There are a lot of things that change after you have a baby; and no matter what anyone tells you beforehand, there’s really no way to prepare for it. Your relationship, for example, undergoes a huge change. And people actually do talk about this one — plenty of people told me bits and pieces about how their own relationships had changed after baby. But as much as people told me, I still remember thinking, “I don’t really think that’s going to be our relationship.”
Your relationship after a baby is sort of weird. Having a baby is like the ultimate stressor on your marriage. It’s like the world is throwing everything it’s got at you and you have to work really hard just to stay afloat, and everything above the water is like the best ever, but everything below the water is really difficult. It’s the strangest combination of really high highs and super low lows.
So here’s what happened after we had a baby (that I was kind of but not really at all prepared for):
1. I’m so focused on the baby all the time that focusing on anything else is really challenging. The only thing I can equate having a baby to that I’ve experienced is studying for the BAR exam. It’s so all-consuming all the time. I’m 24/7 thinking about and taking care of Prim, and frankly, it’s a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best thing I’ve ever, ever done, but it’s also a lot of energy all the time, which can get stressful. So when KC tries to pull my energy or attention elsewhere? Some of that stress can come out, because I feel like I have zero resources left to deal with anything besides the baby a lot of the time.
2. I get touched-out. Having a newborn is just about the sweetest thing ever. Their tiny little body and their sweet milky breath… there’s nothing like it. And the fact that they need and want you all the time is like the ultimate payback for the 9 months of pregnancy. But at the same time, all that contact can be exhausting. Prim is much like any other newborn in that she likes being held most of the day, and I believe in giving babies that physical contact they crave whenever they want it. (I mean, heck, they spent 9+ months literally attached to you, it makes sense that they come out of the womb wanting to be on you all day long.) But after hours of carrying, nursing, and calming Prim, when I finally get her to sleep and am able to put her down for a few minutes, all I want to do is sit down and decompress — not interact or touch anyone else. This can be tough for KC, who has been waiting all day to get my attention (and often tries to interact through touch). I am working on remembering that KC needs physical interaction as well, and he’s working on not touching me immediately after I put the baby down.
3. I expect KC to read my mind. KC has been on paternity leave since Prim was born, which has been awesome, but since P has arrived, I have this unrealistic expectation that KC should do what I would do around the house were I not fully consumed with caring for a new baby. And I expect him to just know what these tasks are all. the. time. Anyone who’s been in a functional relationship for awhile knows that this sort of expectation just spells disaster — because your partner, no matter how long you’ve been together, can’t read your mind. Luckily, KC is a very patient man, and reminds me to communicate what I want (and he tries to help me in the ways I need when I do remember to ask.)
4. It’s hard, but so nice to take a break. Having a newborn is weird in that it’s stressful and exhausting at times, but you still don’t want to leave them. I’ve discovered over the last 8 weeks, though, that these little breaks are helpful (and probably necessary.) KC watches Prim while I go to Bar Method 3-4 times a week; and even though it’s an hour and ten minutes that I’m out of the house, the effect on my mood is amazing. And finding time for KC and I to connect has been important as well. So far we’ve only left Prim once to go on a date together (and much of it was spent talking about Prim and our new life as parents), but we do find little bits and pieces of time to connect. For example, we love taking walks around the neighborhood with Prim and Penny. Prim usually sleeps in the stroller, and it gives us a chance to talk and catch up without having one of us be fully engaged with Prim (and get outside!) So even when I’m tired and don’t feel like leaving the house, having KC convince me to go on a walk has done wonders for my own peace of mind and our relationship post-baby.
5. I love KC so much more than I ever thought I could since he became a dad. Even though KC and I had been together over 10 years when Prim was born, there was nothing that could prepare me for the rush of emotions that came along with seeing KC as a dad. There’s just nothing that compares to seeing your partner hold your child and rock her to sleep, or catching him cuddling her and singing “You Are My Sunshine” to calm her down. Or having him text you late at night when he’s out of town about what we should name our next child. Seeing how much KC loves Prim just reinforces how much I love him, and what a good move marrying him was. (Kace: I can’t wait to have so many more babies with you. I love you. 😉 )