“I hate you.”
It’s a strong phrase loaded with harsh feelings.
Yes, sometimes we say it flippantly like “I hate my hair” or “I hate when people try to tell me how to raise my kids” – wait, no, we actually hate that.
But I’m here to tell you that if you’ve ever said (or thought) “I hate you” to your partner after having a baby, you are not alone and you are OK.
How do I know this? Well, because I said “I hate you” to my partner when my son was six weeks old.
I was on maternity leave. I remember my husband came into the house through the front door that day – the day the hate really surfaced. He never came through the front door. Why, of all days, did he come through the front door when the baby was asleep in my arms only a few feet away. I was in what I call “nap jail” for a few hours already — I even texted him to tell him to be quiet! He busted through the door singing our son’s name. The baby woke up, and I absolutely cracked. I told him that I hated him, that he was inconsiderate, and that he couldn’t do anything right. Then, I handed him the baby and stormed off to cry on the bathroom floor. It was that uncontrollable crying where you can’t catch your breath.
Really, this is a thing?
If you type “hating your partner after having a baby” into Google you’ll get about 862 million results. If there’s an abundant amount of content out there on this subject, why wasn’t I ever aware that this was a thing?
Today, that still remains an unsolved mystery.
When I was dealing with this all I could think was: Why do I feel this way? How could I say that to the person I love and the father of our child? Will I feel this way forever? How can I fix this?
Why do I feel this way?
I just had a baby. That’s why. I know, it seems totally obvious and simple. However, for some reason – whether it’s centuries of assuming all baby duties fall to the woman, or maybe it’s in our nature to be self-loathing when we’re at our most vulnerable – we believe we have to be invincible, emotionally solid, and over-the-moon happy after we give birth. Looking back on it, I should have known I’d be a mess. I was a mess when I adopted a kitten at 12 years old, so what made me think it would be any different with a kid at 30 years old?
You’re not the same after having a baby. Your hormones are totally confused, and you have this new life to look after. Your relationship with your partner has changed. You think your life is going to forever be about spit-up and poop. You believe you’ll never sleep again (and lack of sleep really screws up any hope for rationale). You’re still you, but a new version of you, and your wants and needs have shifted every day in those first few months of your baby’s life. You’ve also got this really big new job and title: mom.
What do I do?
Be honest with yourself, your partner, and even your baby
I don’t know what your situation is, or how you communicate your partner, but I found that the minute I started being open with my husband I felt some relief. It was not easy because every other conversation was about how I hated him, and the other conversations were about the baby. Were we ever going to talk about anything other than feeding, sleep, and poop?!
This may sound weird, but I also talked to my son. They say talking to your baby helps language development, and that it doesn’t really matter what you’re saying at the early age, just make sure it’s in a neutral or pleasant tone, so I gave it a go. So, there I was, chatting to my son: “Mommy is just really overwhelmed right now. I love you and I know I love your father, but he is annoying the heck out of me, but we’ll figure all this out.” Part of me also felt like I was making my first steps to staying true to how I wanted to parent — honest and straightforward.
Ask your partner how they feel
I assumed that my husband was fine and dandy since he was the one who was able to leave the house and go to work, have conversations with adults, and go to the bathroom when he wanted, but he was just as terrified as I was. He told me he felt helpless because he couldn’t feed our son (I was exclusively breastfeeding then), and he couldn’t possibly know our baby’s wants and needs like I could. He also said he put a huge amount of pressure on himself to be uber-successful in his job because he had this new little life to help support. I never put that kind of pressure on him, but I absolutely understood and appreciated his drive.
Asking my husband how he felt helped me see that he also had insecurities and that he was empathetic to my feelings.
All this time I thought he was always the rock and he never got, well, rocked. I only then realized that he’s human, too, and he’s allowed to be scared.
Bring it up at the moment
Whenever I felt that urge to say those three very hurtful, powerful words to my husband I’d say to him: “I’m fighting being irrational, but I need to say it out loud. Can I candidly tell you how I’m feeling?” I’m pretty sure my husband flinched each time, but he obliged for some reason, and I’m glad he did.
These chats would either be fruitful or pointless, but regardless of how it went, it meant we were keeping the lines of communication open in this new phase of life. It’s cliché, but communication is key.
Talk to other moms
Call your friends, meet them for coffee sans baby and just talk. Connection is important when you’re feeling lost. You can also look into joining a local new-mom group. I joined a mom-group in my community and it was comforting to hear that other moms were going through the exact same thing and how they were dealing with it. I never realized how much I needed a fresh perspective.
Spend less time on social media
Think about it – you’re scrolling through your feed and see pictures of happy couples with their babies and you wonder why you aren’t as cheerful and in love with your family as they seem to be. The comparison game must stop. You are absolutely in control of your own happiness, so put the phone down, and give it a break.
Will it be like this forever?
In my case, no, but everyone is different.
In the moment it absolutely felt like forever because life was so different, and I couldn’t see past the present.
The honest conversations — which sometimes felt like beating a dead horse because we would have the same chat over and over — and time helped us.
After a few months, our son was out of the baby blob stage. He was growing and developing, and it gave us, together, a sense of excitement and accomplishment. Maybe it was a distraction or maybe it was reassuring, but time really helped me get over the hate phase.
We still aren’t perfect, believe me, and there are still times where I think you don’t understand how hard this is, and parenting is easy to you because you aren’t the mom.
My “ah-ha” moment was when we were both back at work, our son had a routine, and we started sharing the responsibilities equally. I realized that everything felt more natural, less new and confusing, and my partner and I had less and less of those “I’m scared, what is happening, get me off this ride” kind of moments.
When should I be worried?
I’m not a doctor, but I told myself that if these feelings continued for an extended period of time, with no relief in sight, then it was time to seek guidance. For us, it never got to that point.
As moms we have this mom guilt about asking for help because we think it makes us look weak, but I think you’re stronger than ever when you are honest about what you need. And guess what? We need loads of help!
My mom always told me that I have options regardless of the situation. Those options may not be very attractive sometimes, but you have the power to influence how the chapters of your life are written, so get in there and do some editing if needed.
Like I said, there’s more than 862 million search results about hating your partner after having a baby, so you aren’t alone, and it’s not wrong to feel this way.
How did you communicate with your partner after having a baby? Tell us in the comments below.