Five things that surprised me when my husband became a father

Yesterday I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen that reported new parents report more happiness in their relationship when they have the same approach to parenting. When they’re at odds over how to feed, sleep and burp Junior, they’re more likely to state they’re at odds in their own relationship. Makes sense.

It got me thinking about my own relationship with my husband since Alex came into our lives nearly five months ago. A baby and sleep deprivation definitely change a couple’s dynamics. But when he became a parent, there were things that surprised me about him, which I never would have discovered unless we had children. Here’s what I learned about Toby when he became a father:

1. His Willingness to Learn. As soon as Alex made his appearance, Toby wanted to find out all the ways he could be involved. Before I knew it, he knew how to bathe and change Alex’s diaper – meconium and all. When we got home from the hospital, he continued his quest to learn more about Alex and how we could contribute as a parent, and he knows just as much about Alex as I do, thanks to his involvement. I call him the burp detective, as he always knows when Alex simply needs a quick burp when he wake up in his crib.

2. His Calmness. I get frazzled when I’m ordering pizza (which is often), so to have Toby show signs of calamity in times of chaos, I really appreciated it. I guess the first indicator was in the delivery room. Particularly when I demanded he stop nodding his head when going through a contraction, as I was focused on one spec in his eyeball. Or when I announced I was waffling on our girl’s name. He continues to provide calm reactions at home, which was especially helpful when Alex cried for three straight days when only two weeks old. It turns out he was hungry (he takes after his mom), but through it all, Toby never showed a bead of sweat. It helped both mom and baby. Little did I know, he later confessed that he put teeth marks into the soother handle whenever he carried it in his mouth.

I Googled, “Man with pillow over his head” source: stock image

3. Pushing me out the Door. Two days after we got home from the hospital, Toby kicked me out of the house. “Go to the drug store, pick up some items and get yourself out of the house.” I was shell-shocked. Not only was it difficult to sit down, my nerves were shot. Driving through town felt like I was in a video game and I thought everyone was looking at me in the pharmacy, especially since I was carrying around a pack of Tucks, pads and candy bars. But his push helped me with the transition to leaving Alex with others, and trusting that it’s okay to do so.

4. His ability to put a pillow over his head. Let’s not pretend first-time parenting is all sunshine and roses. When Alex is up in the middle of the night, Toby puts his pillow over his head to block out the noise. It feels like he’s sending me a non-verbal message: “You’re up, sweet cheeks”.  I want to rip the pillow out of his hands, chuck it out the window, scream and then blissfully fall back asleep while Toby addresses Alex’s situation. I also want breakfast. But with him driving and working full time, that’s not my reality and it’s not fair to him. But I still want to do it.

5. How Ready he Actually Was. When we got married in 2010, Toby wanted kids immediately. Me, on the other hand, needed a bit more time. He was patient and we waited a year before trying for kids. Although someone has been wanting kids for a long time, that doesn’t necessary translate to them being ready for the new demands and life changes. But after having Alex, it made me realize just how ready he was for us to become a family.

I said, “…to become a family!” (He can’t hear me with that pillow!).

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How did parenting change your relationship?

Did your partner surprise you with the changes?

What should we order on our pizza tonight?

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