Everyone, and I do mean everyone, told me that having a baby changes things. But I never believed them. Well, it’s been three years since Boaz and I got married on a sultry night in Israel, and let me assure you, going from a two-some to a three-some, and then to a four-some (and not the kind that most men fantasize about) is a recipe for disaster adventure.
A week after our wedding in Israel, Boaz and I were back in Berkeley, re-ensconced in our cozy routine: Slow mornings spent over two steaming cups of jasmine green tea. Cooking dinner while listening to Tupac, Eyal Golan, and Vivaldi. Languid weekends spent frittering away our paycheck on delicious food and fine wine.
And then, on a warm Friday morning, less than a week after we had returned home from our wedding, I woke up with a raging infection in my right big toe because three weeks before, I had over-zealously given myself a pedicure, and then proceeded to strut around in gold lamé stripper-shoes. Anyway, after suffering through work, instead of meeting Boaz at the bar as was our custom, I made him pick me up and take me to Kaiser Urgent Care. The doctor came in, looked at my toe, and wrote a prescription for antibiotics.
But just as I was about to hobble home, the doctor noticed something on my chart and asked me to take a pregnancy test, just in case. “Don’t worry,” I reassured Boaz as we headed to the lab. “I don’t feel pregnant. This is just for fun.”
Life Looking Different
Three years and two bundles of “fun” later, our routine is a little different. For one thing, our “morning” wake-up is just the last in a series of wakeups that have taken place all night long. Well, for me. Boaz sleeps like a rock. There are no lazy afternoons and evenings spent relaxing over a bottle of wine. Instead, we cobble together meals–mac and cheese again–while running interference with our daughter, Faye who has recently figured out the child safety latches on our kitchen cabinets and likes to get all Ike Turner on the pots and pans.
Dinners are spent passing our nine-month-old son, Benjamin, back and forth like a football, and I can’t remember the last time Boaz and I sat together like a couple and held hands across a dinner table. And, since we’re hippie freaks we’ve been sleep-sharing with our first-born since she was a few months old, it’s a wonder I even managed to get pregnant again. (Thank goodness for baby monitors–oh, and if you ever come over you might want to avoid sitting on the couch in the living room.)
It’s tough negotiating the space between being lovers and parents. I know some parents have it easy, they transition seamlessly from a duo to a trio (and on to a quartet or a quintet, etc.) without missing a beat, and their three (or four or five, etc…) part harmony makes me sick with envy is poignant. But our quartet, on the other hand, is often atonal and off-key.
And it’s not hard to imagine why.
Oh, What An Adventure
I got pregnant on my honeymoon, spent the first few months of my pregnancy having nuclear hormonal meldowns mood swings, and essentially transformed into a whackjob who spent almost every free moment on Google looking up every conceivable worst-case scenario from conception until, like, forever.
Kabloom. (That sound you hear is Boaz’s head exploding as he spends the next nine months wondering what happened to his care-free bride who used to wear hooker heels.)
And just when the hormones reached near-toxic levels, Faye was born…with colic. Hours of non-stop screaming that culminated in a bout of projectile vomiting. And on top of that, don’t forget nothing says “sexy” like a second-degree tear down there and leaky nipples.
But just as Faye crawled out of that terrifying newborn phase, I was back at the OB again with my legs in stirrups.
Clearly, Boaz and I haven’t had much time to work on our relationship. But, with big changes underway as we prepare to move to Israel, we’re making an effort to get to know each other again. While we’ve done the unthinkable and ventured out a few times just the two of us, it’s a challenge to find things to talk about besides our babies. And even then we usually end up bickering until one of us says something like “Hey, why are we paying a babysitter just so we can go out and fight?”
Sarah and Boaz try to
make a habit of going out.
But unless we continue to go out, and force ourselves to get beyond the awkward silences and churlish comments, I know that the little changes add up, and we’ll lose the intimacy we once shared and become more like coworkers who barely get along. One night, when we went to the crowded sushi place down the street, there were no tables available, and we ended up being squeezed in at the bar. Our hips brushed together. Sitting side-by-side, I could smell his cologne, and after a while we were laughing again, holding hands, and in-sync. Since then, we’ve tried to make going out a habit.
But between power struggles over who gives Benjamin his bath, or who changes Faye’s feculent diaper, between waking up in the middle of the night over and over and over again, and wondering where the days go, between doing the unthinkable and turning into our own parents, between disappointment and dreams fulfilled, there are times when I miss the effortless ebb and flow of those early years before our babies.
But then, there are moments so poignant–so perfect–like when we took the kids to our favorite Indian restaurant and Faye and Benjamin spent the entire meal holding hands, or when we packed a picnic dinner of avocado sandwiches and hardboiled eggs and drove down to the Marina to watch the sunset, or when the four of us take a walk to Coffee Bean for lattes and a chocolate muffin–that balances out the exhaustion and the angst. And, every morning, when I hear Faye say “Hi Mama! Hi Abba!” and Benjamin rolls over and grabs a fistful of my hair, I am grateful for my quartet.