It’s a cliche, of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true, but having a baby is perhaps the single most important and rewarding experience you can have throughout your life. This is something you are commonly told by new mothers and fathers and were no doubt told by your own parents on more than a few occasions.
However, you also need to be well aware of the struggles that come with the birth of a new baby, issues you have never experienced before, and regardless of how much help, assistance, and information you are given, it’s an adventure you go into alone (with your partner) and one that you two share amongst yourself. This can present obstacles that can certainly affect your relationship.
Revel In Your Newfound Parenthood
Often you can get swept up in the day-to-day overload that comes with being new parents, and too quickly, you can forget about the majestic nature of what’s happened. You are now the parents of a healthy child, and that’s something that should always be at the forefront of your minds, ahead of the travails and trying times that come with the new ‘normal.’
Celebrate that fact, maybe even invest in one of these great personalized necklaces that mark the birth of your first child. The point is that all the short-term, maybe even long-term, arduous activity that comes with becoming parents (such as the lack of sleep) is for a purpose and a beautiful purpose at that.
In the first few weeks, maybe months, you can certainly feel overcome with the whole situation, and you may well be running on instinct, especially if you don’t have an extensive support network to help you on a daily basis.
Whenever it feels too much, you should take a moment to appreciate the reason for all the chaos, and that reason is the creation of a beautiful child that is truly a part of both of you.
Work as a Team
Often a relationship gets strained by the new situation you find yourself in. It can become very easy to snipe at each other, and the collective stress and anxiety you feel can lead to a hugely problematic environment. It may seem like an easy thing to say, but you should both try to stay as calm and collected as possible.
Always be aware that both of you are in new territory and that in order to get through the first few trying months, you’ll need to work as a team. That means both parties taking responsibility for specific key tasks.
Clearly, one of you may be home far less than the other, but that doesn’t mean that that individual can’t get involved as much as possible. Perhaps the partner who is working through the day can be the one who takes care of bathtime and takes care of sleeping arrangements. They can also be the one who takes care of late-night feeding.
The perfect balance here should be found but won’t happen instantly. You could consider developing a rota of some kind that makes it clear who’s responsible for what; that way, you know when you might be about to have a well-earned break.
If this is your first baby, then developing a plan of action is a good way for you both to ease into this new facet of life. Take on board advice from those around you who have experience in this area but don’t feel compelled to take their words of wisdom as the final word; you have to learn to use a system that works for you.
It is inevitable that your relationship will take the backseat for a while, and you may even find yourselves fighting a lot more; that’s perfectly normal, but the essential thing, in this case, is to remember you both want what’s best for your child and your relationship. It’s more than likely that any bickering that’s occurring is simply due to the pressure of the situation you are in.
Remember that you are working together for the greater good and try to be as honest with each other about how you are feeling. Don’t bottle up feelings; if you are finding it tough to operate on three hours of sleep and you need your partner to take the wheel for a while, then say so.
Find Time For Yourselves
If possible, and we know it’s not always doable, you should try to find time for yourselves both as individuals but also as a couple. The rollercoaster of the first year of parenthood can be a daunting place, and even more so if you feel that your shared life together is diminished.
Use the help of grandparents to help ease the burden, even if it’s only for a few hours, or enlist a babysitter if you feel comfortable leaving your young child with one.
It’s also vital for you to find time for yourself individually, even if this means asking your partner to take care of the little one for a few hours so you can spend some time with friends or so that you can relax and feel more human.
Keep Talking and Remember Honesty Is Crucial
Now is not the time to be silent. You’ve taken on a massive leap in your relationship; having a child is the biggest challenge your partnership will face, and it’s crucial that you both keep talking and are honest about how you feel.
This doesn’t mean pressuring each other and looking to find fault with one another’s role in your family unit. What it does mean is you need to both find a way to communicate that is frank but effective.
Telling each other what’s causing you distress and anxiety is essential but pointing fingers if you feel that one party isn’t doing their fair share isn’t the way to move forward. Talk about how you feel; if you are struggling with the way things are, say so. By the way, it would be a fair assessment to say that no first-time parents are capable of taking on this new aspect of life without their share of troubles; it’s normal.
Come together for the benefit of your child. Keep the communication channels open, and don’t take each other for granted. A happy relationship is clearly the best environment for a newborn to thrive within, but this isn’t something that happens without work from both of you.