While we were pregnant the one thing we heard the most was, “You won’t able to do that once the baby comes!”
We, as a couple & individuals, lived pretty busy lives on a social, work & travel front.
Over the last ten years we regularly go out for dinner just us or with friends, brunch most weekends at the Lemon Tree Cafe. Both of us have been activists attending rallies and fundraising events for different causes close to our hearts. We have traveled to Bali least 3 times, America and Canada twice, Nepal, Thailand and been on a cruise around the Pacific Islands. Then there is our work – both of us in community services, supporting people with a disability; & working around sexual health, and a dip into politics.
Individually I play netball twice a week – one night in Shepparton and the other in Echuca – then there are my friends. My husband likes to swim and is on the board of a few committees, so attending meetings and events; and then there’s HIS friends.
The phrase, “You won’t be able to do that once the baby comes,” was something that almost everyone would say to us and I often thought, “but why can’t I, why does it have to stop?”
Our beautiful baby girl was born 12 weeks ago and I have to say our lives haven’t changed that much.
Of course there are some changes but most of them apply to me, because I’m the one that will be taking a year off work to be the stay at home parent.
Because I’m the one that is home, it’s interesting the questions now most people ask me – from friends, family, co-workers, maternal health workers, to strangers…and that is, “How are you coping?” I then answer and wait for the surprised look on their face because I say, “Great!” The look is almost like I should be struggling and complaining.
But the reality is, I knew parts of my life would change – that’s a given – I now have another life to look after that is 100% dependent on me and my husband.
Me finishing work is the biggest change – I wasn’t sure how I would go but at the same time I knew I was ready for a break after 12 years at my job, working my way through the company – it was stressful work, but rewarding, and I worked with the most amazing people of whom many have become good friends – it’s great when you can go to work and see your friends every day. I worked out, the part I was more worried about was how I would cope not seeing these faces daily – it’s kinda like finishing year 12 again – will we still see each other now I’m not there?
The other part that has changed is I no longer get as much TV time, making my LEGO sets, or long sleep-in’s because it’s now replaced with washing bottles, washing baby clothes, and doing general household jobs; & getting tea on the table before my husband gets home(!) Ok, the last bit is a stretch – I cook once he gets home. I tag him and it’s his turn for Fletcher time.
Where our life hasn’t changed is, I still play netball twice a week, we do our weekly trips to Bendigo to see my husband’s 92 year old grandmother – an hour and half trip (3 hour return). We still go to brunch at the Lemon Tree – they always create a space for the pusher and the staff are excited to see her; tea ‘out’ still happens but it might be taken away and eaten at the lake now days.
But mostly she comes along for the ride and slots into our life. Day 4 after she was born in Canada she was put in the body carrier and we walked down to the local coffee shop; and then daily after that where we got our daily coffee, she would sit in our arms and just look around.
Now, we aren’t stupid and just slogging this poor child all over the countryside because we don’t want to change the way we live! We discuss and take her mood and how she coped that day or the day before into account. We might suggest to our friends, let’s meet for tea at six instead of seven.
But I do believe because I still feel like I have my life, that’s our life now – I haven’t struggled with life as much as I thought or others thought I might be. The three sides of the triangle are being met – social, physical and mental health – which are key factors when a new child is brought into your life. I can easily see how people could slip into a state where they ‘break’.
We caught up with friends recently who said they just hid away in their own box and thought that’s what they needed to do (when they had their baby), but said if they were to have another child they would do it different (after hearing what we have been up to and seeing how great we actually looked).
I also acknowledge that we as two men haven’t carried a baby for nine months, given birth then having to jump straight into breastfeeding all while the body heals. This has given me a greater respect for what women (for many centuries) have done – they are the true champions of this world.
But this is where I think society comes into it, we often say, “you won’t be able to do that once the baby comes”, so we either do stop (or feel we have to) because that’s what people have said to us. It’s crossed my mind; will people judge us and think we are bad parents for not being home 24/7? But then I think, “no, I won’t allow others to make me feel a certain way or act a way they believe I should”.
Each situation & child is different, and we are very lucky that we have a well-settled little girl that is happy to come along and share the experiences and adventures with us. We are lucky – she is a good sleeper and the more noise the better – no tip toeing around needed, just don’t touch her, hahaha.
Not too many can say their baby has traveled from one side of the world to the other – a 20 hour flight at two and half weeks old but she did it like a pro – maybe that’s been our key.
Just remember to do what makes you happy as well! Your life doesn’t have to stop straight away, I’m sure as she gets older and can’t just nap in the pusher things will need to be re-looked at but ‘til then the adventures continue.
Let’s try and stop that phase and let each couple or person work out what their family life will look like.