Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BabyProofing Your Marriage

Scott and I have roughly 12 more weeks (give or take) to be alone as a couple before our world permanently explodes with the additional of our little one. I've heard that though you'd think having a baby would create an even closer bond between you and your hubby, for lots of reasons, that's not always the case. It scares me to think of that because right now I love being married to Scott and I think we have a really good thing going... and I'd like to maintain our good thing even after our lives are turned upsidedown. So I bought this book. Hopefully it'll help.
So far it's a pretty comical look at what we're about to go through, but it does offer some good suggestions that I thought I might summarize in parts... of course adding my own random (naive?) thoughts on the matter...

Chapter One: How Did We Get Here? Parenthood Changes Everything

Apparently, early parenting years are a big challenge. Even relationship threatening at times. Apparently, when the baby is born, I'm going to have some primal 'mommy chip' activated that will turn me into psycho mom as I worry about every breath the baby takes. I've heard this from other girlfriends of mine who have been through it described at times as 'Mama Bear' syndrome. No one is going to hurt this baby.

I can't really envision myself becoming Mama Bear because I just don't think my personality lends itself that way. BUT, I have also read (in a different book- not remembering where now) that there is a hormone that new moms secrete when they are pregnant and after they give birth called oxytocin and it's the hormone that causes the Mama Bear Effect. So what do I know? Maybe the hormone will kick in for me and then I stop recognizing myself? And Scott stops recognizing me too? Hence, relationship threatening.

On top of the out of control hormone is a degree of sleep deprivation, and most people just aren't very nice when they're tired. This worries me because Scott and I are both really good sound sleepers who enjoy our 8-9 uniterrupted hours a night. I've heard that you just get used to not sleeping as much; and that 'it's just a stage' and will get better. I'm always better when I have appropriate expectations about what I'm about to encounter, so I'm mentally prepping myself for a 3 month long endurance adventure race that should end sometime early February. What's it like to go for 3 months without sleeping more than a few hours at a time? I don't know. Check back in a few months and maybe I'll tell you. (Or if you're currently a new mom reading this, let me know!)

One suggestion the book makes that I'm trying to digest is 'Quit trying to get your old life back'. That one might be tough for me. I liked my old life. Maybe I'll like my new life even more (after the initial stage of the adventure race is over?) But in another place I read a quote that I really liked... "You're having a baby, not a personality transplant." I like that one better. I'd like to think that I can balance being a mom with being Michelle. That I'll find time to do things that make me me, and that I'll be a better mom because of it. Is that trying to live my old life? If it is, is that a problem?

Who knows?
Reading this book makes me realize that I have so much to learn, and that being a parent is going to dramatically change my way of thinking in many ways. Scott and I are going to need to communicate about all that we're thinking and feeling and approach the whole thing as a team. Luckily, my husband is a good team player. :)
Anyway, I'll stop with the random thoughts there for now. Stay tuned for Chapter 2... Called Baby BOOM!


hatfields-in-hawaii said...

Thanks for the Cliff Notes from the book :-) I'm excited to hear more!

The Chapples said...

Maybe I should invest in the book. Sounds interesting! I, too, am anticipating those sleepless nights (and I like 10-11 hours a night!)

Alicia Parr said...

This is great stuff. Keep on reading and reporting.

About the Mama Bear syndrome and hormones-- you know, I think I get it. Earlier this evening I was just commenting to my husband how hormones seem to have kicked in the anxiety and worry. I'm NOT normally anxious or a worrier, so this is a notable change. Worry about what? Oh, you know, any little thing. Was that piece of meat cooked enough or will my baby get sick from some parasite? Have I done something at some point in my life ever that might impact my developing child in some bad way? Is that vibrating thing at the chiropractor shaking the poor little guy silly? I can see how this can turn into hyper-protectiveness once the baby is born. Very easily.

It's not oxytocin, it's worry-tocin.