Three's a Crowd: Romance After Baby


When two becomes three, it’s not just the living room full of baby toys, or the safety locks on all the cabinets, everything is transformed, including your relationship.

When I had my first baby, I knew that things would change, but it was still jolting stepping into that uncharted territory. I remember the doctor telling me I could have sex six weeks after the baby was born. “You have got to be kidding me,” I thought. That was absolutely the last thing on my mind. I was overwhelmed with being a new mom, I was exhausted and terrified, and everything I had to give was being given to my son. The first time my husband and I had sex after the baby was born was disappointing. It felt different, sometimes painful, and I was completely terrified that this was it, that things would never get back to where they were. I was so traumatized by that first experience, that it took another couple months before I tried again. (My husband is seriously the most patient and compassionate person ever...points for life!) But guess what? Eventually my body healed, my hormones calmed down, I got a handle on the whole being a mom thing, and things did get back to normal, even better than they were before. We even managed to make another baby (and things were way less traumatic the second time!)

If I could go back and give myself (and my husband) some words of wisdom, this is what I’d say:

Hey Mama:

  • You are amazing! You grew a baby and then you gave birth like a warrior. Your body is fabulous, and just did something incredible. So don’t be too hard on it. You need time to heal, physically and emotionally.
  • Be honest with your partner. Tell them what you are feeling.
  • If you are not ready to go all in yet, show your love in other ways. I know you are completely consumed with this amazing little bundle, but your husband helped make that happen, so make sure to let him know that you love and appreciate him.
  • It will be different at first, but it will get better. Don't spend time feeling guilty or worrying, just take it one day at a time.

Hey Daddy:

  • I know you are sleep deprived and going a little crazy because your wife is super hormonal. It will pass. Right now, she needs extra compassion and love. Trust me, she will make it up to you eventually.
  • Your wife loves you, please don’t feel rejected, it’s not about you. She’s just exhausted, and it’s hard to feel sexy when you spend the day with spit up all over your shirt.
  • Her boobs belong to the baby right now. You’ll get them back, but you just have to wait your turn. Sorry.
  • Don’t forget the first Valentine’s Day after baby (psst. She wants a bubble bath, chocolate, and a nice long nap!)

Most of all, never forget that you are in this together. When things get rocky, remember to turn towards each other and not away. That sweet little baby wouldn’t exist without both of you. Also, he won't be traumatized for life if you let him cry for an extra five minutes while you make up for lost time, enjoy!

This post originally appeared

How to Say Goodbye

It started to seem like death was swirling all around me. In just the past few months my Aunt, Grandmother, and a classmate from high school all passed away. The one year anniversary of a friends death hit right in the middle of all that in April, and the rawness of the grief took me a bit by surprise.

Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, Sister, and Me c.1990's not long before my Grandpa passed

I suppose I'm an introspective person, most writers are, when something happens in the world, I want to know why. I want to understand my emotions, the reactions of those around me, I want to make connections to the larger story. I try to observe, and to take away some truth, and if that truth pierces me with a sharp enough arrow, I let myself bleed in words.

This is all starting to sound a bit cryptic, but really, what I want to say is, that lately I have been unable to bleed. Is death too big to wrap my head around? Is it shock or fear that makes me numb? Explaining grief may be a futile thing, and from what I hear, it can be different for everyone. It may be a deep, dark pit, that we don't know how to climb out of. It may be a wind that blows from time to time whenever we see a picture or remember a loved one's voice. Or it may be, as it has been for me, a frozen layer of ice that I've had to let thaw gradually, scooping up tiny puddles bit by bit.

It's strange how we forget about death until we are faced with it. Just two weeks ago my Grandmother passed away. She had been on hospice care, and as I loaded my family into the car for a ten hour drive to Indiana we knew it was only a matter of days. She was 98, it was her time. We had been anticipating it for years, and yet, when the words came that she had finally passed there was still a moment of shock.

My grandmother's passing caused us to take an unexpected journey that turned into a 10 day stay. Though it was for a bit of a sad reason, we were able to spend some quality time with family, reminisce, and bring back some things that belonged to her and my grandfather, treasures to remind us and carry on their legacy.

picture of my Grandmother, Mom, and Sister: The Morris genes are strong with this one

Death is the only journey we all CAN expect, and yet when it comes we are never quite ready to say goodbye.

This past week I had a mom friend and her three kids staying at our house while they got ready to move out of state. My son and hers have become best friends over that past few years, and they had so much fun on this extended sleep over. They left last night, and when my son woke up this morning, their absence was definitely felt. 

He cried when I told him we probably wouldn't be seeing them for a long time, and I held him in my arms, all curled up in a ball on my lap. Somehow, his tears seemed to unlock the part of me that had become numb, and all of a sudden there was a flood of emotion pouring out from that once frozen iceberg, so that I am able to write this post.

If we believe in an afterlife, then goodbye is only goodbye for now, and we can follow the same advice that I gave to my five year old this morning:

"we'll write letters, we'll talk, we'll look at pictures, and remember things, until we're able to see them again."

Grandpa and Grandma on a trip to East Asia c.1970's

One Moment

Note: This piece is a somewhat dramatized, but real memory, of a childhood classmate that recently passed away. All the names have been changed to protect identity.

We were seated alphabetically, so it wasn’t like, fate or anything, that we ended up next to each other in ninth grade Tech. Lit. He still had that smile that made his cheeks dimple, the one that had made me fall for him as a naive middle-schooler. I was a couple years older and wiser thank-you-very-much, but he was still unbearably tall and dark, and in a few years he would definitely graduate from school boy cute to handsome.
Dan sat on the other side of him, a notorious trouble-maker who occupied most of his attention.  This was fine by me, since I was trying to remain aloof, lest he somehow suspect the once urgent, but embarrassingly childish crush. Also, I was an honor student, so I had to keep out of whatever nonsense and class disrupting behavior Dan might rope him into.
I minded my own business, learned my “qwerty,” and went onto websites whenever the teacher’s back was turned, like everyone else in the class.  To be honest, much of the time, when he and Dan were joking or making fun of Mrs. Burnett, I didn’t like him. He was seriously immature. Some days I wasn’t sure what I had seen in him in the first place? oh...right, the dimples.
One day, Dan was out sick and the whole class seemed a bit more peaceful, less on edge--really, it was a madhouse in there, poor Mrs. Burnett retired that year, and we may or may not have had something to do with it.
He must have been bored, or perhaps just freed from the pressure of showing off for Dan, because he started talking to me. Somehow we ended up on music.

“Wait, you know Reel Big Fish?” He said, as if this was impossibly hard to believe. In fact, I had spent countless hours listening to the album “Turn the Radio Off” on full blast in the car, to and from my first summer job.

“Yeah” I said, with a bit of a snarky edge, slightly insulted.

He leaned back in his chair so that it balanced on the back two legs, and pursed his lips together as he shook his head.

“No way”

I rolled my eyes. Really? Was it so hard to believe? Did he look at me and think I was the type of girl who was pining after a Backstreet Boy? Okay, I’ll admit, the Spice Girls dance number I did with a few of my friends for the eighth grade talent show may have sent some mixed signals.

“Prove it” he says.

Oh, no he didn’t.

So I start to sing, “She called me late last night, say she loved me didn’t matter anymore…”

I watched his eyes get wide and his smile slowly widen, but I just played it cool.

“I say she never cared and that she never will…” a quick pause as Mrs. Burnett rounds the corner, “I’d do it all again, guess I’ll have to wait until then…”

Now he’s leaned forward, using his fingers as drums on the table. He does a riff and takes us into the chorus, “and if I get drunk well I’ll pass out on the floor now baby, you won’t bother me no more!”

We both chuckle, because it’s a completely inappropriate song to be singing in school, which makes it all the more delicious. He thrashes his head around to the beat like he’s Axl Rose, and I can’t help but let my guard down a little to give a genuine laugh, and then we’re singing in unison, “and if you’re drinking well you know that you’re my friend, and I’ll say...I think I’ll have myself a beer...”

We both inexplicably jump to the bridge, cause now we’re like, telepathically linked in the music, “whaoooh, oooh, ohh, ohh….”  In a half-singing, half-whispering voice while Mrs. Burnett circles around again.

The rest of the song fades into hushed giggles, and he’s convinced. I let myself look in his eyes while he flashes a huge open mouthed smile.

Well that settles it. I’m in trouble.

The day I heard he died, I kept flashing back to this memory, the song played on repeat in my head all day, and I tried to remember how his voice sounded, how he moved, how he was more than a head taller than me even while sitting. I have to dig those glimpses out like precious fossils, gently, patiently, brushing off sand. Mostly, I remember the distinct unease and exhilaration of occupying that seat.
There had never been anything between us but that one moment. We grew up in a town so small, you were bound to have at least one moment with everyone. I don’t know what happened to him after high school, I had forgotten about him completely until I saw his name attached to the article about the skiing accident.
I don’t know how to grieve, since it wasn’t like we were close. I can only empathize with those who knew and cared for him on a much deeper, much more intimate level.
Is a moment enough to grieve? Does the grief come in equal measure to how much time you had together, or is it some wild wind, that blows with a stronger force and speed than you could have ever expected?
A moment, at least, is enough to remember. To know he was there, and that he loved good music, whether or not he remembered the dorky girl who sang with him once.
He was there, and I remember.

30 going on 13

Last week I did something I've been talking about for years. A regular childhood milestone smack dab in the middle of adulthood.

I got my ears pierced!

I even got to hug the Clair Bear...not cause I was nervous or anything...I just wanted the full experience! ::cough cough:::

My parents never did the ear piercing thing for me, they wanted me to wait until I was old enough to decide for myself, which I completely appreciate. I remember using those little stickers and magnetic ones when I was really young, but it was just for play, and it was really more trouble than it was worth. I never felt a strong desire to have real earrings, even when my friends started to get pierced, at least not enough to actually go through with it. I never felt deprived or left out.

For one thing, I was always squeamish with needles (having two kids cured me of that!), another is that in the church community I grew up in it was somewhat of a taboo, and there were lots of other girls who didn't have their ears pierced, or dye their hair, or otherwise dramatically alter their physical appearance. The last, but biggest reason I never got my ears pierced, though, was that by the time I was old enough to decide for myself, I was in those awkward pre-teen years, and terribly self-conscious about my ears! I thought they were way too big and I hated how they stuck out. I always tried to wear my hair down to hide them. When I had to wear a baseball cap on my softball team, I would tuck them into the cap rather then let them stick out. Anything that would draw more attention to my ears was a big NO. I wore the occasional clip-on, mostly when I was performing on stage or dressed up for an event, but I didn't even wear earrings at my wedding.

I remember admitting my ear phobia to my husband before we were married, and he was shocked, he said, "I love your ears, they're my favorite feature!"

Being able to see myself through his eyes, was a huge turning point, and in the years since I have mostly shed those insecurities. It's strange how we see ourselves, and how different it can be from what others actually see.

I went to Clair's for my piercing with one of my good friends that I've known since before high school, and confided to her this little detail. She too thought I was crazy, "I would have never thought that about you!" Looking in the mirror now, or these pictures, I have to agree. I love my new bling! and I love being comfortable in my skin, loving the parts of myself that I didn't always appreciate.

I made up my mind to get my ears pierced for my 30th birthday (it happened about 8 months later because I'm a procrastinator). It seemed like a fitting way to usher in a new decade of my life, and to not just have a cultural experience that I missed out on in childhood, but to mark my journey of self acceptance and love.

Hello beautiful....oh wait, that's me!

We all have things about ourselves we wish we could change, but sometimes it's because our own viewpoint is just too dark and blurry. Try to see yourself through a loved one's eyes, and the picture will suddenly be much brighter.