The 6 Things Every New Mom Needs to Know
Really, you will, but maybe not for the first year. The minute the baby come home everything in your relationship changes: your roles; your emotional and physical needs, your tolerance for all-day golf games, your sex life. You and your partner will adjust, but it will probably get worse before it gets better. After you spend 10 hours home alone with a newborn, your only wish may be to hand over the baby and recover. But circumstances like nursing can prevent an equal split of duties. It can seem as if the father gets off easy, doing less of the care without concerns for feeding schedules or nipple confusion. His life appears to go back to normal with lunches and adult conversation, but dads admit to worrying about family-related issues like financial stability. You wish he could understand your predicament and he wishes you could understand his. That's when resentment and frustration build, especially if your postpartum arrangement includes a new job description for you, like "stay-at-home mom". It was the transition to this new "job" that Barbara in Idaho found hard to handle: "No matter how helpful your husband is, how much of a team you and your spouse are, you will resent him for going to work every day. And, it's okay to feel that way." Most Seasoned Moms I talked to said that by the time they were planning the baby's first birthday party things had returned to near-normal (even their sex drive.)
Get Out of the House
Does the baby need social interaction at eight weeks? Probably not. But you do. It's tempting just to stay home—why risk being more than five feet from a changing table—but don't. If I hadn't won that free session of Mommy & Me at the hospital's labor and delivery orientation, my experience the first year would have been vastly different. I probably would still be wearing those saggy red sweatpants and wondering where to find organic lemonade juice boxes. The cardio component was minimal, but the companionship of other moms was vital. New motherhood is isolating; connecting with other women in the same situation changed my whole attitude. The moms I met there became my go-to friends for years, providing a constant flow of laughs, advice and cut-up grapes. When I was on bed rest with baby number two, it was my mother’s group that stepped up to provide food for my family and care for my 2-year-old.
Celebrate the Firsts Before You Forget What Happened
It may be hard to believe now that you'll ever forget your daughter's first real smiles or the sound of her happy babble in the crib, but you will. Document the year with words and pictures, but don't worry about creating a museum-quality scrapbook. Take five minutes here or there during the day to jot down the first words the baby says, what Junior calls the dog, how he looked coming down the slide for the first time. Be sure to record your own emotions, too. When your "baby" is a grumpy teen, you'll appreciate looking back on a time when life was simpler and the word spaghetti could make him crack up. And don't forget to have some pictures of you in the baby book! Beckett, a podcaster with one boy, says "Almost any stranger will be more than happy to take a picture of you with the baby. Don't end up with a photo book full of just Daddy and baby."
Lian Dolan is a mother, wife, sister, friend and daughter. She is also a writer, novelist, producer and talk show host. Her first novel, Helen of Pasadena (Prospect Park Books, November 2010), a romantic comedy about a modern mother in transition, is a Los Angeles Times best-seller. Known for her humorous take on the day-to-day issues that face women everywhere, Lian talks about her adventures in modern motherhood on The Chaos Chronicles, her website and weekly podcast, currently in development as a half-hour comedy for Nickelodeon.
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