A friend of mine recently told me that she’s expecting her first baby and it took me back to when I was pregnant for the first time. It was such an exciting and daunting time. I remember very clearly the reaction of some of my friends who already had kids when I told them I was pregnant. Usually they tried to warn me about all the changes I would have to adjust to once the baby came along… coping with less sleep, feeling like a milk-machine, not going out whenever you want to, having less time with your partner… it felt like everybody was always warning me about how much life was going to change. And usually they were quite negative.
In the end the biggest adjustment for me was actually the housework. You wouldn’t think that one little tiny baby could make so much housework, would you? But I was used to washing once a week and suddenly I was washing all the time, because she’d sick up on me, or all over the sheets, or all over the playmat. Then there’s the fact that newborns need an entire new wardrobe every three weeks, so you’ve got to wash all the new stuff. Then there seemed to mountains of dishes to wash up – because I was at home all day with a constant stream of visitors and endless cups of tea. Not to mention the perpetual sterilizing of the expressing gear… I loved looking after my baby, but I hated all the extra housework, and it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with that part of the job description.
I think part of it was the changing expectations – feeling more responsible for the housework because I was at home full-time. When we were both working full time, there was an unspoken expectation that we shared equal responsibility for the housework. But once a baby comes along, usually the mother is home full-time (at least in the beginning) so she feels that she’s expected to take care of it. For me, that was the big adjustment – feeling suddenly responsible for the cleaning, cooking and shopping when in the past that was always a shared responsibility. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a very helpful husband, but we still had to work out our expectations. So that was the biggest adjustment for me but I’d be interested to hear about other people’s experiences.
What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when you first had a baby? Sleep deprivation? The impact on your social life? Or maybe just the need to be responsible for another little person? How did your expectations differ from those of your better half and how did it affect your relationship? If you’re expecting your first child, what concerns you most about how life will change?
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