I remember the excitement of my pregnancies but also the realization of growing responsibility. A baby was not some thing that could be returned or exchanged at a store.
While marrieds often think that the next step beyond marriage is to have a child, understand that it is a big responsibility. A child should not be planned because a couple is having marriage problems or because they are bored. Rather family should be commenced because a couple feel that this is a positive step beyond their marriage. They are deeply committed to each other. The couple has financially prepared for this extension to their family and is prepared to make emotional and physical adjustments.
Planning and spending for a baby is fun. Names are selected, nurseries are decorated and clothes, furnishings and baby showers create excitement. Many couples view a new baby as a cute toy. Any one though that has had a baby knows that these novelties fade.
One way to start the process of change in this time is to share these new experiences and establish what is important for the arrival of this new life. What things are necessary to acquire? Will one of the couple return to work and what is important to the other with the arrival of a new baby. Also understand that what one wants before the arrival of a baby, may change when the child arrives. Some moms believe that they will want to return to work while others are determined that they will not. Many women in these times have to come to terms with the fact that it is a necessity that they work. A husband may not verbalize this but a wife needs to evaluate their circumstances.
One thing that is obvious to a mother, is that a baby needs her. The cries, diaper changes and feeds demand her attention and so it is easy to forget the needs of a husband. The husband finds that his wife is preoccupied with this new baby that appears glued to his wife’s shoulder (and breast). Gone is the kiss and welcome home and cooked meals. If I as a new mom, managed to be out of my pajamas by mid afternoon, it seemed a miracle.
Quickly this new baby whom was fun to dress up and display in all of the new baby attire and equipment, becomes this huge frustration that a couple love immensely but he or she also appears to rule a couple’s lives.
As a couple, know how strongly that the unity of two parents presents security to a child. Their cries let you know of their needs but also allow their cries to draw you as a couple to one another rather than away from one another. When fights and frustrations occur, talk them through in a calmer hour.
Understand that this cute new creature can easily divide a couple that seemed so in love. Understand that a baby means changes for a couple which means that roles will change and flexibility and grace will be needed. A husband may find that he needs to do tasks that are uncomfortable for him while a wife feels that motherhood is not a natural talent. A wife may have to find new grace when others including a husband do not complete tasks according to her standards. For a new mom, things that should be so natural seem a struggle such as nursing, bathing a child or understanding their needs. And every one has an opinion which is confusing and often embarrassing.
Husbands know that you may not be able to work out this new creature either (nor your wife) but have the courage to step in and help. Take the child and get to know this child. Work is not over when a dad gets home from work but job 2 has commenced. Whether a wife works out of home or is a full time mother, parenting for both is exhausting in these early years.
Both parents are tired and perhaps short tempered at this time. While a baby sleeps in the evening hours, it is important that parents work together and discuss their lives at these times. Whether relaxing, folding diapers or stacking a dishwasher, share your lives, be tolerant of the changes that you are facing and let each other know where you need support. You have moved into a new era of your relationship with one another.
Be prepared to change your priorities. Whether the house is a mess, or a sibling misses school for a day or so is not important. Having a child is an adjustment. To be vulnerable enough to allow neighbors and friends to help is good.
To move a baby from the parents’ room is important. Most parents love a baby to fall asleep in their bed but to allow this to become a habit is negative. Rather parents should fall asleep in each others’ arms while a baby in their bed all night can only limit intimacy. While a wife can take time to respond to sexual intimacy, children need to learn that mom and dad need privacy. When a child knows that mom’s and dad’s relationship is important to each other, this helps a child feel secure.
Husbands, understand that your wife’s body has been through tremendous changes with pregnancy and childbirth and so assure her of her beauty. Her body may not return to that of one that has not had children but that does not make her any less beautiful and so assure her of her attractiveness by your words and actions. Women go through much insecurity in their lives regarding their looks and so to say that she is beautiful only on her wedding day is far from sufficient. Girls similarly, let your husband know of his importance to you and how proud that you are of him for taking on the responsibility of family. It is easy for a woman to become absorbed by a new baby but she must understand that her husband still looks to her as a companion, lover and friend. Girls admire your man and give him your attention. Despite physical changes, do not let your appearance deteriorate but take care to get back in shape when you can. You want to be a great example to your child and one of whom your husband feels proud.
Photo by a4gpa via Flickr