You've read books, you've asked friends and family, and you've spent countless hours on Google trying to understand the change that is coming your way. We get it. We did the same thing. In fact, all new parents do. It's just the way it is. You want the answer to the question, "What can I expect once the baby arrives?"
Some people will tell you about the rainbows and butterflies, others might be a but more candid, and some might even downright frighten the hell out of you! (I think I made someone cry once.)
The truth is, every baby is different, every parent is different, therefore every experience is different. There are, however, those few things that happen to ALL parents. It's inevitable. It just is, that certain will happen that we all share as parents; experiences that tie us together like a shoelace, weaving the paths which we walk as parents.
If you're about to me a new mom or dad, here are a few things you can most certainly expect to happen.
- The baby will connect more with one parent over the other. The baby will connect with one parent over another due to time spent together, needs, etc. Typically, this will usually be the mom due to the bond between mom and baby (9 months in the womb is thanks to this!) and can result in a one-sided relationship. Also, if a baby is breastfed, this is something that will most certainly happen due to the obvious facts of closeness and time spent together. Something dad cannot compete with.
If you are part of a two-mother house, the baby will most likely bond with the mother who carried the baby. If neither did in the case of adoption (this goes with two-dad households as well) the baby will become closer to the one who is home more often or the stay-at-home parent.
My husband had an incredibly hard time with this in the beginning. He would say things like, "She hates me," or "Why am I even trying," when she would throw a fit beyond repair if he would attempt to hold or soothe her. Like all things, THIS TOO SHALL PASS. After some time, the baby will start to associate each parent differently and form different relationships with each. The best way to get through this is to know that it is only a phase and that you (yes, YOU the parent the baby loathes at the moment) will someday be his best friend. Hang in there.
- You will mourn your old life. I remember right after my daughter was born that I honestly just wanted to walk my dogs alone. I know it sounds so silly and simple, but I missed my old life, and walking my dogs alone in the morning was something I would never do again. At least, it felt like never again.
Here's the thing... you are going to miss your old life, at least in the beginning. It's just human nature when you're sleep/food/sanity deprived and you realize that only a few short weeks ago you were sleeping in late on weekends and free to do what you want. Now, with a new baby, all that is gone, but only for a now.
Many, many of the parents I have spoken with have all agreed with the mourning of their old lives when things get tough. And who wouldn't? Who wouldn't miss the days where the only thing stressing you out was if you could finish binge-watching your favorite show in time to start a new one. Now, you have to keep a tiny person alive and when you look in the mirror, you don't recognize the person looking back. It's a scary truth, but this also will pass as things get easier.
- You relationship with your spouse/partner will be tested. This happens to most, even those who have the sturdiest of relationships. Just so all who are reading this understand, anything that happens in the first 12 weeks of parenting does not reflect how it will always be. In other words, there will be times your partner and you do not agree. There will be times when you can't stand to be in the same room as each other. And there will be times when one or both of you feel the other is not pulling his or her weight. THIS IS NORMAL.
It's hard not to fight and argue when both are exhausted beyond the point of return. This does NOT signify that there are issues in your relationship or that you are headed toward an unavoidable doom. This simply means you are new parents, you are both tired, and you are both trying your best.
- You will change. This goes without saying, but I wanted to remind everyone that you, yes YOU will change. Priorities, groups of friends, worries... everything changes once that baby comes, but the most change will come from YOU.
Whenever I have a friend tell me how much motherhood has changed me, I respond with simply, "Of course I've changed. If I was the same selfish, lazy person I was before my daughter arrived, that wouldn't make for a very good mom now, would it?"