I’m very excited to share the first guest post on this blog by the incredibly talented writer and blogger, Toni Hammer! Toni has a very funny facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/tonihammerwriter), a super active twitter account (@realtonihammer) and a blog that makes you laugh, tear up and nod your head in agreement (http://tonihammer.com). She has been published numerous times on the ScaryMommy.com website.
Without further ado, here is Toni’s post:
We all know that being a mom is hard. Everyone from your own mom to the grocery store clerk will tell you that it’s hard. The hormones are making the new mom crazy. The lack of sleep is making her crazy. If she’s breastfeeding, that is most definitely making her crazy. It’s hard.
But it’s also hard for new dads.
I won’t say it’s just as hard, but it’s hard in different ways.
If the parents have chosen to breastfeed the baby, the new dad can’t do anything to help in that area other than maybe nudge his wife awake when the baby is crying at 2 a.m. He probably feels helpless.
Some new babies can only be soothed by their moms because they’ve been carried around by her for the past 40 weeks. The new dad tries everything he can to calm his newborn only to have the mom take the baby into her arms which instantly calms him or her. The new dad probably feels useless.
In a majority of households, the dad heads back to work before the mom’s maternity leave ends. He leaves the house, seemingly abandoning his partner and new son or daughter at home by themselves knowing he won’t see them all day. He probably feels guilty.
Dads, I don’t know from firsthand experience, but I can’t imagine how difficult this transition is for you. Suddenly you’ve lost your wife to this crying, drooling mess who doesn’t appear to love you or even like you sometimes. You may feel helpless, useless, guilty and a myriad of other negative emotions.
Let me tell you something: you’re doing a great job.
The problem is that your partner may just be too sleep deprived and exhausted to tell you. It’s not you; it’s her. She’s a new mom and in those first few weeks it is an all-consuming job. Chances are her brain is just so fried that she doesn’t remember to tell you how much she appreciates you.
So I’ll tell you.
You are not helpless. New moms appreciate the fact that you’re trying. Of course you can’t breastfeed the baby, but I’m sure your partner loves that you want to help in any way you can. She appreciates the fact that you get her some water when she’s trapped on the couch beneath the baby known as Milk Breath. She is grateful that you bring her the nursing pillow when she forgets it and her woman parts are too sore for her to get up and retrieve it herself. She loves the fact that you ask her what TV show she wants to watch at night even though you know she’s just going to fall asleep before the opening credits.
You have no reason to feel guilty for going back to work. Your partner is so thankful that you are going out into the world to hunt and gather the money that allows for you both to raise this child. She falls more in love with you when you call her on your lunch break to say that you miss her and the baby. She is thrilled when you ask her to send you pictures of your new bundle of joy. She feels immense gratitude that you are sacrificing your time and energy in order to better the lives of your now larger family.
And, my dear dads, you are from useless. You are her rock. Her support. It’s the two of you against this whole new world and she needs you. She needs you to fight for her sanity. She needs you to watch her emotions and make sure she’s not going down the postpartum depression path. She needs you to tell her she’s doing a great job. She needs to know you think she’s amazing for all the hard work she’s putting into this new relationship with the baby. She needs to know you think she is inspiring and beautiful. You are not useless. You are her strength and she needs you.
I know this transition is hard for you, beloved dads. Please know that your partners love you and appreciate you and need you more than they will ever be able to properly express. Be strong. Be loving. Be proud of the hard work you’re doing. And try to get some sleep yourself.