A couple of years ago when I was pregnant with my second child, I was watching the BBC series ‘The Split’ and the main character Hannah said something that blew my mind.
Another character, pregnant with their first child, asked Hannah if she had children. “Three”, she replied, “each one like a grenade in my marriage”.
‘Oh good God’ I thought, ‘she said it’.
Side note: Some of our favourite celebrities on parenting. Post continues below.
I had my first baby six years ago, and my second 18 months ago, both with my husband whom I’ve now been married to for almost 12 years, and in a relationship with for almost 17 years.
Our beloved, adored children were both grenades in our marriage.
Both pregnancies were hard on me. I was not a glowing, blissful, Instagrammable mama to be; I was a bloated, exhausted, anxious mess with incontinence, flatulence and the worst heartburn of my life.
And I’m not even going to talk about childbirth, such an insanely fraught topic. Suffice to say one birth was quite horrendous, the other was fine, and I realised both times that birthing children (any which way you do it) is an incredibly courageous thing to do.
Both children were absolute gifts. My husband and I experienced that heart-melting love we’d been told about, and even when they drive us nuts we still experience these feelings almost daily as parents.
But they were also the most difficult things to ever happen to us as a couple.
Any notion that a child would bring us closer together swiftly exited the building when we found ourselves confronting our inadequacies as people and parents (and taking these out on each other), mining through recurring memories of difficulties from our own childhoods, and bickering over whose turn it was to get an extra 30 minutes sleep that day.
In our case, throw in some post-natal depression for me and you’ve got a big, fat, difficult mess.
No one tells you this is what it’s like, and frankly I’m not surprised. When friends say they are having their first baby, my response to the news is - of course - joy and excitement, because I truly feel those things.
But if I’m honest, I also feel worried for them - I’ve seen so many friends' marriages taken to the edge, or over it, because parenting small children is hard. And taking on those roles of ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ leaves very little time for the roles you previously held in each other’s lives.