The whole postpartum experience isn't easily explained, as it varies from woman-to-woman with different levels of severity. One thing's for sure, though; it's a damn hard process and find your "new normal" after you've had a baby while simultaneously recovering from childbirth. You might even have a few thoughts about your partner postpartum that you can't necessarily control (or want to admit to even having). I'm here to tell you that you don't have to be ashamed about any of them, no matter how awful they seem in retrospect. Seriously, not a damn one.
Before my first pregnancy, I'd read about a plethora of postpartum experiences and possibilities, but it wasn't until I actually experienced it firsthand did I understand the depth of loneliness and confusion this time would provide. Overwhelmed, exhausted, suffering from postpartum depression and trying to live up to this image of superwoman I had in my head, there was probably little my partner could do to be everything I needed.
I love my partner and, to his credit, he tried to the best of his ability. However, navigating this new life and the hormones that overcame me made postpartum life difficult for us both. For me, it was so much more than adjusting to new life as a mother, and there was so much beyond my control; how my body healed, how I felt, and things I thought about my partner, both good and bad. While it's normal to go through ups and downs when you're a brand new parent, it doesn't always feel that way when you're going through it. So, with that in mind, here are a few thoughts you might have about your partner postpartum, that you absolutely don't need to apologize for:
"I'm Suffering Because Of You"
With the culmination of pregnancy, giving birth, and postpartum life, it's easy to want to blame your partner for contributing to your current predicament. I mean, I know I have.
My body went through a helluva lot, so it doesn't seem super fair that he's deep into a Playstation game with a plate of wings and a beer, while I deal with the lingering post-birth issues like leaking milk, burning pee, and a colicky baby. Just sayin'.
"Must Be Nice To Have So Much Freedom"
With a new baby, showers are few and far between, sleep is non-existent, and eating well-balanced meals means basically whatever I can pull from the cabinet between feedings. So, um, why the hell does my partner smell nice, appear as though he got a full night of sleep, and has a colorful plate of whatever?
It's almost like we're living on two different planets (because, well, we were).
"You're Not Taking Enough Initiative With The Baby. At All."
Yes, a baby is a lot of work. Welcome to my world of parenthood, dear. It's the one I've been living in since I peed on a stick and discovered I was pregnant, and it's a world that will never, ever end.
It'd be cool if my partner had been the one to jump up to help with the baby before I had to ask (since I've done most of the heavy lifting since conception).
"Why Am I The Only One Doing Chores Right Now?"
When I've just had a baby and am dealing with postpartum feelings and bodily functions beyond my control, I won't be ashamed of wishing my partner would take the lead on all things chore-related. Whether it's laundry or cooking or any part of the tasks I complete every single day, it doesn't help our relationship for me to feel resentful. So please, you know, help.
"You're Just Not There For Me"
Oh, the joy of postpartum emotions. It's such a "fun" ride. Ugh.
One minute I'd feel totally fine and the next, I'd be crying buckets on the bathroom floor. My partner's inability to know how to deal with the constant fluctuations may not have been intentional, but I can't apologize for feeling like I was abandoned and left to figure things out on my own.
I'm sure a lot of women feel this way; when you're drained and sad and happy all at once and maybe your partner doesn't get it, even if he or she is trying to, you feel isolated. If only my partner could've been the one to experience the pregnancy and birth, maybe he would have had more compassion to offer.
"I'll Do This Without You"
I can't count how many times I threatened to leave my partner during that first year of motherhood. Dealing with postpartum depression, I often looked at life through a small scope instead of the broad reality. I'd argue I could've done it all without him — because, to me, I'd been doing everything alone anyway — without any consideration for the things he had done.
I'm not ashamed for feeling this way, though, because it was the only way I could express how alone I felt at the time.
"Please Don't Leave Me"
At the other end of the feelings spectrum, when I wasn't making plans to leave my partner or demanding he go, I was begging him to stay. As I said, postpartum is really like a big mind trick and you never know what you'll feel. It's not your fault, as it wasn't mine, and thankfully my partner understood.
It took me some time to get past my postpartum days and, honestly, it took its toll on my relationship with my partner, but we pulled through. It's totally natural to have many uncontrollable feelings during the postpartum phase and you shouldn't apologize for any of them. It will pass (I'm proof).