February 4, 2013

Where was the Warning Label?

I feel cheated. 

The parenting books you read during pregnancy?? All those websites. All the research. Every piece of literature that I picked up. They prepare you for the basics of taking care of a child -- and they do this well. They DON'T give you any warning as to how tough being a parent is going to be. How it will not only affect your life, but also your marriage. 

NOBODY tells you how hard it's going to be! Everybody says "oh, just wait, things will change." Well you know what? A little more detail would have been nice! Being a mother is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life, and I adore that child more than anything else in this world. But Lucas didn't just come in and "change" our marriage. He came in, demolished it with the biggest stick of dynamite he could find, and right now we're waiting for the blue prints to be finalized so we can start rebuilding again.

This shit is really, really hard. 

We wanted this for so long. We tried so hard & we suffered so much. The depression I had during my pregnancy was equal to that of what I felt post-miscarriage. It was different, but equal at the same time. And even though I was completely miserable during the entire 42 weeks, both physically and mentally, I still felt so connected to my husband. I believe, even though I know how hard it was for him to witness, he would say the same thing. There was closeness. And bonding. And love much deeper than we had before. 

I'm not sure where all of that went. 

It's frustrating for me to see other couples with new babies have it so easy. Or at least, SEEM to have it easy. They go about their day. They praise their spouses & talk about how wonderful all of this is. It makes me wonder, what the hell are we doing wrong, that we can't figure this out? Am I the only one? If not, then why don't people talk about this?? Why aren't people more honest about how really, really hard it is to have a baby? We fight -- ALL THE TIME. I mean, all the time. Over the dumbest shit. My anxiety levels are at an all time high post-baby. I feel like I need to go on a heavy dose of Zanax to get through the day, because there are times where I find myself getting worked up over the smallest, most insignificant things. I don't doubt, for a second, that I am slightly OCD -- something that has only gotten worse with age -- but it is not necessary to be upset because Lucas didn't go down for a nap at the time you wanted. Or because bottles weren't washed in a specific way. Or because socks weren't put on when they clearly needed to be. In my head, I know that these arguments that spiral out of control are crazy. I HEAR the crazy coming out of my mouth & out of his. But it can't be stopped. A small, tiny, insignificant arguments about peaches or pears turns into a monumental argument with the ripple effect lasting for days.

I don't know if it's almost two years of interrupted sleep. Or the fact that being a working mom is really, really fucking hard. Or the fact that BOTH of us work & have long days, whether it's him getting home late or me having to run errands after I pick up Lucas from daycare. But when you have all this pent up frustration, there really is only one place it can go. Is it fair that we direct it towards each other on a daily basis? No. Does it makes sense? Yes. I want to throw & break things regularly, but that's not really an option (besides, I really like my dishes!) So screaming & yelling, as unhealthy as it may be, is the next logical step. 

The easy solution is to say hey, let's spend some more time together. Let's get out of the house. You know, do something & focus on each other for a while. But there seems to be no time, on top of everything else, because the kid takes up every second that we have free. If it's not one thing, it's another. Especially at this age. Ten months old and he is all over the place. And opinionated. And clingy. And, you know, wanting things. M made a very good point the other day -- that Lucas has essentially driven a wedge between us & our marriage. But what do we do? It's not like I can set him free for the day & wish him the best of luck so M & I can hang out like we used to. By the time the weekend rolls around, we are both too exhausted to do anything that doesn't involve the couch, let alone take the effort getting dressed up and going out in public. 

I don't know what the answer is. I do know that counseling is in our future. It has to be. For whatever reason, we are HORRIBLE communicators. I mean, really, really bad. But counseling has always done wonders for us, so we are going to revisit that. I also know that I continue to feel so alone in our struggles & I don't want others to feel the way that I do. I have talked to a couple other moms who are going through the same thing, and I admit, it makes all of this a little easier, knowing that it's not just us that are struggling. I am insanely jealous of those with easier schedules, those who can do what they want, when they want, and not have to worry about having every single minute of every single day accounted for. I know that the two hours a night that I get my kid, between the time we get home in the evenings and the time he goes to bed, he is my world and I don't see much else. This has to be hard on M, but I don't know what else to do. I can't quit my job. Nor do I want to. It's a Catch 22. 

Either way, I think more moms out there need to be honest with the newbies. No more sugar coating things. Had I been a little more prepared to what this was going to be like, maybe things would be different. Maybe I wouldn't expect so much from my significant other. Maybe HE would understand me a little better about how I feel on a day to day basis & what I am going through. Maybe it's a working mom thing, because it's only the working moms I know who are struggling right along side me. 

I don't know. 

All I know, is that there should have been a warning label  A heads up about the rough & sometimes painful path we were about to embark on. Maybe we would have been a little more prepared. 


MrsV said...

It is not just you guys. I honestly feel like I'm reading something I wrote. I have no advice to offer, just wanted to say we are there too. <3

Anonymous said...

I obviously haven't been there... but I have a feeling we will be at one point. Hopefully not for long, but I can see it happening at some point.

michelle said...

It's sooooooo hard. Some days I just hate him... Our twins just turned one. And yes I'm a full time working mom!

Becca M said...

Amen and amen. Our situation (as you know) was a bit since it involved adopting tots while he was deployed but OMG, it has taken a toll on us. I also think that issues specific to military families also exacerbate those stresses that come with being a new parent.

You are totally not alone in feeling this way...I could've written a post basically just like this. *hugs*

Suzy, Not a Fertile Myrtle said...

I am sending you a GIANT hug. I think being honest is so important. Hopefully counseling will be a big help to you both.

Lots of love to you! <3

Stevie said...

You know I understand where you're coming from, mama. Kids are AMAZING. But they also automatically create a completely different dynamic in a relationship, and I think all the hard work that comes naturally in maintaining a relationship gets that much harder.

And nobody talks about it.

I think people are scared to, because it might somehow imply that having kids was a mistake. Which, obviously, NO ONE is saying, but it's a legitimate reality for everyone. Having kids is a blessing, but it can make shit much, much harder in a variety of ways.

I'm so glad you posted about this, lady. And I am so sorry things are rough. I truly hope counseling can help YOU, and then you and M, get to a place where you feel unified as a unit again. You're right in that all the stresses have to have SOMEWHERE to go. Good luck to you and you know I'm here if you need anything.

Anonymous said...

I think that parents often dont talk about these things because of the guilt they feel. You feel guilty and feel like a like a failure as a mother and as a wife. At least I know I did. And I was worried about the judgement from others that would be associated with talking about my real feelings. I hated being pregnant, and I felt like such a jerk for not being exactly thrilled with all aspects of parenthood. And that is just tough to deal with.

You are definitely not alone here.

KL Grady said...

Hon, some of us do talk about this. But baby fever means parents-to-be can't hear it, don't want to hear it, think they'll be exempt, don't register the sheer magnitude of change babies bring. They want a baby. They want a baby NOW. And nothing you say is going to harsh their baby high. ;)

I had the good fortune to stay home once the sprogs came, but it was still hard in the opposite way: overload. Everything was on me because husband was gone all the time, we lived away from family, and daycare was unreasonable (not worth the expense since, you know, I didn't have a job). Kids change everything. You lose your identity, your freedom, your ability to think and reason (which comes from sleep deprivation and stress), your peace of mind (why won't my kid quit puking, and why won't these !@#$ doctors do something about it), your social life, and yes, the marriage you had prior to kids.

When the kids come, you and your husband are no longer each other's priority. The kids are, and rightly so. This shift in priorities can take a nasty toll on marriages.

There's an adage that doesn't get enough airtime because of the context it's usually used in: don't have a baby because you think it'll fix your marriage. Babies don't fix marriages. Babies break marriages, and if there isn't a whole lot of love and commitment and perseverance keeping it in one piece, the relationship and the bond will shatter. The break isn't necessarily bad, any more than knocking down a house is bad. If you weren't prepared for the knocking, didn't have a backup plan, it's going to be stressful. But the good news is that you can build a new house in its place, and you can do it keeping in mind all the flaws of the old house and all the new dreams and hopes you have for your future. Marriages break because they fundamentally change when a baby arrives, but that break means there's room to build something even better and stronger in its place. It's best to be ready for that shift, though preparation is not typically inevitable.

Marriage after a baby is trial by fire, but that fire will harden the bond if you work through it.

My best advice to deal with all this is to get into therapy. Find a mediator who can help you guys communicate your needs and your concerns. But also, you HAVE to make time to do things together. Yes, you're missing your baby for all but two hours a day. But if you don't take a night a month at least to focus only on each other, you won't have the room or the tools you need to repair and solidify your relationship. And then you're going to have additional stresses to deal with on top of those that this new life has brought.

Most of all, I offer hugs and stuff. Because hugs fix everything. So does rum.

Rhe Christine said...

I feel like I've written about my experiences, or maybe I just talked about it so much...so maybe I should. Here's my perspective. I'm not sure you would have really heard had someone told you. I remember having a discussion very similar to this when a preggo friend of mine called me and wanted the down low. I had just had my second and was pretty vocal about my ppd experience and the fact that I didn't get help for way too long. I also included a lot of talk about what it was actually like to be a SAHM. So I have it to her. About 3 months later she called me to thank me and apologize. She said she had gotten off the phone and basically laughed, thought I was nuts and that I was probably eating Bon bons all day. I don't know that if stayed at home it would necessarily change everything. I mean I'm a huge proponent of it, but I get that my everyone agrees with me but my husband and I have our own issues too. . I agree with the counseling, I would maybe think about post partum depression and anxiety.