Thursday, September 24, 2015

After-baby Expectations

I had no idea I had so many unrealistic expectations wrapped around having a child. I've been struggling accepting fully what having a baby means--and also trying to accept joyfully, because bitterness breeds not only resentment, but makes me terribly unhappy as well. And since I'm stuck with myself I'd rather not be in a bad mood all the time.

In no particular order here are some of the expectations I harbor(ed). To be honest I am still struggling with many of these.

I thought naively that my husband would hold the baby the same amount that I hold him. In my head, we would share the responsibility 50/50. Now Brian does hold Reuben, and he loves to hold him. However the ratio is more like 15/85 or 10/90. I hold Reuben a lot. What really made me angry for quite awhile was when my husband would play a video game for an hour or do some other relaxing hobby while I was stuck on the couch with a baby. It took us talking (and some tears) to realize that Brian needs to relax still too. He worked all day, I held a baby all day. We used to come home and both relax together. Now he comes home and sometimes it's been a good day, and sometimes a baby threw up on me and cried all day and wouldn't let me put him down and I just want to throw Reuben at him and escape for an hour. But I can't always do that, because his day could have been equally good or bad. I am the primary caretaker for Reuben right now. It's true he will get older and my husband will take more responsibility but right now Reuben is two months old. And someone has to hold him. That someone is usually me, and yes it feels really unfair sometimes, but that is the way it is.

I thought my husband would start doing chores and helping out around the house. Actually, I need to phase that a different way, because he does help---but only if I ask. I hate asking. I want him to see a need and fill it without needing me to ask or remind him. For some reason it bothers me that I have to point out I need help with the dishes or it might be nice if he was to vaccume the carpet over near the couch since I live on the couch now and usually partake of meals while nursing a small human and there are crumbs everywhere. But Brian wasn't the kind of person who sees mess in the same way I do before we had a baby--so I don't know why I thought he would magically change afterwards.

This next thing is probably the biggest, hardest thing to get over. And I never even thought about it before.

It's physical touch. I am not a touchy feely person. Now there is a small human who basically needs to be in physical contact with me 24/7. And when he is not in contact with me--guess what. My husband is like, OMG! you aren't holding a baby! let me touch you! And I have found myself saying things like "can't I just have 5 minutes alone?!" and "please just can you wait for half a second" and also struggling with feeling overwhelmed by all the touching from Reuben. I love him, I am just used to more physical space. All the touching causes me quite a bit of anxiety, something I am not used to. I mean, my husband's love language is touch. But he worked mon-friday and I was home and had a comfortable amount of alone time, so his over-touchiness when he was home didn't bother me. And it's only over-touchiness to me, to my husband it is just the way he is trying to give and receive love. I feel like such a douche when I tell him to back off, but for my own sanity I have to sometimes.

I also feel like I never have enough time. Something always needs to get done, and there is always a small baby on me that is keeping me from getting it done. I struggled with this for weeks, until I realized I was thinking about it all wrong. I was thinking Reuben was keeping me from doing what I should be doing (cleaning the bathroom, making dinner, putting on clothes for the day, showering...) but I should be thinking of it differently. Reuben is the first priority, and everything else is secondary. When I started reordering my priorities it got a lot better. I try to see everything else as secondary and this helps me not see Reuben as a barrier or a block from me, say, taking a shower for the day. If I get a shower, I tell myself, it will be great. But if all I get done is holding a little baby and making sure he has the best day ever, I still did what I was supposed to do and the day is not a failure.

I promise that I love being a mom. It just is taking some adjustment! And now a little someone is waking from his nap and will need his diaper changed, so I better go. What are some expectations you had before baby?

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