Why it is important to know these parenting tips when you have delivered a baby and how it can improve your life and relationship.
When I gave birth, I put the baby to my breast. He latched for a moment, and then stopped breathing.
All the medical personnel in the room snapped into action. A tube was jammed into his nostrils and he was immediately rolled away from me into the nursery.
This is the first thing I would tell you to expect. Your heart now belongs to a tiny human and, to a certain degree, things are out of your control. Get used to the feeling of terror and helplessness.
The baby turned out fine. His oxygen levels stabilized and he learned to breathe on his own. We took him home from the hospital (a couple days later than planned) still on cloud nine.
Almost immediately after getting home, I snapped. I was exhausted from waking up to nurse every 3 hours during the night. I had an eight-pound human on my hands that needed me.
Meanwhile, my husband took a nap.
This is what set me off. He had been sleeping through the night while I was deprived of one of my most basic needs. And yet here I was, holding the crying baby while he took a nap.
When he woke up, I had some words for him. He was confused and apologetic.
Of course, he was tired too.
For several weeks he had comforted me in the middle of the night when my pregnant self couldn’t sleep from anxiety and restless legs.
He had stayed up all night with me when I was in labor, using his warm hands as heating pads to relieve the pain of my back spasms.
He had watched, helpless, as I struggled with a long childbirth.
He had worked from a cramped hospital room for 5 days.
And he had just gone through a huge life change with all of the emotions that go along with that. All of this had left him a little tired. So, he took a nap.
I tell you this story because when I was stressed and sleep-deprived, I lacked any kind of empathy. I’m normally a pretty empathetic person and I adore my husband. But there have been a few times on this journey where I have seen him as the enemy and myself as the victim.
We have gotten better at communicating with each other. He has been very understanding of me when I’ve been unreasonable and even hysterical at times. Meanwhile I’ve learned what he needs too.
The entire experience of parenthood has taught me empathy. When my baby screams in the middle of the night, I think of how he must be feeling. Instead of being impatient, I hold him close so he can be soothed instead of scared. I imagine how scary it would be to wake up alone in the dark and not have a way to communicate.
I remember how hungry he must be to eat so frequently. How much he needs safe warm arms around him when he falls down. How painful it is to have brand new teeth cut through sore gums.
I see my husband in a different way too. I see the stress he takes on himself to provide for a little baby. I try to see his down time as essential to helping him relax from a stressful workday.
I also see myself more em-pathetically. I tell myself it’s okay to not get the grades I did before I had a child. I let down some of my previous expectations for myself. We often just shrug off the household duties and watch a movie together instead of stressing.
We find times to be romantic together. We surprise each other with concert tickets (it turns out that having set plans is about the only way we actually make it out of the house together).
Most of all, I have learned to communicate and say, “I’ve had enough.” I take breaks when I can get them. I appreciate time so much more than I did before I had a child.
Here’s what I would tell myself if I could go back in time.
- You are not a victim.
- You are stronger than you think.
- Sleep will come. Be patient.
- Accept help. A million times over.
- Communicate with your spouse.
- Remember, this is a temporary state.
- Relax. The baby will be okay with a sitter so you can get out of the house for an hour or two.
- Self-care is not selfish.
- Remember to be kind.
Congratulations on the new baby! You can do this.
My gratitude to Ms.Olivia Roos for sharing her story.