My wife and I have always shared a work-to-live priority. We have careers that we’re passionate about, but we get fulfillment outside of work. We knew life would be different with a baby, but we were sure we didn’t want to sacrifice this fundamental aspect of our relationship.
Sacrifice is part of having a baby, but for us, the emphasis has been on adaptation. Leaving Arden for an evening to go see a show seems selfish. Taking him from the comfort of his space seems like an unnecessary hassle. Taking him to a restaurant and waiting for him to get fussy seems stressful. Putting him in the carrier for a hike is harder than walking around the block. All of that is true, but it is a large part of why we’re enjoying this so much.
During pregnancy, we hiked, camped, and went to weekend concerts on a whim. We adapted to my wife’s needs during those activities over the course of her pregnancy, but it wasn’t until the last trimester that we had to adopt significant lifestyle changes together.
The urge to “nest” deepened. We would get the fireplace going and prepare dinner. We watched our shows and relaxed together for the last time as two. These were contemplative weeks where neither of us wanted to be anywhere else.
The first month of Arden’s life we primarily stayed in. Then we started visiting people, going out to eat, and extending our neighborhood walks. The more we went out, the easier it got.
Our first real (and perhaps most daunting) post-baby trip was a two-night excursion to Seneca Lake for a friend’s birthday in March. It was a sophisticated operation making sure Arden had everything he needed. As a notorious last-minute packer, old habits are dying hard.
Wineries are perhaps the worst place to take a newborn. Someone has to stay sober, first of all. The baby is never in one place for more than 20 minutes. There is a ton of buckling and unbuckling involved. We joked that the trip was exposure therapy for Arden to be put in and taken out of his car seat dozens of times for a one-mile drive between stops.
It was a tough day. He had to eat frequently. He threw up in one winery and cried in another. We created a makeshift diaper station in the back of the car, and split off from the group when we needed to.
There was a moment when I was outside, calming Arden and looking at the lake. I realized I hadn’t enjoyed a place I had been many times before in the same way. I’d never just stood and closely watched the lake. I was happy to be there experiencing a special place for the first time with my son.
We got what sleep we could in the AirBnb and we were in the same space with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. Everything was different and nothing had changed all at the same time.
It’s daunting to do the things we did before Arden, but we feel that doing them makes us better parents. They make nights we don’t have plans that much more rejuvenating. Most importantly, they fulfill what my wife and I value and what we want our child to value.
I’d like to thank all of Arden’s grandparents for always volunteering to watch him for an evening. We couldn’t do this without you.