In a previous article, I talked about four things that parents don’t like to talk about openly, like,
- Not bonding with baby
- Breastfeeding is hard
- Postpartum depression
- Everybody has a “right” opinion.
In this article, we’ll talk about more challenges that new parents face but are often afraid or ashamed to admit.
Parenting is a trial by fire, and just as every child is unique, every parenting journey is an equally individual experience.
When you are struggling with parenting, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one, but don’t fall for the belief that good parenting comes naturally. Parenting is hard. It disrupts how we’re used to doing life, so not only are we adjusting to the needs of a helpless little one, but we’re also trying to figure out what our new normal is supposed to look like.
And normal is relative. What’s normal for one parent may not be normal for the other parent, spouse, caregiver, family member, or whoever is impacted by the new baby’s arrival.
Feeling like you’re alone in your parenting journey is the worst, and even though babies are being born all the time and parents all over the world are facing similar struggles, being a new parent is like being dropped off in the middle of the desert, sleep-deprived, with only a laptop and a cell phone.
The parenting desert gets lonely, and missing adult conversation is normal. Finding online and offline communities for new parents can help alleviate some of the new parenting loneliness while also giving you the opportunity to develop new friendships. The new parenting phase won’t last forever. Finding others who can relate to what you’re experiencing can help you get over the hump.
Multiple feedings, changing diapers, taking temperatures, bathing, dressing, soothing, and playing—wow! It’s a lot, right? Yet, we secretly chastise ourselves when we feel tired, overstretched, and overwhelmed because, in our minds, we should be able to keep up. Somehow, supermom or superdad becomes the ideal standard that we compare ourselves to, but this never works because the perfect parent doesn’t exist.
The best way to handle overwhelm is to ask for help. Try not to assume that the people around you will just get it and come to your rescue because only you are living the 24/7 parent reality. Find the right person or support group that will listen and ask for help.
Loss of intimacy
Parenting a little one can be all-consuming in the beginning. Babies depend on us for everything, so making sure that their needs are met is a priority. But what happens when one parent feels left out or overlooked?
It’s not uncommon for one parent to feel left out, especially when the other parent is taking on the majority of the parenting responsibilities. Maybe one person is working while the other stays at home with the baby, or a mom is nursing, which can make it challenging for the other parent to participate in feedings. Whatever the new dynamic is, one parent can feel like the baby is coming between them, while the other parent can feel stuck between the needs of two very important people in their lives.
If you can talk about your feelings calmly and without blaming the other person, finding ways to bridge the gap so that intimacy is restored is possible. Sometimes this means being deliberate about scheduling time together, even if it’s a small amount of time, so that both parents have a chance to step away from the baby and find some time to reconnect.
Loss of intimacy can include familial relationships and friendships. When you can no longer drop everything to go grab a coffee with your best friend or unannounced visits from relatives now feel invasive, communicating with understanding and transparency can help smooth over any tension.
Figuring it all out
Parenting is a work in progress. It’s never perfect, and there will always be something to learn, no matter how old our child gets. We’ll never figure out all of the twists and turns, but we will get better. Giving ourselves the room to breathe and accepting that sometimes the path to parenting will be bumpy is a great way to alleviate some of the mental stress that comes along with the night feedings and spit-up.
It’s going to be okay.
If you need assistance day or night, please reach out to us at 303-717-1841 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer postpartum doulas, night nannies, and sleep training specialists.