I wish there were truth-telling books available to have prepared my husband for the storm that awaited him after our firstborn came along.
I provided him with a few articles and books to read as you do with the firstborn. Making sure he read them to help him ease into living with a first-time mom and surviving her in the coming six weeks of having a new-born baby. But no matter what information he digested, nothing prepared him for the outcome.
I wish he had been aware of the phase, “I have never felt more disgusted with myself in my life.” I know disgusted seems like a strong word, but in that moment; the lack of showers, clean clothes, swollen stomach, puffy eyes and no recollections of what day it was, I felt as if I was someone completely different.
Here are some of the things I wish my husband knew before my firstborn came along.
I will cry a lot.
I won’t need a reason to cry. I’ll look at the baby and I will cry. I will find you looking at me and I will cry. You will eventually avoid looking at me too much to stop my emotions from erupting. I will cry because of that as well. My hormones will be out of whack and my body will still be in aftershock from delivering a tiny human. I will not be feeling my best. I will be in pain and I will cry over that as well. I’ll cry over the changes my body has gone through and the idea that I will never look the same as I did before the baby. Be supportive and try to be understanding. I will get over this stage.
Visitors can wait.
As much as I want to show off this little precious bundle we just brought home from the hospital, I’m not ready. I’m not ready for a line of people entering and leaving our home for a glimpse at our addition to the family. I also don’t want my little one to become sick, so please ask everyone to leave. If they are on their way, tell them we will let everyone know when the time is right. I need my space. I’ll need to adjust to a new routine and I have a baby to take of. I need to do that, not entertain guests.
I will be protective.
I’ll protect that little baby with the last breath in my body. I will want to do everything myself, because I will feel like I know best. I’ll tell you that you’re doing things the wrong way and will take over. On the other hand, I will be protective over lack of involvement. If you don’t want to hold the baby when he is crying, I’m going to think you’re not interested in him. If you don’t want to change nappies, I will think you don’t like him. I apologise for this, but I will judge you. I know all the above is not true and that you will love our firstborn as much as I do. I’m just going to be in a weird space for a little bit of time.
I will need your help.
No, not just with the baby. Personal things. Small things. I’m not referring to laundry or the dishes. I will be so absorbed with looking after a tiny human (while doubting everything I’m doing) that I will forget to look after myself.
Ask me if I have had a meal to eat. If I haven’t and I refuse one, don’t take no for an answer. I will not be thinking rationally. I might come up with silly excuses. Warm up some food for me, and if you have to – feed me. I might protest, but I will at least eat.
Remind me to take my painkillers. Remind me to rest. Assist me with putting clothing on. I will be in pain and something that is usually a simple task will feel like the weight on of the world on my shoulders. I’m a grown up, but I haven’t yet learned how to take care of myself while learning to take care of a baby.
I will be overly attached.
And not just to the baby, but to you as well. I will want you to hold me, but at the same time push you away. Because, you know, hormones and weird emotions running through my body and brain. When you leave, I will be sad. Not because I will be left alone with the baby and the household. Because I will miss you being with me, miss your company, miss your support and miss adult conversations. I know you need to go to work or be somewhere important… But if you don’t need to go or be anywhere else, please stay with me.
I will try to come across as sane.
I will not make much sense for the first few weeks. I’ll be very sleep deprived. I’ll be cut off from the outside world. I will try to interact in conversations about your day at work, but I won’t be committed with my focus on your stories. I will say things to you that might not make any sense or bring any value to the conversations. Try to understand… My normal state of sanity is locked up in a cupboard on the top shelf, waiting to re-enter the picture when my baby brain decides to subside a little and give me a moment to concentrate on something other than the baby.
I will feel self-conscious and feel ugly.
My body will feel strange. I will feel like this isn’t me. I will be swollen for a while, in pain. My clothes will not fit me for a long time (and some never again) and I will cry over this. I will cry because I will feel like I lost something of myself, even though I received a precious bundle in return. That will not diffuse my hatred for my body in that moment.
I will have puffy eyes and dark shadows lurking underneath them. My legs will be hairy (I will shave again when my pain starts stabilizing). My hair will be dirty (I will forget to take showers in my dazed state).
You will reassure me of my beauty and tell me that this is all normal, but I will not hear you. I will appreciate all the kind words later on, because the truth about you loving me, no matter what I looked like, will shine through. I will love you even more for it. But right now, I cannot hear any of your words or believe them. I can only believe in that which stares back at me in the mirror.
I don’t know I’m being ridiculous.
No, really. I don’t realise that I might have you living with a crazy person that you call your wife. I have no clue that I might be acting like a lunatic. Please don’t go ahead and point it out to me. I’m not ready for a fight and I don’t think you’re ready for more tears. All this might seem crazy and completely uncalled for, but right now, all I know is what I’m feeling.