Do you remember how difficult that first year of marriage was? Even if you had already set up house before saying “I do”, it was different somehow. Meshing together “officially” makes the dynamic between two people, two lives, change. It is hard. Redefining roles, expectations, and remembering that marriage does not change either of you at your core being. You are still the same amazing people who fell in love and decided to get married. Over time your views might change, your political affiliations might vary, and your commitment to a certain genre of literature may waver, but deep down you are still you. That first year is about learning, growing and accepting all of which come with their own special “growing pains” that can challenge your relationship.
Now add in a baby. Sleep deprivation, dirty diapers that go on forever, a demanding feeding schedule for the first six weeks, added expenses you never dreamed of when you registered for shower items and trying to cope with daily life on top of all that makes for a stressful first 6 weeks. Then things begin to even out a little. And then the teething bomb drops. Crying, chewing (you only thought Labs were bad!), drooling, spit up, diarrhea and excess crankiness from all the members of your family. This goes on for several months.
In between all the not fun parts of baby’s first year are the first real grin (awwwwww), giggles, learning to roll over then crawl, then pull up, then walk and the real craziness begins. You get lost in all the milestones and how amazing and smart (we all have geniuses, just ask if you don’t believe me!) your child is and you get wrapped up in mommyhood. You trade in stilettos for Gerber snacks, burp cloths and sanitizer. And you trade in “us” for “family” and forget that the “us” is still central and vital to the “family”.
We ended up losing ourselves in the whirlwind that is the first year and that led to distance, irritation, and eventually marriage counseling. I know a lot of couples with similar experiences but no one really talks about it. The truth is that not only do you need time to do the things you have always enjoyed as a woman, you MUST make time for the things you did as “US” before you became “a family”. This seems like an easy piece of advice doesn’t it?
30 years ago it was. Before families spread out around the globe and left aunts and uncles, grandparents, and long time friends behind to pursue careers, a change of pace or college. Now more people live away from their family than near them. That makes it harder. A lot harder. You will find yourself crying about how far away you are from your family (especially your mom and dad) at some over tired hormonal point. So what’s a girl to do?
Based solely on my experience these are just a few steps I recommend to help keep baby from literally taking over and becoming the sole focus of your life.
I’d love to hear your advice, lessons, and experience with your first baby and baby’s first year!
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