Today’s anonymous contribution to Untold Stories is, sadly, not an uncommon one. It’s all about that time after a birth of a baby when you’re meant to be living as a happy family and yet somehow it doesn’t always work like that. It’s a massively tough time for even the strongest of relationships and if there are any cracks at all, it’s now that they can begin to show. If you’ve had a similar experience and have come out the other side I would love you to leave an encouraging comment. Or maybe you came out the other side and it didn’t look exactly how you thought it would look? Please do leave a comment and share your story. (Names have been changed.)
Hate feels like a strong word but I don’t honestly know how else to describe it. What is it called when you lie in bed next to someone while they sleep and all you can feel towards them is resentment and bitterness?
I haven’t always felt like this about my husband. We met when we were 24 and married five years later. For all that time we were perfectly happy. Okay, so not perfectly, but we were a normal amount of happy. We both had jobs we loved, friends with whom we did all the things that twenty somethings are meant to do – boozy brunches, Sunday lunches, all of that. At weekends we sometimes lay in, sometimes we went away. We had disposable income. We were tired sometimes, but the kind of tiredness that comes from fun nights out and work projects that you feel passionately about. It was the sort of tired that you don’t mind because you know there will be chance to catch up at the weekend. It didn’t seem to matter who put out the bin as long as it happened at some point.
Then when I was 32 we had a baby. I’ve always wanted a family, we both have. We were excited about it. We went to all of the classes, did all the research. We felt ready. It turns out I was really not ready.
I loved Sophie the minute she was born of course. When I saw David’s face as he held her for the first time I could have just burst with joy and pride and it felt like we’d become the perfect family I had always imagined. It was tough to start with, but it was that ‘us against the world’ feeling, of being in it together.
I’m not sure when things started to change exactly. There was definitely a point where it dawned on me that this was it now, no going back, and that was scary. The novelty of the sleepless nights and endless laundry was beginning to wear off and the relentlessness of it began to kick in. I realised that the tiredness was different, not the sort of tiredness where you can catch up at the weekend and feel normal again. It was a dragging kind of empty tiredness that made it difficult to even remember what you were meant to be doing let alone actually do it.
I think it was when David had been back at work for about three weeks that I started to resent him. He had a drinks thing after work one day and came back later (and drunker) than he said he was going to. When he finally came home at about 9pm, (not even that late!), Sophie was still awake and had been crying on and off all day – one of those days where they just seem so mad at the world, you don’t know what to do with them. I wanted him to take her just that I could have ten minutes to myself and something to eat.
I can remember it so clearly. He did this kind of sigh and half eye roll. ‘Give me a minute,’ he said, ‘I’ve been working all day and I’m shattered.’
Something inside of me just snapped. I’m not sure how else to describe it. For all of those years I’d felt like I knew him and he knew me and in that moment it felt like I’d lost that connection and he couldn’t see or hear me anymore. It didn’t feel like us against them anymore. It felt like me against him. I didn’t say anything, I watched the disconnection happen in my head, numbly.
Things started to feel like a competition after that, like a battle. I started keeping score in my head of all the things I’d done for Sophie against all the things he’d done, all the hours I’d spent with her versus his, and they never added up and nobody ever won. David said he had to get a good night’s sleep because he had to work, but was looking after our baby not work? We started taking turns at the weekend to have lie ins but it never felt fair. When it was my turn there would always be something he needed to ask me.
I started resenting him leaving for work, jealous of him getting to drink his coffee hot at a desk surrounded by other grown ups. I became snappy and bitter sounding and so he stayed at work doing longer hours. It has become a horrible circle of anger and exhaustion and I don’t know how to get out of it. Sometimes he tries to talk to me about it but I feel so defensive and angry that I can’t seem to let him in.
Sophie is six months old now and I’m lying in bed next to David while he sleeps, typing this on my phone, resenting every tiny snore because it feels like he’s rubbing it in even in his sleep. I feel awful about it but I don’t know how to change it. Is it just a phase? Will the bitterness recede and let me love him again? I don’t know and honestly, I feel too tired to think about it.
I used to be convinced my husband chose to stay away in hotels rather than come home when he didn’t need to! Hang in there it does get easier, sleep deprivation does strange things to you. It will get easier and you will enjoy the time with your baby more and more. There’ll be one sunny day when he has to work and you are spending the day in the park and you’ll feel sorry for him…and perhaps a bit smug xx
Thanks so much for this comment Keery and the words of encouragement. It’s true that a lack of sleep can really change everything.
Thank you Keery, I really hope you’re right! When I’ve talked to him he does say how he often feels the same but the other way around, that he envies me getting to spend all the time I do with her, it’s just hard to believe sometimes!
It may not get better or easier but it will change. You’ll learn about yourself, about him and about your daughter. There will come a day when you make peace with how things are ; some days you’re so frustrated about how much you do in comparison, but would you actually have it any other way?
I think that’s why I feel so much internal conflict because no, I wouldn’t for a minute change having had her, and I don’t want to be without him, and it makes the feelings so hard to understand.
I felt exactly the same as this.. and when he would tell our baby he loved her I would roll my eyes. I thought I hated him.. our baby is 18 months now and I very much love my husband. I still get feelings of resentment some times.. but the feeling of hatred fades away.
Talk though- talking to him is so important. X
Thank you so much for this Susie, it’s so good to hear that other people feel the same and it’s not just me being crazy or horribly bitter.
Sounds really tough. Have you thought about speaking to him very calmly but bluntly and really laying out how you feel and trying to come to an arrangement – e.g. can he get home at a decent time two nights a week to let you go for a swim/gym/coffee shop and book while he does bath and bedtime? Can you let him know how infuriating being disturbed when you are meant to be lying in on your weekend morning? Another thing – can you get a babysitter once a month so you can go out and do something fun, even if only a pizza and cinema. I’ve neglected this side of life but we’re trying to prioritise it this year so we can connect more without the kids ALWAYS BEING BLOODY AROUND! For what it’s worth my husband has a demanding job but never once said ‘I need a good night’s sleep because I’m working the next day’ or wanted to sleep in the spare room etc. He knew he had to step up to the plate. About once a week we gave each other the night off, so I’d sleep in a different room, go to bed early etc and one night he’d do it so each had a totally undisturbed night.
Thanks for your comment El. I think what you say about getting a babysitter is definitely something we should take on board. I get so caught up in wanting him to take his turn and for me to have time alone that I think part of me almost resents the idea of going out together, because it would feel like him getting more ‘time off’! It sounds so ridiculous when I type it though – of course we need to have time off together too. I’m going to chat to my mum I think about her coming over one night.
You should show him this. Or write something specifically for him so he can receive the information you need to give to him without it first going through your anger. Sleep deprivation is not the whole story and it really does sound like your husband isn’t valuing your work equally and that isn’t right or fair. Put in writing that your work prevents you from taking a break to wash or eat, that his 9-5 with a lunch break does not compare to the constant demand of what you. Calmly, logically lay out to him the just how much you do, a spreadsheet perhaps? If you want your relationship to get better and stronger communication is the only way that will happen. I saw a couple switch places for 2 weeks once to illustrate this to a man, he got it once very quickly once he experienced the workload coupled with the isolation. Also maybe speak to your healthworker/doctor if that’s someone you’re comfortable with, they can recommend mother and baby groups to help you speak to grown ups once in a while.
Thanks Lindsey. You’re totally right about the mother and baby groups. I get quite anxious about meeting new people and have been putting it off, even though I know it would be good for me, and I know it makes it worse not having more grown ups around, especially when I’m sure we’d have plenty to talk about really. My mum did offer to come with me to some groups to start with so I think it’s time to take her up on the offer.
I had the same thing but the other way round – I lost my Mum, and my depression went deeper than it ever had before, and I brought up all the things my Husband had done ‘against’ me, and if I’d had the energy I’d have left him.
But, in time I got it all under control and now we’re happier than ever.
It will get better (unless your hubby really is an arse, then maybe not) But you loved him once, and he’s still that guy, and nobody’s perfect.
That sounds like an awful experience for you, I’m so sorry. My husband really isn’t an arse. I think he’s struggling because I’ve clearly withdrawn from him, and that makes it harder to feel close to each other and support each other, but he’s basically a good guy.
Thank you, x
Most of them aren’t an arse, they just react wrongly to things sometimes, then that makes us react and it’s a spiral.
Also sometimes it works just to get your problem out there – a problem shared and all that.
I had similar feelings of resentment. I also used to keep a running tally of who had done what jobs around the house, how many times I’d pick up his socks off the floor when the laundry basket was RIGHT THERE! There were times when I considered how things would work if we were to spilt up. But I kept a lot of it to myself as somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that tiredness and social isolation can make you think and feel differently.
I’d say the turning point for me was when our daughter started nursery. I felt able to breathe again. Just having a couple of afternoons a week to myself.
Three years on and I’d say our relationship is probably the best it’s ever been. I feel like we are on the same team again. We are grateful for what the other does and we tell each other that frequently. I hadn’t realised how much my husband wished he could stay at home and be with us. I’m so glad I stuck it out. Though I was never really thinking of leaving, I think if I’d allowed myself to pick fights over the thousands of small things that bugged me daily, it would have caused irreversible damage to our relationship.
So hang in there, get out and see your friends when you can, find some supportive baby groups, tell your husband you love and appreciate him (even if you have to do it through gritted teeth!), talk through the big stuff, let the little stuff go, and know that there are better days around the corner.
Yes! It’s exactly that! This constant running total of who has done what, and it feels so silly but it’s so consuming. I feel like I’m setting him up to fail sometimes, deliberately waiting to see how long it takes him to notice something… It’s good to hear that it can go back the other way and that in a way you feel it worked for you to just ride it out and not turn it into something.
You underestimate what your body has been through. The act of giving birth and all that entails takes a huge toll on your body and mind. Hormones are raging, you’re bleeding, you’re leaking milk and scariest of all you have a little baby that you love more than life itself to mind. Nothing can prepare for the maelstrom of emotions that engulf you. All the books and magazines show beautifully coordinated glowing Mothers. Life and babies are messy.
I think maybe you should talk to a professional and tell them how you feel and get help for yourself.You are very important and you need to be looked after. I feel the love you have for each other in your story and I think that together you can become that unit again and share the joy of rearing your beautiful daughter x
Thank you Maura, that actually made me cry, to think that our love is evident despite how I feel right now. That’s so good to hear. You’re right about the physical things too – it was a pretty traumatic birth and I’m still breastfeeding too, which I do find exhausting sometimes, especially when she has these growth spurts and just wants me all the time.
I’m going out on a limb here and I know you feel your disdain is directed at your husband. But… I remember grieving for my singledom/freedom/job satisfaction and everything else. Hating the monotony of housework and the restrictions that looking after a baby presents, the seemingly futile mashing of veg and wiping of food from every conceivable surface. But what mother directs that at their child, it’s not their fault, they are the most precious innocent bundle in the middle. So we do a bit of guilt, self blame but mainly vent our wrath on the other guilty party even though he is unaware thats what is going on. With his adult conversations, his eating his lunch in peace, his thoughts to himself, his fulfilled intellect. However his situation is not his fault either. I urge you to clear the air, be clear that you’re not necessarily blaming him but he needs to know what this is like for you. In the mix of all this there will be plenty times he will be jealous of you, getting all the lovely snuggly baby bits in abundance. This stage will change you won’t always feel like this, but he needs to know, he needs to support you. Wishing you love.
I think that’s probably very true Jen. I had a pretty demanding job before I left on mat leave and that has definitely left a big hole. A lot of my social life was linked to work too because I’d been there a long time and knew the people well and felt very comfortable with them. I do miss that side of my life a lot – it feels like so long ago. Everyone said they would stay in touch but it’s hard to make the effort with a new baby.
We had been together for 11 years before we had our twins. I felt EXACTLY the same. Just wanted to run away. Things improved when I went back to work two days a week when the boys were 10 months old. One of these days was a Sunday so my husband had the kids to himself one day a week. I increased my hours as the boys got older. They’re 6 now and I’ve been back at work full time for 2 years and I’m a million times happier! I’m definitely not cut out to be a stay at home parent. Easier said than done but if you enjoyed working, I’d encourage you to look into going back. I earned nothing for two years because of nursery fees but it made such a difference to my mental health. Honestly thought I was going insane and just wanted to scream.
It gets better. I promise x
I felt like this with both of my children, even though my husband had spent a year as a stay at home dad with the eldest so he did understand more than most. Do you find yourself preparing everything for him when he has baby? I feel how frustrating the male helplessness can be, especially on your turn for a lie in!
I found my husband didn’t really get it until the first time he was left alone with baby for a significant amount of time. It took a lot of effort to not pack the bag for him etc etc but that’s how he’s learned what the really difficult bits are. He just couldn’t take my word on how difficult it is, he had to experience it for himself.
And for what its worth, I would consider a lie in disturbed by stupid questions about where the spare nappies are (which he could easily just look for!) to not count. He disturbed you, so now it’s your turn again.
I don’t really want to post this for fear of causing you further distress but word for word what you wrote, I could have written. My moment happened when my first son was about 7 months old. I wish I could remember what the moment was, because it was life defining and yet it is lost because it was so mundane – like arguing about who was going to carry laundry up the stairs.
Whatever it was, I went from loving my husband to resenting him. Some how (can’t remember how or when) we conceived child 2. And the disparity between our lives grew. His resentment grew. The lack of communications grew. I became bitter. He withdrew more.
Out of the blue one day he said he’d like a divorce. That shocked me so much – that he could go from never saying anything about being unhappy to wanting a divorce. I went to therapy to work on myself, to make me happier. It worked for a time. But it didn’t fix the rift between us.
He had an affair 9 years after our first son was born. He wanted to feel loved. We worked through that, did couples counselling. Things got better. I grew happier with our respective roles and we were communicating more. I felt the first sparks of our old relationship returning. For a while.
Unbeknownst to me he had another affair five years on. He lied about it and told me that it was because I was a negative person that he wanted a divorce. I only discovered the affair later. He made me feel that it was me and my lack of love for him that had destroyed our marriage.
So we now are divorced and I have rediscovered the person I used to be. I’m not negative or bitter. I’m happy and optimistic. The weight of no longer loving my husband and the disparity between our lives, had turned me into a different person while we were together.
I can almost forgive him the affairs. For a long time I felt the failure of our marriage was because I fell out of love with him. And yet, the reason I did is because he did so little to support me. Ever. He got to continue his life unchanged. The blame lies at both our feet for not prioritising our relationship and our failure to communicate. (Turns our he’s also a selfish, lying bastard but let’s ignore that for now)
All I can advise is that you talk to him now. Really talk. Make it a habit to talk weekly about the two of you. Be honest, open, agree to listen when the other speaks. See if you can find common ground again and rebuild the love from there. It can come back. But don’t wait. And don’t be ashamed that you feel this way. It’s normal. We don’t want to tell them for fear of hurting their egos and turning it into a thing. But right now it’s a little thing. It will become a big thing if left unchecked. I hope you rediscover your love for him and yourself in the process.
I’m so sorry you feel so alone and so upset. I’ve been there. My babies are now coming up 18 and 20.
In my experience, most men and new dads are utterly dim and literally need walked through this new chapter. We, of course, are just supposed to get on with this massive change in our lives with no help or training!! I started to feel like you do, after the birth of my youngest. I had post natal depression (PND) and she was also some sort of banshee baby, who never stopped crying (first daughter was a textbook baby!). My husband just didn’t want to know. He couldn’t wait to go back to work and was blinkered to me being left alone, shell shocked with a toddler and a new (wailing) baby. I honestly wanted to smother his snoring face in his sleep. Utterly hated him.
I had to sit him down and tell him exactly how it was – that I was struggling, that I felt I wasn’t coping, that he needed to step up and do more to help me. We talked a lot over a period of several days and he admitted he just thought it was the same as having one baby and had no idea of the work involved (massive eye roll from me). But he also told me he was suddenly really anxious himself since our wee one had been born – and he was worried about money. He was scared of having enough to provide for his new family of 4. He’d been settled in his own head with the family of 3 and this was too much of a change.
So this is why you MUST talk to him – there may we’ll be something that’s keeping him from throwing himself into fatherhood. But also, he undoubtedly needs it demonstrated to him VERY PLAINLY how much you are doing. You need to show him, calmly (easier said than done), that being a mum is also “work” and it’s 24/7!
I would also strongly urge you to check in with your health visitor or GP because you might be a bit depressed, bless you. And do please take your mum up on her offer to come to a toddler group with you. I totally get how scary it feels to turn up at a group when you barely know anyone, so let your mum come. I’ve had zero support from my mum all my life (long story), so let her help you. It does you good to be with other mums. And mostly everyone else feels like crap (apart from that one glamorous mum who seems to have it altogether). I’ve made lasting friendships from the toddler group I attended.
And, as others have said, try and get a sitter, so you and your husband can do something normal together.
All you can do is try. He might not take it well the first attempt. You may even need to write to him or email him. You know him best, so choose the most effective way he would respond to.
If it’s any help to you, I’m still with my husband. Talking has saved us. We have made lovely memories with our girls and, come September, we will be a couple of our own again when our youngest goes off to uni. Sure, I want to throttle him now and then, but he’s just a man after all! We’ve been together since we were 16. And at 45 we are about to embark on a new chapter, with no kids at home and it’s just as challenging as having a new baby. It’s new and scary – so we talk about it a lot.
Good luck ❤️
Society has to get better at talking to young people about the real impact of having children. The family circle of parents, grandparents and friends are all so quick to ask a young couple ‘when are you having a baby’ with no discussion or thought as to what it will mean to their lives.
It’s freaking hard, physically, mentally, emotionally and every other way you can think about. Not to mention you are linking yourself, for better or worse, to another person, you will always have this child in common, even if the relationship breaks down.
None of this really helps the poor couple in this story, all I can say to her/they need to open a line of dialogue. It’s a big step sharing her feelings in this forum and it probably helps to organise her thoughts, but now she needs to have the conversation with her partner and hopefully he’ll respond in kind.
Wow. I can relate 100%. EVERY SINGLE THING YOU WROTE. My son is 9 months old now and his father has JUST started to come into his role. A little too late though, we are seperating. In addition to everything you described, my fiance had a serious problem with alcohol and marijuana which we came to realize only after an incident of domestic violence when our baby was 7 weeks old. It was terrifying. He was arrested and the court put a restraining order in place that left me alone with my baby for 4 months. I had to go back to my country to be around family…when we reunited he abstained from alcohol but went right back to smoking non stop, which means he was checked out and still avoiding all the root issues that destroyed us. Which means, the responsibility of our child was still 95% on me. Funny thing, I could have forgiven everything after hard work on my PTSD and couples counseling, everything except the fact that his family cut me out like an ulcer and undermined our relationship since the domestic violence event. This was the result of him blaming me for his actions to avoid shame and his family being uber willing to explain his violent outburst as a dramatized and malicious false story told by my crazy, post partum self. They excumunicated me, treated me horrendously, shamed me, and all the while, he stood by pretending he had nothing to do with it. To my face he was tremendously sorry, and on the road to a changed man. To his family and friends, he was continuing to allow this abuse towards me by passively not correcting their perception of me, and actively allowing them to murder my character, again and again. This betrayal was the ultimate nail on the coffin of our relationship for me. I looked on towards our future and deeply introspected about whether I could romantically ever respect or admire him, feel safe with him, trust him again-and the answer is no. We are now seperated and it is hard but not as hard as the suffering and resentment I felt when we were together. Now there are no expectations. I can forgive and let go of all that resentment. I can imagine him surrounded by his family and friends trash talking me and calling me vile things while he says nothing, agrees, or nods his head passively and I am not phased by it. We are trying to be friends now. Supportive co-parents. Some days are harder than others and relationships are ever evolving but for now, things are good.
This is my advice to women in our shoes: Be patient. Be empathetic. Be forgiving. Communicate, communicate communicate. But also-be assertive. Know what your needs and boundaries are and make them heard and respected. YOU get to decide what you are willing to forgive and live with and what you are not-not society, not your parents, not all the training you have received about what a good wife and mother ought to do. This is different for everyone. Know your truth and confidently honor it.
Lots of love! Xx
Wow, thank you so much for your comment – I think you’ve shown massive strength and courage during what sounds like a hugely stressful time for you. It’s so amazing that you’re able to be so generous with your forgiveness but at the same time have such consistent boundaries. I really appreciate you sharing your story and hope life treats you well xx
I completely relate to this – particularly the feelings of competitiveness. My son is 29 months and I feel the same way. My partner had been working from home most of the time prior to the pandemic so I feel like we’ve had double the amount of lockdown and cabin fever. All affection went during pregnancy and hasn’t been rekindled. During the newborn stage, whilst feeling frazzled and sleep derived, my partner decided to go to the local beer shop every day until closing at 7pm – because he said he felt like a “spare part” and wanted to go there as “at least people there were nice to him”. He was given £700 by various members of his family for the baby… he bought the baby a cardigan, some socks and a nightlight. It came to about £50 (at most!) in total. The rest?!? He barely helped at all financially. during my maternity leave and said as it was my leave I should pay for everything such as clothes and activities. He’s apologised and no longer goes (because he can’t obvs!) but i’m finding it really hard to get over the anger and resentment for him doing that.. Now I’m back at work and working from home, it’s often been a battle of ‘who gets to work?’ – his work always takes priority, despite the fact that I’m in a more senior, gainfully earned and better paid job. We say we’re going to split up every other week but never actually do it properly because of the effect it could have on our son. I think we’re both waiting to see if things improve when we come out of the pandemic but I’m also secretly saving up to ensure that I can have a deposit ready for if I need it.
I’m so sorry to hear you feel this way, I felt exactly the same after my little girl was born. It did get better over time, but I think the stresses and strains of raising a family made me realise just how selfish the man I married could be at times and, whilst I’d never really minded going along with his decisions and doing things his way before, now there was more to think about than him it was difficult to see him continue to put himself first all the time. It depends on the people involved and every set of circumstances will be different- sometimes you can work through these things really successfully and build a stronger relationship in the end, and sometimes you can’t. I personally feel that my relationship – 2 years on from having a baby -has changed to a point where we can never get back what we had, but my little girl needs both her parents so I’ll give it more time and hope I’m wrong. It’s sad that I don’t see us staying together long term – in fairness we both felt we were finally getting things back on track but then he had a really negative reaction to an unplanned pregnancy and it’s made me realise that nothing about him has changed, it’s just much less obvious when the relationship isn’t under a lot of pressure. Don’t underestimate the pressure that a new baby (and being completely sleep deprived!) puts on a relationship – hopefully things will get back on track for you as your little one grows. Best of luck xxx
I will never have another child with my husband due to my residual resentment from the newborn years for my two children. He can go fuck himself, truly. I will never forget the disregard and lack of respect for what I was going thru while all he had to do was log the fuck into a computer. I will NEVER have another child with him and I pop the pill nightly so fucking thankful for it’s existence.