I had heard that the first year of a marriage after a child is born can be tough. I didn’t give it much thought at the time. We were too busy trying to have the kid, so I wasn’t going to worry about what would happen when we had the kid. I also figured that our marriage had already been Tested by so many things – a full house renovation, a hurricane, two kittens, five years of infertility, two miscarriages, a rescue dog – that having a baby, something that we wanted so badly, couldn’t possibly put us asunder.
Then we had Rex. And my husband went from being my partner to being another child constantly needing something and not helping. At least, that’s how it felt at the time to my PPD-addled severely hormonal whack jobbed brain. As the sleep deprivation and depression worsened and the laundry and dishes piled up, what had worked in our marriage before as an equitable distribution of the chores turned into an exercise in score keeping and endless events in the Most Tired Olympics. It drove me crazy that he would come home from work and go on and on about how hard his day was and (I perceived) wanted my sympathy when I had been taking care of our son all day, which was the hardest thing I had ever done in my entire life, thank you very much.
Via Flickr Creative Commons by alsjhc
I see now that we were both thrown for a terrific loop when Rex was born which should not have come as much of a shock as it did. We dealt with the curve ball in our own ways, which for all other major tests had worked fine, but for this one didn’t work at all. One problem, of course, is that I wasn’t coping hardly at all with the loop and Mr. X was left trying to cope for both of us. When I did try to cope I turned to keeping score on who did how many chores, how many hours of baby care, how many night wakings, etc. so that I didn’t feel like I was the only one doing anything. I would build these ‘babycare points’ and try to redeem them for chore duties such as taking out the trash (yay! something easy that doesn’t scream!) or grocery shopping just to be able to do something that I knew I could do and do well. I also desperately wanted to feel normal, at least for a little while. How awful is that?
And, I felt like Mr. X was contributing to the problem, not helping. I began impersonating a snapping turtle when I was around him. I had an over abundance of frustration, anger and just sheer angst fueled by PPD and sleep deprivation that I would take out on him. I couldn’t (and never had even a whiff of desire to) take it out on Rex. In the 20/20 rear view mirror, I see that he did the absolute best that he could considering he had a hormonally challenged wife suffering from PPD, a job to hold down (including a job transfer that was foisted on him the day he got back from his paternity leave) and a newborn who did the usual typical baby things like screaming, explosive pooping and erratic sleeping. And, bless his heart, he loved me anyways. He must have been just as frustrated as I was but he kept holding us afloat.
Even in those dark days, though, I never told Mr. X how I felt. I could see nothing good coming from that and I knew deep down in that tiny little sane place in my brain that I was really, really out of whack and not seeing things as they really were. But, I did a lot of thinking and soul searching. I addressed a lot of my long standing issues, issues that had been around long before Rex arrived on the scene but that I could ignore and still have a relatively easy life. Now, though, everything was on the table, including how I would treat Mr. X. I decided to make a conscience effort to just be kind to him. No matter what. No matter what question he asked, no matter what he messed up, no matter anything. And, it’s been working. It’s also been coming back to me. I can tell he’s thrilled to have his wife back. I’m so glad I could get back to him too.