Believe me, mind-reading is exactly the superpower you’ll be willing to give your right arm, left arm and possibly both your legs for as soon as the baby comes home. Those of you who have already crossed the bridge to parenthood are nodding wisely as you read this. You know it’s true.
The ability to mind-read at a time when your partner may not have the wherewithal to think clearly will enable you to fulfil a need that spontaneously arises when you become a father – the need to protect and support your brand new family. In order to achieve this, you’re going to have to know what to do at any given time, which can be pretty tricky when your partner-in-crime is dealing with challenges from all directions. The good news, however, is that having been a new mum and a second-time mum and a third-time mum, I know exactly how it feels to be in her shoes and I’m willing to share this behind-the-scenes info with you. Pay attention, I shall say this only once!
First things first. She’s just been through a physical marathon like nothing you have ever, or will ever, experience. Pregnancy ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. Those ideas you have of how easy it must be because it’s so commonplace? Yeah, I had them too. And guess what? They’re wrong. I’ve been through three of them and I still find it hard to find the words to accurately describe the whole process, although exhausting, arduous and painful spring to mind! The upshot is that her body is going to be in a state of physical recovery at a time when she’ll be required to get to work immediately. Now that you know this, be her body guardian. Listen out for repeated complaints about pain or discomfort that don’t seem to be going away. Make her an appointment with a physio if necessary. Ensure her body gets taken care of. Like most new mums, she’s highly likely to put herself at the bottom of her list. Your job is to place her nearer the top.
On top of the physical strain, she’ll also be under mental stress; both of you will. The early weeks are a steep learning curve where you’ll absorb a mountain of information on a daily basis. This will add to the sleep-deprived tiredness you’ll both already be experiencing. Just bear in mind that for her, it’s all sitting on top of the physical tiredness of labour and birth. Help her out by jumping in with both feet. What tasks can you take on? If she’s breastfeeding, make bath time your daily task. If she’s doing the night feeds, take on the night time nappy changes. Share the load. Learn together.
And finally, hormones don’t just disappear when baby arrives. They hang around for a while playing a great ol’ game of havoc with her feelings. Now add those emotions to the physical and mental pressure and what do you get? Tears. Lots of them. So here’s where you’ll do your best mind-reading work. Whenever the tears flow, explain to her why they’re flowing. Remind her that anyone going through the same would be doing exactly the same. Even you. And that it’s all just temporary. We all went through it and lived to tell the tale.
And that will allow her to stop worrying and you to be the greatest protector, supporter and mind-reader she could ever have hoped for.
Job done, Super Dad!