Having a baby is hard and, in my experience and that of others I’ve spoken to, it’s more likely to make couples drift apart than come together. It’s a sad fact of being emotionally and physically stretched as well as hormonal and sleep deprived. And it makes many new mums feel disappointed and lonely in those early months. And no doubt new dads too.
‘Where the f*** are my flowers?’
It’s another side effect of having expectations instilled by the unrealistic world around us.
Too much media. Films. And celebrity baby photo shoots. You rarely read Hello and find out that new mum, Hollywood actress X, actually wants to tell her other half to ‘f*** off’ and ask him why he hasn’t bought her any flowers yet.
Although? I bet THAT would sell way more magazines.
Dads. We do need YOU.
We know by now how much support a new mum needs. A lot.
There’s no getting away from the vulnerable position a new mum is in. Recovering from nine months of pregnancy and childbirth, not to mention what happens beyond that, does not happen overnight.
It takes time. And during that time we need support and understanding from our family and friends.
But most crucially from our other halves.
It’s not easy.
It’s a tall order some days, I get that.
Hormone-fuelled and sleep-deprived, new mums are not the straightforward women we once were. If we ever were, that is.
We’re irrational. Happy one moment. Knackered and teary the next. We might moan about how hard it is. We might act like we hate everything and everyone. Even when we don’t.
We aren’t always a joy to be around.
‘Where do I fit in? What can I do?’
And we aren’t so stupid that we don’t realise that a new dad’s life has changed too. Although we’re probably so out of our depth with those darn hormones, lack of sleep and keeping a baby alive, that we might not have had the energy to acknowledge it.
I’ve heard dads say they feel left out when a new baby comes along. I understand that. I mean, new mums are preoccupied. Constantly. There is only so much of us to go around and it stands to reason that the little people are always going to win. Because they can’t get their own milk and dads, well, can.
Not only that but newborns and babies can be clingy little things and often want their mummies, especially in those early days and even more so if they’re being breastfed. And that can make a dad feel like a loose end. ‘Where do I fit in? What can I do?’
Shall I tell you?
Love is… putting the bins out.
You can be that crucial other half. That just loves their partner like presumably you did when you decided to have a baby together (whatever the circumstances were). Make the dinner. Give her a hug. Buy her some flowers.
That’s it. It’s all new mums want. To feel supported. Loved. Like we’re not doing this alone.
Also? If you could put the bins out, always be the bigger person (even when we’re making no sense at all) and not roll your eyes at ANYTHING for the next 18 months?
That would be amazing.
The baby bubble does burst.
Because we will come back to you. We will.
One day the baby will sleep. Need us a little bit less. And we’ll emerge from the baby bubble, albeit slightly dusty and less coherent than when we went in.
But we will emerge. And then we will remember that you were kind when you could have been mean. Or indifferent.
That you loved us even when we were sometimes a little bit nuts.
Of course, this works perfectly on paper. Like everything. Theory is a wonderful thing, right?
But it doesn’t always play out like that. I know this from having three kids, who’ve pretty much taken our relationship to the brink. Every time.
So new mums. AND new dads. If you’re struggling and feeling the distance between one another. If you’re feeling disappointed and looking at your gorgeous baby and wondering why, when you have everything, it doesn’t feel as ‘perfect’ as you’d imagined (or been told) it would be. If you’re wondering why you aren’t being more of a team or even being nice to each other, know this, at the very least.
It’s normal. It’s so blooming normal they should hand out a pamphlet in the bounty pack – Couples counselling for new parents: how to survive the first year (and beyond).
With a bottle of gin.
Just breathe. Have a little faith. And remember.
More new parents are telling one another to ‘f*** off’ and moaning about lack of flowers or the bins than lying on slightly pornstar looking rugs, spooning one another and cooing over their perfect sleeping baby while waxing lyrical about how parenthood has brought them closer together.
I promise you.
(Hang in there. It will get better.)