• Kelsey Petersen

STRAIN

My daughter was constipated last night, and while I realize that this isn’t halting news for any of you, it was a big deal for me.


It was her first thing, ya know? She’s never run a fever, and other than getting her standard shots, she’s never really been hurt.


Until last night. The constipation. Only I didn’t know she was constipated. All I knew was that my daughter woke up screaming at 1:30 am like I’ve never heard her scream. Talk about unsettling. Michael and I both sat up in bed and in an instant, because we knew this was not a “my-binky-just-fell-out” kind of cry, he was running to her room yelling, “Ellie, Ellie, Ellie!” I followed behind him and he picked up our still screaming, inconsolable  daughter and I ran to the kitchen to make her a bottle even though I knew she wasn’t hungry.


This exact scenario happened again at 4:00 am, only this time I was the first to reach our girl. We took her out to the living room and snuggled her as we made guesses as to what could be wrong. Her gums? Her ears? Her throat could be sore? We gave her some Tylenol and I held her tight while Michael stroked her head. I wanted more than anything to make whatever had hurt her disappear. If only I just knew what it was!


But it was in that moment, watching Michael  fish around in our craft box for a popsicle stick and a flash light to try to check our baby’s throat, that I was overwhelmed with how very much I love my husband.


Because he was just as worried as I was. Because he loves her just as fiercely as I do. Because I don’t have to do this alone.


Honestly, Michael and I haven’t had a lot of alone time since Ellie was born. He’s just been  so busy. The gone all day, up all night, squinting over his mechanical engineering text books kind of busy. Most days it’s just Ellie and me. She goes with me to the store, the gym, and even work when I get called in to sub at the day care. I feel like lately, I’ve been putting so much energy into being her mom and Michael’s having to put so much energy into surviving this, his second to last semester, that it has become easy to do our own thing with the occasional “check-in” on each other. I’m sure it’s typical for new parents to take a while to find their new normal after baby, but lately I’ve been feeling more distant with my handsome husband than ever. When we have a minute where he isn’t rushing to beat a deadline and Ellie has gone to bed, he hugs me and says, “I’ve missed you,” with so much sincerity that I have to talk my self out of telling him that school is for weenies and that we should just find a beach to bum around on for the rest of forever.


It was hard as a starry-eyed newlywed to anticipate a time when the demands of life would ever put any kind of damper on intimacy. But life has given us a small taste of much more hectic times ahead where more children and more obligations are involved, and we’re starting to see that effort is a key ingredient in keeping our awesome marriage…awesome.


We longed for Elise, pleaded, prayed, and hoped for her. And now that she’s here we know that we were absolutely right to want her so badly. I don’t even know if I can describe the joy we find in the simple moments, like giving her a nighttime bath and watching her try to balance herself as she learns to sit up on her own. I adore her, and I love being her mom. But I will never regret those days before she came into our lives, because for all of its spontaneity and evenings spent doing exactly whatever the heck we wanted, we were also falling deeper in love, learning, and sculpting each other into the parents that we now are. Marriage is so much more than that initial stage of attraction. It’s finding that person that will sit by your side during the middle of the night moments where you hold a distressed baby as she tries so hard to poop. And even though now, more often than not we click off the lights, collapse into bed and fall asleep (bow chicka…wahhhh wahhhh), there’s no one I’d rather partner up on this parenting thing than with my one and only Michael.



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