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As a new mom,there are several things I took for granted and assumed would automatically fall in place once baby was born. In the past two years, I look back and feel I should have been better prepared - and not just with my hospital bag and checklist for baby. I should have made a big list of situations I would face as a new mom and how exactly I would cope in those (sometimes) despairing moments.
As new parents, you will feel over the moon one moment and quite fearful the next when you think about the responsibilities ahead. It's absolutely normal and while effectively communicating your needs with each other is important, it's also vital not to panic but be rational as you face the many (if I may say) roller coaster moments as new parents. Here are five situations that may seem trivial but are the most important challenges to address as you become parents, especially for the first time.
1. In the first few weeks, babies cry a lot, sleep less and are hungry all the time. When my son was a month old, I went against the 40-day indoors rule and took him out for a walk one evening. It was a wonderful evening complete with husband, dinner and a hungry baby who would not stop feeding. As we reached home, my baby began to cry so loud and as new parents, after the basics were ruled out, we soon began to panic. I immediately began to question my decision to go out, imagined all sorts of horrible things for a few moments and then called reliable friends. After almost 20 minutes of trying to calm him, I suddenly realised I had stopped feeding him in all the chaos. The screaming ended the moment he began to feed again. That was all, a simple, rational solution for a situation that had me in knots because a) I assumed he wasn't hungry as he was feeding for a long time before that and b) I just could not bear the sight of my crying baby. There will be many situations when your baby will cry but try and approch each situation logically and don't panic if nothing seems to work. As new parents, panic may cause both of you to forget the actual focus- the baby and begin arguments about what should or shouldn't be done. So focus on finding a solution together and as calmly as possible.
2. Make time for yourself; both as a couple and separately: I cannot stress the importance of taking time to bond not only with each other but separately as well. Husbands, please, as frightening as it is to be left alone with a new baby your wife needs at least an hour to rest and rejuvenate everyday. There is no proof required to show you how one hour of 'me' time everyday can impact your lives in a positive way. Similarly, take time once a week, or as time permits to spend time together, communicating your thoughts as new parents, sharing your fears and just enjoying each other's company. Recreate your favorite places at home: that might not seem as exciting but keeping the romance and spark in your life after baby will require a lot of patience and adjustments from both sides.
3. Accept that things will change: Having a baby changes eveything so it's vital to accept that things might not be the same and instead focus on how to adjust: grocery shopping will take hours, you will have disturbed sleep, the house will be a mess and you can forget about your favorite pass times for a while. You can expect a lot of interruptions: a simple task like chopping vegetables might take hours and several attempts while you rush to calm your baby (who you expected would sleep for hours). Swapping responsibilities, taking help from relatives or friends, reasonable expectations and finding suitable alternatives will help you adjust quickly. You will eventually master the art of chopping vegetables in ten minutes, without interruptions but for now, get used to the changes by trying not to get upset with yourself and each other.
4. Try not to focus on tags and terms to define yourself. Working, stay-at-home, work-at-home are terms you will frequently hear discussions about from other moms, family, celebrities and even your closest friends. You will be affected by some, angered by others and most often you will want one or the other. Be thankful in whatever situation you are and make the best of it. Working moms often want to quit their jobs, stay-home moms sometimes wish they are financially independent and work-from-home moms equally struggle to maintain a perfect balance. Try and remember that by the end of it all we are all Moms and that is the most important TAG that defines you.
5. Start your own traditions and special celebrations. In the first year after my son was born we tried unsuccessfully to split our time and leave and enjoy festivals with both families. There were disappointments when we could not please everyone and overall, we felt a little guilty for not being able to spend these special occasions with the extended family. I have come to realise that the greatest joy is starting your own traditions in addition to the ones you might want to have with your immediate family. Birthdays, festivals and even vacations should sometimes only be just you, the parents and your kids. It's a great start to learn how as new parents you will adjust and cope with situations that might arise out of your comfort zone.
There are several things you will learn as new parents. You will learn to be more patient, to give up some things your thought you couldn't live without. You will have the strangest, most serious discussions (did baby poop today!) and you will learn to love each other differently, with a greater respect. All this and more when you communicate with each other, parent on the same page and give each other space so you become happy parents. I wish you all the happiness as you begin this journey together. Happy parenting!