[Read Part I]
[Read Part II]
[Read Part III]
Having a baby with Chris made me love him on another level, but honestly the first year of Benny’s life was probably the worst year for our marriage. This isn’t uncommon.
Since Benny was born early, our adrenaline was in overdrive. I’m more of a take charge kind of person, my husband is not. In the early stages of his life, Chris was a nervous wreck. He was terrified to change him, to burp him, to hold him. He’s a baby and dependent on us for everything. I was extremely nervous at first too, but what choice did I have? I had to overcome that fear and nervousness in order for him to survive.
Benny was fragile, even more so than a baby that goes full-term and I remember the long, sleepless nights in the NICU, the first few weeks at home making sure he was okay. Day by day, wanting to watch over him eventually passed. I either was comfortable enough or way too tired.
I was also the main caregiver (since having maternity leave and then also working from home) and had a better understanding of Benny’s cries or a somewhat routine at first. Every time Benny would cry under Chris’s watch, he thought he must be hungry. I remember running an errand that took about an hour, Benny cried the whole time I was gone. When I returned, Chris was overly frustrated and told me that from now on he was going to run errands and that I needed to stay home with the baby. Or if I were to leave, Benny had to come with me.
We need time for us, without the baby.
It’s extremely important to constantly keep communication open and to find time for the both of us outside of our baby.
That’s something Chris and I both struggled with.
We used to have date nights or time with each other pre-baby and that stopped when Benny arrived. I don’t think we realized it was happening until we were bickering with each other or admitting to one another we felt distant. It’s so hard to admit and change when your natural instinct is to care and put your baby before you and anyone else. It’s also difficult to find time to get away. As Benny got older, a routine was eventually established and his bedtime became earlier. Chris comes home from work around 6pm and Benny is in bed by 7:30pm. So not only was his time limited with our son, but it felt like we didn’t have any chance to get away unless it was the weekend. And even then, household tasks, seeing our families, and running errands needed to get done and time just slipped away.
But for a healthy and happy marriage and family, it’s extremely important to put you and your partner/spouse first and to set time aside for just the two of you.
Your schedule and outings won’t be the same, for a while.
Another thing about having a newborn is you can’t just get up and go whenever you want. It doesn’t mean you can’t plan outings. I think that’s something I should have done more. The thought of taking my colicky baby somewhere sent me spiraling. Everything I needed to bring on top of having to plan around when Benny would get hungry (FYI, every 2-3 hours at first), toys in case he got bored, or if he was inconsolable (which was common in the early months) just became a bigger hassle than staying in.
It’s important to get out of the house. Get fresh air, even if it’s a walk around the block. In the winter, I would get stir crazy and would bundle Benny up and go to Target to walk around, or over to my parents’ house for a different setting. It was something to do other than being locked up in the house.
Something I should have done more at the beginning was find time to prioritize my health. Exercise has always been an outlet for me to combat anxiety or stress. It became part of my everyday life. If I don’t exercise frequently, I feel off. My mood quickly shifts, depression and anxiety come creeping slowly back and my ability to focus fails. I’m still trying to get back to the routine I was in before Benny arrived, but I’m getting better at taking the time I need for myself in order to be a better mom, wife, and friend.
Mom guilt is real.
For the times I am able to leave the house I feel like I am doing something wrong. It’s not that I don’t trust the capable and loving hands my baby is in, I just felt like something is missing and I need to get back to him right away. It’s like this twisted knot in my gut and my mind telling me he needs me. I don’t know if I will ever shake that feeling. Maybe it will get better once he’s older?
Continue with Part V...