They say the first year of marriage is hard, but "they" don't tell you much about the first year after having a baby. That's the year that will rock you. Next to marrying the love of your life, the greatest joy you will ever experience is having a child. Your heart completely explodes when that child is born and every bit of your energy and time goes into that tiny little person. So, what about your husband? Your marriage gets put on the back burner. That's just the way it is. Your husband is perfectly capable of making his own sandwich and washing his own clothes. But the baby? Not so much. They need you every second of the day. They 100% rely on you.
For the first year, you as the mama are the primary caregiver. Then Daddy becomes the primary fun giver.
Yes, you share responsibilities with your hubby to raise the child, but when they are teeny little humans...mama just knows best. We are born with parental instincts, while for the most part men kinda have to figure their way around a baby.
Here's my best shot at advice to help you survive that first year, and come out on the other side still over the moon for your man.
1. Give yourself some grace. You just had a baby. Even when 5 months has gone by, you still just had a baby. You can't compare yourself to those super moms you see on tv who walk out of the hospital in their size 2 designer jeans. That's just not normal. Remind yourself that this is a very short time in your life, go eat some ice cream and give yourself a big bear hug. Grace is the key.
2. Take your time. Ahem, in the bedroom that is. Just because you get the "all clear" from your doc at 6 weeks, doesn't mean you may be ready to jump in the sack. Seriously, take your time. It all changes after having that baby. Ease into what works for you, don't just rush it because the doctor says it's ok and you feel like you need to!
3. Talk it out. Are you struggling? Tell him. A lot of things change around your house after a baby and it's important to keep the lines of communication open and talk through things with each other. Figure out what you expect out of one another, and be open and honest!
4. Make a plan. Do you both work and plan to trade off night feedings? Do you expect him to put the baby in bed? Do you want him to help you with some housework or do the grocery shopping? Figure out way to help each other, and don't be afraid to ask him for some help! Make a plan, ask each other for help! Do it!
5. Go on a date. Or several actually. It's so easy to barely spend any time together away from baby. Your life becomes wrapped around this person, but you have to remember in 18 years they will be gone and you still need to like each other. Get all fancied up and go out to dinner. It's ok if you talk about baby all night, just talk! Enjoy each other! Hold hands and love each other. I promise a few hours alone will be a HUGE breath of fresh air after diapers, spit up and sleepless nights.
I promise I'm no expert on this subject, but I'm in the middle of doing it for the second time. I've learned a lot and failed a lot. My husband and I will come out on the other side still crazy about each other, because we will continue to work at it. I guarantee you that it's hard. Sometimes you'll just want to punch him right in the face for not understanding you...but remember he's a man and he's not going to understand you. Give him the opportunity to try and work at it every single day!
There's something about that moment on your child's first birthday, as they tear into their cake that you make eye contact with your other half and sigh a deep sigh and say "WE MADE IT!"