Long-distance relationships are notoriously difficult, and for good reason. While there's no denying that some people can handle them, and rather well; a certain amount of distance between two people is going to but a strain on even the healthiest of relationships. That's why it's surprise that being in a long-distance relationship after your baby's born is an endless struggle that can make parenthood seem somewhat impossible.
Before giving birth, I thought coming home with the baby and my partner would be something magical and special and, don't get me wrong, it was. However, when my partner had to leave soon after our baby was born, my enchanted world quickly fell apart at the seams. Suddenly, I didn't feel like I was part of a team anymore, because one of my essential team members was missing. You feel alone and lost and just figuring out how to juggle regular, every day life with a brand new baby (and without your parenting partner) seems somewhat impossible. Of course, it's not just difficult for the person left behind. For those who leave, they often miss out on important milestones and feel like they can't contribute to their newborn baby's life which, as you can imagine, is just as devastating.
Unfortunately, for so many new parents a long distance situation just can't be avoided. Whether someone is in the military and serving overseas or someone is being called away for work, long-distance romantic relationship between parents isn't as uncommon as many would like to believe. So, with that in mind and because the saying, "everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about" is true, here are a few of the struggles of being in a long distance relationship after your baby is born:
Attending Your Postpartum Doctor Visits Alone
Unlike your prenatal visits, which you probably grew pretty accustomed to, these visits are taxing because you're also bringing your baby. You'll lug that heavy baby carrier around, probably still sore from labor and delivery, dealing with more poking and prodding. If there was every a time to have an extra set of hands, it's during those postpartum doc visits.
Attending Your Baby's Doctor's Appointments Alone...
You'll have a million questions you'll want to ask your kid's pediatrician, but you'll inevitably forget at least half of them. You'll have your baby but you'll also have to fill out an endless amount of paperwork and remember important facts about your kid's first days of life. You're stressed because this is the first time your kid has been to the doctor and you want to hear that everything is OK and they're happy and healthy and thriving. Some emotional support, at the very leas,t would definitely be nice.
...Especially When Shots And/Or Blood Work Is Involved
Needles. Needles are the worst, especially if they're for your baby. It was difficult to watch my kid get stuck with a needle (even though vaccinations are extremely necessary and are keeping babies safe), so it would have been nice to have a partner present to hold my hand or talk me through the emotional stages of feeling like I'm doing the right thing while simultaneously wanting to take my baby and hightail it out of the pediatrician's office.
You Feel Like A Single Parent
You may have some help from family and friends, but honestly, you will be doing a lot on your own. It's an awkward transition and something that takes a while to get used to, especially when you have a parenting partner that wants to help, they just can't.
You Get Used To A Certain Routine That Is Essentially Ruined When Your Partner Returns
In order to do what is necessary, by yourself, you set up a routine and you become accustomed to doing certain things a certain way, because they work best for you and your baby. So, when your partner comes back from either deployment or work or whatever was keeping them away, your routine is altered and it can more frustrating than endearing. Now you have to incorporate your parenting partner into your routine, and that can be a difficult transition, too.
You Have A Harder Time Bonding, As Parents
Honestly, it isn't just your baby that you bond with and learn about after they're born. Once you and your partner become parents, you essentially learn about each other and this new side of one another, too. It can be difficult to feel close to your parenting partner when they're so far away, and you don't really get an opportunity to learn about the kind of parent they're going to be when they're not around.
Your Partner Misses Far Too Many Firsts
Babies change daily and start doing so many "first" things so quickly that if you're not around on a regular basis, you'll simply miss them. Of course, your kid is going to smile again and laugh again and roll over again, but missing the "first" time is hard on any parent.
It's Much Harder To Get A "Break"
With your partner present, you can always have a person built in and ready to share the parenting responsibilities so they don't all, automatically fall on you. However, when you are in a long-distance relationship, that built in buddy is no longer available. Hopefully you will have help from family and friends, but when there are night feedings or an explosive diaper to take care of at some ungodly hour, not having your partner right there can be devastating.
Keeping Up With The Housework Is Almost Impossible
Just like the parenting responsibilities, no one is there to share with the run-of-the-mill household responsibilities, either. If you cook, you'll also be the one to do the dishes. If you take care of the laundry, you'll also be the one to vacuum. If there wasn't a baby to simultaneously tend to, this might not be all that bad (I mean, people who live alone do it all the time). But when you'er sleep-deprived and a baby is needing you every hour of every day, the household chores seem never-ending and oh-so difficult. Again, hopefully you have some help from family and friends or even an amazing neighbor.
Your Sex Life Suffers
If you and your partner are in a monogamous relationship, short of some phone-sex you won't be able to have sex with your partner. Hey, phone sex is great, but I'd argue that it's just not as great as the real deal.
Coordinating A Time To Call/FaceTime/Skype Is The Worst...
If you have ever been in a long distance relationship before getting pregnant and having a baby, you know it's fairly easy to figure out a time to call or FaceTime or Skype your significant other because you are only on your schedule and their schedule. However, when you're on a tiny little human's timetable, finding a time to make a substantial conversation happen can be difficult. It seems like, without fail, the baby will cry or have a horrifically dirty and smelly diaper or it will be time for dinner, and you'll have to go (or your partner will have to get off the phone). It's the worst.
...And Recapping Everything That Has Happened Since You Talked Last Is Almost Impossible
You will, eventually, forget something. You aren't sleeping and you're worrying about a million things at once and you might not even have enough time to really touch on everything that has happened. It's so hard for a partner to feel informed and like they know what's going on, when you jsut can't fit all the comings and goings of a day, a few days, even a week (or in some cases, much longer) into a phone call or Skype session.