Being a new mom is hard. Every single day presents a new obstacle, like midnight feedings, sleep deprivation, and diaper blowouts. Fortunately, this phase doesn't last forever, and you'll eventually make it through relatively unscathed. Unfortunately, our partners often add more obstacles to the course along the way. There are actually several low-key ways your partner is probably making postpartum life more challenging, even if they have the best of intentions.
After having three babies, I feel pretty confident saying I'm pretty much an expert on recovering from childbirth. I've also made it through the postpartum days with two different partners, and learned how important it is to have a supportive person in your corner during the so-called fourth trimester. My first husband was not helpful at all. As a result, I couldn't really take care of myself and it was so much harder to care for my baby. In contrast, my current husband is an awesome dad and partner and he's made post-birth life exponentially easier than if he wasn't around. But if I'm being completely honest, he has made postpartum life more challenging at times, too.
I'm not talking about the big stuff, just to be clear. He was awesome at things like helping me breastfeed, bottle-feed, and pump, getting up with the baby in the middle of the night, and cooking dinner. But he did slip up in little ways that were impossible to ignore. They weren't so big that I felt the need to bring them up, but they definitely made my life harder. Things like cutting ahead of me in line for the shower (especially when I hadn't had a shower in a week), bringing me the wrong burrito, or stopping for an errand after work without letting me know, all took a toll and all added up. When I was trying to cope with sleep deprivation, an alien body, and a newborn who wouldn't stop crying, little things felt like big things.
So, if your partner is pregnant or a postpartum mom, you might want to read the following, just in case you want to avoid making the little mistakes that could make a trying time even more difficult:
They Ask You What You Did All Day
Usually when my partner asked me what I did all day, he meant, "How did it go?" Sometimes, though, he mean't, "Why does the house look like this?" Either way, that question felt like an accusation; like he didn't realize that caring for a newborn, and taking care of myself, was more than enough responsibility.
They Initiate Sex Before You're Ready
I's really hard for me to accept my decreases sex drive post-birth. I needed some time for my body to recover, of course, but I also needed time for me to be able to get in the mood. So, when my partners initiated postpartum sex before I was ready, it made it more difficult for me to feel comfortable in my body and OK with my sex drive as it was in that moment.
They Make Messes
Little things like keeping up with housework can seem really overwhelming during the postpartum period. So when my husband left dirty dishes in the sink and on the counter right by the freaking dishwasher that was full of clean dishes, or tossed his laundry on the bathroom floor, I felt angry and defeated.
They Sleep Through The Baby Crying
My husband has a super-human ability to sleep through any loud noise, including a crying baby. I do not have this ability. There's nothing that makes postpartum life harder than missing out on sleep, especially when it's not actually your turn to get up with your newborn and you're forced to watch your partner sleeping soundly next to you.
They Leave The Baby In A Poopy Diaper
My husband almost never changes poopy diapers. I know he can smell them, because I can smell them from the other room, but he seems content to ignore them regardless. So, every time I walked into the room and saw (or smelled) my baby's poop-filled diaper, it kind of made me want to scream. Just change him, dude! Don't hope I will notice first. That joke is only cute once.
They Beat You To The Shower In The Morning
Hell hath no fury like a new mom who was planning to take a shower, but couldn't because her partner beat them to it.
They Ask You Why You Aren't Happy
People ask the question, "How are you?" all of the time without expecting to hear a real, honest answer. Ad when you are a new mom you're "supposed" to be happy and blissful and super thrilled about new-mom life. Yeah, I wasn't. So when my partner asked how I was doing and I told him the truth (horrible) the last thing I needed to hear was, "Why aren't you happy?" I didn't want to feel guilty for being honest or not feeling thrilled all the time. I just wanted someone to listen.
They Bring You The Wrong Food Or Beverage
Postpartum hormones are, well, volatile. Your body is going through a complex chemical process, and you have no control over how you feel or what might set you off. Looking forward to a special burrito or treat from Dairy Queen, only to realize that your partner got the wrong thing or forgot to stop on their way home, can be devastating.
They Don't Come Home On Time
When you are home all day with a newborn the days can seem so unbearably long. I was usually tired, anxious, and in desperate need of adult contact by the time evening rolled around. So, when my husband would stop somewhere after work, and not give me a head's up, I became overwhelmed, anxious, and angry.
Unless he was stopping to get me a burrito, of course.
They Text You While You Are Out
Once in a while I actually got to leave the house alone. It was magical. Well, until my partner would start texting me every few minutes. I mean, come on, man. I need a break and you are a parent, not a babysitter. I know you can figure it out and let me have a latte or trip to Target uninterrupted.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.