It's impossible for any of us to know what kind of parent we'll be until we become one. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, can prepare you for having your own baby, one you can't wave goodbye to at the end of the day as you kick up your feet and open a cold beverage. I knew I was ready and willing to take on the challenge of having a baby, and I trusted my husband was, too. I had faith he would do his best to adapt to the steep learning curve of parenthood, but it wasn't until I actually saw my husband in action (starting in the delivery room) that I knew I was going to love him more now that we had a baby.
I'm not claiming either of us are perfect parents, and our marriage isn't immune to the countless challenges that come along with having a precious, adorable bundle of neediness. We have plenty of blissful moments as mommy, daddy and baby, but for every happy moment there is an equally difficult one. As is the case with other couples we know who have kids, our days are riddled with fighting and disagreements mixed together with inhumane levels of exhaustion.
Still, I think my husband is even more awesome now that we have a baby. Here are five reasons why:
1. He gives me serious props for the amount of physical pain I can endure.
I didn't have the easiest labor and delivery, and the only person who knows that better than I do is my husband. He held my hand, my leg and my puke bucket for more hours than either of us can remember. The only time he left my side was for a quick bathroom break, and he was back before I knew he had left. When it was all over, we were both in awe of our precious baby girl, but my husband made it known he was equally in awe of my hidden superhuman strength.
2. He makes the most ridiculous sounds and faces when he interacts with our baby.
The first time I saw my husband side shuffle around our living room making semi-accurate monkey sounds, I knew he was going to be a super cool dad. If he's not attempting to sound like an animal from the zoo, he's contorting his face into an expression that even I haven't seen in the decade I've known him. Watching the two of them play is wildly entertaining, and even though I can't make sense of what the heck he's doing half the time, my daughter eats up every second of it.
3. He wants more kids even though this is the hardest thing we've done together.
The demands for blueberry pancakes for dinner and foot rubs to alleviate my mammoth levels of ankle swelling were just the beginning of how our relationship would change now that we were parents. After nine months of him putting up with my puffy-faced whining and incessant and irrational requests, we had our baby. And then it got really hard. Becoming parents felt insurmountable many days, but we did it. We survived the first year, and now, when we finally feel like we've found our feet again, he says he's ready to re-live it all by adding baby number two.
4. He's not afraid of smelly, sticky situations.
Projectile poop at 3 a.m. is no match for this dad. Luckily, that kind of mess lasted only a couple of weeks before we graduated to controlled poops every couple of hours or so. He dove right in and took even more caution than I did to thoroughly clean the area and apply diaper cream for even the faintest hint of redness. Spit-up, vomit, pee escaping the sides of diapers... he deals with it all and almost never complains, because he knows this kind of clean-up is listed in the job description.
5. He says I'm the best mom, and I believe him.
As a new mom, you often hear, "You're doing such a good job." "You're a natural." "You're an amazing mother." While these words are well-intentioned and beyond kind, many people who offer up such positive sentiments don't see us moms in the thick of it -- all day long and sometimes all night long. They don't see us wiping the sweat from our brows for the 100th time in a day, or crying in the shower because sometimes it just feels too overwhelming to be a parent. Our husbands see us struggle, so when mine tells me I'm the best mom, I believe every word -- and that's how I make it through until tomorrow.