03 Aug ADJUSTING TO EARLY PARENTHOOD
I remember those first few weeks of motherhood feeling quite disoriented as I struggled to reconcile who I had become and what my new role in life was to be. I would later learn that this was quite a common experience, as a parent struggles with the many changes this new role brings.
Let’s have a look at some of the adjustments you may need to manage once your precious cargo lands earth-side, so you can flourish together…
1. TRANSITION FROM ‘LOVER’ TO ‘BOTH LOVER AND MOTHER’
Once a source and receptacle of pleasure, now more closely aligned to that of a milk bar or life-support system, your breasts may look and feel foreign.
If you have ever felt objectified by a lover because of their obsession with your breasts, you don’t know anything yet! That precious bundle will be insatiable… every two to three hours for the first few months.
Add a lack of sleep and somebody image adjustments and this particular transition can be a delicate one. Keep communicating with each other, be kind to yourselves as you manage these changes and you’ll be back to your intimate selves in no time.
2. WELL-MEANING ADVICE
You’ll get a barrage of it and you’ll need to get good at managing it. Otherwise, enlist a bodyguard.
Every person who pays attention to your baby (and by the way your baby will attract much of it!) knows something about babies. In fact, they all know someone who once gave birth to one!
Here’s some bad news: They WILL want to share this rich education with you because you likely look like you need it.
Here’s some more bad news: Most of this advice will be either irritating, irrational or irrelevant.
Here’s the final piece of bad news: You cannot afford the time or the prison-sentence that will come with addressing each piece of advice in an appropriate way.
People are well-intentioned and let’s face it, you and that little bundle are very magnetic. Be kind, nod profusely or dust-off the unwanted advice 🙂
3. EACH OTHER’S EXPECTATIONS
You and your partner will need to be patient with each other’s responses to your new situation. You’re both likely to feel equally out of your depth and respond to mounting parenting-pressures and changes in different ways.
Tensions can come in many forms and you’ll be better off if you help each other find your feet, rather than take your own frustration out on your closest bystander, which happens to be your partner.
4. LESS TIME WITH PARTNER
The arrival of a newborn will not necessarily have any immediate impact upon the quantity of time you spend with your partner, but it will have a short-term impact upon the quality of it.
Set aside special time each week, as tired as you may feel, to listen to how each other is going or even allocate some time where you don’t talk about anything to do with the baby – Harder than it sounds and as counter-intuitive as this may seem, this will get you in better form for when you do talk about bub.
And don’t forget to factor in date nights! Have fun and get silly!
Those heady days of being picked up from the station on a Friday afternoon, with bags pre-packed and being whisked up the coast for a spontaneous weekend away, seem like a dream to me now…
We loved our years of spontaneity… at one point we took an impromptu trip to Hawaii. Because we could. All we needed were our passports and boardies. The arrival of baby#1 changed all of that.
It’s not that we regret it, it’s just different and that’s fine by us. But if you have a chance… go hard with spontaneity NOW and get it in the bank.
6. ‘YOU’ TIME
A break becomes like a banquet to someone who’s starved for time alone. If you’re offered respite – take it. Better yet, get some dates bedded-in for weeks to come.
Every now and again I get away for some silence and solitude. Sometimes it’s just for a couple of hours by myself with no one needing anything from me. Other times it’s stepping out for some lunch with a friend, getting my hair done or just wandering over to the park (nowhere near the play equipment!) with a good coffee. It’s like soup for the soul.
Everyone needs some space where no one needs anything from us. Don’t forget to invest back into you because whilst your family needs you at your best, most crucially, you’re of super importance in your own rite!
7. I’M SO LONELY…
You may find that being left alone with bub day in and out will send you a little coocoo for cocopops.
Don’t wait to lose the plot, get out, even if it’s just for a wander. If you’re anything like me… simply heading out on a walk around the block or taking a trip to the shops and meeting up with a friend along the way is a saving grace.
To add to this, your life has changed a lot. Your friends, especially those who don’t have kids yet, may even be finding it difficult to relate to you right now. One excellent antidote to this situation is to connect in with a mother’s group. For many mums, this is their lifeline. You can compare notes and battle wounds and for the most part, you’ll feel accepted.
8. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Once a high-achiever who would never leave the house with a hair out of place? But life has changed! ‘Do I go into the restaurant with vomit on my shoulder, or do I go home and change it first?’, you ask yourself.
Go easy on you. The standards that got you to where you are today won’t necessarily help you in this next chapter.
There is no disguising that this next season will be different to the one proceeding it. But I’ve got good news – Even though you’re new role might leave you feeling a bit disoriented at first, the amazing thing about you is that you were made to adapt – You go, Elasta-girl!
Hugs into the ether….
Mum of six fabulous kids and foster-mum to numerous others. Event manager, doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, owner of Sydney Birth Support, Mamaway Advocate and an encourager of all mums out there giving it their best crack!