Friday, January 15, 2010
SHORT TERM CHANGES AFTER CHILDBIRTH
The arrival of a first baby changes relationships into families. Yes, I am aware that many couples without children consider themselves families and I mean no disrespect to them and I am aware that a high percentage of mothers are not in a relationship at the time of starting their family either. I am speaking generically. For most people, the birth of their baby is the event that moves them into a full-tilt 'grown up' mode. They suddenly care more about the baby's welfare than their own, they feel responsible for the baby's physical, educational and moral development.
It's astonishing to realize that through your child, you and your mate (if you have one) are now related. Even though the relationship is not biological, it is deep and powerful in the way it unifies two people in the protection and love of the third, and one hopes brings a new level of commitment. People say that after having children you can almost have a new respect for the Mafia. You can respect and admire any group that says, "You hurt my family, you hurt me!" because that's how you feel about your children. Mothers are completely capable of physical violence where their kids are concerned and won't think twice about it. It's tribal and primitive and wonderful to feel so connected tos something bigger than just you alone. It can also be frightening, frustrating ad fatiguing, so don't be surprised if your transformation from relationship to family doesn't take place smoothly and instantly.
Change of any kind is upsetting to most people, and the changes you undergo during pregnancy and parenthood are nothing if not startling. All you have to do is look at a picture pre-childbirth to see the biggest change. If you think that having a baby doesn't change your relationship, you're delusional.
THE MAGIC SPELL-when a couple have gone through a delivery together, the ideal result, besides having a perfect baby is a deeper appreciation of the parents for each other. It doesn't always happen and you shouldn't think you've been seriously gypped if you don't think you felt it, but it goes something like this: the mother is in love with and grateful to everyone in the delivery room who didn't let her die when she was certain she was going to and for presenting her with the most precious baby in creating. If morphine was involved, that blanket of love will extend to all of humanity, until of course, the medication starts wearing off. If Daddy was particularly compassionate during that time, or if she is as sentimental as most new mothers I know the she will feel great love for him at that very moment. The father, in return is usually thunderstruck by having seen his wife go to battle against unseen demons and emerge with his precious baby. The euphoria doesn't last forever, this is where I suggest you remember to ask for an expensive gift or favor you've been wanting for awhile while he's still foggy. While you're in the hospital you may feel like you have left the planet temporarily and are in your own little world By the time you leave the hospital, charged with the task of raising this tiny baby, fear and panic will have broken the magic spell by now.
MUTUAL MISTRUST-at some point soon after you have brought your new baby home, t will occur to you that maybe, just maybe, your mate isn't up to the job of parenting your child. Don't think that your mate doesn't have worries of his own. He is bound to wonder how a woman who loses her purse seven times a day can keep track of his child. He will wonder how a woman who hates to cook can provide for an infant. And, he may feel that given your present fragile emotional state, you will not be able to deal with any emergency involving the baby. You must keep two things in mind when you're having these doubtful thoughts. First, they almost always stem from your own gigantic self-doubt. new moms can be so intimidated by our awesome responsibilities that we want to know that someone bigger, smarter, calmer and better than us is ready if we drop the ball. The logical person, next to Superman is our mate. Remember, you are up to the job! You will make it up as you go along just as every other mother has been doing. The second thing to remember is that most of these doubts will fade with the passage of time, partly because you both will calm down a lot over the next year.
BABY OBSESSION-mothers and fathers are known to succumb to the charms of their baby, often to the exclusion of everyone else. Mothers are most susceptible to this private love affair, probably because of all sorts of biological reasons but fathers too can fall in love head over heals. In the old days, before the baby was born, the love moved in a straight line between you and your mate, now the relationship is triangular. The baby takes ups o much of our emotional time and attention that often the only way we express our love for each other is as parents. You know distinctions are getting murky when you and your husband start calling each other 'mommy' and 'daddy'.
TRAPPED-having a baby raises the stakes in the relationship game. We tend to stay longer and try harder to work troubles out to provide a stable family for our baby. Let's face it: even though we all get married or have some kind of commitment at sometime, with the intention of it lasting forever, statistics show that lots of us change our minds later on. While it is always painful when a relationship goes sour, we all know that we do have that escape hatch of leaving. That hatch get much tinier and harder to open when a baby is born into you relationship. No matter what happens in your love life, with your mate, you will always be connected by this child that you share.