You have come home with a new little person that you are just getting to know. There is no users’ manual and although many books have been written on infancy, your job is to get to know your baby, and his or her unique signals so you can respond appropriately. It is amazing how this little person can have a powerful effect on your self-esteem. When you get it “right,” baby settles down, and you feel good about yourselves. A little later, nothing works, the crying goes on and on, shaking your self-confidence.
Some new parents are sensitive, feeling baby steals the show. You may want to call out, “Wait a minute, baby didn’t get here by himself – someone did the heavy carrying for nine months.” Jealousy is a common theme during these early weeks and months; you go out with baby, and all eyes are focused on him. Admiring eyes when he is content, or judging and scolding eyes when he is upset. You may fondly recall the days of not being noticed, and wonder why people think a baby is public property.
Sleep deprived, irritability sets in while attending to recurrent needs every hour or two. Just as soon as you start something, there is an interruption. For people who like for things to be in their place, frustrations and demands seem to breed, being expressed with demands or judgments toward each other that are often not well received. Dad is working and not sleeping, and Mom is up around the clock, and perhaps has also returned to work. Dirty dishes, laundry, etc are piling up. Friction is escalating instead of support, and turnarounds from the stress seem out of reach. Signs of postpartum blues, depression or anxiety may show up in one or both parents after having a new baby.
You can give yourselves a Jump Start on turning back toward each other – “We are in this together” – and get back on track.