In the end, it wasn’t my new baby’s daily poops, but my husband’s that pushed me over the edge.
I’d been on maternity leave for approximately 100 years, and every day looked the same: watch husband leave for work, clean baby’s poopy diaper a million times, breastfeed baby for a million hours, chase baby away from stairs for a million hours, text husband that it would be cool if he put up the DAMN BABY GATES BEFORE OUR KID GOES TO COLLEGE, hold baby for his naps, slap my own face to try to keep my eyes open, cry while binge-eating brownies, wonder if you can die of burst bladder/boredom/the stress of keeping a baby alive 24/7.
And then, the best sound in the world, followed by the worst: my husband’s key in the front door, and then his voice saying, “Just need to run to the bathroom.”
Oh, go right ahead. Take your time. YOU DESERVE A BREAK.
Ten minutes later, after he’d had a leisurely toilette, changed his shirt, rinsed his face, and god knows what else, he’d cheerily take the baby out of my arms for the first time in 10 hours and wonder why I looked like a serial killer.
Have you ever contemplated divorce over your partner’s bathroom habits? Because I have. And if the frequent rants in my private mom Facebook groups tell me anything, it’s that I’m not alone.
Our parenting video series, “Life After Birth,” seeks to bring conversations about the harder parts of mom life out into the open. We’ve given you the brutally honest truth about postpartum hair loss, postpartum sex, the gross things no one warns you about, and sleep (or lack thereof).
Now, we want to tackle a little-discussed but often-experienced side effect of bringing a life into this world: resenting your partner.
New parents don’t handle change all that well
Two thirds of parents are less satisfied with their marriage after having a baby, according to a widely-cited 2011 study by famous couples’ therapists, John and Julie Gottman. In fact, it’s so common, that a lot of people think it’s inevitable and acceptable, John Gottman told the American Psychological Association.
The reason for all that discontent mostly boils down to change: to your identity, your sex life, the division of labour, and the stress that comes along with all that change.
A lot of couples start keeping score, and comparing who has it worse/cleaned more poop/got less sleep/has to feed the baby with their boobs (AH HA! I WIN!). But this only makes things worse, the Gottman Institute notes, and they urge new parents to remember they’re in this together.
But, that’s easier said than done when you’re in the trenches.
Change was definitely a big part of my own resentment. Overnight, I’d morphed from an ambitious workaholic to a walking milk dispenser. My lovely husband, who had always supported me in my writing career (whether that meant cooking dinner most nights or moving across the country with me for a newspaper gig), was suddenly the only breadwinner.
No one ever said aloud that the cooking and cleaning should fall to me, but the household just ran a lot smoother when I did most of it. Same with booking all the baby’s medical appointments, buying his clothes, and generally knowing what he needed to survive.
It felt like I’d become the manager of our lives, and it wasn’t a job I wanted. Pile on that the utter exhaustion of raising a baby who didn’t sleep unless he was held, the financial strain of having a new kid, and the fact that both my husband and I were in the middle of switching careers, and it got real ugly, real fast.
Plus, I can see now that my husband wasn’t exactly having the time of his life that year, either. He was up with the baby as much as I was, then he had to drive to work and be productive afterward (although, in my eyes, that seemed like a treat compared to chasing a poop-monster off the stairs all day). Then, he’d come home to an angry-AF wife, and a baby who said his first words without him.
We went to couples therapy. We went on date nights. But in the end, what got us back in sync was time.
Eventually, the baby started sleeping through the night. Eventually, I went back to work and our roles balanced back out (and we had money again). Eventually, things got easier. And eventually, that baby grew into a toddler who figured out how to open doors and became obsessed with watching his parents go to the bathroom.
So now no one can take a dump in peace, but at least the score is even.
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