Let’s face it, unless you’ve been a parent before, there is very little that can prepare you for being a parent. I thought I was going to be ready for this adventure from helping mom raise my little brother 30 years ago. I must have lost something in those years, because there was very little I was ready for when Baby Ren arrived.
The first night, it was all about the lack of sleep. The next few nights, it was about lack of sleep and keeping the baby alive. The next few weeks after that, it was about keeping the house in order, keeping the baby alive, sleeping when we could, and going back to our respective jobs. Tonight, it’s about me feeding, changing, and putting to sleep the baby while my wife works.
All of these things are easier said than done, by the way. None of these things did I have to do with my little brother. That whole phase was about fetching things for mom or my grandmother as they looked after him.
So it’s okay to flip out for a few seconds at a time when things are not looking good. When the baby is up at an ungodly hour because she has colic or because she just can’t sleep comfortably, and you’ve been up with her for almost a full 24 hours, it’s okay to feel frustrated and even angry. What’s not okay is to act on those feelings.
Ask for help, is what I’m saying.
We have been blessed in having the resources to pay for daycare, so the baby is there every weekday for most of the morning and most of the afternoon. Even if we leave her there for only the morning or only the afternoon, it makes a big difference because it allows us to get stuff done at work and at home. (I’ve been advancing by leaps and bounds in my dissertation.) We have also been blessed in that my in-laws live about an hour away, and they are willing and able to drive up and babysit. Or we drive down and drop off the baby while we go out for dinner and a movie.
It’s important that you go on dates, by the way.
If you are not able to get babysitting, or are truly on your own, I would recommend that you do your darnedest to find help. My mother had my grandmothers and my aunts. You probably have neighbors, so get to know them. Or you have coworkers, so get to know them. Don’t be alone in this adventure because it will wear you down, and that cannot be good for your child or children.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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