From time to time I hear people say (stupid) things like:
Oh you should get pregnant and have a child with him to lock him in.
You two should have a baby, it would be good for you two to be a family to help heal things.
I don’t know where these people get their information about how a child will bring two people closer together, but they are DEAD WRONG.
If anything, having a child polarizes you even more than you ever expected, even in strong, healthy relationships.
Yes, having a child does force you to be a little more flexible and understanding to each other, but it really just makes your strengths stronger and your weaknesses muuuuch worse.
On top of that, throw in sleep deprivation (before having a child, there is no way you can ever conceive of just how little sleep you will get with a newborn), stress (from money, not sleeping, a child screaming at the top of his little lungs because he wants to), and trying to still feel like a couple rather than a two people thrown together to take care of a squealing blob.
It’s a recipe for disaster. It really is.
What my partner and I experienced was for me, close to hell for the first year and a half as we struggled to learn how to parent.
We had some pretty DUMB ideas about parenting before, such as:
NOT REALIZING WHAT SLEEP DEPRIVATION MEANT
Sleep deprivation is not staying up all night to party and then crashing at 6 a.m. to sleep in until 2 p.m.
THERE IS NO SLEEP.
That’s the flaw in the thinking of new parents that you get a bad night and then you get to sleep it off and recuperate.
NOPE. That is NOT HOW IT WORKS.
It is much closer to prison torture tactics.
You’re woken up every hour to hour and a half (forget 3 hours, when children scream, THEY SCREAM and you need to go and feed your screaming blob).
So imagine drifting off into a deep sleep, right into that REM cycle getting some good brain rest and then being rudely awaken to be present and go and help feed your child, and hopefully not drop them in the process (you need to hold the bottle or hold them to your chest for a good while, because they can’t do it themselves).
If your partner is back at work during that time after a short period (if any) of parental leave, more than likely a He in this case, you will have them stumble into work zombie-like, bleary-eyed, brain all mushy, trying to do his job and be a human being to bring home the money.
If you’re at home, you’re trying to feed yourself, maybe try and stay clean with a hastily taken shower here and there, while having your body recover from the birth of a child.
Yes, in the past, farm women just got right back up the next day after birth, and worked the fields because they had no choice and families to feed.
I get it. They were Super Women, frankly, staunch and tough, made for the life and probably in far better shape than any modern woman today, which helped their recovery no doubt.
If we had to do the same thing today, we’d do it if it meant the difference between feeding our other kids and living, or death. Also, their older kids no bigger than Baby Bun now probably helped a lot too because they had no choice in the matter either.
When push comes to shove, sure, we’re there. Human resilience and determination is phenomenal.
We can do it…but if I don’t see the need to be shoved, you better get your paws off my back.
EXPECTING OUR CHILD TO BE DIFFERENT
I’m sure everyone has said this at some point in their lives: My child won’t be like that!
ALL THE LOLS.
It may be true, or not true, but when you have a baby, all bets are all.
Their first year? You can’t do anything. There is no disciplining, molding of character, NOTHING.
You can’t set rules and expect them to fall in line like soldiers, you can’t control anything except whether or not they want to scream, and even that is a gamble because they could just want to scream because they feel like it.
Sure, you can TRY to set rules where they MUST latch so you can breast feed, but children even from birth are surprisingly strong-willed and stubborn. You’re going to break before they do.
You can try to set a napping and eating schedule like the books tell you to do, but every single day is a different day, and they may be perfect one day (SUCCESS! IT WORKED!)… and then act the complete opposite way the next day (WHAT DID I DO WRONG?).
Babies can’t tell you what they want or need, they get frustrated, you get frustrated, and before you know it you’re screaming at 3 a.m. at a newborn, saying: WHAT DO YOU WANT? WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT? I CANNOT READ YOUR MIND.
EXPECTING CALM FAMILY MOMENTS TOGETHER TO BE THE NORM
Even now, as Baby Bun is older, more independent and helpful, we get moments where I feel a surge of love and pleasure at our little family and how wonderful it is to have a child…. and then it all gets ruined because there happens to be a little train just askew, or Daddy wanted to play with him but didn’t cut the apple in the correct manner (whatever that is to a toddler).
Then it all just goes to hell.
Screaming from Baby Bun from the shock of mis-cutting the apple to Daddy getting frustrated in wanting to play with him but not knowing how to, to Mommy seeing her golden bubble of family life pop before her eyes and having to swoop in to mediate between the two of them.
The great, golden family moments are great. Really, really great. But they don’t last for as long as you think they should.
Calm, sweet family moments? For sure. They’re just more 25% of the time, if you’re lucky.
EXPECTING A CHILD TO MAKE YOU TWO BOND MORE AS PARENTS
My partner and I got into so many screaming matches about the division of labour before we finally nailed it through hard work and trying to listen to each other, 18 months after the birth of Baby Bun.
I was asked, and answered the question in one of my posts on how we divide the labour.
You also fight about decisions. I have heard couples get into major rows about whether or not to raise a child in a certain religion or not.
I have heard couples fight about whether or not to give them a certain food or drink before certain ages or the frequency of said food or drink.
I mean, you fight over EVERYTHING, and it all has to do with your child — eating, clothing, sleeping, diapers, discipline, education, upbringing.. you name it, you generally fight over it.
ANY couple who says they don’t fight over these (now) trivial seeming things, are liars.
Outright, freakin’ liars.