This blog was inspired by an anonymous plead on a mummy social forum asking if it is normal to feel resentment towards your OH after having a baby?
My answer is yes, it is completely normal, but maybe something we don’t like to talk about or avoid admitting to in baby playgroups or even just to a friend as everyone likes to pretend everything is just perfect, and there is pressure to be happy at a seemingly joyous time.
I think sometimes the resentment is misguided and sometimes it is not, depends on the kind of person your OH is (I am avoiding the use of man here, as there are all kinds of relationships and families).
In my case, my resentment built up by a number of things. However, the major thing I think that is common with most women that feel this way is your life has changed so much, but your OH’s hasn’t. My partner’s work didn’t take out their frustrations on him, or made to feel excessively uncomfortable that he had a break from work, well no more than usual as he only took 2 weeks off. I viewed his opportunity to go back to work as a escape, I felt I had no escape and it takes time to adjust to a big life change. In some ways you feel that you have lost your identity, I found that difficult to adjust to, and some days I was just so tired, I wanted to run away and escape. God forbid that work seemed like a pleasant escape route (I am not living the dream or have a ultra amazing or glamorous job). Although there was no way I could have worked during those early days.
My OH didn’t really spend the first week with our lo as we were in hospital, and the hospital wouldn’t allow overnight stays with us, he missed out on critical bonding time. I had hoped my OH would be a bit more hands on, but well it never happened. I knew nothing about babies before my son came along and took no interest in them, but had to learn quickly and I resented that my OH couldn’t do the same. He was useless at changing nappies, clothes, holding my lo sometimes as I think he had a big fear of how fragile he was, he never looked comfortable holding a baby, even when he was getting fairly robust. However, I will admit I am a harsh critic and perfectionist, hormones and severe sleep deprivation probably didn’t help my patience with this either.
My OH wasn’t going out drinking every night, and he did his best to help in other ways, preparing feeds for the day because I couldn’t breastfeed, cleaning and taking out the trash. He helped to try to rock my lo to sleep at night when he was very unsettled, as I couldn’t as my back and sciatica caused me too much pain to do that. So yes, some of my resentment was unfounded, it wasn’t his fault my colleagues were jerks, and his legal rights was to only take two weeks off of work at that time (and was badly paid for him), and in hindsight he should have saved his leave instead of going to all the antenatal appointments with me or that my lo was unsettled and only catnapped, but the resentment was still there. I think shared maternity/paternity leave is a step in the right direction, if you can afford it, although sadly the case is most of the time men are still the breadwinners, but I had my lo before this came about, in regards to shared leave.
I think what helped is I finally admitted there was a problem, I went for counselling, although I found the counselling opened a raw wound for me, not really just to do with this, but other past issues. I then got help from my own doctor and was prescribed a low dose of anti-depressants, and these have really helped in my case, so much so that I have been using them for the last year and half, may finally be weaned off them this summer. We also try to find more time to do things as a couple only to talk and go on date nights, this helps us to catch up and talk through any feelings. We also regularly text each other as there are moments when you just can’t be in the same place, even if you are both in the house, e.g. bad nights with my son or I am just trapped by him. However, date nights are really important, and it is good to do this at least every 2 months if not more if you can get a babysitter.
I mean some guys are jerks, and resentment is just, but sometimes you need to give a guy a break and reconnect, and talk through what your OH needs to do to help you more, and they should be willing to do that.