Her journey begins when she gave birth but having a husband that never really thought about being a dad before.
This blog entry comes from an anonymous woman that gave birth and felt that being a mom has been both the best and hardest thing she has ever done. She has had the most trouble with her husband that never really thought about being a dad before.
Being a mom has been both the best and the hardest thing I've ever done. I had a really healthy pregnancy that ended with an emergency C-section because my placenta started to separate early. We had difficulty breast feeding and I almost wasn't allowed to leave the hospital. This difficulty lasted 4+ months. I suffered from cracks, blisters, blebs, everything. I would cry it hurt so much but I was too stubborn to give up. I didn't know it at the time, but that was the beginning of my Postpartum Depression (PPD). I had a week at home with my husband before he had to go back to work. Because of my c-section I wasn't able to leave the apartment (not allowed to drive or lift anything heavier than the baby, so baby+car seat was out of the question). This led to a period of isolation which made my PPD worse. On top of all this, my LO refused to sleep anywhere except in mine or my husband's arms after a marathon up and down the hallway, bouncing, rocking, and singing. My little one and I co-slept on the couch until she was 8 weeks old, and then in the bed with me until she was 6.5 months. It took a few rounds of sleep training with lots of tears (both of us) in order to get her sleeping on her own in the crib. I sought help for my PPD, I went back to church and I started going to a local Mom group. My little one is now 12.5mos old, and I'm back at work while she's at daycare. Despite our hardships, I wouldn't change our journey for anything. I am so proud of her and how much she (and I) have grown and learned. Every day she makes me laugh and I thank God for her and our little family.
I've been having the most trouble with my husband. He never really thought about being a dad before. I wanted kids and he has no parental instinct. He's awesome with our little one (playing with her), but it's been a year and it still doesn't occur to him to take off her extra layers when we come in from the cold, or have any clue what to feed her, if he remembers to feed her at all. He goes weeks without changing a diaper, and he doesn't even realize it. In 12.5mos he's *never* gotten up with our little one in the middle of the night. Even if he's still up at 2am after his afternoon shift or on weekends, I still have to get up to sooth her back to sleep. I often feel like a single parent who has a roommate who helps with laundry, cooking, and the dishes. We rarely have sex (due to conflicting work schedules, and lack of initiation). It was 8mos before we were intimate again. After our little one was born, he would do the household stuff (because I was on restricted duties as per the doctors orders) and he fed me to make sure that I remembered to eat while I was nursing the baby but nothing has really changed since then. I don't talk to him about this stuff because it'll just upset him and make him feel guilty but I should.
How to Overcome this Challenge?
I'm still struggling with my husband, but I know that an open conversation would help even if hurt feelings would be shared. I also need to build and find the courage to say what I need to without belittling.
For the PPD, I made an appointment at a walk-in clinic and was able to get a nursing safe, low dose prescription.
For the breastfeeding issues, I found a local clinic with a LC and peer support workers which not only helped with the nursing issues, but also the isolation.
I additionally sought out free groups in the area which led me to new Mom friends.
A Little Piece of Advice?
I never really thought about it, but someone once said that when it comes to being a parent, "the days are long but the years are short." Google tells me Gretchen Rubin said that. It means (to me) that time really is precious and it'll be gone before you know it. No matter what difficulty you're facing today, by next year you'll be in a completely different place, so enjoy it while you can. The other thing that's helped me recently with the transition back to work was a way to change my outlook, a way to take a positive view on things. I was transferred to a different project in a different facility with different personnel that I'd ever worked with before and was feeling really bummed about it. On my first day back, I had to do some safety training about electrostatic discharge (and how I can destroy expensive equipment without realizing it). I was reminded of a lesson I'd learned in grade school science class that atoms become positive by losing their negative electons and now are left with a surplus of protons. This reminder made me realize that positivity is at our core, at the very atoms of our being. That in life, as well as in science, (and here's where my epiphany came in) **you can't be positive without letting go of the negative.** Since I realized that, I've been a different person.
It takes a village, so use the people you have around you to support you. There is truly no stupid question when it comes to raising your children. Turn to Facebook groups for moms and babies born in the same month/year as yours, they are a fabulous support system.
TR Take Aways
Tackling the biggest challenge here, having a partner that seems to not always be engaged is very challenging - whether or not they wanted kids.
I'm definitely not a relationship expert nor am I trying to take ANY sides here but all I can do is share my experience - others can feel free to comment as well. I need to be completely honest and say that my partner was very much in fact wanting a baby - maybe even more than myself at first. He does have lots of common sense and would have breastfed our little girl if he could have and loves being with her all day every day but can still become sensitive to comments mentioned to him in and around him taking care of her.
Explain that the details help with your anxiety/depression
In the beginning, I believe I had postpartum anxiety and so I fell in the trap of wanting to control most situations. Sometimes, and I am saying sometimes because I do think I was quite layed back (right hunny???) I questioned if he fed her, what she ate, and how she slept. It did cause some arguments from time to time but we had to have a conversation (once we were both cool as cucumbers) to explain that it wasn't to check-in on him, to criticize him or to say how I would do it; it was something that was helpful for me to help reduce my anxiety because I had pieces of information from her day. I promised to him right then and there to not overreact if the situation was any different than if I had been there.
They will still survive with hugs, fish crackers and short naps
Safety and care of your baby is #1 especially when they are little and need lots of good quality food, sleep and love; however, I believe there can be a little give. For example, when my little one started eating solids and I breastfed every 4 hours or so, she was very often by herself with other people and her father. (Side note - with a partner that is not very engaged, this is where conversation comes in to frame him up really early that you are going to be doing something on whatever day for yourself and he will have your little one from whatever time to whatever time).
During this alone time, I tried to give very little instructions to whoever she was with. I don't leave her with anyone I don't trust and usually someone that I also love and so I know she will be loved, she may or may not have too many fish crackers and may or may not sleep very well with them. This was good practice for me realizing that it was my ego wanting to control everything...how she was, ate, slept and it was harder for me when I wasn't around but this was a good way of dealing with it....being very casual, entering all "babysitter" situations not expecting the worse, realizing your baby is A-OK when you come back; thus, giving you strength and confidence to leave her more often.
Edify the good and take a breath for the "bad".
Lewis Howes talks about this in his Mask of Masculinity book. We seek feedback to bring this sense of fulfillment to our lives (even as adults) but are we always ready for the actual feedback? This gives me a visual of someone asking "do you want the good news first or the bad news". Lewis H. talks about edifying more of the good instead of the "bad". For example, when your partner makes the effort to dress your little one and feed them, are you okay with the fact that they are dressed in a mismatched colourful outfit and may have had cheese crackers and fruit all day? Baby is safe? Yes. Baby has been fed? Yes. Is this a typical day for baby every day? No. Cool - then all is well.
I am not saying there is no room for improvement I am just saying...that in this scenario maybe a supportive comment would be "wowe babe, her outfit is so nice". Take her out of the house in that outfit, show your partner that it doesn't matter what she's wearing as long as she's loved...and this may entice him to do MORE of those tasks you are rewarding him for. What about...at the end of the night mentioning something like I really enjoyed how you did ___ today. I felt very safe, calm and reassured and felt much less anxious.
YES, it is challenging especially on the days when you want to scream in a pillow but this is where the breath comes in before the "bad". Try using a journal, stress log or even the app called trello to record all those other feelings you actually want to yell at him for. Let it OUT just maybe not to him right away. Deal with the physical part of the situation, get the energy out. From there you can logically feel out your emotions and see what you're upset about and have a conversation with them. Try this...if you tell someone when you have a moment to yourselves the edification part that you want to mention (e.g., I really enjoyed that you did ___ or thank you so much for doing ___ it really made me feel safe) but then there is something that still, after yelling in a pillow, is making you cringe worth - you can say "but it really doesn't make me feel good when ___". If they respond defensively....there is growth there that needs to happen for them but hey, they may surprise you. If we were 5 years old here...this would be the equivalent of everyone getting a "good job well done" sticker no matter the outcome.
Regarding the "getting up in the middle of the night"...I had many days where I cried about this, I was so angry that it was me, only me and always said "if I wasn't here you would hear her so why do you rely on me to go get her when we are both here". The best thing I can recommend for this is time. Take the time like I mentioned above to breathe, journal, write it out in a stress log so when you're calm you can read what is bothering you and choose your communication points for a proper and calm conversation. After you've had a conversation and he takes action in any way regarding getting up in the night or changing her or whatever seems to be your thing, edify him beyond belief. Be grateful in your communication as to how helpful it was and hold your tongue about the fact that he shooshed her "wrong" or you would have done it differently.
Say it how you want it
When you are having conversations with your partner about the alone time they are going to have with your little one - say it how you want it. For example, I plant little seeds of encouragement in conversation that will literally be a walk through of what her day would look like. For example: "Oh hunny, you guys are going to have so much fun! I'm so excited you get to spend time together, she is going to love it, you are the best dad ever!!! After she has her morning snack and nap, you'll be able to enjoy the sunshine together I'm so jealous, you guys will have so much fun together! Make sure you take a photo of her in her new hat I can't wait to see how cute she looks"! Secretly...you're hinting that she needs to have a snack, nap and her hat outside but not in a demanding, ordering kind of way. Does that make sense?
Lastly, if this isn't happening but there is the opportunity to like he isn't working and home with both of you...then maybe you need to ask yourself if there is anything you need to work on for yourself so you can gain strength to leave the house and give your partner more situations to have a chance.
Resources Related to This Post
For your stress log
The Trello App
What I use for my time management logs and stress log when/if I feel overwhelmed.
My Favorite Nurturing Resources