Category Archives: us

finding our way

A number of us in the queer parent blogging community are participating in a blog carnival. This week’s topic asks us to explore the impact having a child has had on our relationships. Mine is just one story among many. Please click on the link at the bottom of this post to follow the carnival on the next blog.

When I was a freshman in college, I took a speech class, and at the beginning of that class, we were paired off with another student, asked to conduct an interview, and then assigned a speech introducing that person. I shared with my partner my origins, that my parents divorced when I was four, that my mom divorced her second husband when I was thirteen. I didn’t think much of it until his time came to introduce me, and he began by saying, “We’ve all heard of people coming from broken homes, but I think T’s home life can best be described as shattered.” Whoa. I guess I had never considered how people viewed my family of origin, especially those who came from privileged, stable, nuclear families like this boy had, but looking at it in this new, stark light, I had to admit, I never really had much stability.

I am a child of divorce. I spent my childhood primarily with my mom, but then would have obligatory visits with my dad on holidays, random weekends, occasionally for a week or so over the summer. I never really knew much different, but I can say that I always wished for a stable family life. I wished to not have to split my time between homes, to have a mom and a dad who lived under one roof and loved me. But I think that’s pretty standard fare for a child of divorce. To say this hasn’t colored my feelings about relationships would be a pretty bold lie, and to say that it hasn’t impacted the steadfastness with which I stick to my own marriage now, well, that would be an even bigger one.

When I met my wife, fourteen years ago, we were immediately friends. We more slowly came together as a couple, but once we did, it just made sense. We got each other. We understood one another’s pain, our struggles, our strengths. We were polar opposites in so many ways, but it worked, and we loved each other deeply. However, it really didn’t take long for our arguments to begin. We’re both very emotional and sensitive people, and we’re also fairly vocal. Initially our arguments could derail us for some time, regardless of their cuase, but over the years they have gotten more mature, more productive, and we have always sought to find our way back to one another before going to bed at night. No matter how hurt we were, no matter how long we had to stay up, we would work on finding common ground again and would manage to kiss each other goodnight.

During our pregnancy, we had our moments when we could not see eye to eye, but looking back, so much of that related to my hormones. For the most part, we were pretty blissed out. We were finally getting what we both had wanted for so many years. My wife was so grateful to me for carrying our child, and she treated me like a queen. It was wonderful feeling so close, yet it was scary too. I knew things would change when the baby was born, and I didn’t want this bliss to end. I guess I had a sense of foreboding.

The initial weeks after BG was born were pretty great, although I can see this is where our struggles began. We started to bicker over minutia, and I had a rough time adapting to life as a non-pregnant new mom. In hindsight, I wonder if I had some postpartum depression that I wasn’t dealing so well with. All I know is that my wife found that I had disappeared, and upon my return, I disappeared again into nursing mother land. In the midst of sleep deprivation, we stopped connecting well, stopped comprehending one another well, and every day was fraught with bickering.

When BG’s sleep hit a new stage of nightmarishness at around four months old, I started wanting to cosleep. My wife didn’t want to. She couldn’t sleep with him in the bed. He would thrash around, and she wanted her sleep. She began sleeping on the couch, and she stayed there. She stayed there for a year. At first it was about the cosleeping, but later it was more. It was too painful for her to share a bed with me when she couldn’t access me in any way. She felt like a third wheel half the time. Even though she shared equally in caring for our son, she felt like I didn’t trust her. I admitted at one point that maybe I didn’t in those early days. I had had so much experience with babies, and she had had almost none. I defaulted to control freak, and suddenly my wife felt utterly underappreciated, untrusted, and unaccepted. I felt self-righteous and in charge–and I was totally and completely out of line. I stopped pumping because it was too much trouble and because–well, I was home, why shouldn’t I just breastfeed? I vetoed my wife on baby decisions. I was a monster. I didn’t recognize myself. I was just in some sort of sick mama bear state, and I had given up my compassion for my wife. We started seeing one another as adversaries. It was a very, very dark time.

Perhaps the worst moment in our relationship came at the beginning of this year when my wife told me she didn’t want to have another child with me. We have always talked about two kids. I have always wanted to kids. I wanted BG to grow up with siblings because to me, they were invaluable. I flipped the fuck out when she told me this. It wasn’t pretty. Finally, I had to see why she was saying this though. She didn’t like who I had become. She didn’t like the mama bear who fought everyone who came near her cub–including her wife. She didn’t like being treated like a second-class parent. When it came down to it, she had wanted to share in this childrearing equally, and I had monopolized it all and been, frankly, quite awful about it. It took me time to see this, and she did admit eventually that she would want to have another child with me if I had changed, if she knew things would be different, but she remains dubious, and I still understand.

It didn’t help during all of this time that I was underemployed and my wife was unemployed and we were living in an outrageously expensive region where we really had no hope of getting by at the rate we were going. It didn’t help that we had absolutely no family around (except for my sweet mom who would travel three hours for a quick overnight visit every few weeks). It didn’t help that we were sorely short on friends, or that those who were in our lives were far from being able to understand what we were going through. We both felt utterly alone, utterly strained and terrified financially, and totally and completely unstable in our marriage.

Something shifted when we moved last spring. The first was that we started making an effort to get BG out of the bed and to get us back in the same bed. Then it was a matter of sticking together to get our family out of the hell hole we had moved to. We came together in that crisis. We were closer there than we had been in a long, long time. Then we had to spend nearly two weeks apart while BG and I stayed with my parents and my wife got us packed. Being apart reminded us that we really did miss one another, that we loved one another, that we wanted to be tougher as a family. When we moved to our current home, we finally made a solid and successful effort to move back into our bedroom together and to move our son into his. This has helped. But as we have settled here, our problems have risen up again. We have bickered and fought and threatened to split up. We have resorted to unhealthy crutches. We have been at our absolute worst some days.

On top of all of this is an issue only two-woman households can truly understand. Shortly after my period returned following BG’s birth, our cycles lined up. This has happened in the past, but never for very long, although each time, it has been disastrous. Presently, our cycles have been aligned for going on two years. My wife and I are some of the most obnoxious women I have ever encountered a week before our periods. It became predictable for awhile that when we had the “That’s it; we’re splitting up!” fight, we were most certainly a day away from a visit from old Aunt Flo. This little matter has not helped. Not one bit. It doesn’t seem fair that amidst all of the other adversity we’ve got clashing hormones to compound it all, but it is our reality (and something we can both probably do more about).

It doesn’t escape me, however, that many women’s cycles line up, and they don’t threaten to split up. They might argue or be catty, but they don’t go this far. As I mentioned in the beginning of this epic account, we are two very emotional, sensitive, and, I think I can safely say, even volatile people. But we’re also two people who were given absolutely no tools by our parents, no good modeling for healthy relationship behavior. And we’re also two pretty broken people in many ways. We have been very codependent for many years, leaning on another for absolutely everything, relying on ourselves for very little. Adding a child to this was a bit disastrous because suddenly we were focused on caring for him, and there was nothing left for one another. We couldn’t be one another’s everything when we had to be everything to this little boy. This is where things started to fall apart. This is what we’re trying to repair so that we can rebuild.

At present, we’re in therapy. We’ve had several sessions and have been given some good tools. Some weeks, we’re really good at using those tools. Some weeks we fall back into old behaviors and go into therapy acting like a couple of kids sent to the principal’s office for a fight. We are acknowledging, though, that we both have our “work” in this, as our therapist likes to call it. We’ve both contributed to the pain, and all we can do is work to improve ourselves and how we behave in the relationship. This is new for us, holding ourselves accountable, focusing on ourselves, not relying on the other to do the molding and shaping.

On one of our date nights recently, my wife and I both agreed that we would like the idea of our marriage ending to be off the table, that we would both like to be in a place where when we do argue, we aren’t immediately looking for separate apartments (and we have both been there more times than I would like to admit in the past two years). For so long, the impetus for not splitting up was that I didn’t want BG to have the childhood I had. I didn’t want him to have to choose who he spent Christmas with or who got the bulk of his summer break. I didn’t want him branded with that “broken”–or gods forbid, “shattered” label. I want him to grow up in a home where he sees two parents who love and respect one another, where he can feel safe and secure.

In the past few weeks, or maybe the past couple of months even, my reasoning has changed a little though. I have seen my little family–the three of us–doing our thing in the word: going to the beach, having a picnic, enjoying a particularly great lunch, snuggling and reading a book, gardening in the backyard. And I have fallen in love with this family. More importantly, though, I am rediscovering my love for my wife. I have so much more compassion for her, so much more empathy, and so, so much remorse for the hell I put her through. I can’t go back and change who I was in the months and now years following BG’s birth, but I can be different now. I am working to lighten up, to give my wife the space to be her own parent to BG, and not a carbon copy of me. I’m working to prioritize our relationship too. And I’m working on finding time and space for me. I feel like we’re in a place of becoming, and that while we aren’t out of the woods just yet, we’ve got a compass that is mostly reliable. I have faith that we’re going to make it. We’re both so damn stubborn; I would be surprised if we didn’t.

image courtesy of In Her Image Photography

 http://therealgayagenda.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/a-little-seriousness/

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coming clean

My wife and I are in therapy. There. I said it.

We know so many couples who are struggling right now–in our real lives, in the blogosphere. It saddens me to no end to see so many of us who have recently had children hanging on by our fingernails to our marriages.

I know I have mentioned our problems here before, but I promptly stopped talking. It’s hard to talk about how difficult life is with one’s partner when all we have wanted is a lovely, happy family. But life with a new child is very hard. It strains even the strongest of couples. It exposes all of the cracks and frayed edges, and it makes it all that much worse. Oh how I know.

So my wife and I, after getting better and then worse and then better and then much worse, decided to seek out assistance. Our guide through this marriage-saving adventure is a tiny, very compassionate, buddhist woman (an MFT) who has been at this for two or three decades. We both love her. We’ve got an open arrangement where one of us can go alone or we can go together, so we’re working on our personal issues as well as our problems as a couple. She gave us the date night strategy. She gives us something to work on every week. She also gives us heaps of compassion and maybe even a little confidence that we can do this without falling apart.

And it really has felt for some time like falling apart is what we were headed for. I wish we had been enrolled in classes and therapy and support groups before we ever embarked on this journey of having a child. I wish there would have been some way of knowing that we would be at times unrecognizable to one another once our baby was born. I wish someone would have warned me that sleep deprivation can nearly kill a marriage.

The problem is, most of us keep silent because these issues are so personal. We don’t want to air our dirty laundry, to show that we are flawed and that our happy little families aren’t so happy after all. It sucks when those fantasies we had through months or years of TTC turn into nightmares.

So I’m going to ask us to talk about this. If you have kids, what have been the biggest challenges you have faced in your relationship with your partner since having children? If you don’t have children, what do you fear will be the biggest issues once you do have kids?

I will be revisiting this topic a bit more formally next week, but I want to get the ball rolling. We have such a supportive community; why not benefit from one another’s experiences and wisdom?

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date night

My wife and I have made a commitment to have a weekly date night, regardless of how small that “date” might be. This week was our first, and here are the rules: We take turns being in charge, and the person in charge decides where we are going, what we are doing, and also contacts our babysitter. The person in charge also doesn’t notify the other what is happening. All we tell one another is what sort of attire is required. This secrecy makes it all the more fun because we get to surprise the other with new and exciting things, and because we live in a new city, there are endless things to explore and surprise one another with.

This week was our first date night, and I got to go first. I chose a very cool wine bar in this funky old part of town where we got to go meet some winemakers from a teeny tiny winery. They poured their wines, talked to us about how they make their wine, and we enjoyed some real adult time. There was a guy playing emotional man music  in the corner. It should have been much quieter, but instead they had his amps turned way, way up, so there was a lot of shouting. It was comical, but the wine was damn good–and so was the company. After our tasting, we took a walk to a coffee house and walked along the streets. It was so strange because I remembered exactly how it used to be for us, and then we’d talk about BG and remember–oh yeah, we’re parents too.

This balance is something we have yet to strike–being parents and adults and a couple and individuals. It is something we have both yearned for, and we’re beginning to see just how vital it is for our mental health alone, let alone for the health of our relationship. It was a mere two hours, and our babysitter sat and did homework or chatted on Facebook while BG slept, but knowing we could do this, knowing that this adult part of our lives that we enjoyed so much before he came along is still accessible was so priceless. I wish we had done this so much sooner; I’m so glad we’re doing it now.

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love, pride, and pretty pictures

I have mentioned once before our recent photo shoot we had with some local lesbian photographers. They have this amazing business photographing just women and children, and it’s really taking off. Today they launched their “Love and Pride” gallery on their website, in which they have posted photos from sessions between their lesbian couple clients. We have been featured several times within the gallery. Check it out on their website: http://www.inherimagephoto.com . Once you’re there, click on Goddess Galleries, and then select “Love and Pride.” You’ll know who we are, and if not, just enjoy the pretty pictures.

And if you’re ever in the SF Bay Area and want some really amazing photography, either for yourself, your little one, or other women in your life, check them out. A photo shoot with them is a very special experience unlike any other. J and I walked away from ours feeling empowered, beautiful, and as though we had been seen for who we really are. It was worth every penny.

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when the political becomes personal

Last night, we learned that the Senate struck down the latest jobs bill–the bill that was to keep extended unemployment benefits coming to those people who haven’t been able to find work after six months, or a year, or eighteen months of becoming unemployed.

My wife was one of those people.

As of yesterday, she lost her unemployment benefits. I have been working 20-30 hours per week, and while we have had to budget tightly, we have been able to make ends meet, care for our son, and even go out for coffee once in awhile while she has continued to look for work and collect unemployment. But those ends are about to stop meeting. We have entered panic mode.

This morning, I cancelled our cable–the last of our entertainment splurges (okay, so we’re keeping our Netflix account, and believe me, at two discs at a time, that feels pretty indulgent right now). We don’t know if we’ll have enough to pay our insanely expensive Bay Area rent this month. We probably will, but it’s going to be tight. Really tight. As in, so tight, that we have to spend the rest of our very meager savings on it, and we still don’t know if we’ll be able to afford it. We’re cutting every extra expense we can, selling one of our scrapyard-worthy cars, putting countless items up for auction on eBay, and I’m going as full time as my job will allow.

But I don’t know in the end if any of it will be enough.

The Republicans will tell you it’s our own fault, that J should have just gone out and gotten a job once she lost the first. If only just getting a job were so easy. My wife has been looking for work for eighteen months–since she learned that she would not be teaching after her first semester at a new university due to state budget cuts. She has a master’s degree. She even served in the military. She should be eminently hireable. She has been applying for every sort of job, from positions as a wine pourer to administrative assistants, tutoring and mentoring positions, grant writing positions,  teaching and test prep, and everything in between. We’ve gotten no bites. None. Not even an interview–and usually not even confirmation that her application has been received. She has been going up against hundreds of people for each job, jobs for which she is extremely overqualified, jobs for which she is perfectly qualified. Still nothing.

And then came a great twist of fate last week. J received a phone call from the university. They want her to teach in the fall. Finally, we were going to have a break. Her unemployment benefits were about to be extended, and this was going to carry us through (with my work) to the end of September, when the first of her paychecks would start coming in.  But that carrying through is not to be. We’re pretty sure she has a job–in two months (there is some fear that the loss of this jobs bill could cut her position yet again), but in the interim, there is still rent to pay, still power to keep on and mouths to keep fed, and we’re wondering how the hell that is all going to happen.

But we’re scrappy, and we’re resourceful, and somehow, we’re going to make all of this work. We don’t really have another choice.

This morning, we needed to get out of the house, needed a dose of normalcy to ease our anxieties for a few moments, so we raided the “coconut cash” (a stash of ones we keep in this funky ceramic coconut) and our quarters. After gathering seven dollars, we made our way to the farmer’s market where we knew we could only get a few things. We got our salad greens from our favorite farm, and then some early girl tomatoes. We had a dollar left. Not enough for much, but we spied some big, fat, organic carrots back at our favorite farm stand. Baby Genius loves carrots. We especially love this farm’s carrots. So we asked the farmer for a dollar’s worth and handed him the last of our quarters. He gave us a handful, and when J mentioned in passing, “They’re for the baby. He loves them,” the man gave us another handful with a warm smile.  It amounted to maybe a pound and a half of carrots–nothing spectacular by any stretch of the imagination–but there was a knowing that accompanied that second handful of carrots from the farmer, a knowing and some charity.

In that moment I felt humbled–and touched.  I cried behind my sunglasses as we walked away, both because this man offered up some kindness on a hard, hard day and because I can’t believe we’re in this position. But I know we’re going to make it out of this, that we’ll survive it and come out stronger.

Oh, and the coconut cash has been renamed. It’s now the carrot cash.

Our carrots:

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anniversary

Right now, I am sitting in our office listening to my wife shush and walk our crying, sleepy boy to sleep. She has learned such patience in these past seven months. She’s an incredible mother, so giving and loving of this boy we created. That love is no surprise to me. I have known it well now for a dozen years.

A dozen years is how long my wife and I have been together as of today. Twelve years ago this evening, my wife and I went on our first date. (You can read our story here.) These have been twelve blessed and beautiful years. They have been full of bumps and joys, some sadness and some celebrations, but more than all of that, they have been twelve years filled with the greatest love of my life. I am so grateful that twelve years ago, this woman got up the courage to ask me to be her date, but I am even more grateful to have been her partner in life and in love for the past twelve years. What a beautiful road we are travelling together.

Happy Anniversary, my beautiful J. I adore you endlessly.

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a few updates in no particular order

I’ve been a crap blogger these days. I want to write, but then when I finally sit down to do it, I’m either interrupted or I’m utterly blank. I so hoped this wouldn’t happen to me, but I suppose it has. I’m going to work on it. I might have to commit to a NaBloPoMo month soon.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few updates, since I haven’t in some time.

On Poop

Baby Genius still has some ugly poop–and not your typical ugly either. He’s still got blood and unpleasant textures which I won’t describe here, and he still poops very, very frequently–like four or five times a day most days. This is unusual for a boy of nearly six months. So far, I have only eliminated from my diet dairy, soy, and beef, and I’m actually back on the soy from time to time. Tomorrow we have his first visit to a pediatric GI at the big giant children’s hospital that is an hour and a half or so away. My mom is coming to accompany us. We promised ourselves we’d make at least one visit to this doctor, and then we’d see where we wanted to go from there. Honestly, my guess is that we’ll likely just continue on a little more earnestly with my elimination diet instead of going back for multiple visits, but we might also get a referral from our ped for an allergist in hopes of maybe getting some blood tests so that I can learn precisely what I need to avoid.

On Sleep

Baby Genius sleeps a little better now, especially when we  put him down at night. This is a bit of a relief because for awhile, we were losing our ever-important couple time in the evening to the constant trying to get him back to sleep. For the past few weeks, we have been able to count on having some time to ourselves at least between 7pm-10pm, but often a little more.

The rest of the night is another story altogether. Sometimes he’ll go for three-hour stretches, but usually it’s more like two, unless I put him in bed with me/us, and then he tends to sleep pretty well. Unfortunately, my wife is fairly convinced that her snoring is causing BG to wake up more frequently when she sleeps with us, so some nights she doesn’t, and that sucks. We got her some nasal strips to see if they would help, but no luck. We miss sleeping in our bed together, but this won’t be forever, and we make certain that no matter what, we have at least a couple of nights a week together in our bed.

On Us

Because we have found some sleep solutions, we’ve also found some sanity, and as a result, things with us are smoothing out quite a bit. We’re falling into a little more of a groove again and recognizing ourselves as a couple again. We’re not arguing as much over petty things, and we’re practicing better communication skills. We’re both loving and even liking one another more again. We laugh more than we cry. It’s not perfect; there are still some things we need to work on, but overall it feels much better.

On Foods

BG tried more banana for a couple of days, but now he’s on to applesauce. Yesterday, we gave him a little, and he made the funniest scrunched-up face, after which he shook his head. We realized a little later that maybe we were giving him too much, and he was coping with trying to swallow it. After awhile, he grabbed his spoon and insisted on feeding himself. This involves him putting the spoon in his mouth, pulling it out, turning it over, putting it in his mouth again, and on and on until it is clear of food. He loves to eat this way, and while it’s messy, who are we to tell him how to eat so long as he does. We’re very determined to keep food fun and enjoyable, to keep eating relaxing for as long as we can. Next up will be avocado.

On Posts I Hope to Write

I keep meaning to write a post about diapering, but I haven’t, so I’m hoping that if I commit to it here, I’ll do it. We’ve undergone so many different diaper experiments, but we’ve finally got our system squared away. I’ll write about it more soon. I think I may also have a post in me about baby wearing and another on weird postpartum stuff. I’m certain there are others. What am I forgetting? What do I need to share updates about?

On BG’s Sounds

He’s squealing now, and screeching a little. I generally find it funny and adorable but not so much when I’ve got a headache. I adore the sounds this boy makes. This morning, he was whispering to me. I don’t know what he was saying, but it was definitely whispering. I love that he is so vocal now.

On Half Birthdays

Someone is turning six months old in a few days, Friday to be exact. He doesn’t know it, but his moms do, and they’re a little freaked out about it.

On Cuteness

Baby Genius has discovered peek-a-boo all on his own, and he cracks himself up with it. I’ll let the photos (as overexposed and blurry as they are) speak for themselves:

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a visit from cupid

We’re alive–all three of us–and we’re finally nearing the end of this, the most dreadful cold I’ve had in ages. We’re all still clearing out, and we might be mistaken for a bunch of dogs or seals with all the coughing we’re doing, but we made it. Amidst all of that, Baby Genius had his five month birthday, and I owe him a letter, but I haven’t had my wits about me enough to compose because it seems that with this cold has gone my ability to think, write, and otherwise communicate. I’m telling you, it was brutal.

Because of the illness, my wife has continued to sleep on the sofa, and this is beginning to really suck. As with most times when we fall ill at the same time, J and I have found it difficult to stay even remotely connected. Add to this what is sure to be some wicked PMS for me, and the fact that we haven’t shared a bed in something like ten days, and you might see why we’ve not been doing so well the last few days. We had a semi-blissful week or two without fights, and here we are again at each others’ throats. It’s so disheartening, so exhausting. Last night, my wife informed me that she felt the romance in our relationship was dead. And despite my initial desire to contradict her, I know she’s right. While I’m guessing most couples don’t experience a whole lot of romance in their children’s first six months, it’s still really sad to hear those words out loud.

Ultimately, this is probably at the heart of so much of our pain these days. We are simply lacking romance.

My wife and I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day. We both hated the holiday before we got together, and we decided once we were together that we’d just rather not do the hearts and flowers thing. We have always been pretty good at that on a semi-regular basis, so singling out one day to declare our love for each other seemed, well, a little trite. This year, though, it seems it’s no mistake that we’re still suffering this crisis as Valentine’s Day approaches.

Last week in the midst of the sick, my sister called out of the blue to tell us she’d like to come visit for a night, watch our son, and send us out on a date. At the time, this seemed like the furthest thing from our reality, but it was a sweet gesture, and we knew we needed it—so we’re doing it. She’s coming Saturday, and my wife and I are going on a proper date, a grown-up one, at night,  to a restaurant where we’d never take our son. I might even wear heels.

 We are a little bit beside ourselves with the thought of going out to dinner. I mean, we’ve been out to lunch a couple of times without him, but this seems huge. We’ll be leaving him with her at bedtime. She’ll be putting him down. And us? We’ll be sipping some top shelf margaritas and eating Yucatan cuisine. Fortunately, she’s an old pro at this putting babies to bed business–she’s got an eighteen-month-old who will not be with her for the evening–so we feel pretty comfortable knowing she’ll take good care of him. I’m looking forward to it all. We need it.

My sister’s visit will also necessitate my wife’s return to our room, a return to goodnight snuggles and good morning kisses, and time to be us. As much as I hate to admit it, I think we need that little push. This going to bed without my wife business, while decidedly unpleasant, has become a little too routine.

I doubt my sister realizes just how important her visit is. I doubt she knows she’s playing cupid to this old married couple, but she is. She is.

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all hands on deck

This has been a crazy week. We have been inundated with crazy storms all week long, so we’ve been stuck indoors. Sure, we could go out, but when the rain is pouring down and the winds are blowing huge limbs off of the redwoods behind our home, we find it more comforting to stay inside, even though it has resulted in a pretty serious case of cabin fever for all of us. We have gotten to watch some pretty crazy sights, including the small creek behind our house turning into a raging river:

Along with the storm this week has come a big shift in Baby Genius’ sleep patterns. Whereas he used to go down at 7pm and stay asleep until around 10pm when we go to bed (yeah, we go to bed that early these days), we are now lucky if he goes down at 7pm, and we’re lucky if he stays asleep twenty minutes, let alone three or four hours. BG used to wake up a total of maybe two times a night, and he would go right down again after a quick feed. He started the week off waking up every hour or hour and a half, and now while he may sleep two or three hours at the beginning of the night, he wakes himself up over and over and over again (every 10-30 minutes) after the first awakening. Last night, he woke up when we went to bed at 10:30, then again at 1am, and then the rest of the night is a big blur of picking him up, rocking him, nursing him, re-swaddling him, putting him down, settling back into bed, hearing him fuss, then whine, then cry, and then picking him back up. I cried more than once in the night last night.

Unfortunately, he also hasn’t been letting J put him to bed anymore. She used to have the magic touch. He would cry a bit in her arms, but she would comfort him, and let him get out whatever he had to get out while she held and rocked and walked him, and he would go to to sleep so well. Now he flips. the fuck. out. So I feed him then walk him, then try to put him down (whereupon his eyes pop wide open), and then I walk him and walk him and rock him and sing and shush and hum, and finally he goes out after sometimes over an hour of this–only to wake up a few minutes later.

I find myself channeling Dorothy Parker frequently these days, time after time asking, What fresh hell is this?

Right now, I’m tempting fate by blogging. You see, BG went down after I fed him and rocked him. I then walked him for a mere five minutes. He has been down for half an hour. Surely he’ll be kvetching and whining and fussing any moment now. Surely…

J and I are traumatized. We are both terrified of going to bed at night. I find myself jumping at the slightest sound on the baby monitor, flailing my arms wildly when the cats make too much noise or the neighbors downstairs find the need to close slam their door yet again. J just walked in from taking a hot tub and was celebrating that he was still asleep, and I begged her not to lest she curse it, lest he somehow hear her and decide to wake up just to prove us wrong.

We’re in survival mode. Every moment takes effort. She put me down for a nap today, and for the first time, I didn’t protest. We will somehow get through this. Fortunately, we have been working at holding ourselves together more this week. It’s surprising. We had a big night early in the week when we hashed out a lot. It was painful and hard, but we both know that we want to make our relationship work, and we want to feel in love with each other again, and we want the pain to stop. There’s a lot of hard work we have to do, but we’re doing that work each day, even if that means just being kind to one another when neither of us feels so kind. The evenings have been good for us because we have been putting BG down in his co-sleeper in our room (until now, he has slept in the evenings in his moses basket in the living room–yes, this transition is likely a big contributor to his sleep issues). Finally, we can have conversations between the two of us, have dinner together, even snuggle on the couch or give foot massages. Those little bits of time have been good medicine.

This weekend, my mom and step-dad are coming to see the boy, and they’re going to watch him while we go out for lunch and a beer–or nap–whichever seems most appropriate. We haven’t been out together without the baby in so long, and I’m really looking forward to some time with my wife.

I hope this insanity passes soon. I’ve never been so tired, so wrung out. I know it will pass, but right now, as we’re sitting in the trenches, it hardly feels like it.

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afloat

Wow. I feel positively buoyed by all of this support. Between the private emails and  the comments here, I am beginning to see just how common al of this is, and while that doesn’t solve our problems, it does help put them into perspective.

There are a few things at play with our marital difficulties:

1. We are sleep-deprived, and despite our early bragging that the sleep deprivation during grad school was worse, we were wrong. Sleep deprivation does nothing for rational thought (that’s why it’s such a good brain washing tool), nor does it do much for coherent or productive communication. Therefore, we have more misunderstandings, and because we’re both so tired, our reactions are more emotional than they should be.

2. Neither of us has much time to ourselves. We work from home, so between regular household tasks and caring for the baby, we suck at finding personal time. But honestly, we have always sucked at this, and we have always suffered for it.

3. We have almost no couple time. We try to spend time together when the baby goes to sleep at night, but we’re usually so exhausted that we’re just ready to eat dinner, curl up on the sofa, and watch some mindless television before passing out. We haven’t gone out anywhere without the baby since he was just a couple of weeks old. We need that again, even if it’s just once a month.

4. Our physical intimacy–everything from goodnight kisses to good old fashioned rolls in the hay–has declined dramatically. There are so many obvious reasons for this, but we also just seem to forget that a hug or some snuggling can go a really long way toward helping us feel closer. But we need to find our sex life again; honestly, I think it would make a dramatic impact in helping us stay connected on other levels.

And there are other issues too, from expecting our marriage to take the place of too many things (friends, community, self-worth, and so many other things) to realizing that there are some elements of each other that we wish were different. It’s all of this that we’ve been sussing out week after week, and we’re trying like hell to get to the bottom of it on our own (believe me, we’d be in therapy had we any expendable income or insurance coverage for ourselves).

Today, things feel better, but the big problems are still there, and neither of us can become complacent just because we aren’t bickering or crying or imagining life apart from one another. J and I have learned from our nearly twelve years together that it’s when we put this relationship on auto-pilot that it starts to decline rapidly.

I can tell you this: we’re committed to weathering this storm and making life for our family happy and healthy. And I think I’ll keep writing about it. I’m not typically one to air my dirty laundry, but it seems to me that if so many of us go through problems like these when our babies are born, then it’s important that we talk about it in our community.

Anyway, I want to thank all of you for the incredible support, for the kind words, for the positive thoughts. Even if you all can’t solve our problems, you can certainly keep us from feeling less isolated as we work through these difficult times.

I love you guys.

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