Marriage is a funny thing. As with any partnership, it has phases.

Of course, the phases are couple-specific, but let’s just talk about this in generalities. Or really, let’s just talk about me.

Phase 1: The Newlywed/Honeymoon stage. Your partner can do no wrong. You can’t wait to see them at the end of the day because you truly missed being with them.

Phase 2: The All the Things We Want to Do Before Kids stage. For some, this is just an extension of phase 1. You take trips together. You hang out with your friends. You have stay up late talking.

Phase 3: The I Think We’re Ready to Have Kids stage. You start prepping your life for children (ha, so you think) and begin to “talk” about children and how life will change. You think you are being clear and concise about how lifestyles will change and what expectations will be. You want your child to travel, to speak several languages, to be able to sit in a restaurant with adults and be well behaved. You read. And you research. And you plan.

Phase 4: The Oh Boy, We Are Pregnant stage. You start frantically flipping through calendars to figure out what exactly you need to do to prep for this child. Your partner finds this all very amusing and cute.

Phase 5: I like to call this the Stuff Just Got Real stage. This is the minute that you realize that morning sickness doesn’t just happen in the morning. And that, contrary to what most literature will tell you, it does NOT necessarily stop at the start of the second trimester (even if you have that date circled in red in one of the 12 calendars that you bought in Phase 4). This is also about the time that your partner realizes that the raging hormones discussed literature and shown in movies is purely fiction.

There are some sub-phases between phase 5 and 6, but we’ll skip ahead to the big ones.

Phase 6: The New Parent stage. For a while, this is cute. On the outside, it’s similar to phase 1. This usually happens when you are at the hospital with a full nursing staff and then in the weeks following with the support of grandparents and aunts/uncles. Everything your spouse does with the baby is cute and sweet. You get the requisite sleeping daddy/sleeping baby pictures.

Phase 7: Stuff Just Got Real: Part Deux—this is the day that grandma goes home.

Phase 8: The Who is More Tired phase. This can last some time depending on how your child sleeps. Or whether or not your husband works in law enforcement on the midnight shift. You circle back to the can’t-wait-to-see-your-partner mentality in Phase 1—someone else needs to walk the baby around the living room for a bit because you desperately need a shower. Or a tooth brushing. Or to blink.

Phase 9: This is the I Hate Everything You Do, Say, Wear, Smell, etc. stage. Everyone goes through this to varying degrees. It’s a direct result of phase 8 and should alleviate once your child starts sleeping consistently (which is NOT [no matter what anyone says] necessarily at 6 weeks or 6 months—it’s variable and setting any kind of time expectation is cruel).

Phase 10: The We’re Real Parents stage. It takes a while for this one to sink in, and it will happen over and over. At least it did for us. It’s the first time you go to the restaurant without full changes of clothing for everyone—just in case. The first time you go to the grocery store without the cart cover and don’t even totally freak out when your kid licks the handle. The first time you high-5 after successfully putting the kiddo to bed in his big-boy bed with only 15-minutes of angst.

It’s a process. Onto the next phase.

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