End of the world as you knew it! No really life as you knew it has changed forever, but what an amazing change has taken place. For many of us it is a total (cliché alert) rollercoaster of emotions, forgive my use of that term but at this moment in time I can think of nothing that describes it more accurately.
You will most likely feel all or at least most of these emotions in the first few days.
Love, an overwhelming love for your child and your partner.
Fear, fear of holding your baby, scared you might hurt them.
Scared, scared of now being a parent, scared you don’t know what to do.
Awe, total awe at this amazing new life, this new life you made.
Worry, worry about each cry, worry that you child is ok, warm enough, too warm, hungry etc.
Tired, after few days, tiredness like you have never felt before.
Jealousy, jealous that YOUR baby is getting all mums attention
Resentful, resentful that you have been pushed out and role reduced to fetching and carrying.
Pride, sheer pride at your child, partner and yourself, this new life you have created and everything little thing they do.
Lost, a sense of loss as realisation sets in, that life has changed, your relationship has changed.
This is not a complete list, and I could go on to just keep listing about every emotion under the sun, because the likelihood is at some point in the first days and weeks you will feel them. What is important to understand is all these feeling are totally normal.
Your life has changed, and now you need time to adjust and support to make that adjustment.
I think, one of the most important things I tell all expectant parents I work with, is in that first week keep visitors to an absolute minimum. Dads you are the gate keeper and you role as protector didn’t stop when baby was born it just began. In those important first few days you need time to adjust as a family, this is why too many visitors will just delay life settling down, will not allow you the time to deal with all the emotions and potentially increase the stress in your family.
It can be hard just asking people to give you space and wait before visiting, but they will understand, and to be honest if they don’t that is their problem and selfishness not yours.
For many dads, the first week is the week when they start to bond with baby, although I have spoken about antenatal bonding, and I try to encourage it wherever possible, for many of us dads it doesn’t really start until baby is born and we have something tangible to focus on. This is another reason for keeping visitors to a minimum; this is your time, especially if you are going to have to return to work, to bond with your baby.
In that first week, to hell with the house work, have takeaways if you can afford to, if not easy food, to cook and prepare. Just enjoy those first few days plenty of time later to tidy the house and sort the rest out. Yes dad, make sure it’s done before you return to work if that’s what you are doing!
Support mum if she is breastfeeding, make sure plenty of fluids and drinks available for her, don’t worry about dressing baby all the time, just enjoy holding them, make sure they are warm enough, but plenty of skin to skin contact for all of you. Get to know each other, talk to baby, talk to each other, and help each other. These are the important things in first few days, the rest can wait.
Obviously, these comments are more relevant to first time parents, as you cannot ignore everything if you already have children, but what you can do is still remain relaxed and involve other children in bonding with baby. Share time together as family, as your other children will also be feeling that same raft of emotions, so they need to come to terms with them. It is important you involve them in everything as well, so they welcome new addition to family, life for them has also changed so recognise and support them in that change.
I will talk about life with a newborn in more detail in another post but for now just enjoy being a family.