Having a baby is hard in so many ways. There is the 9 months of body changing and pain and discomfort. Then there is the actual delivery and whether you have experienced it or not, you know it is painful. Then there is the recovery, the bleeding and the stitches and the soreness. Not to mention the breastfeeding discomfort: sore nipples, rock hard chest that makes you want to scream if someone tries to hug you, the constant leaking even months later, you know, stuff like that. Then there is the not sleeping very well, and having this little person depend on you for everything. The gross diapers that you seem to be changing every half hour. Seriously, babies are amazing and a complete miracle and I would (and probably will) go through it all again to have another, but it is no easy feat.
|Photo courtesy of Vial Photography|
But the one thing that I always find is the hardest is the family changes that having a baby causes. Not only do you have to deal with one more person in the house, but this little person shifts everything. I have no idea how many times I tell my older boys, “we can’t do that because of the baby.” No running, no yelling, it will wake him up. We can’t go to the park because he is sleeping. I can’t help you with that because my hands are full, I am feeding him. Seriously, my poor boys must feel very lonely. Their once helpful mama is totally consumed with the screaming infant.
So dealing with all my own pain, taking care of a new and very dependent person, and trying to help and take care of all his older brothers and their side effects because they don’t like being held up by the baby, there is one person that gets completely neglected…Daddy.
My poor husband deals with having a new baby really well. Maybe he is getting used to it since this is the fourth time, but there really is so little time for him. I will start to massage him and the baby will cry. We will finally get all the kids in bed and try to actually talk to each other and “ring, ring,” someone has a question or wants to come visit to see the baby. Seriously, it feels like the whole world tries to join forces to ruin what little time we have together. And it really doesn’t help that for the first 6 weeks after the baby comes, we can’t connect sexually at all. Sorry if that is a little blunt, but that is the honest truth. I hardly even want him touching me anywhere because everything still hurts.
Even though growing a family is wonderful and really important, it is easy to see how having a baby can actually start to split a family up. It is times like these that you really have to work hard to not let that happen. So since I am a list person, I think most people are, I have written a little his and hers list of how to connect and strengthen their relationship after the baby comes.
|Photo courtesy of Vial Photography|
Note this is from my experience and from my friends that I have talked to (thank you everyone that contributed!). So ask your spouse if he or she likes these ideas. Then let us know if you think there is something we should add or take off the list.
- Touch her. There is so little touching you can do or she may want you to do, but make sure you still do. She is SUPER emotional during this time (as I’m sure you are very aware), so you don’t want to make her feel like a leper. Don’t totally avoid her. Ask her what she likes. “Can I give you a massage?,” or “is it okay if I hold your hand?,” and “can we cuddle for a minute?” Those few minutes of physical connection will help both of you feel more loved. But don’t do anything that would be painful for her. Just be nice.
- Hold the baby. There is one sure thing to make me fall in love with Tyson over and over again and that is when he plays with and takes care of the kids. It is so wonderful to not only have to be the one in charge of them all the time, it also is SO sweet to see how much the people I love most, love each other. And with an infant, I am always the one holding him, feeding him, changing him, so it just melts me when Tyson takes the baby for a few minutes and talks/coos to him. It helps me feel like Tyson understands what I am doing and going through better.
- Write a note. You can’t go wrong with a little written love. I love little reminders through the house of Tyson saying he loves me. I usually keep them as bookmarks so I can be reminded of his love every time I am reading (I read a lot). And at this time of emotional vulnerability, it is wonderful to have a note that says he loves me and to see it over and over again. After we had baby #3, Tyson wrote a note on the mirror above my dresser. Since I was in the room a lot putting the baby to sleep and feeding him, I saw that mirror and note often throughout the day and it always made me smile.
- Food and Water. The best way to make me happy is to give me food. And since moms burn tons of calories while nursing, they are super hungry and thirsty. Get your wife some food or a cup of water. Seriously, it will earn you points and tons of gratitude.
- Take her out. Obviously you will probably have to take the baby along, but get out of the house. She is stuck in the house so much of the day, she needs some fresh air, but she probably doesn’t want to go alone. She may want a few minutes alone, so giver her that too, but find time and a way to take her out.
- Ignore the kid. I know, that sounds horrible, but sometimes you need to let the baby cry for a minute. You need to make sure you and your hubby have a few minutes to yourselves. And he needs to know that really, he is more important to you than the kids. Your job to take care of them and love them is really important, but they will grow up and leave home and you will be alone with your spouse. You don’t want him to feel like he is second rate and he will get you when you are done with everything else on your list. Show him that he is more important than that.
- Relax and let him touch you. Guys are much more physical than girls are (in general), and while you are constantly with a little snuggle bug and getting probably more touching than you probably want from the baby and other kids if you have them, your hubby is getting physically neglected. He may not be able to do all the touching he wants, but make sure you give him massages and hugs, hold his hand and if you really want to surprise him, hop in the shower with him.
- Do something he likes. Your whole world is revolving around you and the baby and your schedules. What you can eat and how tired you are, what you feel like doing. What does your husband want to do? Is there a certain movie he likes to watch or easy dessert you can make? Popcorn is totally Tyson’s thing and I can make that and hold the baby at the same time if I need to. And even though he loves Batman and I tolerate it, I could totally let him have a movie night and enjoy it with him. Plus, I usually have an empty hand that I can use to massage him at least a little bit. Plus, this is a perfect time for movie watching. You can even check movies out at the library so it doesn’t cost a thing.
- Let him talk. Sometimes all we want to do is talk talk talk because when you are home with a baby, you usually don’t get to talk to real humans much. But your hubby hasn’t really had a chance to talk to anyone either. Ask you hubby how he is and really listen. Ask questions about his day, help him know you care about his life and what he is doing, don’t think you are the only one that has tough days and is tired. And if the kids interrupt and want attention, tell them “sorry, give me and Daddy 5 minutes, I want to hear `how he is doing.” Those 5 minutes will make a big difference.
- Make him food. I asked my friends for some advice on what they do for their hubbies and this was the most common response. Take a few minutes the night before and make his lunch for the next day. The evenings is usually when the baby is sleeping for longer stretches (at least from my experience) and you can probably get a few minutes to make something for him then. Or you can even make extra food before the baby comes (my sister suggested burritos) and freeze them so he can have ready-made food whenever and you don’t have to worry about it wearing you out after the baby comes.
- Thank him. Show him you notice all he does. It makes such a big difference to know you are appreciated. Notice the things he does and then sincerely thank him for it.
Please let Cami know what you think about her post in the comments. She would love to hear from you!