8. Lasting Friendships: Having a baby can help you meet people you otherwise wouldn’t have met, whether you’re at a mommy/baby exercise class, the supermarket or a playground. “I’ve met so many other moms I’ve ended up developing relationships with,” says Sallie Delaney, a 33-year-old public relations executive from Newton Centre, Mass., who still meets with her new-mothers group more than two years after the birth of daughter Sophia. Granted, you still have to click with fellow parents. But if you do hit it off, the baby-inspired friendships you develop now could end up being lifelong.
9. An Increased Capacity for Selflessness: A baby’s 24/7 demands can make you feel like a doctor on call. But having to think of someone else’s needs besides your own can make you a more responsible and well-rounded person. “The birth of my son definitely made me less selfish,” says Terry Gibbens, 35, a San Rafael, Calif., stay-at-home mother who, before having a baby, was accustomed to spending weekends mountain biking and participating in sailing regattas with her husband. Although the couple have found ways to keep doing what they enjoy, their 18-month-old son’s needs now clearly come first. “We take him with us in his bike seat on smooth trails, and he’s been day-sailing on the bay during nice afternoons,” says Gibbens. “We try to include him in most things we like to do, but we always make sure we adjust for his comfort level.”
10. A Stronger Marriage: The demands of a new baby, combined with sleep deprivation, can test the strength of any relationship. “After our daughter was born, we had some of the most stressful times since we made our wedding plans,” says media relations director Tabachnikoff. The unexpected payoff? “Having a child has brought us closer,” she says. “I feel much more secure in the marriage. We have a permanent bond.”
Indeed, after the new-baby adjustment phase, many women report that they feel emotionally closer to their partners. “We often see marriages grow a lot deeper and become more rewarding,” says Fidell. “Especially when people come from two different career tracks, they can be very focused on themselves as individuals.” But having a child together creates a sense of shared responsibility.
“Our marriage has taken on a whole new dimension,” says Teresa Horner, 37, a St. Louis stay-at-home mother of five. “It’s not just a marriage anymore — it’s a family.”