A Whole New Family
Beyond your new parenting relationship, other family dynamics have definitely changed since baby's arrival. You and your partner may find yourselves hard-pressed for time to spend together, with practical concerns like money more of an issue as you learn how to adjust your lifestyle and income for three (or more). And if you have some specific plans for a family, you could even be thinking about pregnancy again.
Perhaps for the first time in months, you are rediscovering your interest in sex. Of course, your little one could be putting a damper on things unwittingly — rest assured she is bound to interrupt you in the height of passion at least once. Flexibility is key to having a healthy sex life with kids around. Grab time together when it presents itself, and follow these tips for rekindling the fire:
No baby talk. Calling each other mommy and daddy around the kids is fine, but this can really kill the mood if it slips out in other circumstances.
Take it slow and easy. Give both of you time to rediscover each other. There may be a learning curve with your postpregnancy body.
Love yourself. It's hard to enjoy lovemaking if you're self-conscious about the way you look. Accept the state of your body whatever it is, and instead see it as a visible manifestation of the miracle of your baby.
Quiet please. You don't need to turn the baby monitor up to eleven. Hearing every tiny baby sigh is a turnoff. Just turn the monitor down and open your door instead; if she wakes up, she will let you know.
By now you've gotten a feel of how much it costs to care for your new family member, and you're either pleasantly surprised or in a panic. If the former, pat yourself on the back and consider saving your extra pennies in a new college fund for your child (a financial advisor can help you explore your options).
If you're in the panic category, take a deep breath and try to pinpoint the problem. Are the extra expenses coming from baby gadgetry and other nonessential purchases or from necessities like diapers and wipes? A budget is really important in assessing the family finances now, so if you didn't create one during pregnancy, now is the time to start. There are places to cut back if you look for them. Finally, if you find yourself hopelessly in debt no matter how you look at the situation, you need to see a reputable credit counselor to get back on a financial footing. (Return to Chapter 3 for more tips on money management.)
The Next Time Around
The first birthday is usually the time when everyone starts asking about a sibling for your “big” kid. When you're done rolling your eyes and laughing, you start to actually give the notion some serious consideration. Are you ready to do it all over again?
Beyond physical readiness, how will you know? Suddenly the sight of another woman in her ninth month brings about warm memories instead of enormous relief that it's not you, and you seem to have forgotten the perils of pregnancy and pain of childbirth.
If you're sold on a family with kids close enough in age to play and go to the same school together, you may be ready to start a bit sooner. Try to give your body time to recover so that you don't cheat yourself and your next child out of a healthy pregnancy. A two-year breather from birth to birth is ideal.