Here, three couples tell us how they coped with the tricky transition from partners to parents.
Richard and Hayley, dad and mum to Grace, 3
Richard: “I’ll put my hand up and say I got it very wrong when Grace was first born. I’d come home from what I saw as a hard day at work and wonder out loud why my tea wasn’t ready. I know, I know, I’m an idiot. It was only when Hayley left me alone with our daughter for the afternoon, while she took some time out with her mum (we’d had cross words the night before), that I realised that going to work was a luxury. The house looked like a tornado had hit it when she got back, and I’d barely managed to feed the baby let alone myself. And she didn’t even say I told you so.”
Hayley: “Richard makes tea for us both every evening now, and we’ve started sharing the night feeds as well. It’s made such a difference. I’m not so exhausted and our daughter is getting more time with her daddy, which is wonderful for them both. I had started to feel quite angry with him, but now I feel like we’re a team. And a championship winning one at that!”
Charlotte and Lowri, mums to Elias, 4
Charlotte: “Being gay mums who work from home, the plan was to share parenting responsibilities from the very beginning. But Elias had other ideas. As the birth mum, he just wanted me all the time and I could see Lowri getting more and more frustrated. With no prior experience to fall back on, we were worried that this would always be the case.”
Lowri: “It was so extreme at times it was almost funny. I’d hold my arms out to him and he’d reach past me for Charlotte. I focused my time on taking pressure off Charlotte in other ways, like housework, but it was upsetting, and I did find myself resenting her slightly, which I was honest with her about. We eventually spoke to friends of ours who are also gay mums, but with older children. They promised us it was just a phase, and one that happens to all parents. And they were right. If anything, he’s more for me than Charlotte these days, as she’s the semi-strict one. We’ve never been happier.”
Gareth and Lucy, dad and mum to Cleo, 1
Lucy: “We were like a tag-team after Cleo was born. I’d feed Cleo, then Gareth would change her nappy while I had a shower. Then I’d get her dressed while he got ready for work. Then he’d play with her while I ate a quick breakfast and so on. Although we were doing great as parents, we were doing less well as a couple – because we were barely seeing each other. I took me a while to pluck up the courage to talk to Gareth about this, but when I finally did, I was surprised to find he’d been feeling the same way.”
Gareth: “After we chatted, we made some ground rules, like booking a babysitter once a fortnight and going out together. I’d been nervous about leaving Cleo with someone else, but it was completely fine. She actually goes to sleep more easily for the babysitter than she does for us. I also try and bring flowers home now and again, which I know Lucy appreciates. Parenting is an awfully big adventure and as great as we were as a tag-team, we’re even better side by side.”
We have plenty more helpful reading for new parents-to-be, such as our tips on Preparing For A Baby, which outline what you can expect in the first week.