Love After Baby: It’s Nothing Like What I Expected

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BABY DOVE

PHOTOS BY 2ND TRUTH

I’m dating again.

I’ve met someone who’s funny and charming. He’s in his 30s and has a kid, but so do I, so it works out just fine. He travels quite a bit, but never leaves without a text to let me know when he’s taking off, and when he’s landed. He is transparent about his feelings and sends me funny texts and supportive e-mails during the day.

No. I’m not getting divorced or going through a mid-life crisis (can one have a mid-life crisis at 33?!), I’m just really excited about this new man in my life.

Spoiler Alert: It’s Joe. Yes, that Joe, the same Joe that I’ve been married to for three years, but he’s different than when I first met him. Hell, he’s a different man than from a year ago. And, quite frankly, so am I.

We have new roles at home (“Mom” and “Dad”) and at work, so it makes sense that our relationship had to evolve, too. It wasn’t until I was in the hospital room dizzy with sleep that I realized we had nine months to prepare to take care of a baby, but we never thought about having to take care of us. That scared me just as much as the tiny human in my arms.

During the initial newborn fog, it was all hands on deck, all the time (I’ll grab the diaper! I’ll get the spit-up rag! You eat, I’ll hold him!). These small decisions and actions connected us (physically and emotionally) to ensure this little person is cared for. Being fiercely independent people, who are also utterly terrified at the prospect of appearing vulnerable, having to rely on another person, and have someone relying on US, was completely foreign. And scary.

We had one big fight that really set the tone for how things were going to work in this new relationship. After spewing verbal daggers at one another over a screaming baby, we made a promise to respect each other at our worst, no questions or eye rolls allowed. We would help each other by reminding ourselves that the house wasn’t on fire; the baby will cry even when we do everything right.

We slowly emerged from those “dark days,” as I lovingly refer to that time, different people. The surge of hormones had died down (not without dragging me through a lovely bout of postpartum depression— a story for another blog post), we were both adjusting to less sleep, and accepting this new reality. This baby was OURS. WE had to take care of him. US. Words that aren’t in the lexicon of the self-reliant. After nine months inside me, it was finally time to let someone else in on the action.

We could no longer afford to be as independent as we both so longingly desired. We had to work together as a team to get things done.

This team mentality, it didn’t happen overnight, I can tell you that much. We didn’t experiment with chore charts or resort to nagging or stalemates; I think it was a realization that we can’t do it all alone, despite our best efforts or intentions. Right now, if something needs to be done: blow out, dishes, Winnie duty, etc, one of steps in and gets it done. No one is keeping score, although I do feel like Joe has been doing A LOT of heavy lifting while I travel. No doubt, my time will come to help him out very soon.

The only hard and fast rule we have is whoever is holding the baby when he poops, changes him. It’s like a very cute game of hot potato.

What I’ve come to summarize after 10 months of playing “Mom” and “Dad” is all the realness of our relationship— the vulnerability that came with him seeing me at LITERALLY the worst I could have ever looked (see: Labor & Delivery), we have become closer emotionally, physically, intellectually. Looking back at our relationship, there have been times where Joe hasn’t seen me at my, um, finest. There have been embarrassing moments, but nothing that couldn’t be laughed at later or blamed on one too many glasses of wine. Childbirth is different. At least that is what I thought. I perceived that once your husband sees certain things (like your placenta, or your organs in a tin tray let’s say), they can’t be unseen.

During all the craziness, we are trying our best to be both “Kate” and “Joe” AND “Mom” and “Dad.” Remembering who we were while being who we are.

Truthfully, it’s hard. On top of finding the time to care for August, and myself, and the house and continue to work, sometimes “we” falls through the cracks. We’ve found that there’s no time to punish one another with silence or passive aggressiveness. There’s too much to do, and frankly, a lot more at stake. I try to remember this when my hormones rage or I feel overwhelmed with balancing work and motherhood. There are days when I’m impatient and difficult to be around. But then I look over to see the new guy I’m dating, who I think looks sexiest in his crewneck sweatshirt spotted with baby fluids, baseball hat, shorts, and Birkenstocks— I realize that in my moment of struggle, he is choosing to be patient with me. To put my needs before his own— willingly and without protest. In all the hardship parenthood brings, selflessness has been the most rewarding discovery.

Still, in all the ways we’ve connected through trials and tribulations, relationships need space and time to flourish and they most certainly need time for “Kate” and “Joe.”

So we are dating, getting to know the new person that we see across the dinner table, or playing with August. I’m excited to get to know this new man in my life.

It’s funny how people change, right before our eyes. Over the last few years, I’ve watched Joe transform, from boyfriend to husband, and now to a father. I’m so proud of Joe filling this new role, one that he has wholeheartedly embraced. These days, he needs to remember to take care of himself. There’s a lot talk reminding moms to take time for themselves, but I don’t want to forget about all the dads out there putting in long hours at work and home; they need self-care as well. As the safety card reminds us, you have to affix your oxygen mask first before assisting others.

I’m proud to be partnering with a brand that supports evolving masculinity. Dove Men+Care knows that men’s roles are changing and care (for oneself and others) is what makes you stronger.

I’m pleased to extend a special offer courtesy of Dove Men+Care and Baby Dove: Get 40% off your second Target Subscription shipment on any Dove Men+Care, Dove, or Baby Dove items with exclusive promocode witanddelight at check out through June 30th. See below for details.

How about you? What new things have you noticed in your guy that make you proud and in love all over again? What ways do you find to show each other you care in the little moments? Have you been surprised by your new connection with your partner after baby?

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Ed. note: This post was sponsored by Baby Dove. The compensation received in exchange for placement on Wit & Delight is used to purchase props, hire a photographer, write/edit the blog post and support the larger team behind Wit & Delight.

While compensation was received in exchange for coverage, all thoughts and opinions are always my own. Sponsored posts like these allow for the development of additional dynamic content to be produced, unsponsored. Thank you for supporting our partners!

  • I love your blog, especially how you always manage to straddle that line between keeping it real and protecting the ones you love. I had a baby a month before you, so your posts on the transition to motherhood have been really resonating with me. Totally agree that parenthood both brings you closer as a couple (because they’ve truly seen you at your WORST) but also makes it paradoxically harder because you’re both just so TIRED and busy all the time. I’m still learning how to not just give my husband the leftovers at the end of my day. Thanks for the post — love your adorable little family 🙂

    • Thanks for your sweet comment, Rachel. I really appreciate that my effort to keep personal boundaries is seen as a positive attribute and that I’m still able to share a story that connects with readers experiencing similar life stages. Speaking of… congratulations on the upcoming big one year birthday (if it hasn’t already happened yet)! I have such mixed emotions about this milestone.

      Thank you again for reading and sharing your thoughts here <3

  • Thank you so much for sharing this as it is an extraordinarily important lesson to learn (and be reminded of)!

    Our daughter is now twelve and my husband and I are beginning to go through the gauntlet of adolescence—so far, it has been hard not to take the hormonal onslaught and confusion personally but it helps to have a patient and loving partner to go through it with. Along with being a family, we are a team. And along with being parents, it is wonderful to remember that we are also lovers/partners/each other’s best friend.

    As Rachel said, your blog has always been one of sincerity—and through the years since I first started to follow you it has been a continued place of inspiration, assurance, learning, and fun.

    Thank you for your willingness to share! <3

    • Oh Monarose! It’s always so reassuring to hear from you. I’ve been working on this brand for almost 10 years now and it’s hard to let it grow and change without worrying you’ll lose the magic. I’m glad we’ve kept you coming back and always appreciate your insight. XO!

  • This was such a beautiful read, as are all your life posts. I’m far from being a mother or in such a committed relationship but your words keep me looking forward to the future. You hear so much about failing relationships and the impossible hardships of motherhood. Although one assumes the good times outweigh the bad, it is so heart warming to hear it beautifully said. Thank you and congratulations on everything in your life <3

    • Rachel! Thank you so much for your sweet comment. You can’t appreciate the good if you don’t experience hardship, and I think that’s why some relationships get stronger with age and experience. We certainly have days, weeks, even months when we’re out of sync, but when it clicks back in place you know that you can make it through the rough patches. Thank you so much for the support and for reading!

  • I love this post Kate. It brought a single lady to the verge of tears. I follow Joe on Instagram (is that weird!?), and while I realize that social is not the whole story, he very much seems to emanate the person you’re seeing.

    Thank you for sharing. xoxoxo

    • haha! Ashley I love that you follow Joe. I think IG has been around long enough that it isn’t necessarily weird to know what people are up to. He’s a special guy. Glad I get to share a little bit of what I see in him with you guys.

  • I loved reading this, Kate! I think you’ve done a lovely job of sharing such a personal post while respecting your partner AND working with a brand – hats off to you. And to Joe too – you sound like an amazing team and I appreciate your willingness to share the journey you’ve been on together so far.

    🙂

    Flora

    http://www.theeverchange.com

    • Hi Flora! Thanks for your note. Dove has been an amazing partner from the beginning and have been super supportive of this dialogue. We feel lucky to find great people (in each other, the WD team, and with business partners) who believe in what we’re doing. XO!

      K

  • thank you for these posts. I end up sending them all to my husband as we are preparing to become parents (hopefully soon!)
    I also love that you talked about letting someone else in on the action once August was born – as I imagine that must be so hard.
    XOXO

    • Hi Keri! I’m so glad this resonated with you. It’s never too soon to start thinking about how your relationship will evolve. It’s been so helpful for us. Appreciate you sharing!

  • I got stopped up on the “blow out” part until I realized that “blow out” takes on a very different meaning when you become a parent!

    What do you do when someone needs a blowout at DryBar though?

    In all seriousness, great post, thanks for sharing 🙂