When we welcomed our first baby into this world, my husband and I were both learning trial by error. We had attended the classes, read the books, and accepted the advice from the grannies in the aisles of Target. As much as we wanted to believe we were prepared, we weren’t. Is it really possible to know exactly how much a tiny human will rock your household, marriage, and social life? I doubt it.
Those first few weeks (ok months) are tough. Each baby is different, and what worked for one family, doesn’t work for another. There were things I needed from my husband that I didn’t know how to express, or begged him to just read my mind and do.
Then we welcomed our second in our home. In a way, we felt more confident. We had established a routine in our home that worked nicely for one child, but now needed tweaking to make room for baby brother. Still, not as earth shattering as bringing home the first. Our adjustment period wasn’t nearly as long, but I needed different things from my husband this time, and again, I forgot to tell him. I just expected him to read my mind. Yet again, he didn’t read my mind, and I was too independent or prideful to ask for help. I unfairly expected him to just know my needs without me having to spell it out.
Now, as we approach bringing home baby #3, it finally dawned on me that I should probably share my needs with him if I want him to be able to deliver. My husband is a smart, kind, thoughtful, loving and supportive man, but of all his wonderful traits, mind reader is not one of them.
I quickly realized I wasn’t being fair to him. He was just as new to this as I was. Even with each new baby we added, there were new curves each time, and we were BOTH learning how to adapt. With each new baby, things get both easier and harder all at once. Easier because, this is #3 and well, been there done that. Harder because the more kids you add to the mix, the more stretch thin you become.
So although there are things I wished my husband knew the first (and second time around), I finally realized I needed to be more vocal about what I needed from him.
Here’s what I wish my husband knew when bringing home a new baby:
I’m going to be HUNGRY
I’m going to be hungry and thirsty all the time. When I’m nursing, please bring me water. Grab fast food…preferably a salad and fries. Healthy because I feel terrible about my body, and fries because, let’s be real, a salad is going to hold me for about five minutes tops.
My hormones are in overdrive
I may laugh one second and cry uncontrollably the next. These hormones are no joke. I once overheard my husband giving advice to a friend by warning “you think pregnant hormones are bad, just wait until the baby actually gets here.” That drastic hormone drop after delivery is brutal. For us both, I’ve learned. I know it doesn’t always make sense why I’m crying, and I probably don’t know either half the time, but tell me you love me when I cry. Tell me I’m a really good mom. I won’t believe you, but tell me anyway.
There’s a learning curve
If the baby won’t stop crying, take him for just a few minutes so I can cry too. Every baby is different. Obviously their basic needs are the same. Eat, sleep, poop, right? Well, the same things that worked like a charm with our first, were like poking a bear with our second. Each baby liked and needed different things from us. This learning curve takes time, and it’s pretty hard on a mama’s self-esteem when she can’t calm her baby.
I need sleep
Wake up with and entertain the older kids. I’m a nursing mama. Waking up with me the first few weeks was so helpful, but more so for my sanity than anything else. My body is recovering from some pretty traumatic events, so a few extra hands on deck in the middle of the night served me well at first. After a few weeks in, we need to divide and conquer. There’s not much you can do to help me in the middle of the night since I’m nursing, but the mornings…. Oh those blissful extra hours I might get to sleep if you got up with the older ones so I could catch up on some ZZZs.
I need to hear…
Tell me I’m pretty. I promise I won’t believe you, and I surely don’t feel pretty, but I need to hear it now more than ever. I was so impressed by everything my body just accomplished. Carrying, birthing, and providing food for a baby is an amazing thing, but it does a number on your body. Things will eventually go back to normal (somewhat). There’s not much that is sexy about those hospital mesh underwear, but oh, they feel like heaven post birth. Tell me I’m pretty, even in those underwear, because I’m fearful I might have to wear those forever.
I love you more
Watching you be a dad is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen you do. I never imagined how much my heart would grow with each new baby AND for my husband. Listening to you read to our babies, silly voices and all, makes my heart leap. Watching them sleep soundly on your chest, brings happy tears to my eyes. You are the best example I could ever have dreamed to offer to our three boys of what a loving dad and husband should be. I promise things will go back to (a new) normal soon. Please remember as we bring home #3, that we are a great team and I need you now more than ever. I love you more than my exhausted body can express.