When I got pregnant, I naturally became overwhelmed with interest in my body and my baby.
I quickly fell in love with the idea of a natural birth and signed my husband and I up for Bradly Method classes. He thought I was a little crazy, but went along with it.
My research continued throughout the pregnancy. I ate blueberries because they were said to boost my baby’s IQ, I strictly only slept on my left side to allow the placenta to receive more nutrients, I inserted evening primrose oil capsules in my vagina in hopes of avoiding an episiotomy. With each thing, he seemed to think I was crazy, but trusted me & went along with it.
So when our son was born, I went about things the same way.
He was to be breastfeed for as long as possible, he would be carefully swaddled for bed, we would only use natural and organic soap, we never let him cry it out, and many, many more rules that came as a result of my research.
And my husband went along with it.
The research department has always been “my thing”. He often jokes about my obsession with googling everything. I love to read and learn and there is nothing more interesting to me than pregnancy, childbirth & motherhood so I am constantly trying to learn more ways to be a better mother and improve my child’s life.
But eventually, it wasn’t just researching that was “my thing”. It was parenthood in general.
My husband took a backseat and I railroaded over him with my research and “correct” ways. God forbid he try to suggest we do things differently because I’d have about 3 pages bookmarked online, 2 books with highlighted paragraphs and an email from my midwife which all supported my way, shoved in his face before he could even finish his sentence.
I didn’t even notice that he was slowly becoming less involved at first.
I’m a stay at home mom while he works full time. My job was to raise our son while his was outside of the home. But even when he was home, I took care of our son.
When he did hold the baby, the baby cried. My husband had no idea how to calm him down, probably because I never gave him a chance to learn. I’d stand in the corner, grinding my teeth anxiously and finally run to him and say, “Here, I can take him!” and whisk the baby right out of his arms. My son stopped crying as soon as I took him, every time. And my husband would sit sadly, watching enviously as I soothed our little one.
But eventually, I got tired. His job started and ended at specific times each day while mine was constant, 24/7. And I was doing it all alone.
My husband had given up on trying to soothe our baby and just handed him to me as soon as he cried.
Some days when he came home from work, he never even held him at all.
He would go to bed all by himself while I would stay up with the baby until one or two in the morning.
It started to feel like my son & I were a little family and my husband was just our roommate. I began getting angry at my husband for his lack of help. I suddenly noticed how much he went out to lunch with his coworkers or was filled with rage when he went to see a movie with some friends. Meanwhile, I’m covered in spit up and rocking the baby to sleep all by myself.
I, of course, turned to google.
I searched, “married but feel like a stay at home mom”. There were tons of results. I read posts on mom forums from women complaining about how little their husbands do to help out and how they feel like a single mother. There’s even support groups called “Feeling Like A Single Mother” or “F.L.A.S.M”.
I started to really resent my husband for making me feel this way. I loved motherhood so much but it slowly began to feel like more of an overwhelming job rather than this beautiful, wonderful privilege that it once was to me.
Finally, after discussing my feelings with my husband, I realized that he had backed off because I was pushing him away. He admitted that he stopped suggested things because every time he did, I shot them down. He also pointed out the fact that because I never let him learn how to soothe our crying baby, he is never able to successfully do so.
Obviously, I felt really bad. Here I am ready to join a FLASM group and I’m the one that caused me to feel that way!
So I quickly decided to change my ways and let my husband be completely involved.
Well, easier said than done, right?
Later that night, he was supposed to get our son to sleep, so I went to the living room while they were in the nursery.
I listened while my baby screamed at the top of his lungs.
I bounced my leg anxiously and practically held myself down to the couch to avoid running in there. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and ran into the nursery. Embarrassed to be doing what I promised, not even 24 hours earlier, not to do, I stood in the doorway and quietly asked if he wanted some help.
“No, it’s okay.” He said.
So I retreated to the living room, with tears in my eyes while my sweet baby screamed and screamed.
I’m not going to lie, the crying lasted for a while. And it was very hard. And okay, I’ll admit it, I went in probably three or four more times and annoyingly offered assistance. But each time he turned me down.
And finally, FINALLY, our baby fell asleep.
The entire time I kept thinking of how much easier it would be for me to just do it. My poor baby wouldn’t have to cry at all and would just peacefully go right to sleep.
It’s so tempting, but I have to resist.
Not only for my individual health, because I do need to learn to take a break in order to find the joy in motherhood again. And not just for my baby’s health, because it is important for him to be able to be soothed by someone other than myself. But also for my marriage. I would hate for my husband to look back one day and feel he missed out on being as involved as he would have liked to have been. Not to mention, if he doesn’t start helping out, I’m going to really hate him and gossip all about him at the F.L.A.S.M meetings! Okay, maybe not.
But being parents is such a special relationship to share with someone. And one I’m obviously still learning how to do. My child is lucky to have a father that loves him so much and wants to be so involved with his life. I would hate to get in the way of that.
So for now, I’m doing everything I can to chill out a bit and let my husband find his own little tricks for taking care of our baby boy.
And who knows? Maybe one day he’ll be sharing his own research with me.