Having a newborn is, by far, the greatest challenge Chris and I have faced as a couple.
Mac Sax is the best baby in the world (no bias here!), but his newborn days were hard. I really don’t like to admit it, but he was a fussy baby. He cried and cried and cried. He also was not a natural sleeper. People kept telling us we’d see some four and six hour stretches by six weeks and that we’d soon turn a corner. But our sweet babe was still waking up every two hours at nine weeks. We were so tired.
But the truth of the matter is: even if you have a rockstar sleeper and a babe that isn’t fussy, having a newborn is hard.
It changes your marriage dramatically and brings everything to the surface: your weaknesses, your selfishness, your insecurities. Couple that with hormonal shifts, sleep deprivation and the intensity of the love you suddenly feel for your baby and, y’all, I was on my knees.
What I’d like to make sure you know for sure is this: it gets easier.
You figure your baby out and find rhythms that work for your family and, before you know it, you inch your way back toward one another. But, in those first few weeks, it can be hard. Here are a few things I learned along the way:
Be grateful. // Recognize that you’re both new to this and doing your best. Express gratitude as much as you can.
Don’t be passive aggressive. // I’m ashamed to admit this, but Chris and I both caught ourselves saying little passive aggressive comments to Mac when we were frustrated with each other. Our baby was six weeks old and we were already putting our stuff on him! I’m embarrassed by this, but am positive I can’t be the only one. When we noticed it, we immediately made a rule that we aren’t allowed to do that now or ever again. If we are frustrated with each other, we have to be brave enough to tell one another.
Have sex // When your baby is touching you all day and you don’t feel your best physically and you’re so superly tired, sex is the last thing on your minds. But sex is good, important and a communication tool. It probably won’t feel the same as it did before, but, remember: sex begets sex. Sometimes, you just have to start doing it again.
Take time for yourself. // When we were in the thick of it, we decided one Sunday we’d both get two hours to ourselves. One of us would hang with Mac and the other person would get two selfish hours. I showered and washed my hair, online shopped, reorganized his baby clothes and drank coffee. It felt so good to be a little selfish and made me miss them both so much.
Get out of the house. // It can be so intimidating to leave the house with a babe. But you can do it! Pack that diaper bag and go somewhere. Even for just 30 minutes. Grab a drink or a coffee - or just walk the grocery store aisles. Expose yourself to other humans besides your family.
Let your husband get involved. // You cooked that baby inside of you for 10 months. You probably talked to it all the time (or am I the only one?). Suddenly, it’s in the world and it can be easy to assume you know best. But dads matter, too! You might feel protective at first, but let him do things. Change those diapers in the night. Put the baby in the car seat. Snuggle it. Soothe it. You’re both learning together.
Do something that feels like yourself every day. // Around three weeks, I felt like I needed to regain a little control of my life. My mom suggested to start doing a few things that felt like before-baby-me. This is a personal one - but it might be going for walks, brushing your hair, putting on real clothes, wearing mascara or organizing a little closet. For me, it was getting out of the house, exercising (once okayed to do so), showering daily and wearing mascara. Those things helped me feel like myself again.
Keep a team mentality. // It can be easy to feel like it’s you + baby vs. your spouse when you’re frustrated with each other. But remember: you and your spouse were a team first. It’s not you vs. the baby, because you’re all a family. But! Once Chris and I took on the mentality of it’s us, together, taking on this challenge of a newborn, we felt united and empowered.
The days feel long at first, but, before you know it, your baby will be sleeping through the night and you’ll be staring at photos of it in bed, missing it dearly just 10 feet away. :)