The weight of stress

I read somewhere long ago that it takes 18 months after having a baby for your relationship to go back to normal. I thought that made sense at the time but I never knew how true it was until I started living it.

The stress of having a child, particularly the stress of bedtime, has really made things a bit harder in our home. Gus doesn’t sleep particularly poorly – he is a frequent waker but normally needs gentle soothing very briefly and goes back to sleep. When he is in his crib he just needs to know someone is there and falls back to sleep almost instantly. When he is in our bed it normally just involved popping a boob in his mouth and we’re all back to sleep. But he does not go to sleep easily. He has never fallen asleep not in our arms (Well, a few time we have found sleepy but not asleep but it still involved the same amount of work on the front end) and it used to always take holding him tight and patting his back while he screamed. About two weeks ago that stopped working. Now he only goes to sleep nursing or on a bottle. Last night, like many nights in the past few weeks, he nursed for an hourish and took four ounces in a bottle. That’s a lot. The night before that he nursed and was instantly to sleep in 15 minutes. Why the difference, Gus man?

It is hard during these bad nights not to use a tone of voice that the other mom may hate. Lesley feels like I talk to her like she is stupid. I feel like she yells at me. We both leave bedtime exhausted, upset, and mad at one another. The arguments we have then are the arguments my parents had my entire childhood. I hate so much that it keeps happening.

Yet it doesn’t seem to get better. These arguments are based on tone of voice. It’s so dumb yet we can’t stop it.

There are other stresses, too. Currently, we are all sick. We all have a cough and cold for going on a week. It’s been rough. Lesley has been sick for about a month. First a cold, then a stomach bug, then Gus got sick and she caught his cold, and now she has that and a stomach bug. I know she feels bad both physically and for not being as big of a help because she is sick. I am not a patient person. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses and I am not good when my partner is sick. I’m tired of her being sick. I’m tired of being what I call “the family motivator” who has to encourage everyone to participate in activities and do household chores. It sounds dumb but it is really tiring to always have to be the person to keep everyone moving. The good thing about this sickness is that it’s really motivated Lesley to do something about her health. She has always had a list of mysterious ailments that doctors have dismissed. One of these is her inability to kick illnesses. When she gets sick it is regularly for a month or more. So next week she has a consult with a Naturopath to see if they will be able to work with her to figure out if something bigger is going on. But for now it is rough.

The sickness and the baby who won’t go to sleep and the stress of life piling up around us (laundry, a lawn that needs mowing, the fact that Lesley hasn’t been cooking much because she is sick so we really haven’t been eating which exasperates all the problems) makes it so hard to be so far from our families. I just wish more than anything that Gus had a Grandma near by that we could tap out to for a bit. Our two biggest sources of help have always been our friends K and B. K moved to Canada at the beginning of the month. The same week B’s long time boyfriend returned from a year long deployment and they bought a house. (I should mention she still stops by and made us soup and cake last week. She just has a life, too.) But even if either of them were available I don’t know that there’s much anyone could do for us. I don’t know if there is much a Grandma could do. I think just not having that makes it seem like the cure all to these problems.

In the end I know our relationship will be fine. I know we’ll find a way to break these patterns that now seem unbreakable. I know we’ll be healthy again and stuff will get done and it will be okay. But for now the days are long and nights are hard and I just wish things would ease up a little bit. I wish that physically, emotionally, and mentally we’d all feel good.

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Posted on June 24, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. lifeasagaymom

    I pinky, pinky promise you it’s gets better. Ride the waves together. You are exactly right, it does take that amount of time for things to balance back out. You both will be laughing at how crazy things were. Just enjoy the waves together for now and know that this is not forever. You will both be back before you know it. The strong ones make it out alive…..holding hands :

  2. Things will get better. We were in a stretch of feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, and sick that seemed like it would never let up. But it did and yours will too. πŸ™‚

  3. I understand the stress of not having family nearby. It just plain SUCKS. This is just a season in your lives, and this too shall pass. (That’s what I tell myself when everything’s shitty – and it’s true!).

  4. twomamasonebaby

    Hang in there, friend. I know you know I can relate. Our struggles may be different in the details, but not by much. I often laugh at myself when I think back on how I thought a child would bring H and I closer. HA. You’re right – you and Lesley will be fine, just as H and I will, but it’s really effing difficult in the meantime. I miss my relationship and what it used to be and look forward to it getting there again. I’m glad Lesley is going to see a naturopath! Excellent first step. And hey, if you guys need a date night, say the word.

    • Yeah, I know it will be okay in the end. I just think that this is something so many people don’t talk about that is really hard about it. We spend a fair amount of time talking about what we would be doing if we didn’t have Gus – it sure seems appealing. πŸ˜‰

  5. Solidarity. This is tough stuff. Do you have local friends who can participate in a meal train? Money to pay for cleaning services? Those have been godsends for us. It’s so hard to find your stride in such new and inconsistent times. Empathy is especially challenging, but like others have said, it does get better. Hang in there and be kind to yourselves and each other!

    • I actually found a local mom to clean a while ago and she didn’t show. 😦 i think we’d most benefit from having one half day a week where one of us was home baby free so maybe we can move towards that. At the end of july we go to visit our families for two weeks and if just one of those day someone took Gus for two hours i’d feel like a new person. πŸ™‚

      • Yes! I just posted about how a friend of ours took Clementine away to the park for an hour and how glorious the silence was. Me and/or couple time is amazing. I hope you can move to that model and break out of bad habits. Good luck to you.

  6. I’m sorry to hear things have been hard. I totally understand. I had no idea how much life would change with a baby. We have good weeks and bad weeks and I more often than not feel like a nag and a bad wife. It is better than it was 10 months ago though. I hope L gets better and G starts falling asleep sleeping better again.

  7. Thank you for being honest here! I think this is something many of us struggle with but don’t really admit. The adjustment period of having new humans in the house takes longer than I would like sometimes πŸ˜‰ and the tone thing you mention….that is us to a T! Hugs and good thoughts to you all getting on the med both physically and emotionally.

  8. OMG, the ‘tone’ struggle. I feel you so hard on this. I honestly feel like, right now, we have it so ‘easy’ (comparatively) and it’s still so easy to say one snarky thing and let it snowball into tears and anger. And the thing is, while I’m sorry I’m also NOT because fuck, work + pumping+ keeping other parts of life afloat+ + + + makes me feel justified in my sniping. Even if it’s not. thanks for writing this and owning it and I am raising my fist in some serious new parent solidarity!

  9. Oh friend, I feel you on the bedtime struggles and the impact that (and other stressors) have on a partnership. Two nights ago bedtime was literally 15 minutes from beginning to me walking out of the room. Last night it was up and down from 6:30 to 10 pm. And the resentment that builds between us on nights like last night leaves me wanting a stiff drink or a long run. Clearly we need a Hash run here. And childcare. Be gentle with yourself.

  10. The “tone” thing…you hit our biggest problem right there! Normally, it’s not what is being said, it’s the WAY it’s being said. We’ve figured out a “communication wall”. The same chalk board for all of Callie’s updates is now in our bedroom split into 4 sections: Incident, Why it’s important to me, what can stay the same, what can change. If an issue arises and we realize it’s getting too crazy, we call a “time out”, and one of us will usually write it on the wall. When we go to bed at night, we can very easily see the board from out bed, so when we are calmer, and we can actually talk about it, without kids within earshot (or tempers flaring) we seem to get to the route of the issue. “I was so hangry and i just couldn’t deal with you right at the moment”. “You were yelling at me and I got frustrated”. “The boys were crying and I just couldn’t take it anymore” “I felt like you weren’t listening to me”. You get the point. It sounds silly, but it works, and before you know it, you won’t need the board, but just gentle reminders. It’s where we’re at now. Maybe a dry erase board set up somewhere would help…

  11. As half of a former couple for whom it did not get better, I will say that it’s important to deal w situations and emotions as the arise, and not to put that work off just because you believe you are such a solid couple that the shitty times won’t break you apart.

    • Agree. We really try to talk things out not in the moment. Lately we have been calling each other out a lot on tone issues and that helps. When someone is being snippy to just say, “Hey, watch your tone” ends it instead of being mad about it for hours. I think so much of it goes unnoticed by the offender, which is hard.

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