Congrats on your beautiful baby!
You watched your wife give birth and were probably awestruck by the miracle of life. You admired her strength as she brought life into the world. You probably cried the first time you saw your baby, a living, breathing reflection of you. You searched his features looking for signs of you or your wife and thanked God he was healthy. You feel in love with your wife all over again, and that baby only made your love stronger.
Bringing Home Baby
You may have felt helpless as you watched your wife care for your infant like a trained professional. Maybe you even felt inadequate because she seemed to know so much, and you didn’t know where to begin.
What I hope you see is that she is learning, just like you. She’s learning her baby’s cues and reacting to them. She’s reading about babies, she’s talking about babies, everything is babies, babies, babies! She’s giving herself every minute of the day to the needs of her child. She’s not a professional, she’s definitely not competing for the best parent award, she’s a new parent, just like you, and she needs you by her side.
Providing for Baby
I’m sure it didn’t take long before you felt the pressure of having to provide for a family now. That support is obviously important, especially now that your wife is recovering from childbirth and nourishing your child. She may not return to work for a while or you may have decided to become a one income family. Whatever the reason, your role as a provider is appreciated and vital to your family.
I hope that in addition to providing for your family financially, you are able to see the demands of your wife’s new “job”. Her hours are 24/7 and the job requirements are innumerable. She’s constantly in training and feeling like she could be doing a better “job”, her boss is rarely satisfied, and her work is NEVER done.
It takes a tremendous about of physical and emotional strength to be a mom and while she may make it look easy, it’s not. IF she is forced to do this job alone, after 6 months of 24 hour days where she is always on call and often up all night, she will break down. You will barely recognize her as the woman you married, because she can barely remember who that woman was.
A diaper a day, keeps wifezilla away!
I hope that you will recognize that you are a team and equally responsible for the well-being of your baby. Keep mom mentally healthy by letting her sleep through the night once a week. Help with one feeding a day or agree to change the diapers after 6pm. Don’t make her ask, because she won’t, and it will just add to her mental frustration. Listen to your instincts as a dad, and respond to your baby’s needs as your wife does.
This Too Shall Pass
Having a baby is probably the largest sudden change your relationship will ever see. It will test your patience and your love. At first, you may have felt closer to your wife than ever, but soon, the baby’s needs trump everything and mom and dad are left feeling like the neglected ones.
There will be times, Dad, when you resent your baby. You’ll want your wife back. You’ll miss her wild side, when she was fun and let her hair down. Now it’s always in a pony tail covered in baby spit, smelling like regurgitated milk.
I hope you know that she misses that girl too. She probably doesn’t even recognize herself in the mirror anymore. She’ll need your gentle reminders of her strength and beauty, and your understanding if at the end of the day, she just can’t find it in herself to give anymore. She LOVES that you still find her sexy, smelling like old milk, lookin’ a hot mess.
Dad, your role as a new parent is just as important as your role in caring for your wife during this time. It’s not about being equal, but your actions can be monumental, and in return, you will receive more love that your giant heart can handle.
A once overwhelmed, stressed, insane new mom who is now happily in the school-age phase and loving it!
This letter does not apply to all dads and all situations. Many dads are primary care givers of their infant and deserve the same care during this time. I feel it’s important to talk about the beauty and the obstacles of life so we can relate to one another and feel less alone during tough times. Having a baby is life’s greatest gift and understanding how dynamics change can make us appreciate the first year even more.