I remember that when I first got married, I was a regular feature on my street in the late evenings, as I waited for my husband to return home from work. It also served the purpose of cooling me down. Fast forward to when the babies came, and I was cooped up inside for weeks on end.
No longer was I outside waiting for my husband and holding hands as we went inside the house, upon his return. Instead, I was barely standing by the time he got home. I was glad that he was home and the extra pair of hands that came with him. Unfortunately, he’s one of those men who don’t know how to carry babies.
And the fact that our firstborns were preemies, and he witnessed all that they had to go through for us to bring them home, he feared hurting him, so that extra pair of hands was rather useless.
He was also going through his own shock over the fact that, he was no longer the centre of attraction. His meals were getting later, we had to transfer the washing of his clothes to a ‘washer man’, and so many other changes that came with having twins.
Truth be told, it wasn’t an easy transition for us. He felt I should be able to do everything; mothering and wifely duties, without either suffering and I wanted him to get more involved with the care of the children, especially after my mom left, which wasn’t happening. I was always stressed, always tense and tempers flared.
His Godmother came visiting one Sunday evening, and when she was about to leave, she looked at my husband and told him, “If you’re not going to be helping her, then take her to her mom’s place, or find someone to help.”
Having a live-in help wasn’t feasible, and it didn’t make sense to me to have someone help only during the day and not at night, so my mom’s place looked like the only option that would work. A place I wouldn’t have to cook, or wash…only concentrate on attending to the needs of the children. It sure sounded heavenly.
I went to mama and that was when I fully started to enjoy the experience of being a new mom. My husband and I repaired our relationship, and by the time our second set of twins came along, we were pros. We had routines that had stood us in good stead, and my mom only needed to stay two weeks and we were good to go.
Having a baby is a blessing but it is also disruptive. Suddenly, everything you do, or don’t do, will revolve around that little wriggling being in your arms.
That baby can make you forget about your partner, with whom you made the baby. The baby can also make you angry at your spouse for not supporting you as you expect. And as they grow older, the dynamics of your relationship will change. You will still have your moments, like the current one I’m dealing with, the “Why am I the only one doing school runs?”
Before you start spewing fire, ladies let’s have this at that back of our minds:
Know that it’s partly nature’s fault
There was one night that one of the twins had woken up in the middle of the night, and soon after, the second twin woke up too, and both were crying. I was awake and wondering how I was going to get into sitting position to feed them, but guess what. My husband slept through all cries of the baby, and I had to shout his name with so much venom in my voice, before he woke up, and then I gave him a piece of my sleep deprived mind.
The truth that I didn’t know then was that he wasn’t pretending to be asleep; he actually didn’t hear the cries.
Research has shown that men aren’t as sensitive to the sound of a baby crying as a woman. Not only is our hearing keener, we also see better in the dark. Thanks for nothing, mama nature.
Put your cards on the table
When a baby comes with all of its loving disruptiveness, it is not time to be bottling things up. That leads to resentment. I have been there, and I can tell you for free, it poisons the soul.
It is way better to talk and negotiate. If possible, re-negotiate some issues in light of your current realities. Like the fact that you need some baby-free time.
It took years for us to get to this stage…but we did, and we are better for it, but you don’t have to wait for things to develop organically, when you can make it happen faster.
Remember, resentment comes when there is ambiguity and unclear expectations. Lay you cards on the table and talk it through.
Take control of what you can
Fortunately or unfortunately, your husband can’t spontaneously lactate. He may not be able to take a paternity leave or be only entitled to a measly ten days. He might be deployed elsewhere, leaving you to manage things all on your own.
If your partner can’t meet your expectations (due to situational circumstances), then the only thing you can control is your expectations.
But rather than mask your emotions (which can result in “bickering, criticism, and irritability”), find ways to decompress. Invite friends over, join other mom friends outside, go to a mall, just do anything that can increase your happiness in whatever small ways you can.
Reconnect with your spouse
Get a nanny, or have a friend or family member stay with your child (ren)– even if it’s just for an hour – and spend some time remembering what you and your partner liked about each other in the first place.
That’s a good way to touch base with your pre-baby partner and just enjoy your time alone.
Lower your standards
Two persons made the baby and unless, they are no longer together, then they both get to determine what’s good for that child, so insisting on your own routine for that child will lead to some heartbreak and resentment.
Instead, go easy on yourself. The house doesn’t need to be perfect, your kid doesn’t need to be dressed to the nines for a visit to the market. It’s okay at times, if baby naps when it should be eating. Be grateful that baby is fine and doing one of those things.
Lowering your standards doesn’t just decrease the tension between you and your partner; it benefits your kid too.
It is so easy for resentment against your husband to start when baby comes, especially as most men were raised to believe that raising a child is strictly the mother’s job.
No need getting yourself worked up; just know that you can influence his mindset, if only you communicate your needs.
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