Preparing Your Relationship For A Baby

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Can you ever really prepare your relationship for a baby?

My husband and I have been together for 10 years. We met in college, got engaged, started our careers, got married, bought a house, and finally felt ready to start a family. On paper, you could say we were “prepared.” It’s not that I’m saying we were perfect, we definitely had our bad days, but we knew our relationship was solid. Over the years, we’ve supported each other to reach our goals, learned what pushes our buttons, seen each other at our worst, and also found ways to show our appreciation and love for each other. Despite all of this, nothing prepared us for how we and our relationship would change after having a baby.

When we become pregnant, the flood gates opened with tips and suggestions for the baby. How to get your baby to sleep, the best products and baby gear, take time to savor every moment, and make sure you plan date nights. Many new moms would tell me to take time for myself and the importance of prioritizing self-care.  Despite all the helpful tips, I think no one really warned us how tough a new baby would be for our relationship.

I remember one night after I put the baby down for bed, I looked over to my husband and told him, “I resent you so much.”

It’s not that my husband did anything wrong or wasn’t helping out with the baby. I just felt like I was drowning as a new mom and struggling with breastfeeding. And no matter what my husband said or did, there’s no way he could relate to how I was feeling. However, on the flip side, I was so focused on my body meeting my baby’s needs that I didn’t see the ways that my husband was trying to help and support us.

While I was focusing on how isolated I felt as a new mom, he focused on paying for our hospital bills and making his salary work while I wasn’t getting paid for my maternity leave. While I spent the middle of the night pumping, he handled every diaper change and bottle feeding. While I was stressed about our messy uncleaned house, he was worried about my mental health. During the newborn stage, everyone is in survival mode. You’re focused on taking care of the baby and staying sane.

It’s easy not to see the invisible load your partner is carrying for you in all that chaos.

The other night my husband and I were discussing how parenthood challenged our relationship. It made us learn to communicate with each other in a kind way when we are already pushed beyond our limits. It forced me to ask for help before I got upset, and it forced my husband to look at ways to be more proactive when he sees me struggling.  It forced my husband to have even more patience and also forced me to have more open lines of communication.  When you’re exhausted and tired, it’s easy for your worst personality traits to come out. In those moments, you need to acknowledge each other’s struggle.

If we had any tips for new parents, it would be to prepare to be pushed out of their comfort zones. You don’t have to perfect for each other, but you have to look out for one another. Sometimes, that means cleaning up the kitchen while the other is feeding or changing a dirty diaper. Sometimes that means letting your partner workout on their own or letting your partner sleep in after a rough night with the baby. You’re now a team, and that means relying on each other when you’re not at your best. It’s easy to focus on all the hard things you did that day but harder to see and appreciate all the things your partner did for you. Before you welcome your sweet baby, focus on your relationship and make a promise to each other that you will be honest with one another. Being a parent doesn’t mean your flaws go away. It means that you will have to work a little harder to show each other love and appreciation. At the end of the night, when you lay in bed, know you are in this together and that it’s totally worth it.

 

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