Not gaga for your new baby? Join the club. Little in life is instant or an overnight success, and that includes parenthood. As with most things, adjusting and bonding to a new baby takes time. In my experience, new parents can’t hear this enough and often berate themselves for not feeling an instantaneous bond with their baby, or for missing the ease of their former life. It’s okay and very normal to miss the flexibility and opportunity that life before a baby afforded you – uninterrupted sleep, finishing a thought or a sentence, or having an actual conversation with your partner. Having a baby definitely creates a ripple effect and change that can be felt on the individual and couple level – an impact that affects the family as a whole.
I remember, when my oldest child was born, I was discussing my son’s nursing quirks and habits with my older sister. She quickly interrupted me and with a little bit of a chuckle said, “You think your body is yours. No, no – it belongs to your son now.” For many women, continuing to share your body with your new child – especially after their nine month occupancy, labor and delivery – can be very challenging. It doesn’t take away from the love you feel for your infant or your strong desire to nurse your child; it is often a normal part of the transition to motherhood. Recognize that these feelings are normal, often times universal to women in general, and in no way an indication of your quality as a parent or love for your child. It will afford you the time and space that you need to adjust to your new role, and, over time, you’ll come to embrace your ability to bond and nurture your baby in a unique way.
In addition to the changes felt predominately by mom, the couple as a whole will likely experience some dramatic changes and restructuring after the baby is born. Specifically, communication and conversation tend to decline only to be replaced by miscommunication and arguments; this often times leaves either one, or both, members of the dyad feeling lonely and isolated. This environment creates a breeding ground for postpartum depression and/or marital discord. When the choices are sleep, eat or spend time together, unfortunately spend time together usually loses. However, with the proper preparation and tools this does not have to be the case, and, in fact, I have seen many relationships grow stronger with the birth of a baby.
So I urge you to first, recognize that an elevation in relationship stress after having a baby is normal and often experienced by the majority of couples. It is crucial that you try to be more understanding and considerate, and work harder to be patient and give your partner the benefit of the doubt. I know that this is easier said than done, but I assure you that it is completely possible. In addition, although eating and sleeping are desperately needed and hard to say no to, it is crucial that you make time for each other and put considerable effort forward to connect with one another on a daily basis. This can be done in many wonderful ways including taking turns giving each other a brief massage before bed, making it a priority to have dinner together or setting aside about 10-15 minutes a night to just check in with each other and inquire about the events of your partner’s day. As soon as both partners are ready, it is extremely worthwhile to resume date night – ideally on a weekly basis. You will reap the benefits from your efforts pretty rapidly. And just in case you need further convincing, just know a happy mommy and daddy lead to a happy, well-adjusted baby!
With time, everything will fall in to place and you’ll create a new routine and a new harmony in your life – one that truly will surpass your former life. And after giving yourself the necessary time needed to adjust, hopefully you will find, as most parents do, that the trade off was minimal and the new happiness that comes with baby is like nothing you have ever experienced. So, if you are not gaga over your new baby YET, try not to worry; sit back, relax and calm down. Know that you are in good company and wonderful things come to those that wait – parenthood included!!