Oh, babies. So perfect, with their sweet-smelling heads, chubby little feet, and bright eyes. But don’t be fooled. Babies are tiny, adorable dictators, and they can level your relationship if you let them.
- Babies don’t care if you sleep. No one is going to be sleeping. This affects our cognitive function, decision making, coping skills, and energy levels, and during what is arguably the most complicated transition of your entire life, these skills will be missed.
- Babies bring chaos. Your surroundings may become unrecognizable; there will be toys and diapers and blankets and spit-up everywhere. You’ll be shocked by how many receiving blankets you actually go through, and life will feel like it’s going on inside the spin cycle.
- Babies change moms’ bodies. You saw it with the pregnancy, and unlike the women on the cover of People, it may not ever go back to the way it was. That’s okay, but it can be hard to accept.
- Babies toss out old identities. Suddenly you’re not just Jim and Susan, you’re now this little person’s parents. This will alter all sorts of things: hair styles, career plans, daily schedules, how you feel appreciated in the world and even how you look at each other. Prepare to go from high-functioning-and-put-together to unshowered-and-living-in-pyjama-pants.
- Babies do not believe in your “alone time.” No longer will you climb into bed at the end of the day with the luxury of doing whatever you wish; you will likely be exhausted, and, if you’re co-sleeping, even your bed won’t give you a break. Figuratively and literally, you will have a baby between you all the time.
- Babies don’t care about your old priorities. Where you were once engaged and present, you will now think spit bubbles are the most amazing thing. You even may rush off mid-sentence to grab a camera to document them.
- Babies break budgets. Your income may be different, especially if one of you is not working and that can present some stress.
- Babies do not help with housework, and there may be an inequitable split of duties. You may feel resentful in your own “silo of suffering” and need to communicate in new ways.
- Babies don’t care if you have sex. And you might not, either, even after the doctor has cleared you to resume activity.
- Babies are loved. This means that you may have well-meaning grandparents with their best intentions who butt up against your ideas. You will need to build a united front and this might cause some friction.
And the good news: knowing all of this and commiserating about it together will keep your relationship alive. With some small actions, your relationship can survive:
- Practice the “Five to Thrive”. Part in a meaningful way when you leave each other, greet each other with thought and care, mindfully transition to being home together, include some physical touch and appreciation in your day, and finally, prioritize just a little time together each week in some sort of adult-focussed date.
- Keep the lines of communication open. There is no joy to be had by languishing in a silo of suffering, so share your frustrations, and ask for help and for validation (you’re both doing something new that’s really hard!)
- Be patient and compassionate with each other. You’re taking on a big responsibility, and your lives have flipped a little sideways. This is bound to cause a little upheaval on many fronts, so treat each other gently, with curiosity for the process your teammate is going through.
- Seek help. From other parents, your parents, doctors, friends, and even coaches and therapists. If we allow our communities to raise us as we raise our little ones, we all become stronger for it, and I promise that everyone in your child’s life is rooting for your success.
And the last piece of advice: remember to have fun. Yes, you’ve traded dinners out for diapers, but if you embrace the chaos that your little dictator brought, you might just find some new versions of fun that no fancy wine list in a fancy restaurant could possibly match. Your baby is a little miracle-sprinkled bundle of magic; you will feel like your very heart is walking around in the world. While you will miss your pre-baby life, you will more than likely gleefully hand over whatever you need to do this important work.
Enjoy every messy, wonderful moment.
By Tara Caffelle
Love and Communication Expert, Tara Caffelle is known by many as the Relationship Fairy Godmother. Her artful coaching techniques help couples rekindle a deeper love and lasting commitment. If your relationship needs a little inspiration (or a lot!) follow Tara on Facebook or Instagram or get in touch with her here!