This year I have seen a giant boom in friends becoming pregnant and first time parents. And like those before them and those to come after, we all have these grand ideas on how it will be after the baby is born.
Unfortunately, many end up beating themselves up for not achieving these ideal plans. I think there needs to be a change in our mentality towards having a child. Denmark has a great maternity plan for women, they get the first 3 years of life off. Can you imagine?
The classes that are offered to those expecting seem vast and various. Some couples sign up for every course they can take, other barely make it to the birthing class. Someone needs to start teaching a course geared for after the birth. When all the hoopla is done with and the relatives go home. The part when mom is left alone with the baby and expected to be "the mom". And dad is left to support mom and baby; emotionally that is.
No one tells you that as an individual and a couple, you will be experiencing some incredible emotional highs and lows. There is no one there to tell you that you really are ok, no you are not losing your mind because you just started crying because there isn't a warm dinner ready and waiting for you.
You bring this beautiful baby home from the hospital and suddenly you're not getting sleep because the baby might be on some wacky schedule. Or all you want to do is take a shower but there is a ton of laundry to do and a baby to care for. Your spouse wants to reconnect with you but both of you are so exhausted that even hugging can be stressful.
You name the emotion or combination of emotions and I bet there are other women out there who have felt the exact same way. My question is why do we not talk about this? As liberated individuals we should be able to exchange this kind of information and yet we all hide and wonder if we're all alone.
I'm not even talking about the outside pressures that come at women and men after the birth of a child. Employers want most men back at work after only 2 weeks of paternity leave. I'm sorry but you're just starting to figure out what's going on at this point with a newborn. It is absolutely amazing how new parents are able to function and go about life for the first 3 months of a child's life.
Then after you figure out how to do things people start thinking it's high time to have another baby. Whether it's the couple themselves or their relatives. The transition from going from couple to baby is one huge hurdle that you must overcome as a team. (don't get me wrong, it can break people up). Then going from one child to two children can be mind blowing.
Suddenly you have two small creatures who are dependent on you. Finding "me time" and "our time" can nearly be impossible. Having a good strong relationship with your spouse can actually help you out. It might just mean fewer arguments (who has any energy to fight at this point?) Trust me the emotional roller coaster can be crazy at some points. Many people make it through with out too many lasting scars.
Oddly, adding a third to the mix really doesn't shake it up quite so much. For you already know some of the pitfalls ahead of you. Which can give you some peace of mind. Can the kids gang up on you? Sure! But you can actually expect that.
It's funny, it seems the first 5 years of having children, you are just trying to tread water. It is hard and yes sometimes it even seems impossible. So, many parents I've talked all knowingly nod when you say that you can't remember the last time you actually slept in your bed with only your spouse. Little people have this amazing ability to keep needing you even when they are asleep.
If you're a new parent and feeling overwhelmed. Know that you aren't alone. Talk about it with someone. I'm pretty sure men can also experience the so called "baby blues".
All us parents have been there at some point.