“Being a parent is hard.”
“Your whole life will be turned upside down.”
“You have no idea what you’re in for.”
“You just have one..wait until you have two.”
“You just have two…wait until you have three.”
Sometimes this (often unsolicited) feedback can be helpful. Most of the time, I personally found it annoying. Yes–I knew that parenthood would be wrought with challenges. I also felt confident that I would be able to adjust to it as I have other challenges in life. I have adjusted. I’m still adjusting. And, I will forever be adjusting. I’ve accepted that change is constant.
While my adjustment was pretty smooth, it was and is still hard! I learned about the Bringing Baby Home program and was surprised how much it helped me, my relationship, and my ability to be present as a parent. I went into it a little cocky, I admit—I have a doctorate in psychology, I’ve been with my husband for 15 years, have a wonderful support system, and an easy baby (minus his disinterest in sleeping)–could this program really be helpful to me?
What is Bringing Baby Home?
Yes!! Before I step on my soapbox, a little about the program — Bringing Baby Home is an uplifting educational program for pregnant couples & families with children up to three years of age. Created by relationship experts, Drs. John and Julie Gottman, at The Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, Washington, the goal of the program is to improve the quality of life for babies and children by strengthening the parental relationship.
This program helps normalize the fact that even the strongest relationships are strained during the transition to parenthood. Data suggest relationship conflicts tend to increase in the first year after babies arrive, sex and intimacy drastically decline, and conversation and communication between partners decrease. This was validating! My husband is wonderful–and I also often had images of me drop kicking his head when he said in the morning “that’s awesome that baby had a great night” after I checked my Apple Watch data suggesting I slept 2.5 hours after being in bed for 12, waking every 45 minutes or so.
Learning about the program helped me realize that there were certain parts of our relationship that were lacking. For example, I realized we were unaware of each others’ needs and although it felt clear to me what I needed, I realized I wasn’t mindfully expressing my needs. When I said, “I’m so tired the last thing I want to do right now is wash all the bottles,” he said, “yeah…I’m tired too.” I was frustrated. In my head, I asked him to clean the bottles and he dismissed me. I reacted a bit snarkily, “alright…I wish it wasn’t the default for me to do them” and begrudgingly washed them. He was confused why I got defensive–he would have helped (just maybe not on my timeline). What I really meant was, “can you please clean up all the bottles?” I didn’t say that, though. In my head, I was being very clear. In reality, we were both left frustrated and unheard.
What will I learn about the baby?
Through the program, I also learned about my baby! For example, I realized I was often over-stimulating my son. He loves being in public and so I assumed that he almost always benefitted from stimulation. Sometimes, he would look away or would bury his head in my neck. I would turn him around and try to make eye contact, thinking that me giving him extra attention would be helpful. What I didn’t realize (even though it seems obvious now) is that he was trying to self-soothe by looking away and I was making it hard on him.
One of my favorite parts of the program is a reminder to talk to my partner. Rocket science, I know. I read this part of the program and literally rolled my eyes. “Duh,” I thought. And then I reflected. When was the last time we had a 20 minute uninterrupted conversation to discuss our stressors and successes outside of the relationship? I didn’t even know. After this, we started being intentional about setting aside time to each other –by taking a walk, over dinner, or just at the couch at night before going to bed. It was so helpful to feel heard. And it was so helpful to get more perspective on his life–which I realized I was neglecting to ask about.
So yes, being a parent is hard. Transitioning to being a mother or father and also a partner is also hard. On everyone who makes this transition to some degree! If you’re interested in participating in the Bringing Baby Home workshop at Explore What’s Next, Amherst location,1416 Sweet Home Road, Suite #3, please Contact Nikki at 917.674.6742 or email@example.com for more information!
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Dr. Tacianna Indovina knew that she wanted to be a therapist since she was in high school. From that time, her love and enthusiasm for the healing power of psychotherapy hasn’t wavered. It’s a good thing for our community that Tacianna is as enthusiastic as ever for helping people when they feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and alone.
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With her down-to-earth and relatable style, Tacianna provides counseling for late adolescents, adults, and couples, to provide support to recover from interpersonal loss and trauma, overcome mood struggles, cope with anxiety, and adjust positively to life transitions. Tacianna adapts her approach to what you want and need, and aims to help you build healthier relationships with yourself and others.
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