Even if you’re the happiest couple that ever walked the earth, having a new born baby can come with a level of stress that could make you completely lose it on each other. There is something about the fatigue of caring for a new life, mixed with lack of sleep, the avalanche of postpartum hormones, and overall sense of, “What the hell do I do now?” that can take their toll.
Plus it can be exhausting getting up every 2 hours to feed a baby that would only accept your nipple for the first 4 weeks – you could end up feeling like a single parent.
In theory and in the beginning, having a new born baby can seem blissful until, of course, the reality of parenthood sets in; the moment you leave the hospital – or for me, the moment my mother left / finished her “omu-ugwo”. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade that phase and experience, no matter how hard it seemed, for the world, and I’m actually grateful to be where we are because of all we’ve been through together. Still, there were some arguments that made me think we wouldn’t make it to J’s first birthday.
Now, with baby number 2, we are handling a lot of these, better.
So today, I’m sharing 7 stupid things that new parents (like us, tend to) fight about:
1. Literally, nothing!
With my first pregnancy, we had absolutely no idea how much control our new born would have over us both, or how much we’d be tested in the first few months of his life; it was next level fatigue like I’ve never experienced before (or after) once my mom left us.
All those sleepless nights would result in either I, or The Hubs (usually me lol) starting an argument from literally nothing. Expecting me to make dinner? Argument. Bringing food, but leaving it just slightly out of reach. Argument. Drops his clothes on the floor? Argument.
Just little things. Things that neither of us would typically not bring up, let alone argue about. But somehow, under the unique conditions of caring for a newborn, they now seemed reasonable grounds for murder lol.
This went on until we eventually started getting more rest when we returned home to Nigeria, and had a live-in Nanny. I could finally sleep for more than 2 hours at a stretch, naturally, I was a lot easier to get along with lol
As you can probably tell from the above, I was a bit of a monster during those new born months, I could blame it on our ages or maturity but, honestly, we didn’t imagine or expect this attitude AFTER the baby was born. It took a long time before we figured out how to get through conflict in a healthy way, but back then and with our new born present, it felt like every argument as a couple was our last.
2. Will the real Sleep-shady please stand up?
With the arrival of our new baby, it was shocking to the both of us when sleep suddenly became a thing to be shared, taken in shifts, and negotiated.
In retrospect, it seems so silly how The Hubs and I used to waste precious time arguing about who was more tired. Sometimes he’d say he’d been awake all night but I knew he hadn’t because I’d heard him snoring. Other times I’d exaggerate how many times I’d been up through the night with the baby, just so he felt bad for sleeping through the night.
We’d even argue about who’d had the best quantity and quality of sleep loooool – who slept comfortably and who didn’t, who snored so loud that the other person’s sleep doesn’t count, and you will end up negotiating through barter systems you never knew existed. Sex in exchange for a nap, perhaps? Laundry for sleeping in tomorrow? Whatever you have to do to keep the peace.
It was all about point-scoring. Looking back we should have been kinder to each other. I still think I was more tired than him though! lol
If you can afford a nanny, consider hiring someone or accept assistance from family members or close friends, so that you can get adequate sleep. There’s no shame in getting help; it’s good for the overall health of your family.
If you don’t have help you can consider creating a sleep schedule with your partner. For example, if one parent is working and the other is staying home with the baby, you may choose to arrange things so the working parent gets more sleep on weeknights but picks up the slack on weekends, when the stay-at-home parent can sleep later, sleep longer stretches, or take naps.
Or whoever stays up through the night, gets to sleep in from 5:00am till later. Or if your baby is taking bottles – do one night on, one night off each.
Through both pregnancies, I’ve come to realize that sleep deprivation makes me irritable, borderline depressed, and more likely to argue. A few hours of extra slumber can make a surprising difference in mood and outlook.
3. ‘I’m doing most of the work’
This one goes hand-in-hand with the sleep argument because whoever has the hardest job (in the home or outside the home) ends up thinking they have the better case for needing more sleep.
No matter how many times anyone “offered to help” , I always felt like everything about caring for my new born was my sole responsibility. So I always ended up being exhausted.
You will inevitably have the argument about who spends more time in looking after your baby, and you would most likely win. It’s easy to feel like you’re doing so much – while your husband (& the new baby lol) isn’t appreciating your effort. But remember, it goes both ways. A compliment here and there creates a more positive, supportive dynamic between you guys; try to appreciate the little or much your partner does in caring for your baby.
If you’re the one who needs a little more appreciation, speak up and ask for it nicely. Tell your partner exactly what you need to hear to feel better.
And remember, a fair division of labour doesn’t necessarily mean you both do exactly the same tasks. Work of all kind should be valued, even if his work is outside the home, doesn’t make your “work” – looking after the baby, any more / less important.
4. Sex…of course, sex!
One of you will want it, and the other probably won’t.
Guess who wouldn’t? Yup! More likely than not, it’s the spouse who just had their “privates’” destroyed or lower abdomen sliced open on an operating table. Yup! The same one with the saggy belly, leaking boobs, and who’s constantly strapped to a double electric pump every 2 hours – yeah, that spouse probably isn’t in the mood.
After delivery of my first baby – I had an episiotomy (ouch!). Naturally, my OB/GYN discussed with me that it was normal to feel some typa way about having sex again lol, because (apparently) a lot of women, after child birth, need time and space before sex is even on their mind again. Same thing with having a Caesarean with the birth of my second child.
Nonetheless, try to see your partner’s side of it— it may be hard but is there anything that would put you in the mood? Maybe a night out in town? A movie date? One-on-one conversation? Fewer chores during the day or a little extra romance?
If so, speak up. It’s an argument that can be avoided. Plus your spouse may be more understanding if they have an idea if your concerns or what you have been through
5. ‘Can’t the baby sleep with your mom / with the nanny / in his nursery’
In the first few weeks when you’re waking up to feed your baby every couple of hours, it’s normal to have her crib next to your bed or in your bed even. But it’s also common that this arrangement can disrupt sleep for all of you.
I was so busy with feeding, expressing milk, trying to stay cute lol that I probably didn’t realise that having our new born in the same room was also disruptive to spending time with The hubs, and I knew deep down that he was right to complain. He just couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let my mother have the baby through the night, I didn’t understand it either (I still can’t explain it) – but it was my maternal instinct to have my new born sleeping right beside me in his crib.
There’s a huge difference between evolving into the role of parents, and growing apart. Back then, we struggled to find balance.
Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. The best thing is to be clear about your and the baby’s needs. As nice as possible, explain why you need your baby next to you – practically and emotionally.
6. The holier than thou parent
Like all toddlers, J can be quite a challenge. When we’re both tired and stressed with work and he’s being naughty it can be hard to stay cool, calm and collected, especially when we have a 7 month old – CJ – who also needs our attention. Occasionally one of us will snap and yell or get irritable.
As soon as it happens, the other parent (usually me lol) would get all protective and holier than thou: ‘Don’t talk to him like that’/’It’s not his fault you’ve had a bad day’/’He’s only a baby’.
Unfortunately, few days / weeks down the line, I’ll be guilty of doing the exact same thing – only difference is, The hubs is not petty enough to give me the “it’s not his fault you had a bad day” speech lol
7. Who knows best
As a new mom, when I had my first son, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing; I probably didn’t. Probably don’t. Unfortunately, this made me really defensive. Every time The Hubs questioned anything I did or made suggestions, I’d immediately think he was undermining me.
I took every comment as a dig at my parenting skills – or lack thereof – even though he was just trying to help.
In similar manner, I’d always find myself constantly telling him how to “parent” or care for our baby. Why did he let the baby eat 3 times in 4 hours? Why are sleeping off with him on your chest? That’s too much water for a baby. Bla bla bla
As the parent who’s around the baby most, I usually felt in charge of how things should go. But the thing is, if you are constantly telling your partner how to parent, you may end up resenting always having to be in control plus he (or she) would probably never learn.
Step away from a ‘who is right’ approach and offer a ‘what is right for your child’ alternative.
The moral of this post is that arguments / disagreements are inevitable. But, with any luck, try to keep some perspective and a sense of humour about it.
For our expecting / first time moms-to-be, I hope in reading this you feel comforted knowing many of your issues are common, and you can resolve them.
To my fellow mamas of new born babies (does my 7 month old still qualify lol) it’s probably a tough first few months—having a baby really does change everything (no one was lying about that!). But just because you two are clashing about parenting doesn’t mean you can’t get back on track and agree to, well, agree!
Keep the peace, and try to stay away from the “I’m more tired than you” competition.
So, what stupid things did you argue about with your spouse, as a new parent?
Love & Light,