Life After Birth: Coping as a Couple
When you announce that you are pregnant, it seems like everyone tells you that your life is about to completely change. I remember thinking, "well yeah obviously it’s going to change." I’d heard about the sleepless nights and how some people feel like they lose their identities because their whole life revolves around a baby. Everyone may have been saying it, but hey, they were doing it and looked like they were killing it. What I didn’t know was how little I knew.
A Baby Changes Things. Seriously.
Before I had my precious-beautiful-smart-angel-baby, (Did I leave out any adjectives? I'm trying to cancel out my mom guilt.) I could go where I wanted when I wanted. I could go to the gym at any hour. I could be napping at four in the afternoon and then decide, man, a mani-pedi sounds nice, and go get a mani-pedi. Crazy talk, I know.
When my precious-beautiful-smart-angel-baby arrived, all of that stopped. Not just a little wean off, but cold turkey. I hadn’t fully appreciated, or realized I needed to fully appreciate, the autonomy I had before. I felt like I wasn’t Abby anymore. I lost almost all of my coping mechanisms as a new mom. If I was stressed before baby came along, I would go out for a run or blast music and clean. I could no longer do that and it rocked my world.
A change that I had not fully anticipated was the new dynamic between me and husband. I would have an expectation in my head of how I wanted my night to go after work or when my husband got home from work, and then his hopes to be with friends or work in the yard would dash my hopes to do something for me or as a couple. Tangible frustrations would ensue.
Make a Plan as a Couple
Strategic planning was key for us. Instead of having individual time and together time like we once had, we now had baby girl time and what felt like brief moments of everything else. In one of our counseling sessions we were told to sit down on a specific day each week and talk through what our future week would look like. We would put down all the info in our phone calendars so confusion or misguided expectations would not occur. We scheduled everything, down to when I would go for a run or when we would have a stay-at-home binge Netflix date night.
Through this process we learned what parts of the week were most important to each of us and how we could support one another to make sure those parts happened. That changed everything for me. I had things to look forward to that wouldn’t get messed up (as often--hashtag life). Maybe I couldn’t run off to have me-time right that second, but I knew when I was going to be able to. I also knew not to plan outings or date nights when my husband had something planned.
Stronger Through Communication
One unexpected result of our new, more organized scheduling was that instead of feeling resentful for having to watch our baby longer in order to let my husband do his thing, I now felt good about it. I knew that I was helping him achieve his self care and stopped feeling like he was trying to mess up my self care plans. And we had communicated well enough in advance to set our expectations right where they should be.