There’s loads to say about your new life with your brand new baby, how it feels to be a mum and the triumphs and meltdowns that come in constant waves but what about your relationship?You know, that other really important element of your life that (possibly) still exists and is probably under more strain than ever before?
Throughout pregnancy you’ll be looking forward to the arrival of Tiny Human together, planning and plotting just how you will nail it as new parents together and casting a judgmental eye over other parents quietly agreeing that you won’t do it like this or like that, rather you’ll raise a calm and placid baby who instead of plinky plonky plastic is surrounded by hand whittled wooden whistles and classical music which you will all listen to TOGETHER. But then he goes back to work and it’s just you and Tiny Human trying to figure each other out. There is a lot less ‘together’ than you’d anticipated and rather a lot of tired, alone and where have all my visitors gone along with buckets of who the jeff am I and where is my partner in crime?
Obviously you’re both sleep deprived, spinning from the birth and adjusting to your new life with all the challenges that brings but there are some things I’ve noticed happening at home that I was less prepared for:
There’s a new set of rules to make – It takes time to learn to live together as a couple, to share space and to form a set of well understood yet probably not always adhered to rules as to what is and what is not acceptable. For example, I know that leaving a half empty glass of water by the bed or the cardboard loo roll bit by the loo are akin to arson whereas Man Human knows now to never leave a wet towel on the bed, the floor, the chair or anywhere other than the towel rail and to wipe down the bread board after use. Nothing groundbreaking there but you do have to learn these rules and get good at accepting that they are almost as acceptable as your rules and that if you are allowed rules so must he be. But you are now three and must accommodate each other in your probably already too small space. With the arrival of Tiny Human and the almighty shitstorm of tat and mess and muslins that come along with her there’s much less time and brainspace to allow a glass of water to even factor on the rules radar and instead you must devise a new set of rules. How many once used muslins can be stored on the sofa at once? Do the baby’s clothes really need to be folded? Where does all the new pink plastic tat live and why do we have it? How many times can that be sicked on before we have to wash it?
Tip: Let go of any hope that your home will look as it did before and do not spend the first three weeks of Tiny Human’s life trying to achieve it. It is utterly pointless and will make you sad.
The dynamics of you two changes – This newfound solo adult time is challenging and will likely leave you longing for the evening return of Man Human like you haven’t since the early days. His longed for appearance may prompt an outpouring of ‘news’ as to Tiny Human’s sleeping and pooing pattern of the day as well as reports of the achievement of the day (such as taking the bins out) news of which will likely be described with a pained and exhausted sigh. Man Human of course couldn’t be less interested in this and is much more interested in seeing Tiny Human than he is you. Ouch. But of course! He’s been with adults all day.
Furthermore, come the weekend you’ll have lovely ideas of ‘family time’ and trips out and walks to the park whereas exhausted Man Human just wants to hang in the house with his new family and chill. Well, how selfish and infuriating.
But on the plus side you might surprise yourselves – If you’re lucky, you might find the other has patience and qualities you’d not really noticed before probably because you didn’t have time to notice in the pre-maternal/paternal bliss of utter selfishness. You may become more aware of each others needs and suddenly the way you were before seems so utterly selfish it’s amazing you even liked each other enough to create Tiny Human.
Tip: In the fug of ratty exhaustion, try really hard to notice these little good things he does and say ‘thanks’ which may result in a repeat of the good thing and often ‘thanks’ means you have to do fewer good things yourself.
You will have different systems – When it’s just you and Tiny Human popping to the shops* you have a system: wee done, wheels pinged up, pram bit on, baby in, keys are here, check, purse is there, check, blanket just like this, all the muslins just like that. However, when Man Human is around he meddles with the system. This is problematic and often infuriating. Silly Man Human doesn’t understand how long it has taken to develop this system and how necessary it is when you’re so exhausted you forget what you wanted from the damn shop by the time you get there anyway as the list is not yet part of the system and still by the sink. Again.
Tip: Allow Man Human to devise his own systems asap and roll with it. Exhaustion will make you believe that Man Human’s systems are not as good as yours however a bad system is better than tears before you’ve left the house. Let it go.
*’popping’ incorrectly suggests it takes anything less that 30 minutes to prepare for leaving the house and anything less that 60 to complete a trip to the local shop which is utter fantasy.
So, bearing in mind the new rules to learn, the unfamiliar dynamic and the new Tiny Imposter in your previously fairly sussed co-habitation if you make it through the first four weeks and you still like each other then hurrah! Bloody good job all round. Now you just have to tackle your body image and sex life you’ve cracked it…