I loved peeking at social media sources yesterday to spy all of the photos of dads and their kiddos, and I think we all spent some time yesterday thinking about the important roles that dads play in the lives of their children. But many of those posts were also referencing the loving husbands in our lives, the fathers of our kids, and it made me think about the role of that new dad when there is a newborn in the house. It’s a difficult role since in my opinion, there was a major design flaw in the creation process and dads weren’t given the ability to breastfeed (major design flaw)! Sure, you can change some dirty diapers now and then, but besides that, what are you supposed to do? I thought about this since we have just been through round #2 and thought I would share:
1. Take initiative:
There is probably not a lot happening around the house that used to happen because it is quite possible that the mom has now lost the use of her hands since there is now a baby in them. This is your chance. Offer to go to the grocery tore, start the laundry, take out the nasty diaper trash that accumulates way too quickly, make your wife a cup of coffee – lots of them and learn how to make it perfectly (don’t you dare put Splenda in MY coffee), pour her some wine, bring her some water. Not having to ask someone to do the things that normally take place around the house is truly a luxury!
2. Don’t be scared:
That newborn is not going to be the only one crying at your house. We new mamas cry a LOT. It’s not our fault. The hormones have invaded. They lower our ability to tolerate the everyday, and as one friend put it, everything is a BIG deal. I recall crying at a wedding that was taking place on the Today Show. I also recall crying for absolutely no reason. The hub nervously approached, almost like I would explode if he got too close (which was a fair assumption to make) and asked what was wrong. Nothing. Nothing was wrong. Everything actually. I don’t know. But man, is that the shirt I gave you for your birthday? Birthdays are so great and sad…we are getting old aren’t we…..and the crying starts again.
First, you might have lots of family members come visit, and they might also offer unsolicited advice and constructive criticism. Advocate for your wife, make sure she knows she is doing a great job, and make sure other people know that too. People offering you advice can mean you’re not doing something the way they would do it, and there is no right way, and we mamas need to figure it out on our own.
Also, there is this thing called post-partum depression. It is really common, and it does not necessarily set in the day after having a baby. In fact, for most people, it can occur between 4-6 months after having a baby. And yes, it is AFTER the baby. POST-partum. If you see your wife continuing to struggle, ask her about it, or you can even check in with the pediatrician who is forcing you to come to their office every few weeks anyways. Those pediatricians are there just as much or more for the parents as they are for the kids.
Get that new mama out of the house. Send her to get a pedicure, a haircut, wine with friends, or to just sit at the coffee shop alone where she is able to finish a whole cup of coffee without reheating it.
5. Have patience:
As I reminded my hub about 8 months in when I once again felt overwhelmed and lost it, I was still a new mom. 8 months of doing something does not make you an expert, especially when they keep changing as soon as you master a new stage. So hang in there. We spend 40 weeks growing a human and then some recovering. Your turn. And then throw yourselves the biggest party when that baby is 1, because making it through that first year is huge, and definitely a reason to celebrate!