As we grow and reach new milestones in our lives, our relationships with those around us change and evolve. Relationships after baby are no different, but oftentimes new parents are blindsided by how much their relationships change when a new baby is added into the picture. Many are surprised by how much their world shrinks compared to how things were before children. During this time of adjustment, parents may deal with extra stress, tension, feelings of isolation and loneliness, and perhaps even a bit of grief over the loss of freedom to which they were accustomed. All of these feelings are normal, but they don't have to define you or your relationships!
Relationships after baby: Spouse/Partner
For many couples, marriage and learning how to live together is a big adjustment. You learn how to balance your life with someone else's in a way that you didn't have to before you were under one roof- reconciling schedules, household management, meals, habits and idiosyncrasies are parts of truly becoming one unit. When you add a pregnancy and then a baby into the mix, that routine becomes disrupted, particularly in the newborn days. There's another person to balance now and it takes time to arrive at that new feeling of "normal." Becoming a parent changes you, and it will change how you interact with your spouse, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Be patient with each other as you grow into you new roles. Keep the lines of communication open. Take a little time every day to connect, even in a small way. Maybe it's not quite the same as it was before, but you'll find more things to love about each other along the way. If you're struggling, never be ashamed to ask for help! You don't exist in a vacuum and there is support out there for you if you want and/or need it.
Relationships after baby: Family
When you have a baby, the dynamic of the family you grew up in shifts, too: It's your turn to have a crack at this whole parenting business, and your loved ones may deal with that in a variety of ways. Some may be supportive no matter what, while others seem to question every choice you make. When faced with negativity, the important thing to remember is that their feelings are about them and not about you. Respecting where they came from as parents and setting healthy boundaries at the start can free you up to enjoy your relationships with your family. Chances are your family cares about you and your baby and wants to see you succeed, and supportive family is a gift both to you and to your child!
Relationships after baby: Friends
Much in the same way that getting married can change your friendships, so can having a baby. The friends you had in college or when you were single may not be in the same place in life that you are right now. They might seem like they're in an entirely different world, and you can't remember the last time you got together, or when you do finally sit down for lunch you may struggle to relate to where they are right now. It's true that some of your friendships might fizzle out, but your friends don't have to be in the same stage as you are for you to have a relationship with them. The ones who stick around and weather each change with you? Treasure those friendships. Cultivate them. Include them in the life of your family. I promise you're not too boring for them. They know that you'll get your night out soon and that one day you'll be able to invest in them more, and that's okay.
Relationships after baby: Your baby (and siblings)
Even your relationship with your baby will change over time- after all, you've just met and are starting from scratch! As you learn your baby's habits and get glimpses of his or her personality, you'll become more responsive as a parent and will likely find more enjoyment in spending time with your baby. Some parents feel bonded to their baby immediately. Others take extra time, and that's okay too! You may already have other children and are juggling their needs with the needs of your newborn. Children are forgiving, resilient, and know that you love them and care for them. Time with your older children will look different too, but they'll also have their own relationships to build with their new brother or sister. Perhaps they'll even have more chances to build stronger relationships with other loved ones.
You'll find your way...together.
Part of what we do as postpartum doulas is help you figure out how to integrate your new baby into your existing family and relationships. We're happy to help care for you and support you as you figure out how it all fits together. Give us a call at (901) 308-4888 or drop us a line and let's start a conversation about how we can serve your family!