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The Nest: Love after Baby

 

Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself

It’s different. I will be the first to admit that I was, in a health way, selfish before we had our baby. I wanted my time, my career, and my husband all to myself. We traveled to different countries, skydived, laid in the sun on some island beaches, and then – we had this wonderful, insanely energetic, and all-encompassing human that my husband and I want to stare at 24/7.

We love him, he is our pride and joy. My husband counts our baby’s daily farts and gleams with joy and laughter. We have changed, so incredibly. I never thought I could survive in a household with other people on so little sleep. There is a place in heaven for all new mothers whose husband’s sleep talking and walking worsens with stress and sleep-deprivation. One time he ripped our comforter trying to “find the wipes.” I kept repeating: “the wipppesss!” “The wipppesss!”

I try to keep the crazy on lock-down and the majority of the time I can do it, but “she” came out and I was yelling about the wipes and how much the comforter cost me and the baby was peeing on me…

You can picture the night; I need not elaborate further.

Loving each other after having a baby is an art, a dance, and something I will have to practice daily. I have to learn to love my husband on a level equal to the love I have for my child. Loving him less would only be a disservice to the two of us and our marriage. Having a baby gives me an opportunity to work on the dedication I put into my marriage, making me a better spouse. I am not asking anyone to agree, nor am I wanting to go back to the 1920’s model of wifehood that asks me to clean, cook, and prepare my home for a husband. I enjoy being a great spouse and I take pride in it. Also, I expect my husband to participate an equal 50% in all chores and household activities, even if it places me on the roof at Christmas-time hanging lights! Working on my marriage from this angle opens the relationship to possibilities to learn about my self-awareness and grow as a woman. Some of the most difficult life lessons to learn have been forced onto my agenda after having a baby.

Love being a mother by yourself. You can try all you want to feel included, but the post-partum period is filled with instances that will make you feel less-than and left-out. Forgive yourself. Let go of your high expectations and live simpler. This is a learning process and a time when you need to come back to who you are and find some peace in that. It is okay to feel set aside, because you are being set apart for a reason – to learn to love yourself, your baby, and your spouse better.

The hardship of sleep-deprivation and extreme physical exhaustion is going to pay off, I promise you. For all you nurses out there, the night shift work has prepared you for this kind of forgiveness. When you have been awake for 24-48 plus hours and you are questioning everything, you forgive yourself and take a nap. Louder for those in the back: take a nap! Be shameless, ask you husband to take the baby for an hour and go to sleep. It will be life-changing and you will wake up feeling like you spent a day in the spa at the Bellagio. Learn to love yourself as a mother better.

Go to the gym, walk around your neighborhood, or take some time to write it all out. You need to stay focused on the relationship you have with yourself. You are continuing to feed a baby after carrying them for 10 months; this is not easy on you. I don’t ignore my back and forth struggle with what I want and what I know I need to do, I’m still growing into motherhood. At every stage of my child’s life I expect I will do the same, but I need to grasp the larger concept. The necessity of forgiveness will follow me everywhere in motherhood, and finding a comfort in the word and action will benefit me. I hope you find love for yourself one day after baby, if not, take a nap and start again. 

Reba Tappan

Reba Tappan

Reba Tappan writes The Nest blog. She is mom to an adorable little boy, who she enjoys pushing in the stroller around her neighborhood with her husband. She writes about life as a working mother while navigating the journey to maintaining a mom-bod.