunately), to distract myself, to breathe. But left to my own devices all I could think was OW OW OW — and panic. I turned to Matt and told him I didn’t know what to do and I needed help. He immediately got me into a breathing pattern, which he used to coach me through nearly every contraction for the next 60 hours. In the bath, walking down the hospital halls, through the godawful oxytocin contractions, we breathed together, in and out.

I only yelled at him a few times — “YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE SAYING THINGS” when he zoned out during a contraction — and I think I punched him during a particularly painful set, because squeezing my squishy stress ball was not doing it. I definitely almost squeezed his hand off during the whole catheter thing.

When push came to shove and all the things we didn’t want to happen started happening, one after another, he rolled with it. He was running on just as little sleep as me, had a busted back from hospital chairs, and still had to be the ‘with it’ half of the pair, because I certainly wasn’t. And once M was out, he was still the strong one, doing diaper changes, listening intently to instructions and suggestions, and soothing cries — both the baby’s, and mine, when I felt like I was failing, stuck in a hospital bed instead of helping my baby.

I’m not going to lie and say that we’re still in the idyllic ‘you are so wonderful and this is so lovely’ haze we were in for the first few days. I suspect every set of new parents has their fair share of sleep-deprived arguments and frustrations. But my husband gave me the gift of all the support, love and effort he could provide, and then some. That inspires me to do as good of a job as I can at returning the favour.

And with that, hopefully, we’ll both give our girl the same.

“Reverb is a reflective writing challenge held in December every year. It provides a sacred space for participants to celebrate the successes and honour the challenges of the year that’s passing, as well as plant the seeds for a rich and rewarding new year.” (play along)

Guest Post: On Marriage

Catherine blogs at Cakewalk, and I’m pretty sure she’s who I want to be when I grow up. Her writing exudes wisdom, so when she mentioned using her decade-long marriage to give advice to newlyweds (like me!) as a blog topic, I was excited to see what she’d come up with. It’s great advice — and she was a gorgeous bride!

Ryan and I have been married for ten years, but since we met in high school, we’ve known each other for almost twenty.  I can’t believe it’s been that long, but sometimes, it feels like we’ve been together forever.  I don’t consider myself particularly romantic, and I’m by no means a relationship expert, but, after sharing my life with someone else for quite a while, I’ve found a few things that work well, at least for us.  There’s nothing earth-shattering or even unique about my suggestions, so please take them with a grain of salt. Congratulations on this part of your journey, Shayla, and I wish you and Matt a wonderful day!

Always Apologize:
Love Story got it wrong, in my opinion, and if you really love someone, then you should always apologize when you’ve hurt them.  This definitely applies when you’re married, and it can make such a difference when you are trying to work out a disagreement, which will definitely happen.  I also think it’s okay to apologize even when you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong, because it might be just what your spouse needs to hear.  Marriage is a huge commitment and takes a lot of work, and being able to give a little will save a lot of heartache.  Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes, so being strong enough to admit that to the person you love most in the world is absolutely essential.

Pee with the Door Shut:
I know it sounds crazy, but just trust me on this one!  Living with someone for the rest of your lives obviously involves tons of intimacy and a lack of privacy, and I really think it’s important to keep some things a mystery.  Sure, Ryan witnessed the births of both our sons and he knows I sometimes wear “support undergarments,” but he doesn’t have to know absolutely every single little thing I do, in the bathroom or anywhere else, for that matter.  I’m not suggesting that you keep secrets from your spouse, but I do think it’s okay to keep him guessing, just a little, and he should do the same for you.  Plus, nobody really likes bathroom noises, no matter how much they love you.

Spend Time Apart:
There’s an old saying that goes something like, “For better or worse, but never for lunch,” and I tend to agree with its message.  Just as it’s important to put each other first and spend time together, it’s also necessary to live your own lives and take time apart, doing things you love and spending time with friends.  To be totally honest, Ryan and I have very little in common, as far as shared interests, and I think this has been really beneficial to our marriage.  We don’t share the same taste in movies, he’s really into homebrewing (I don’t drink), and I love to blog (a solitary activity).  Still, we make time to spend together, and being apart gives us more to talk about.

Laugh:
If you don’t follow any of my other suggestions, please take this one to heart.  Marriage is serious business, and with it comes a whole load of family issues and responsibilities, so if you don’t keep a sense of humor about it all, you will literally go crazy.  When things get really harried around our house, which is often with two little boys, Ryan and I will just look at each other and crack up, because it’s the only sane thing to do.  When times are tough or you’re mad at each other, put something funny on television and watch it.  I promise it will make things easier, and you’ll be spending time together along the way.  Ryan’s sense of humor is one of his best traits, and our ability to laugh, both with and at each other, has seen us through some hard stuff.

That’s my sage advice for any couple contemplating marriage, for whatever it’s worth.  Being married is an experience that, with a little elbow grease on the part of both partners, can truly be a wonderful thing!

Cheestrings and Meltdowns

I am, by nature, a high-stress person. Some might call me high-strung, even (oh, that’s a pun).

Right now I don’t actually have that much long-term stress. Our wedding is looming, yes, but I’ve managed to break down all the stuff left to do into manageable chunks (ask me again if I’m stressed about the wedding in another seven weeks or so). We are doing well, financially, at the moment. Matt and I have been having lots of talks about the future and what it holds and I feel pretty secure with that.

It’s the little every day things that brutalize me. When the cats are constantly fighting, or the fridge is cluttered, or my laundry pile seems to be reproducing on its own.

Last week I had a mini-meltdown after an email I was supposed to send at 3:30 p.m. was still bouncing back to me at 5 p.m. thanks to insufficient data capabilities. It was a production day, too, and we were short staffed. I had to deal with FTP errors, and lots of running around. When I went downstairs to leave my co-worker pointed out I was covered in hives.

So — stress hives, yay! Matt tried to fix things by taking me out for dinner. Two appletinis helped, but when we got home everything fell apart again shortly thereafter and I ended up in that awful crying-for-the-sake-of-crying state at midnight, in bed. Once I was capable of breathing through my nose again he went downstairs to try and get some things together to help me out.

He brought up Tylenol, for my headache, a Gravol for my stomach (and, honestly, probably to knock me out, too), some tissue for my nose, and a glass of water.

… and a cheestring.

Something about the way he proudly presented it with, “and a cheestring!” made me stop crying (momentarily) and let out a giggle. His reasoning that I should eat something with the meds made sense, of course, but… it was a cheesestring. Such a goofy snack. And I actually had to sit there and string it because I’m philosophically opposed to people who just eat them whole, so it distracted me from my meltdown.

I’m probably going to get stressed out again in the future. I’m probably going to cry myself to sleep on more than one occasion. But there will always be Matt, and there will always be cheestrings.

Side note: I just learned these are called cheestrings and not cheesestrings.

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