The word chaos is defined as “a state of disorder and confusion.” Friends, let’s stop right here and reframe this conversation; just putting the word “chaos” in the title creates a sense of doom. When I coach, I ask my clients to think about the assumptions that they are making around a situation. To be able to identify what is “fact” and what is a fear-based assumption they have chosen to view as factual. It’s important not to forget about your partner and marriage once a new baby comes or as you prepare to be new parents.
If you enter parenthood with the deep-seated belief that parenting is going to be chaotic, and therefore this requires some sort of advanced military-like planning and intervention, you are looking at this beautiful event through a lens distorted by fear of the unknown. Will there be some chaotic moments? Duh. But you will not be living in a state of “chaos.”
My son is 15, and as delicious today as the day he was born. Don’t let anyone tell you that “poof” your kid will suddenly become unrecognizable overnight when they hit the ‘teen years. That is just another fear-based myth. My fertility challenges absolutely contributed to an immeasurable desire to be a mother and I spent my pregnancy closely monitored, and actively and fiercely preventing another miscarriage. It would have been understandable to spend the entire forty weeks in a state of fear. But, I made the conscious decision to trust my doctors, my gut and my baby’s kicks and rolls that this was a “good” one. I taught myself to replace fear-based thoughts with real evidence that all was going very well.
Here’s the truth, you can’t “prepare for” any part of becoming a new parent: the volcanic explosion of love (and poop), the way your baby’s head smells, the first smile, word, and steps of your first child. You also can’t “prepare for” the sleep deprivation, your painful private parts, a changed body, all the unanswered questions and wondering if at any point could you accidentally hurt your new baby. But here is what you can prepare for. 1. How you and your partner are going to respond to the chaotic moment. 2. How you are going to respond to each other in those moments.
Here’s the truth, you can’t “prepare for” any part of parenting…not the interrupted sleep, your painful private parts, a changed body or all the unanswered questions.
The way partners turn towards each other post-baby is likely a reflection of how they handled tension or stress pre-baby. The interactional patterns don’t change, the situation changed, you now have a new life. There is now a new baby introduced into the system. Communicating about how you might handle these moments prior to getting pregnant and during the forty weeks of pregnancy, establishes a shared foundation and prepares you as a couple to continue to maintain an open dialogue. Mother nature gives you plenty of time to work together. In other words, “if/when the going gets tough, let’s turn towards each other and not retreat into our own corners.”
Tips to Prepare Your Marriage For Baby
Here are some ways (very much inspired by John Gottman’s approach to relationships) my husband John and I took our marriage to a deeper place post-baby:
- Stay interested in each other, especially the little things that seem mundane. For example, how many times you nursed that day, how many diapers, etc.
- Communicate your needs. Don’t assume your partner can read your mind or body language that you are in desperate need for a nap/manicure/time away from the baby.
- Establish daily rituals of connection….a foot rub, date night, a deep kiss, a shared cocktail. The amount of time spent building connection can go a long way.
- Express affection and respect for each other in small, everyday moments. Did your partner just go to the grocery store and manage to get everything on the list running on lack of sleep? That’s a win in my book!
Remember, above all the best gift you can give your newly formed family (apart from a trusted babysitter) is a happy marriage.