The #1 Thing that Will Determine How Happy You & Your Partner Are in that 1st Year of Parenthood Isn't What You Think!
I recently had a conversation with another mom and, because we both have daughters about the same age, we began sharing stories about when we were expecting.
She was telling about how obsessed she was with birth plans, natural births, and everything Ina May Gaskin had written about. She told me she watched The Business of Being Born three times on her own, on top of making her partner and all of her other pregnant friends watch it with her too.
She said it wasn’t until she went on maternity leave and was just waiting for her water to break that it even occurred to her to read up on parenting and what it might be like having a tiny human under her care. Before that moment, she hadn’t given much thought to what it might be like after the birth.
Can you relate to this?
Or, maybe you’re like another friend of mine who didn’t stress so much over her birth experience itself but became obsessed with reading up on parenting methods and the many phases of child development. She devoured everything she could on brain development, separation anxiety, co-sleeping, all the possible birth defects the baby could potentially be born with….you name it. She read about it.
Maybe this is you.
We all go through some version of this when we’re pregnant. We can almost have tunnel vision at times, whether it’s styling up the nursery in the most fashion-forward style or going crazy over baby registries, or planning the ideal birth experience (because babies always arrive in exactly the way we planned, right??)
Even the best birthing classes often don’t go much further than this either.
Not to mention, I’m only talking about the moms here. Your other half is definitely having his own experience with this too.
But, do you notice anything missing from these obsessions?
These stories are all very baby-focused, aren’t they? For good reason, of course. But, look closer. These obsessions really are very “me and baby” focused. But no one does this alone. What about those two people that existed even before the baby did? The two people who were many other things before adding “parent” to their life’s resume. You know who I’m talking about--the two whose lives are going to be turned upside-down while that baby is busy being born and growing and changing….
Because I will tell you, the birth is just a flicker of your life. A miraculous, earth-shaking flicker, but still….it’s a mere moment compared to the many years that follow.
And I’ll tell you something else: Babies are going to grow up whether you read the books or not.
But, what about your relationship? It’s almost never mentioned, but your relationship is the key to that first year going smoothly or going frustratingly haywire. No one talks about how difficult it can be to listen to your partner talk about their day when you’ve barely gotten any sleep or how to ask for a break to take a shower when they’re just sitting there enjoying the morning paper.
It might sound trivial now. You might think, “But my partner is so helpful at home now, I’m sure that will still be the case once the baby’s here.” Or, you may think, “It’s just not real for fathers-to-be until the baby arrives. He’ll step up.” Or maybe it’s, “I’m sure I’ll be tired and cranky in the beginning, but I’ll get the hang of things.”
Yes, all of that might be true. But, statistically, 92% of couples report relationship dissatisfaction the first year when the baby comes home.
That tells me that even the most saintly of partners can get frustrated at times, can feel misunderstood sometimes, and can feel like the spark is gone at times.
And sadly, this is best-case-scenario. Factor in postpartum depression, relationship troubles, work stress, or any of the above, and you could have a very different situation on your hands. (Don’t believe me? Check this out. And this. And this.)
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be like that. It just takes a little preparation and open dialogue.
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