OK, girls, we know you love ’em, and we know they make the world spin round. They are the fundamental reason we watch Rom Coms, divulge in glossy magazines, and listen endlessly to gossip – we love relationships. And the saucier the better!
When Greg and I were preparing for the birth of Elka, we took a birth education class. It was all very interesting and helpful. We laughed though, when we got to the part about the parent’s relationship after birth. The educator told us to all hold hands with our partner, and think of as many good things to say about the other person as possible, and when they talk, the only response you can have is “Thank You”. Greg and I laughingly did the exercise – no birth educator needed to teach us how to communicate positively with one another. We were the A team – the It couple – a couple who didn’t need any advice whatsoever, and what baby was going to change that?
And of course we were wrong. Like the majority of people I know who have had babies, our relationship has been tested like the rest.
The first week of Elka’s life, I was a blubbering mess, and tired and stressed, and somehow saw Greg to blame for everything. Although he was supportive, and did as much as possible to make life easy for me (i.e. housework, always washing the dishes, and the laundry) I still somehow thought I’d been dealt a bad hand in the caring husband and father department. I guess lack of sleep and the new found responsibility over a LIFE is a little stressful. Then there’s the Dad’s stress about managing the affairs, bringing in the bread and butter, etc. That’s stressful too. And he too is trying to get enough sleep to function effectively in his working life.
And of course there is the key factor – the change in your sex life. Everyone’s different – some couples jump back into bed together immediately following the birth. Others don’t have sex all year. From my point of view, I definitely didn’t feel like it that often – I was tired and …I like this term…”Touched Out”. When breastfeeding, the mother and baby excrete oxytocin, the lurve hormone. So biologically, we are probably being told – don’t reproduce! One is enough for now! The lads, though, don’t get this hormone (I don’t think). And sex for many is still a definite interest. I guess it’s where the ability to compromise comes in handy – he asks a bit less, she gives a bit more, or something like that…And eventually, hopefully, you both get what you want once more! Sex, though, isn’t the only way to share love for one another. We found giving each other lots of hugs was a very positive thing to gel us, and remind us of togetherness.
Everything changes with a bub, and relationships aren’t exempt. Fortunately, my partner and I bounced back pretty quickly. Greg reflects back that we didn’t fight much at all, but I still cringe when I think about myself bossing him around, criticising him for holding the baby the wrong way, or expecting him to do everything that I could no longer do around the house. I guess what held us together were a few vital ingredients:
* Tireless communication
* Lots of cuddles
And yes the birth educator was right, complimenting each other where possible, and thanking each other go along way in restoring relationship harmony.
Now that baby life is easy, I look back with pride at our resilience to be so strong together and supportive. But I also know how easy it is to let such a momentous change take control, and let yourselves slip into negative habits, and a relationship that will never again reach it’s pre-baby bliss.
All I am saying, is that I reckon we all are subject to some relationship drama when a new baby arrives – so no-one is alone there!