Welcome to fatherhood.
Some of you might, at this point, feel like seasoned veterans at 3 months. Some of you are, no doubt, clinging dearly to your last few scraps of sanity and wondering what happened to your life…and your wife.
She’s kind of nuts right now, huh? Worried and weeping; alternately starry eyed and also so very angry.
Well, listen up. Those hormones she keeps babbling about are no joke. Mood swings come on hard and fast, giving her a mean case of emotional whiplash. She doesn’t want to feel like this and she doesn’t want to snap at you. She just can’t help it.
And if you suspect that she has fallen more deeply in love with that baby than she ever was with you, you’re right. The feelings associated with motherhood are powerful and involuntary. But just remember that she chose to love you, from what I could only imagine would be a sea of suitors. She chooses to keep loving you and she has chosen you to accompany her as she embarks on this wild ride called parenthood. That should count for something, right?
Now, I know that you have your own problems and that you have to get up for work in three hours. Now that you’ve temporarily moved from two incomes to one, you can’t afford to get sick or be irresponsible. Your heart sometimes races when you think of it: double strollers, diapers, groceries, college funds. I know. You have your own unique set of worries that often seem more realistic than the midnight woes of your woman, who spins and spins over whether to swaddle with the arms in or out.
If you can, remember that the worrying and hovering is there by biological design. She has a microchip, of sorts, that makes her worry and protect. And you wouldn’t want it any other way.
But all of that is beside the point. Let’s talk about what you can do to help her. How you can make her day. How you can give her what she needs. The old saying is spot on:
If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Let’s make her happy, then. Shall we?
Tell her she’s beautiful.
She was fawned over throughout her pregnancy…and now? Now, baby has stolen the show. Proud mama wouldn’t have it any other way, however, on top of her shove from the spotlight she has hair loss, profuse sweat, lochia, extra stomach skin, leaking breasts, and dark circles. She cries, she yells; her laughter sounds–oh what’s the word–maniacal. She feels unstable. She feels gross. She feels so, so much.
Love her up. Rub her feet. Make her feel pretty. Tell her that Darling Baby looks just like her.
Tell her that she matters. Tell her that she is doing the most extraordinary work. Tell her that you see the folded laundry; that you see the selfless sacrifice required for exclusive breastfeeding.
Tell her that supporting her through childbirth was the romantic pinnacle of your lifetime.
No, I’m not joking. Tell her. And mean it.
There is no doubt in my mind that you, Daddy-O, have your own needs and that you have your own moments of confusion and insecurity. I know that you don’t recognize your wife. I know that you might even find the extra sweat and seeping breast milk a bit alien. Search for the beauty; find a way to fall in love again; let your woman know…
Her needs are greater right now, her roller coaster ride more significant. She is a stranger to herself and she needs reassurance that she is doing right by you and Junior. Reassurance will mean everything coming from you, the original love of her life.
And, get yourself a shower and a nap. This is hard work.
With love from your doula,