Bringing home a new baby is one of those life events that can turn a happily functioning home upside down. Schedules shift, baby is the main focus, and it’s a 24 hour a day job 365 days a year. Or so it can seem. Many couples experience the challenges of going from a couple to mom and dad.
Alisa Bowman, writer and new mom, shares, with humor and poignancy, the problems her marriage suffered in her book Project: Happily Ever After. It seems that things went awry right as she was at the end of her pregnancy. And, it went downhill from there. On the night she was discharged from the hospital, still sore from the Caesarian delivery, her husband was attending a party at his new retail business. And, to add insult to injury it was her birthday.
The book takes us through the first years of her baby’s life, as Alisa struggles to keep up with the demands of her writing career, a new baby, a difficult and aggressive dog, and a husband who is rarely at home. When she beings to plan his funeral, Alisa realizes it’s time to work on saving the marriage. For much of the story it appears to be a solo project.
I was struck by the fact that her husband saw very little need to assist during the early days after childbirth. When confronted, he said that he didn’t think she needed help… because she didn’t ask. It was one of those silent scream moments. Alisa reads a slew of self-help books and cajoles her husband into trying the various suggestions for reviving their marriage. They learn to talk to each other, with “I” statements, they take a trip together for a sexy get-away and they renew their vows in a private ceremony. By the end of the book, Alisa is living pretty happily ever after. And, she offers tips on how we too, can help brighten up a difficult marriage.
A new baby is a precious bundle of joy but he or she is also a major drain our our energies. I wonder how many dads out there are pitching in? From my personal opinion, I think dad ought to be able to figure out that mom is exhausted after 2 or 3 middle of the night feedings, diaper changes and constant attention to the needs of a newborn. But, if they’re not getting it, what are you going to do?
Parents-to-be need to spend some time talking about expectations and responsibilities early in the pregnancy. And, that should involve being very honest about what you as mom, or you as dad want to see happen. It’s so easy when breastfeeding, for dad to feel pretty left out and lacking a major role in childrearing. You’ll need to help him finds ways to engage with your new son or daughter.
Life changes for a new mother in ways that are hard to articulate and even harder for a father to comprehend. When you add up hormones, milk production, the ‘maternal instinct’ and the changes in jobs or routine that come with parenting an infant it is an enormous physical and emotional change. A new mother needs all the support she can get-without having to ask for it.
Alisa and her family survived those emotionally charged years, as most of us do. But, it is often a challenging time for her. Even though the book is complete, and her ‘project’ is done, she still writes about marriage. Her blog, Project: Happily Ever After was named one of the top 10 marriage blogs of 2009.Connect with Little Butterfly Kiss website, blog, Twitter, or Facebook