What You Need To Know When Paternity Leave Lasts 8 Hours

I heard this quote once that, if you want to make God laugh, all you have to do is tell him your plans.  I feel like this is doubly true when you’re married to a first responder or a member of the military.

I was due with our son on February 26th.  I thought for sure I’d go into labor early, because my mom and sister both had their babies between 37-39 weeks.  By the time February 26th rolled around, I was getting antsy.

Then came March.  People would ask, “When are you due?” I’d grumble back, “Last month.”

One reason I was getting so antsy is that my husband was due to have mandatory firearms training starting on March 9th.  I wanted so badly for him to be able to take some time off with me and the baby, but I also knew he couldn’t miss the training.  It only happened once a year, and if he missed it, because he was in his probationary period, he could risk losing his job.

At the same time, I didn’t feel right about being induced just for convenience.  I wanted our baby to take as much time as he needed.

So, I waited.

On the evening of March 7th, I went into labor.  Our planned home birth turned into an emergency C-section and at 3:15 AM on March 9th, our son was born.

At 11:30 that day, my husband left the hospital to go to firearms training.  An instructor yelled at him for being late, telling him he’d better have a “damn good reason” for being late.  He held up his hospital bracelet and they let it slide.

I tell this story because, by nature of my husband’s job, I’ve spent a lot of time being a solo parent, even from the very beginning.  It can be rough.

What you need to remember when dealing with a short (or non-existent) paternity leave:

It’s normal to feel resentful sometimes.

There are times you’re going to feel overwhelmed and wonder why he isn’t there.  Then you’re going to feel guilty because you know he’s out doing important things.  And then you’ll feel resentful because you feel guilty. And so on and so forth.

I’ve been there, trust me.

It’s normal to feel this way, and it’s okay.  Just don’t let it fester. Talk to your husband not just about how you’re feeling, but about ways to make it better.  Tell him what you need him to do or say to help you out.

For instance, if you’re feeling resentful because you’re tired, you might consider having him give the baby a bottle once per day or night (depending on his shift) so you can take a nap or stay asleep.

If you’re feeling frustrated that the house is a mess, ask him to help you tidy up, do the dishes, or throw in a load of laundry.

If you’re feeling unappreciated, ask him to tell you what he appreciates about you.

If you’re not sure how you want it to be made better, that’s okay, too.  Just be sure he knows how you’re feeling, and that you want to work together to find a solution.

They’re a parent, too.

When you spend a lot of time parenting on your own, it’s natural to get the feeling that you know best.  The  best way to hold, the best way to feed, the best way to comfort, to play, and so on.

Remember that even though they may not spend as much time parenting as you do, they do have an investment in their kids.  Let them develop their own parenting style.  Your styles don’t have to match exactly.

In fact, it’s better if you have your own unique styles.  At certain times and in certain situations, those unique qualities are going to come in handy.  His style of parenting may be just what’s needed to reach your child in a tough situation where yours just doesn’t cut it.

With that in mind, try not to correct him too much.  Try to keep your lips zipped while he’s caring for the baby unless he asks for your advice.  Let him make mistakes so he can get in the swing of things, too.

Don’t hold yourself to a standard of perfection.

You don’t have to do it all.

As a perfectionist, I had a hard time with this.  I wanted to have a happy baby, be well rested, be working to get back in shape, and have a healthy, delicious dinner on the table every night.  Oh, and have everything be clean and tidy all the time, because I feel twitchy when dishes sit in the sink overnight.

I hear the laughter of other moms, and yeah, I know.  It didn’t happen!

I had to realize I can’t do everything, and that’s okay.

To counter this feeling of constantly coming up short, a friend told me to write 3 things I wanted to accomplish for the day in the morning.  Only 3.  The rest had to wait.  It helped a lot, because I didn’t try to take on more than I could and end up overwhelmed (or resentful – see point one).

It really does take a village.

For the times when your husband is unavailable to help and you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember your village: your friends and family that are willing to help.

Maybe you don’t have a village.  Maybe you don’t have family nearby, or maybe they’re not as involved as you’d like.  Reach out to friends, neighbors, acquaintances.  Reach out on your local Facebook group to get in contact with or set up a mom group.  Ask your husband to help you get in touch with other wives from his department.

I spent a lot of time on late nights chatting with ladies from an online mom group.

Heck, if you’re really in need, send me a message.  I don’t mind at all.

Just find someone to help you during this tumultuous (albeit wonderful) time.  

The most important thing is that you know that you’re not alone.  At one point or another, we’ve all been there.  Your fears and shortcomings are not as unique to you as you’d think.

 

Solo parenting can be rough, but I hope these tips will help make the transition period happier.

What advice would you give to a new mom?

If you liked this post, be sure to check out the related posts at the bottom of this page!

My husband had hardly any paternity leave when we had our little one.  It was soo hard! She has great tips if you think you're gonna be in a similar situation <3

About The Author

Leah

I’m a twenty-something LEO wife and stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old little boy. I enjoy writing, reading, taking my son for walks and runs in the stroller, and crafting. My goal is for Love and Blues to be a resource for first responders and their families. I write about marriage and family topics, as well as about the quirks that come with being married to a man in law enforcement, firefighting, or emergency medical services.