I’m sure a lot of parents, especially new and first time parents would agree with the sad truth that having a baby can have an adverse effect on your relationship.
Just before giving birth, a mummy friend of mine told me to expect arguments when the baby was here and I couldn’t understand for the life of me what she meant. Worry not, because I found out quickly enough just how right she was.
If I’m honest, having our daughter actually caused us to have some of our worst arguments ever….to a point where it’s fair to say both of us questioned whether or not our relationship would actually survive. Hell, sometimes I didn’t know whether or not I WANTED it to survive. Four months down and we’re getting the hang of parenthood and a bit more sleep never hurt anyone but to be honest, it’s still a work in progress as far as getting back to a decent place in our relationship.
There are obviously a million and one factors contributing to tension and issues having a newborn can bring to a relationship but here are my top five:
1. Tiredness – people told me to sleep as much as possible because I wouldn’t be sleeping much for a few years and though I knew there was some truth in it, I also thought they were exaggerating. Wrong!! My daughter would sleep ALL day and be up from about 10pm until 6 or 7am the next day. Yes, I tried sleeping when she did but things have to be done around the house too. Anyways with my lack of sleep and pure exhaustion, I became snappy and easily annoyed which created unnecessary arguments. Happy to announce she’s much better now.
2. Post Natal Depression – I wrote a piece on this a few weeks back and I still feel so self-conscious when this subject comes up because of all the taboo around it in African communities but although I didn’t know it then, I was affected with PND which also meant I was always crying and down right moody. Hubby didn’t understand what was happening and we’d argue because I didn’t know why I felt the way I felt so relaying any information to him was near enough impossible and we were both left frustrated and distant.
3. Extended Family – now, we all know almost everyone becomes an expert in babies when there is a newborn but couple this with two different African cultures and you’ve got unsolicited, unwanted and damn weight crazy advice and opinions. The other half was being told one thing from his family but when he’d run it to me , I’d shut him down because that wasn’t a practice in my culture or whatever and he’d end up feeling like his contributions didn’t matter and become resentful, etc etc. Naming the baby was also another uncomfortable situation which I wrote about in one of my posts.
4. Night Duties – now this is a funny one because the Mr would say I never let him help much but I remember getting so angry at the fact that I was up at night with the baby while he was sleeping. Poor guy would offer to take the baby sometimes and I’d say no because I wanted to be the one person who could soothe and comfort her and so I self-righteously thought he didn’t know what he was doing. Then I’d be angry with him if he didn’t offer to help (even though we both knew the answer would 90% always be no). I was just a right mess to be frank so don’t ask me questions because I know it doesn’t make sense.
5. Communication – or the lack thereof as was our case. One thing which we would both agree on is that my other half is not the greatest communicator that ever existed. In fact, he wouldn’t even make the cut if there was such a process. His heart is always in the right place but he internalises things and is practically allergic to confrontation. This means if he’s upset about something I’ve said or done (which happens daily), he won’t tell me and if it’s something he considers to be major then his mood will change so I’ll be left wondering what’s wrong. One thing I’ve also found is I’m what I’d like to call an ’emergency communicator’, i.e. I only really want to sit down and talk when something has already happened. Throughout this process I’m learning the importance of every day communication and we’re slowly getting there.
So there you have it. As a whole, having a child has been a blessing so I don’t want anyone thinking it just messes up your relationship but at the same time it’s foolish to be ignorant of the fact that adding a small human into the mix of things can definitely have its down points…..at least at first! I also understand that this is not necessarily the case for everyone all the time, but for me it sure has been a rollercoaster which is slowly but sure coming back down.
You know what, I’m grateful nonetheless. For every bit of it (well…most bits). I’ve learned so much about myself, the hubby and our relationship in the last four months than the years prior to having our daughter and it’s all good!