After the transformative experience of adding a new life to your family, it’s fascinating how comfortable you can become with this little being attached to you, at all times. Many parents feel weird the first time they leave home without their baby – it’s as if they’re walking around missing an appendage. During the first week of her life, there was a moment when I realized I’d been holding, breast feeding or lying next to our daughter for 12 solid hours. I walked onto our back porch to get a breather, and our cat made a dash for me, meowing for attention. I snuggled with her, but realized the LAST thing I wanted was to touch or be touched by another living creature. I thrive on affection, so feeling saturated to that level was monumental for me. It hadn’t occurred to me until then how good a break could feel, to just be alone in my own skin.
Translate this to my relationship with her father, J. Affection was huge for us, and if we were in arm’s reach of each other, we were usually connected physically, even if it was just sitting close enough for our legs to touch. During those early weeks with our daughter, it was as if we just forgot. One of us was constantly attending to her, and touching each other only occurred by accident when passing her back and forth. One afternoon while she slept, we sat down on the couch to catch up, and I scooted close to him for a hug. Woah! We simultaneously realized how much time had passed since we’d last intentionally touched each other, and how much we’d missed it.
It’s normal to feel the need for space. You are experiencing constant skin-on-skin contact with a baby who needs you to survive. To keep balance, you need moments of separation and autonomy, but remember that another part of your balance is a healthy relationship with your partner. Make an effort to touch each other as often as you can, even if it’s just a quick hug or shoulder rub. (An aside, to those couples for whom eye contact equals kissing equals sex, and sometimes the kissing part gets skipped, those early weeks are a different challenge since most medical professionals sanction sex for new moms until 6 weeks after giving birth. Perhaps this could be a fun exercise in restraint? Or for those of you who really don’t dig affection, substitute what does feel good and connecting, like words of affirmation or quality time.) Physical contact, even if slight, can help you feel closer through those insane early weeks, giving you both more peace of mind, which will benefit your baby immensely.
BPP Sanity Savers:
- As a parent, it’s normal to feel moments of, “Get off me! Everyone! Just get off me!!!” Allow yourself guilt-free alone time to recharge.
- Remember that your relationship with your partner will also thrive with constant maintenance. Go out of your way to give physical affection to each other.
- Make time for openness with your partner about what feels good physically and how you’d like to be touched. Having a baby impacts hormones, sleep and emotions, which can cause your needs and preferences to dramatically flux. Frequent communication can help you keep up with each other and stay connected.
Here’s To Sanity and Hugs,