For me, maternity leave was pretty bittersweet. On one hand, I was able to spend my days snuggling with my baby and binge-watching Netflix, but I was exhausted, hormonal, sore, sleep-deprived, depressed, and trying to recover from childbirth while simultaneously keeping a tiny human alive. To make matters worse, my relationship with my partner changed. There are some horrible things your partner will do when you're on maternity leave, and they aren't easy to get past, especially when emotions are high and energy is low.
The first few weeks after childbirth were painful, exhausting, and emotional, so trying to navigate that time with my partner in tow really freaking sucked. He's awesome. He really is, but sometimes he's also insensitive and doesn't think before he speaks. Recovering from childbirth is no joke. It actually takes a lot of energy just to remain upright and keep your baby (and yourself) alive. The last thing you, as a postpartum mom, need is to hear comments about your weight or your body. I also didn't enjoy hearing about his day doing adult things with other adults, while I am stuck at home having conversations with my newborn and cats. Also, never wake a postpartum mom, unless the baby needs something you can't provide or it's actually her turn. Seriously.
I love my husband. He is a great partner and a great dad. Turns out, though, maternity leave is hard to navigate for even the best partners with the healthiest of relationships. The good news is this is perfectly normal. Your partner can't possibly understand what's going on with you, and they are probably tired and stressed out, too. Which explains some of the thoughtless, insensitive, and otherwise horrible things they might do, including the following:
Make Comments About Your Body
My body is mine. I don't exist for the male gaze, and that includes my partner's. I don't really want to hear about how different my body looks postpartum. I am well aware of that fact. Besides, I don't ever make comments about my partner's weight, size, athleticism, or appearance, ever, unless it's to pay him a compliment. It's just not nice. Comments about my body are not welcome, unless you are telling me how badass it is for growing a human.
Expect You To Make Dinner
I was recovering from growing a human in my body and keeping our baby alive, so I didn't always feel up to making dinner, too. It made me so mad to be asked what I was making for dinner, especially when I was subsisting on granola bars and Coke zero while he was at work.
Ask For Sex Before You're Ready
The only thing I want to do in bed the first few of weeks postpartum is sleep. After that, my desire for postpartum sex is highly dependent on a variety of factors. Asking me, especially asking me more than once, did nothing but kill the mood and make me feel like crap, which is decidedly not sexy.
There's nothing worse than being up for days on end while your partner sleeps soundly next to you each night. I get that he was tired, too, and I know my homicidal thoughts were largely born of jealousy, but I would have loved a nap, or, I don't know, a couple of uninterrupted hours of sleep at night. I seriously miss sleep.
Wake You Up When You're Sleeping
Seriously, never wake a person who is recovering from childbirth when they actually are able to sleep. Unless, that is, you are honestly unable to provide what your baby (or other kids) need.
Tell You "You Look Tired"
I don't just look tired. I am tired. I am so tired it hurts. Yes, I am aware that I didn't get dressed today, let alone brush my hair. I just grew a human and am trying to recover from the incredible act of bringing that human into the world. I barely have enough energy to stay upright. I don't want to hear about how bad I look or how I have "let myself go."
Talk About All Of The Interesting Things They Did That Day With Other Adults
I was so jealous that my husband got to leave the house and actually talk to other adults on a daily basis. I know it's petty, but I hated when he would come home and tell me about the real world — wearing real clothes, eating restaurant lunches, grabbing Starbucks, and conversing with other adults about things other than diapers, baby feeding, or sleep-training.
My now ex-husband actually went on a vacation with his buddy when I was three weeks postpartum after my second child was born. Mama needed a break, not to be left home alone with two kids for five days. It sucked, and it sucked even more to hear all about it when he returned.
Complain About How Tired They Are
OK, I get it, my partner was tired, too. But honestly? Hearing about his exhaustion got really old, really fast, and especially when I hadn't slept longer than an hour or two in months. It's not a contest, but I guarantee that he wasn't as tired as this baby-growing mama was.
Eat The Last Of Your Favorite Food
When you are on maternity leave, it's easy to break up the day into meal times and the time between meal times. You start to look forward to the last piece of pizza or pint of ice cream. When you are sleep deprived and hormonal, and your partner eats your food, it's devastating.
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