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How To Adjust To Your Newborn Bundle Of Joy

It’s no surprise that when a baby enters your home and your family that the dynamics change completely. It’s no longer about just you or just you and your partner. There’s now a little person in the mix who needs you. Not only do they need you but they have no real sense of time, which means they might need you at 1 a.m. or seven times between 10:00 p.m. and midnight. They might need you when you and your partner are trying to be intimate or you’re headed out for date night. Unfortunately, you are a slave to this little bundle and its schedule - they dictate your life, so much so that it may become unrecognizable.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Or does it? This is one of the first and biggest disagreements that my husband and I had following the birth of our son. My husband was of the mind that our new addition needed to fit perfectly into the life we’d created before his arrival. I was on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. I was all about adjusting our schedule to accommodate my son’s every need. I can tell you that neither approach works entirely and here’s why.

My husband has always been the more spontaneous of the two of us. He’s a risk taker. He loves to just pick-up and go. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible when you have a newborn, or a grown child for that matter. But my husband didn’t understand this concept. He often invited company over late at night. He made dinner plans and expected us to bring our son along, staying out way past his bedtime. He was a big proponent for exposing our infant to all sorts of different environments - noisy restaurants, amusements parks, and house parties just to name a few. Late nights out at noisy bars were no longer part of our reality.

If it were up to me, our baby would have lived in a bubble. He’d never have to adjust to sleeping in chaos because he’d never be exposed to chaos. He would exist in a controlled environment where all things were pleasant, peaceful, and calm. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this too, was not reality. Because life isn’t a controlled environment. Babies need to adjust to a change in atmosphere, people, and conditions. It’s part of growing up. It lays the groundwork for your child’s ability to handle change.

I wish I had known this at the time. Though I wouldn’t have taken my husband’s approach to parenting, I wouldn’t have been so overly protective of my son. As a first time mother, perhaps I was a little over-indulgent. Maybe I catered to his needs a little too much. But at the time, you don’t think that’s possible. They teach you that to create a safe and trusting relationship with your child, you should respond to their cry and be attentive to their needs. But as they grow older, doing this can lead to a spoiled child or one that can’t handle the word “no” or unfamiliar situations. Fortunately, my son is not spoiled but he is accustomed to getting his way and does not do well with change.

If I could turn back the hands of time, I would still tend to my infant’s needs - hold him and rock him for comfort. I would still respond to his cry by consoling him, singing to him, and gently stroking his face. If my son needed something that was within my means, I would do it for him. That is my internal motherly instinct at work and it’s one I can’t silence. But I would embody some of my husband’s values. I would have exposed our son to different surroundings - even if it was tough at the time, I know it would help my son become a stronger, more capable child.

I know now that in order for my son to grow as a person, he needs to expand his horizons and break out of his comfort zone. He’s slowly learning how to handle change, and I am too. But it’s a fight I wish I started fighting a little sooner.

April Sutphen

I am a 32-year-old mother and wife of a police officer living in NJ. I have my MFA in creative nonfiction and 10 years writing experience. When I'm not writing I enjoy hot yoga, cardio kickboxing, running, and camping.

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