With a new baby brings new relationship dynamics. You haven’t just gone through this major physical and emotional change, you’ve also gone through a major change in how you and your partner work. I know my husband and I went through it, and 10-months later, we are still learning how we fit in each others life after baby.
For myself, after having my son I really got hit hard with the postpartum depression and anxiety (you can read more about that here). So not only were both my husband and I learning how to define ourselves with this new person crying and pooping in our house all the time, but there was the added pressure of dealing with me not feeling like I was used to.
One part of my own healing journey was I joined a support group through a local hospital. In our last meeting one of the things we discussed was how our relationships have changed. Friendships change, the way we relate to other family has changed, and most importantly, we have experienced some sort of change with our partner. Several moms expressed the frustration with their partners that seems quite common in those first few months with a newborn.
As the mom (or the person assuming the role as mother), you have a very different bond than anyone else. Whether you birthed your baby, or adopted, you assume this role of constant caretaker. You are there for every feed, every diaper change, every cry. You are up rocking your little one in the wee-hours (not that your partner isn’t, but after some time, they do go back to work, and you are there 24/7).
It’s no wonder that your baby experiences a very unique bond to you. You settle her when no one else can. You know just the right way to bounce him to help alleviate his gas. So when your partner goes to try and help during one of your little ones outbursts, and they scream even harder, it can be hard for them to feel that same bond. This is where resentment can creep in. Or a feeling of detachment with the baby. This can be difficult on mom too when she so desperately needs a break from baby, but her partner has disengaged. Let’s not forget, fathers too can experience postpartum depression and anxiety!
Mom-to-mom: this is so normal! I think you’ll find if you ask most moms, this happens, but it isn’t forever. I noticed when my son started to be more aware of what was going on around him (around the 3-month mark and later), his bond with is dad intensified. Now he smiles every time he sees his dad. They play and laugh together all the time. As he always sings to our son “daddy always gives you the good stuff!”
They key is communication. Easier said than done I know (I am a major failure at communication). Talk to your partner if you’re feeling left out, or when you’re overwhelmed. Nothing breeds resentment faster than failure to communicate and finding a resolution. During this season of your new life, it can be easy to feel alone. It isn’t uncommon to feel like you’re the only one doing. As the primary parent figure, you might feel like you’re all alone in caring for the baby. As a partner, you might feel alone in being the only one providing for the family. You’re not alone, and it does get better, but it takes work and a willingness to work with your partner.
Get out together. Walk together. Play together. Date together. Love together. Just because things are different, doesn’t mean your relationship has to suffer.
The opinions expressed here are from my own experiences, thoughts and knowledge. Keep in mind that I am not a physician/health professional so consult the appropriate professional if needed. Every persons situation is unique and my experiences may not mirror yours.