Meet our mom panel:
Lacey Major is the mom of two awesome kids, Riley (age 13) and Brice (age 7). She is the editor-in-chief of Pregnancy & Newborn. Checkout the Editor’s Letter in our magazine each month for more good-to-know widsom from Lacey.
Rachel Reiff Ellis is Associate Editor at P&N. She is mom to Noah, 7; Rosie, 3—and a brand new baby boy named Max! Want to know more about Rachel? You can follow her pregnancy journey on our Knocked Up blog.
Associate Editor Tracy Brown is mom to 4-month-old, Braxton. When she’s not busy perfecting her diaper changing routine, she loves to volunteer, dance, eat good food and watch college football. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, son and dog, CiCi.
Alyson West is an Associate Editor at P&N. She and her husband are delighted with their daughter, Alexandra, who is 3-months-old. When she’s not focused on moms and newborns, Alyson is a forensic actor for the federal government.
As a stay-at-home mother of two, Ginny Butler spends her days playing peek-a-boo, buckling and unbuckling, and explaining why stink bugs don’t make good pets. In her quiet hours, Ginny writes for P&N as contributing editor from a distance—she currently resides in Salt Lake City with her husband Shawn and children, Charlotte (5) and Finn (1).
Having a baby can be an exciting time, but the first year can be trying for exhausted couples. Here’s what our mom panel had to say about keeping relationships strong postbaby.
Lacey:I don’t feel like Brett and I did a great job in this department after Brice was born, and I could come up with a million excuses why it was so hard: Brice cried quite a bit more than the average baby, Brett was traveling a lot with his job, we hadn’t been living in the area long and we were pretty picky about who we’ll leave our kids with… ultimately, though, those are just that: excuses. Sure, life was hard, but in retrospect we should’ve made our marriage a priority. (No worries: We’re still happily married and just celebrated our tenth anniversary, so everything worked out fine!) It’s important to make time for each other, even when you’re tired and grumpy. You might think you don’t want to sit up and watch a movie with your hubs after the kids are in bed or take a chance on a (highly recommended) babysitter for a dinner date, but you’ll almost always be happy you did. Also, a little attention/affection goes a long way: Simply saying something nice or giving your partner an unexpected peck can do wonders for the exhausted soul.
Rachel: Honestly, couples counseling is an amazing, amazing thing. There is a lot of stigma surrounding therapy, but it works just as well (or even better!) as a preventative measure as it does a “fix for what’s wrong.” My husband and I met with a counselor throughout my entire pregnancy, and don’t have any plans to discontinue any time soon. Having a third party hear your thoughts and mediate discussions about what’s going on in your life can be an invaluable thing, and having it on your calendar as a regular appointment helps you stay accountable to the relationship that started the whole parenthood gig in the first place. I don’t know a couple out there who didn’t struggle with the adjustment from being a childless twosome to a family of three (or more), and it’s a normal thing to go through some rough patches as a result. By investing in your partnership by adding counseling to your budget and calendar, you’re making a pledge not just to stick things out, but make them good. And really, isn’t that what we all want for our kids and more importantly, for ourselves?
Tracy: There are a lot of emotions (and hormones!) floating around after a new baby comes into the picture. First and foremost, ladies, we have to give up the goods. We must have the sex. And it sounds a lot easier than it is. As moms, we’re exhausted, we’re cranky, our jugs are being used as actual milk receptacles and frankly, we’d rather just take a hot shower. But, for our relationship, it’s really the best thing we can do. It’s easy for your spouse to feel a bit neglected and having a little love time helps balance it all out. Sex helps reestablish the bond made prebaby and helps to let your partner know that you do have a little time left for him too. Not to mention, all that time in the sack lets you feel a bit more like your old, hot self. Donning sexy lingerie sans bump can make any girl feel hot. My best tip for getting back in the sheets is to avoid the sheets altogether. Do it wherever you can—in the kitchen, in the shower, in a closet—just avoid the comfy bed. And don’t forget the romance. Make sure to schedule a date night whenever possible. You need a little time away from the kiddos, so you can feel a little less like a mommy and more like the gorgeous woman that you are. Make sure you dress up whenever you can, you want to remind your partner (and more importantly, yourself) of what caused you two to make a baby in the first place. Also, don’t discount the time you spend together as a family. “Did you see that smile?” and “Is it just me or is he trying to roll over?” are building blocks to all the moments you will share as a tight unit. And there’s nothing stronger than that.
Alyson: Watch your tone! My husband and I have always communicated well, but constant feedings, fatigue and the daily flurry of newborn activity put me in taskmaster mode for the first few weeks and I didn’t realize I was coming across as curt, short and not-so-nice at times. When he communicated how that made him feel I was shocked (and to be honest, a little sad)! I never intended to be that way—I was just trying to survive new motherhood! But I was trying to survive it alone without letting him in on my struggles. It’s not like we haven’t faced other challenges, so why should this be any different? Once I stared talking to him like my friend and partner, we were a team again—this time with a baby! Parenthood doesn’t have to change the way you communicate.
Ginny: Shawn and I made a resolution to step up our date nights this year. Since some of our close neighborhood friends were on the same page, we set up a babysitting rotation so we could each get a couple nights out every month. It feels so liberating to get out on our own again, and we’ve had fun coming up with new ways to spend time together. And as for intimacy? I’ve learned that cutting out (or cutting back on) coupling is a natural reaction to the tiredness that comes with hectic baby-raising days. However, I have also found that this is not an effective way to keep up a relationship. The hubs and I need to make time for the physical, even if it’s nothing adventurous and we’re headed to sleep 30 minutes later. If we don’t, it’s too easy to become irritable and disconnected, losing our grip on the strong connection that is the core of our family.
Join us each week in the month of May, as we ask our P&N mom panel to dish out their best advice on a variety of topics that matter to you.