My husband and I have three children of our own, and let’s just say that we’ve learned the hard way all the dos and don’ts of surviving the newborn phase. Let me share with you what we’ve learned over the years.
When the hubby and I found out we were having our first child, we had only been married a few short months and we were madly in love with each other. We were overjoyed with the news of my pregnancy.
Slowly, over the following months, our relationship changed a bit. Our focus was placed more and more on this new baby that we were waiting to meet. Taking prenatal courses, buying baby items, setting up the nursery,… our days were filled with baby talk.
Then once the baby was in our arms and into our home, I slowly became more and more baby-obsessed. I never noticed what I was doing until a few months later. Yes, I was still madly in love with my husband, but I was also head-over-heels in love with this new little bundle of joy. I didn’t think it was possible to love someone the way I loved my child. I thought my heart was going to explode with all this new love. I wanted to hold him all the time. I wanted to kiss him and smell him and be with him ALL the time. It was insane! I even hesitated at times when my husband asked to hold him. I’m ashamed to say it, but I sometimes felt like I didn’t want to share him. Even with his own father! My husband! That’s just crazy!!!
Every opportunity we had to spend time together, I would talk about the baby. “He was so cute when he did this”, “You’ll never believe what he did”, “Guess what I did with him today”. It was all about the baby. I had completely lost myself. I had become a mother, but I forgot that I was also a wife, a friend, a daughter and a woman. I absolutely loved being a mother, and I still do, but it consumed me. It didn’t leave room for anything else in my life.
It became difficult to connect with my husband, with my friends and my family. Believe it or not, they didn’t all want to talk about my baby. Imagine that!
I had to start doing other things besides taking care of my child. Sure, my child was still completely dependant on me for survival, so I wasn’t going to do anything drastic, but something had to change. Well, first of all, I needed to change. My clothes, I mean! I would get so caught up in baby duties, that I would forget to change my clothes or even shower for a few days. So I made sure I changed into clean clothes every morning, like a normal and sane person. Then I scheduled showers whenever my husband got home from work. They were really quick at first, because of course, I missed my baby terribly!
I was so attached to my child, that I cried when I went to the grocery store alone for the first time. I was a complete mess. I’m glad I went that day though. My husband forced me to go, and I remember being mad at him. Although, when I got back home, I was so relieved. I had survived my first hour away from my baby. And he had survived being away from me too. I guess I was terrified something would happen to him. All these “what ifs” were going through my head. And would you believe it, not one of them came true. Everything was just fine.
Like I said, I’m glad my husband pushed me to go out that day. Once I saw I was ok and the baby was ok, I gradually went out more often. It felt so good. I started to remember what it was like to just be me…a woman. I enjoyed doing my hair and my makeup again. I started to take better care of myself.
That’s when I also realized I had been neglecting my marriage. My husband had been so patient while I was a complete baby crazy person. I hadn’t paid any attention to him. At all! God blessed me with an amazing man in my life. One who makes me so happy. Someone with whom I can’t imagine my life without. I need to cherish what we have…every day! We were both blessed with an amazing child. I need to trust in his parenting abilities and be willing to stop trying to control every little thing baby related. I’m not the expert and I need to stop behaving like I am. I need to show my husband that I trust him with the care of our child. I also need to be able to spend good quality time with my hubby without saying one thing about “the baby”. It was hard at first, but I eventually got it.
What I would like for you to take from my experience is this.
- Enjoy your baby with all you’ve got, but don’t forget that your baby is NOT the only person in your life. While it’s completely natural to spend the majority of your day with your child, especially if you breastfeed, do NOT let yourself get consumed by all things baby to the point of it being unhealthy. I’m allowing you a 6-week grace period where you need time to heal from labour and delivery, and to adjust to motherhood. But after that, you need to start taking small steps towards gaining a balance between being a mother, a wife and a friend.
- Take some time for yourself. At first, I had to hide in the bathroom to have some me-time. It may not be necessary for you to go to that extreme. Read a book, do arts & crafts, play the piano, watch a movie, take a bath,…whatever it is, regularly take some well deserved time for yourself. As a mother, we give so much of ourselves to our family. If we don’t take the time to fill ourselves up, we won’t have anything left to give. And while you take this time for yourself, please, don’t think about the dishes or the laundry you should be doing instead. Relax, they’ll still be there when you’re done!
- Don’t forget that you have a husband who is competing for your attention. Do not ignore him. Don’t shut him out. Take some time for yourselves. It may only be 5 minutes to sit on the couch together to talk. Or maybe you could take a walk together, while pushing the baby in the stroller. Work your way up to a date night where a grandparent or other relative can stay home and watch the little one. Even if it’s just for an hour or two. It’s necessary to invest time into your relationship. Your child will only be with you for approximately 18 years, then he or she will be off on their own. But once they’re gone, your husband will still be there with you. The two of you are in it for the long haul. Invest the time necessary to keep your connection strong. It’s well worth it.
We not only survived taking care of our first child together, but we had two more after that. It was much easier the second time around, and even more so the third time.
We have now been married for 13 years and I’m constantly surprised how I’m able to love him more and more every year that goes by. I don’t think it’s possible to love him more than I do now, but I’m sure in a year from now I’ll prove myself wrong, once again. We are also very close to our children. We’re a very tight unit. I feel truly blessed by God for giving me such an incredible family.
The first year of parenting was difficult for me. It was wonderful, but also difficult. I had lost myself. I was overly happy to be a mother and ended up pushing other people away without even realizing it. I wish someone would have told me what to expect while I was pregnant so I could better prepare myself for all of this. Maybe I would have had better control of my “mommy brain” and not gone so crazy. I had no idea I could turn into such a nasty new mom monster!
Keep your relationships strong while caring for your newborn. It IS possible to keep a balance. It just takes awareness and practice. Good luck!