Babies can be stressful on marriages because becoming parents changes people. And it changes them at different rates. Mothers labor and birth and, in the process, their hormones flip a switch that turns on the maternal instinct. It’s not always immediate, but usually within a few days (and especially with the oxytocin breastfeeding produces), a mom is totally devoted to her new little charge. Sometimes, that means Dad gets the brunt of the “fetch and carry” chores while Mom bonds with the baby and recovers from the birth.
This is a time called the “babymoon,” and it is a time that fathers are of the greatest importance, and get very little recognition for their contributions. This of yourself as a papa lion: your lioness has given birth to a cub and is physically weakened and caring for your young. You are their protector, provider, and first line of defense.
So, instead of feeling left out, resolve to take out the trash, wash the dishes, pay the bills, and go to the grocery store without recognition or complaint (and without being asked). Be proactive about offering to change diapers, and bringing your wife food and lots of water while she’s recovering and bonding. Spend time with your family without an invitation.
Intercept well-meaning visitors during those first few weeks when family bonding is so precious, and above all, offer yourself. Support your wife and the choices the two of you have made about birth, feeding, medical care, and infant care. If she’s committed to breastfeeding but finds it difficult, don’t encourage her to quit because you hate seeing her cry. Instead, comfort and encourage her and find her some knowledgeable help.
It may feel like she doesn’t notice all the little sacrifices you make as a new dad, but she does. Like you, though, she’s figuring out how to be responsible for the health and safety of this new little person. And, unlike her, you don’t have a chemical switch that turns you into a dad. You have to be one first, in order to feel like one.