Having a child certainly is a life-changing experience. That is such a cliché, and also such an understatement.
It has a way of altering… everything, from the way the parents in question view life to their finances and beyond.
Plus, it’s sort of a longtime commitment. Becoming a mom or dad means forever, long past those newborn, toddler, or school days and into being a supportive role model for continued success in life.
I’ve had two babies, myself, in the last handful of years here. Both times, the decision to expand my family was very intentional and as thought-out as it possibly could have been at the time, and yet, as with so many pursuits we take on in life, it’s been full of surprises.
It’s challenged me to think (WAY) outside of the box professionally. It’s caused a shift in my values, how I see myself, and how I see others.
Basic things, from the way I shop to the way I dress to the car I drive have all been almost completely reformed.
And I see it all as a good thing.
Because I signed up for this. I knew what I was getting myself into, to some degree, and I was ready for all the changes that becoming a parent would bring.
I marvel at them all as I do my best to enjoy the ride, as I think so many of us parents do.
And so, having given all of this a lot of thought, I present for you 10 things that change the second the baby is born, and 5 that, perhaps surprisingly, stay the same.
15 A Change To The Chores
A couple probably has a pretty set division of household labor once they are having a child together, if they live together, that is.
That was my experience, anyway.
Although who did what changed somewhat over the years, we’d fallen into a pretty set routine during our adult and married years before I got pregnant for the first time.
Here’s what I mean: My husband tended to do the dishes. I tended to clean the bathrooms. My husband tended to lug the vacuum out of the closet and tackle that, while I was the constant tidier-upper of the household. We did the grocery shopping together, actually, most of the time. We both did some of the laundry, with me doing my own stuff and him doing his. It’s what worked well for us.
Once I was feeding and caring for a newborn around the clock, what worked for us changed.
My husband now does all of the laundry, and he has from the time our first baby was born. (Oh, and uh, there’s a lot more of it now.)
I just couldn’t carrying the bulky bags and detergent over to the laundry room while also carrying a baby (or two babies, now…). I couldn’t even find the time to fit that in. It just wasn’t physically possible.
We’ve decided I can’t clean the bathrooms with disinfectants that I used to use regularly, as a breastfeeding mother.
Whether it means the hubs taking on more chores or just a change in the division of labor, in my experience, some sort of change will be necessary.
14 Sleep Is Central
Sure, there are probably some ups and downs to many adults’ sleeping habits, based on illness or job changes or stress – things like that.
But more or less, it’s not too hard, if you try a little, to get to bed at a similar time each night and wake up at around the same (and, in many cases, necessary) time each day. You do it, it works out alright, and there’s not much more to talk about.
Once a couple has a baby together, sleep becomes one of the main things they talk about, think about, and even worry about, in my experiences as a mother to two very little ones, that is.
When we check in half-awake in the morning, it’s about who was awoken at which time to help which kids with what in the previous 8 hours.
As soon as we see each other again at the end of the day just before dinner, it’s all about a recap of the babies’ naps – when they happened, how it went, and how this necessarily affected the entire rest of our day.
It’s the main subject. It’s something you try to have as much control over as you can, in order to encourage healthy habits for everyone and wellness for all involved.
With friends, your partner, other parents… sleep is what is being discussed.
And you’re just more tired because catching those 8 hours is simply harder to do once there’s a baby.
13 Similar Together Time
So, I’ve found that yes, it’s true that you can have less time to just be together with your partner once you have a baby.
I mean, it’s sort of just basic math.
Twenty-four hours minus time at work, minus time asleep (hopefully), minus time feeding and soothing and generally looking after a baby means… whatever is left, on a good day.
But here’s what I have personally found has stayed the same: My husband and I still enjoy doing the same things together, and we still do them.
It’s not always as easy to fit in, but life goes on, and we make the necessary effort to make sure that the main focus is having time to do the things we’ve always enjoyed doing together.
Do we spend entire afternoons on the couch binge-watching a hilarious new show that was just added to Netflix anymore? Um, no.
But hey, we still fit in some time on the couch together laughing at our favorite shows once the kiddos are safely tucked in their beds!
Do we run together 5 to 7 days each week just like we used to in our days as a married couple before we had a baby or two on the scene? Definitely not.
But we still enjoy some walks and runs together almost every weekend (and we still both find ways to get our exercise in during the weekdays).
Although the time together, just the two of you, may be less luxuriously abundant, I know that it’s still possible to have at least some of it.
12 Mom And Dad Need More Care
This article honestly required some careful thought and some time to think, on my part. Once life changes after having one or more babies, that’s life as you know it, and it can be sort of hard to remember just how life was different or similar before your little ones came along – in my experience, anyway.
You accept it. You work with it. You do your best, and you move on.
But then, the other night, a really crucial point came to me, so I made sure to say it out loud to my husband, both so that he’d know how much I appreciate what he does for me now that we have children together and, quite honestly, so that my mom brain wouldn’t forget it later on when I sat down to write this piece.
This crucial point I thought of in a total “aha!” moment was that what changes – because it has to – is that the two partners raising the baby together immediately have to take even better care of each other than they already did.
It’s not just that you now have a little one to feed and clothe and comfort. It’s that so much is being asked of you – so much more than ever before – and you need someone to show you even more love and support in your daily life in order to be the best parent you can be.
I thought of this, I believe, after I woke up with food poisoning and my husband lovingly rubbed my back so I could relax enough to drift off to sleep again – but it goes so much farther beyond this into every detail of our family’s day.
11 So Much For Scheduled Socializing
Dude. Once you have a baby, it is so, so hard to make – and KEEP – any social plans, like, at all.
In my experience, you’ll be meaning to reach out by texting or calling someone for months. When you finally do, it’s hard to work around their life schedule, your life schedule, and the (rather fickle and crazily unpredictable) schedule of a new baby.
You finally have the time for an uninterrupted discussion (well, at least free enough of interruption that you can put together some sort of intelligible plan) to determine a date and time, maybe even a place, to get together with the friends or family in question.
Then someone gets a cold, or the baby has just – FINALLY – fallen asleep for a nap when it’s time to head out the door.
Then it’s back to square one to try to see these people at some point… someday…
Then, it gets even worse if the people you are trying to socialize with also have kids. And in my experience, as the years pass, more and more of the people you see socially end up getting pregnant and having kids.
In the end, you have to sometimes throw caution (or naps) to the wind every now and then just to get out the door and to the party (or lunch, or you name it).
It’s hard! Don’t give up.
I’ve found that it helps to let my mom friends know, for example, the more predictable activities I tend to go to lately, such as library story hours, in hopes that someone I know and would like to see might be able to make it there, as well.
10 Same Urge To Expand
This is just my personal experience as well as what I have observed regarding those around me in my own life, but what I have noticed is that even though the baby actually being born can provide a huge dose of the reality of what being a parent is truly like, it doesn’t mean that parents will be dissuaded from wanting to have more children – not necessarily.
Yep, one thing that can stay the same — despite sleepless nights, toddler tantrums, being on poop cleanup duty for years, and giving up the time to do, well, other stuff — is that urge to reproduce.
Sometimes people seem to have a family plan in mind from a rather young age, whether due to how they were raised or their religious beliefs or just the picture of family that they have in their minds.
Others, like me, realize more gradually what we want when it comes to expanding our families.
I got the baby fever bad, and not too long after became pregnant with my first. Toward the end of my first pregnancy, I got it in my head pretty intensely that having another was something I thought I really probably wanted to do, and here I am with two tiny tots occupying me each and every day.
It’s kind of funny to think, but even though the reality of having baby can feel much more challenging and stressful than you ever anticipated (for some), I don’t think it’s often something that will change parents’ minds about having another.
9 Baby Talk
Before, perhaps a couple had settled into that stage of enjoying some comfortable silences together. Maybe they tended to check in with each other about how the work day went, their plans for the weekend, the lives of friends and family members, or what was going on with the coworkers, even.
Maybe they even discussed world events, hopes and dreams, or matters of mental and emotional wellness on a regular basis.
Isn’t talking to your loved one great?
Well the talk will continue, but what it is about will change – big time.
Here’s what you will talk about most of the time after having a baby, in my experience: the baby.
You will talk about the tiniest details of the baby’s sleep patterns like they are the most interesting and important tidbits in the world.
When the baby pooped, what it looked like, and other such details will be a rather serious and important topic of discussion, and this will continue on into the following years.
I mean, I don’t see this at all as a bad thing.
If two people are raising a child together as a combined effort, it’s natural to need to fill each other in on these details related to making sure the baby (and the parents) are healthy and happy.
Swear, even during intimate times, someone’s bound to urgently blurt out the funniest thing that the baby did earlier that day, as if it would be impossible to simply talk about it later.
8 The Ride Needs A Rethink
I used to think that as long as the current car seat fit in the car, it was a perfectly fine automobile for someone playing the role of caregiver for a baby.
That was back, just a few short years ago, when I was pregnant with my first baby and cruising around in the two-door commuter I ended up with toward the end of college.
But it’s not just making the car seat fit… oh, no…
It’s getting the infant car seat in and out each time you go anywhere. (And the ease with which you can do that may, by the way, either encourage you to or discourage you from going places you don’t REALLY need to go, in my experience.)
It’s fitting the diaper bag, yourself, and probably sometimes a cooler with milk or food. It’s fitting your spouse or other family members or friends, even if they have long legs… It’s having a stroller in the trunk all the time so you can transport your little one around once you get wherever it is that you are going.
Then there’s the groceries and other goods that have to fit in the trunk.
The car you have has a way of immediately feeling too small once baby comes along.
And what about when baby number 2 enters the scene?
We’ve had to make sacrifices and get way creative to size up our cars multiple times over the last few years.
Just try going on even a very short road trip or a day full of errands with two toddlers, and you’ll quickly understand what I mean. (Think diaper changes, breastfeeding…)
7 Feeding Is The Focus
For me, it was hard to understand how breastfeeding would really be until the time came to actually do it.
Looking back, I think I was committed to giving it my best shot, desired to continue on with it as long as my babies wanted to do it, and was realistically aware that it might not always be easy, even if it had the potential to feel natural and even enjoyable.
It was like I knew that breastfeeding was a main part of having a baby for many people, of course, but I don’t think I understood completely that breastfeeding becomes what life is about for new moms.
At first, it’s feeding every two or three hours, at least, night and day.
Simply fitting in basic hygiene, eating, and self-care between these feedings (and diaper changes, and rocking) can be a real and honest struggle.
And it can continue for as long as a mom and a baby breastfeed.
A mom’s diet, her social and work life, and more may all be strongly influenced or shaped by breastfeeding.
It takes such commitment.
In my mind, it is well worth it.
And yet it is also my opinion that different options and frequencies of breastfeeding work for different people, and that they should figure out whatever works realistically for them.
6 Shopping Becomes Less Selfish
I have always liked “fashion.” I have always had a thing for shoes, handbags, and jeans.
Yes, there is much more to me than this, and shopping is something I’d like to think I’ve mainly only ever indulged in within reason, but like many women I know, I think it’s, well, fun!
I even considered career paths related to fashion once upon a time. It’s just a love I’ve always had, and I suspect some of you out there can identify with this.
Here’s what changed: Shopping shifted, once my first baby was born, to be about, well, not me.
If I went online to order some new clothes, they were almost always for my little one, rather than for myself.
I became much less about fixating on a certain new item of jewelry I might like for an upcoming holiday and much more about saving up for a special new surprise for my little love, be it a book, toy, or blankie.
What I’m trying to say is that when it comes to shopping, materialism, and things in general, it’s now so much less about me and so much more about my babies.
I think it’s sort of nature’s way, in this modern and materialistic world we live in.
5 The Urge To Splurge
There is something I see posted to an online community group I follow allll the time. It’s always from a mom who has recently had a baby.
It’s an ISO (in search of) post. And what is it, exactly, that new mothers are so commonly in search of?
A house cleaner.
Once the baby is born, I’ve seen in my own life that new parents are much more willing and ready to splurge for conveniences and services than they ever were before.
There’s just only so much time in the day, and if it means the difference between having a clean house and a perpetually messy one, moms and dads decide to go for it and find room in the budget.
If it means having two hours to spend together on the weekend as a family rather than waiting around to switch the wet clothes to the dryer,
they just might decide the fee for that laundry service is worth it after all.
It’s, quite frankly, harder to fit in the basics of life, and so some parents consider additional splurges to be necessary.
It’s not always something lavish.
I’m on a super tight budget myself, and have been ever since my first little one came along. Hiring a house cleaner or diaper service were certainly never realistic possibilities for my little family. But has there been a little extra spending for pure convenience here or there? You betcha.
We try not to go out to eat, for example, but sometimes, it feels like there’s just no energy or time left and I really, really need someone else to make me my salad that day.
4 So. Much. Shopping.
The way my husband and I figure, there’s only so much that we control about how much it costs to live where we live. Housing costs will stay relatively similar, going up a little bit every year. We’ll need to pay for basics like cars to get us places and insurance and utilities.
What we decided we could control, after looking at our budget more than once, was how much we went grocery shopping. I really tried to get it all down to a science in the last few years before we started having children.
I mean, we had a set grocery day, a set list of basic stuff we actually needed to buy each time. During one particularly careful period, I even wrote down how much we spent every time we went to the store to make sure we were keeping it all in check.
In my experience, this must necessarily change as soon as a little one comes along.
It is like there is always something we need at the store, no matter how carefully we try to plan and keep things organized and within budget.
And whereas adults might decide they can just make do with what’s already in the pantry or use whatever shampoo is lying around instead of buying more of their favorite one right away, it just feels different when you have a baby, like you need to get them what they need or desire right away in order to keep them happy and healthy.
During the chaotic first months, especially, my husband had to run out to the store so many times… it’s not even funny.
3 The Bump Hasn’t Gone Bye-Bye
Let’s get literal with it.
After that glorious baby bump grows bigger and bigger throughout the course of the pregnancy, from a slight roundness to something more like the size of a beach ball, it… is still there!
Yep, one thing that stays the same is that a new mom will still have a visible belly after the baby is born.
The uterus will gradually contract and eventually be closer to the size that it was before the pregnancy – but it will take time.
On top of this, the abdominal muscles will have been somewhat stretched, and there may be some extra body fat being carried in the region that was added along with other pregnancy weight gain.
Even if a gal (me, during my pregnancy) gains only the recommended amount of weight – which is largely from things like retained water and, well, the baby, as confirmed at TheBump.com – the abdomen will not just shrink right back down to a flat-ish surface right after the newest member of the family is welcomed to the world.
Wearing maternity clothing for a while afterward can make things comfortable and practical.
Therefore purchasing maternity clothes that can also serve as nursing clothes can be super clutch.
Think necks that pull down or aside, clip-down functions, or low / flexible enough necklines that make access is easy for feeding time.
2 Same Person, New Job
I have welcomed a new child to my family twice, so far, and I would say that it really does change on a very deep level who you are when you have a baby (or another baby).
But despite any required shifts of identity, you will still be, well, YOU.
You’re a mom now, but you still probably have the same tendencies, preferences, habits, and so on and so forth.
Even if it can tend to be a little more challenging to find the time to enjoy some of your own personal hobbies and other pursuits, where there’s a will, there’s a way. You will still find time to do all the things that make you the very special someone that you are, I would bet.
Maybe it’s exercise, knitting, sitting alone and meditating, or playing bocce ball.
Whatever it is, just because you have become a mom, it doesn’t mean that your distinct personality is completely changed.
Adding “mom” as one of your various titles doesn’t mean that it’s your only title, is sort of what I guess I’m trying to say.
Although the unique challenges and joys of parenthood may have a beautiful way of helping parents to change, learn, and grow, they are still, well, themselves!
1 Same Trademark Tendencies
Just as the core of who a person is doesn’t seem to change, in my experience, once a baby comes along, I don’t think the basics of a couple’s behavior and tendencies – who they are as a twosome – generally change all that much either.
I’ve seen couples that constantly bicker continue to bicker.
I’ve witnessed couples in which one parents seems to be way more into the whole baby thing continue to feature one person who is, well, more into the whole baby thing.
I’ve witnessed first-hand couples who tend to live fairly harmoniously continue to do so after they have a baby for the first time, continuing to support each other and get along well even as things change quite a bit around them.
Another way to look at this might be that in my opinion, it wouldn’t be wise to look at the idea of having a baby as a way to change everything, or to fix anything. The core of a relationship is what it is,
and it’s things like communication, effort, and care that tend to make a bond healthy and strong.
Some other examples? My husband and I have always really valued having a fairly tidy house. Although we now have two toddlers running around said house, we still make a daily effort to maintain our desired level of cleanliness. We still tend to make time for each other. We still talk about our feelings and what’s going on in our innermost lives.
Some things change, to be sure, but others just don’t.
Reference: TheBump.com, This Mom's Experience