Transitioning into Parenthood: A Few Takeaways

photo by Jordan Maunder

We’ve officially been parents for over four months! It’s hard to believe. We’re far from experts, obviously, but as I reflect back on the last four months, I thought I would share a few things that Mike and I did that helped a lot in the transition.

Communicating our expectations

I shared much more about this in this blog post, but the general idea is to just verbalize what the plan was for the day and night before it happened. Let me tell you, having previously discussed a plan for the night meant no arguments at 2am over who had to get up with the baby (and no bitterness to work through later).

Encouraging one another

One of the most helpful things for us was regularly encouraging one another and pointing out how well the other was doing as a parent, which we still do! The first few weeks were tough – we were exhausted, overwhelmed at times, and working through figuring out how to care for our baby best. From very early on, I made it a point to tell Mike that he was doing a great job as a dad. Whether it was when he brought Liam to me at 3am after spending the last couple hours with him, seeing him love on our son, or even changing diapers, I tried to verbalize and encourage him whenever the thought popped into my mind. The transition from living your life mostly for yourself to *snapping your fingers* spending every waking moment caring for a tiny baby is a big one. I didn’t know how either of us would cope with it, but I can say that hearing encouraging words from the guy that was “in the trenches” with me during it was hugely impactful.

Being on the same page

From sleep to food to everything in between, it helps immensely, and I mean immensely, to be on the same page as one another. We don’t always agree and often have different approaches to things, but we ultimately come to an agreement on the plan or decision and move forward together. This clears up any questions, confusion, and potentially teaching Liam two different things. We had the benefit of practicing this in our marriage for the last three years, so it wasn’t really new territory for us, but it’s been so helpful to remember that we’re on the same team and working towards the same goals.

Letting the little things go

I can’t remember where I heard/read this, but it stuck with me. I came across this thought a month or so before Liam was born and have carried it with me through these first four months. I don’t remember the exact wording, but the concept was to not criticize or constantly correct how your husband cares for your baby (or whichever partner is less experienced). He may do things differently than you do, but that doesn’t mean that he’s doing them wrong. Allow him the space to take ownership of how he chooses to care for the baby – for his sake, and yours.

I had a lot of experience with babies prior to having Liam. I was very involved with my sister’s three kids from the newborn days. From changing diapers, to burping after a feeding, to comfortable positions for holding a baby, I had enough experience to feel confident in my abilities to cover the basics with Liam’s care. Mike had virtually no experience with babies. In fact, I’m pretty sure Liam’s first wet diaper in the hospital was the first time he’s ever changed a baby. He has had to learn virtually everything about caring for an infant. There were a lot of things I had to show and teach him in the beginning, which I was happy to do. Once he learned, though, I had to allow him to do it his own way. While I may feed Liam his bottle in what I think is the best position, Mike can also do it in what he thinks is the best position. One way isn’t the wrong way. There’s more than one way to do pretty much everything with a baby, so finding your preference (and what works for baby) is part of the learning curve! I had to let go of what I thought was the “right” or “best” way to do things (aka how I do it) and not spend time correcting Mike on things that just didn’t matter or make a difference.

It has always been my desire for Mike to feel 100% competent and confident as a dad. I want him to feel capable of caring for our son, no matter the circumstances. At four months in, I think he feels that! Certainly, time and experience is the largest factor in that. But I also think giving him the space to learn and figure out what works well for him and Liam was a positive contribution. They’ve got their own little thing going on, just like Liam and I have our own way of doing things.

Remembering to laugh

This one wasn’t too hard, since Mike makes me laugh every day, but it was so important. I often had to remind myself that the hard days of newborn life would pass and we would, in fact, survive the sleep deprivation. Keeping things in perspective, as much and as often as possible, allowed me to truly enjoy most of the fourth trimester (the first three months of Liam’s life). Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times I would cry in frustration or exhaustion, needing to take a step away and gather myself. However, on the good days, we were able to laugh at how crazy life seemed with a newborn. It was such a good release to just laugh and enjoy some levity.

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9 Comments

  1. Great post! I too am a new mom…almost 4 months in with a sweet baby boy. My husband and I have navigated these topics fairly well. Those first days were so hard but everything was worth it when our son smiled. 🙂

    Posted 9.23.20 Reply
    • Lauren wrote:

      That first smile is the best!!

      Posted 9.24.20 Reply
  2. Kayla wrote:

    I can’t believe how reflective you are after 4 months! When we had our first 2 years ago, I think I was still in a fog at 4 months and couldn’t string sentences together coherently. Love watching you and Mike grow into parents and have stolen your first tip for baby #2, who is 4 weeks old. Communicating helps with everything, but it’s hard to remember when you’re sleep deprived! Thanks for the great ideas!

    Posted 9.24.20 Reply
    • Lauren wrote:

      Thanks, Kayla! Congrats on #2!!

      Posted 9.24.20 Reply
  3. Jackie wrote:

    Love this post! Agree completely with everything you said, especially about letting your husband have his own way of doing things. A friend of mine gave me this advice while I was pregnant and it’s probably the best advice I could’ve gotten. The fourth trimester is HARD; my husband’s encouragement is what got me through.

    Posted 9.24.20 Reply
    • Lauren wrote:

      I love to hear that!

      Posted 9.24.20 Reply
  4. Natalie wrote:

    Great post! I’m nearly 4 weeks postpartum with a beautiful baby boy and exhaustion is setting in heavily. My husband went back to work this week – he was a huge help while he was home. My son has had nursing issues due to tongue and lip ties so I’ve had to pump and bottle feed in addition to trying to nurse and it has been truly exhausting. This post helps me put things into perspective. Thank you

    Posted 9.24.20 Reply
    • Lauren wrote:

      Congratulations on your sweet boy! There’s no exhaustion quite like the first few weeks/months with baby. I’m glad that it was helpful! Know that you are the best mom for your baby and you’re doing an amazing job.

      Posted 9.25.20 Reply
  5. Sierra wrote:

    Such a beautiful capture! These are great suggestions for first time parents. I have three little guys and completely agree with these. It’s so important to communicate with each other and be on the same page.

    Posted 9.25.20 Reply

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