Nothing gladdens my heart more than my beautiful two baby girls, but upon the arrival of the second one, my wife and I realised for a fact that life was never going to be the same, at least not for the two of us. And this was not even for the simple fact that their mama was obsessed with shedding the extra weight to recapture her lithe figure back. No, that was the least of our problems. The bigger issue was having the energy and the time for each other. I truly thought we were done.
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1. Snappy Betty
Every time the baby woke up at night, she would nudge me to get up and change the baby’s diapers, or at least bottle feed her. I was exhausted from a full day at work. And while I knew that she was exhausted too from a full day of dealing with a fussy baby and her equally rumbustious toddler sister, I was amazed by how determined she was to make my nights hellish. As soon as I walked in the door, the baby would be dumped on my lap with a milk bottle to boot. She would then take two hours luxuriating in a bath. We laugh about it now but it wasn’t funny then.
One time while I was sleeping, the baby woke up screaming. Betty pushed me out of the bed with her leg and I fell down on the floor. I woke up, stunned and angry. I looked at her hoping for an apology and an explanation, but she had turned away and was snoring lightly.
A few times, I left the house angry and hungry and as soon as I got to the office, she would call me with a list of what they needed at home and while the younger me would have hang up on her, hearing her tired voice was enough to make the anger melt away and take notes.
2. Not up for anything
Once a woman has pushed out a tiny person, her private bits are not something she wants touched. I get it. Once the doctor’s recommended six weeks time-out was up, I was excited. Later in bed, I winked at her suggestively hoping that I would have some good ol’ time, only for her to look at me with what looked like contempt on her face. “Really? Is that all you think about? I am so tired.” And that went on for a few months. I got creative and busy, watching more documentaries than I ever will again in my lifetime. I learnt more about Beethoven than I cared to know. And I would be lulled to sleep by Mozart. I had to see things from stubborn Betty’s point of view. Our daughter was a big infant with a big head, so mama didn’t need any more aggravation on her bits.
3. Messy Betty
Seeing Betty at least six months after baby was born, you wouldn’t believe she was the polished woman I had met four years earlier. Now she lived in sweats, hair in pigtails, barefaced and in my socks and t-shirts. Well, the booby had to be whipped out when baby needed it, and she didn’t want anything tight on her. And even in her sorry state, I still thought she looked pretty fetching. One day, while we were watching old episodes of Friends after the children had finally gone to bed, I could smell some stale milk on her. I ignored that. She needed some few minutes to bum about before the cries began. This thought only lasted for five minutes before I ran my hand through her hair only for my fingers to come up for air covered in Weetabix crumps. I had to escort her to the bathroom for a thorough scrub.
Today, the children are 6 and 3. The pressure has eased off. Betty is back to work, and the nanny is amazingly adept at handling them. And whenever Betty turns to me and asks if it’s time to try for a son, I shudder. I really don’t relish the idea of having another screaming little person in my bed. Or a wife who looks like she has been dragged through a minefield. Plus I really don’t fancy sandwiches for dinner because there was no time for proper meal prep. I am happy with my girls, and glad that we had a great dose of humour to see us through the babies early years, because in some moments, moving out from the home and madness seemed like a fine idea.