My wife and I decided to do something unique and get pregnant at the same time. We did it partly because we couldn’t decide who should go first and partly so we could have a year of double maternity leave. We had high hopes of getting really well acquainted with our babies and traveling the world. The main reason was so that we could both breastfeed both babies and create a biological connection that we wouldn’t have otherwise had with the baby we didn’t give birth to. It was beautiful in so many ways… and it was soooo hard!
Enduring this time of COVID Isolation is bringing up many of the memories from that season of life, and I want to help you leapfrog over my mistakes and set you up for success in this crazy time.
First things first, don’t be like me and start to despair and think that this is how it is going to be forever! Things will not be like this forever. They might be like this for a long time, but not forever. My wife kept telling me to just enjoy those first few weeks of snuggling up with a newborn and not moving from the couch, but I resisted it. I felt like I should be busy, I should be productive, I should get out and move my body. And sure enough, time passed quickly, and now they’re almost 3 and moving so much. The thing I learned from this that I want to pass along to you is to learn to love what is, don’t try and change it, receive the situation you’re in, and find the gift in it. If you want more help in doing that, read or listen to anything from Byron Katie.
By the 5 month mark, we started to go really stir crazy, and shit hit the fan in our relationship. I know that you can now understand a bit of what that is like as you’ve likely been at home with your spouse and your children for that similar amount of time. Spending that much time with anyone can be super hard, even when they’re your chosen one. We both felt like a victim in the situation and blamed the other for not meeting our needs.
At one point, we got a good suggestion: Each morning, ask each other what your top need is. Then we would have a focus for the day, and each endeavor to at least help the other meet one need. It was simplistic and sometimes didn’t feel like enough, but at least it was a start, and it did help restore a bit of our sanity to be able to take a shower or go into nature for some alone time. How can you check in with your partner so that each of you gets at least one need met in this season where many needs will likely need to go unmet?
The third thing is to find an outlet for your emotions and, if possible, make it a physical one. Molly Caro May, in her book: Body Full of Stars, writes about this untold beast, Postpartum Rage. It is a thing I can assure you because I got it.
As I think about this time that we are currently in, I can see that many people may contract a kind of postpartum rage this season. A postpartum from all the things we used to be able to do to numb our feelings or thoughts and distract ourselves.
Anytime our life feels like it’s changing beyond our control or like things are happening against our will, a very natural instinct is to rage. In that season, I took up boxing, and it gave me a chance to let out my emotions on a punching bag. You likely can’t go out to the gym right now, but perhaps you can do a workout from a teacher online. It is important to let all the feelings flow through you and admit they are there rather than bottle it up. Trust me, I’ve tried that too, and it is much worse than finding a healthy way of expressing your emotions.
Love what is, ask for what you need while also offering that to another, and express your emotions in healthy ways. Those are my tips for you.
You will get through this! It may feel long in the moment, but trust me, it will pass quickly, and you’ll all the sudden be looking back at 2020 in the rearview mirror. Hopefully, you’ll be able to mark it as a year of monumental change and great personal growth.