Dear First-Time-Mom, Your Husband Needs You, Too.
It’s been a while.. it’s been a very long while since I last wrote.
Postpartum depression-wise, I am grateful to say that that part of my life is over, and I pray that I will not go through it again. There are days when I look back on it with regret, when I think that I had wasted some could-have-been-happy times with Lilibubs because I was trapped within myself, but then I also think that because I went through it, I can enjoy my present armed with learnings from that phase and a deeper appreciation of what I have now.
I am more adjusted now, safe to say that I am more balanced? Yet I am still a first-time-mom learning the ropes, adjusting and re-adjusting as I figure out how to simultaneously be a wife, a mother, and a daughter while still being an artist and a regular woman with regular needs.
This topic, of recognising that our husbands need us as our newborns do and vice versa, has long been on my mind. In the whirlwind of having a baby, Lilibubs’ cries, littleness, and her absolute dependence on us for survival, particularly on me as her food source, have dominated our thoughts and priorities in the first few months, so much that making time for each other has admittedly taken a backseat.
Prior to my giving birth, my husband Joey and I have decided not to get a nanny. We wanted to experience it all ourselves, parenting and caring for a baby, and to be honest, we had a good time doing so. It was one of the happiest and fondest times in our marriage, sleepless nights and all. We naturally fell into a rhythm of who will look after Lilibubs at which hours, of who will do what, and we were both truly happy because tired as we were, I know we made a great team and we really did enjoy getting to know how to care for our daughter firsthand. :)
But it was the sickness that came to our household on Lilibubs’ third month that made us reevaluate our decision of not getting help. That was when I saw how tired my husband was, that it was unrealistic to think that he could keep up this crazy schedule of running his businesses while at the same time caring for a newborn.. that it was taking a toll on his health. It was all just too much for him, and I was too caught up in my new role as a mother to clearly see how all this was affecting him.
That his life abruptly changed when he became a father, too.
(To add to this, he lost his own father a week and a day before becoming a father himself.. significant life changes in too short a span of time..)
Whereas we women can actually feel our little ones growing in our bellies and the sleepless nine months are in truth, preparing us for the little to no-sleep zombie life we would surely experience once the little one is born, the men in our lives have actually less concrete things to hold on to except for those grainy ultrasound images, the weird kicking/movement in our bellies, our burgeoning size and our higher-than-average moodiness/crankiness/weepiness/neediness. In other words, because we are the ones who are actually pregnant, the idea that a baby is going to be born soon is more real and tangible for us, helping us adjust better but not necessarily easier, to parenthood.
Another important matter to consider is this: when we become parents, we get so caught up in the miracle of the birth of a baby that we forget that at the same moment that a child is born, parents are also born. As such, in addition to taking care of their child, a husband and a wife need to look out for each other too, more than ever, to help each other process this significant life change.*
(This was one lesson that midwife Holliday Tyson imparted in her prenatal class that I chanced upon in YouTube, which I highly recommend to all would-be-parents. Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7YucfJuziU&t=206s)
So yes, dearest momma, our babies’ cries may be louder and their needs more apparent, but our husbands, with their quiet and seemingly unaffected ways, need us too.
I thank the Lord for rebuking my heart, although I am truly sorry that it came at the cost of Joey’s health. Sicknesses usually force us to pause, assess, and re-evaluate how we have been living our lives. Most of the time, at least for me, they are God’s way of calling my attention and reverting my priorities back to the order of how they should be: Him first, husband next, then child/children, family, career / friends.
It took me a while but I have learned. Admittedly, I am still learning, still readjusting my time and priorities and managing my momguilt, hehe. But what has been lovely is getting to know my husband again, post-baby.
I no longer linger that much with Lilibubs, especially now that we have a nanny. I still spend as much time as I can with her, playing, feeding, and putting her to sleep, but whenever Joey is home, I try to put him first. I join him as he takes his meals or when he wants to nap. When he asks me to go somewhere with him, even if it’s just an errand to buy medicine or what-have-you’s, I go with him without thinking twice. We used to co-sleep, with Joey sleeping on the floor bed, but now their roles are reversed, lol! Lilibubs now sleeps on the floor bed while Joey and I are back to sharing the bed. I realize now that it should have been like this from the very beginning, and that we must protect the marital bed at all costs. We must protect the marriage at all costs.
We go on more dates now. We’ve started watching online TV shows together again, patiently waiting for when the other would be available even if it means finishing an eight-part series in eight weeks, hehe. We’ve started exercising together again, talking to each other more.. it has been really, really nice and I’m glad that we are on this path of making time for each other anew, of rebuilding, of looking at each other with not-so-fresh-and-admittedly-tired eyes and yet, still making the effort to look, and spend time, and just be together.
I come from a blended family. Growing up, my idea of a strong marriage were my Lolo and my Lola taking evening walks after dinner while holding hands, every night without fail. When I met Joey and his parents became mine, I saw another picture of the ideal marriage I wanted: one that puts Jesus at the center of every activity and conversation, while still having fun and laughing with each other. We are a long way from Daddy Dan and Mommy Jing, even from my Lolo and Lola, but I know from my heart of hearts that I would like to gift Lilibubs and our future children with just that: active and involved parents who are in a strong and happy marriage.
Marriage first. Re-committing begins again.
Thank you for reading! God bless you.