Somewhere in between having our first and second child, I became the breadwinner and my husband became a stay-at-home-dad. When the birth of our second child was approaching, I was excited. Not only was my daughter about to make her world debut, but I was glad to have extra help.
I just knew with my husband at home, maternity leave and the newborn stage would be easier.
It never occurred to me to touch base with my husband prior to our daughter’s birth to check on what his expectations of this time would look like. It turned out my husband and I had very different ideas. Not only were we not on the same page, but we were in different books…in different libraries…in different cities…on different planets.
He had a “no problem, mon” vacation vibe. I had more of an “I just squeezed 7 pounds out of my vagina and am sleeping in 2-hour increments” vibe.
Let’s just say lessons in communication were learned the hard way.
As a result, our expectations were more in line 4 years later when I gave birth to our third child. By then, our older kids were in school. Everyone was in a good routine.
I just knew with my husband and I in agreement, this time maternity leave and the newborn stage would be easier.
I pictured me pumping so my husband could help with late night feedings. I pictured being more rested. I even pictured him and I and the baby on breakfast dates after dropping the big kids off at school. The icing on the cake is I pictured that by the end of my leave, I would be super-momming it all over town, taking all three kids on fun family adventures before having to return to work.
HA! Silly me.
Of course, none of that happened. The baby refused a bottle. I just nursed her through the night so she wouldn’t cry and wake the other kids up. Then my husband would take over in the morning. I’d sleep until at least 11 am…all the way through my imagined morning breakfast dates. The family outings I envisioned were replaced with quarantining ourselves and passing weird cold and flu bugs back and forth to one another.
It turned out that the newborn phase was a hard adjustment either way. The big difference was that we were truly a team the second time we spent maternity leave together.
We could tap out and get rest as needed, knowing the other would pick up the slack. When a problem crept up, we just rolled up our sleeves and tackled it. I am proud of how far my husband and I have come and what we have accomplished. We both decided that the only way we are going to get through all the craziness was by doing it together. So that’s what we did.