Thursday, 5 February 2015

Do you know what makes me really sad?
I love to read personal blogs of people I do not know. At the moment, I'm reading about IVF struggles, pregnancy loss and the joyful moments of childbirth which then follow with their baby's milestones and views and experiences of being a Mummy, both the good and the bad.

And there's a constant in all of those blogs so far - the presence of a loving and supportive partner/Daddy. They stick around through breakdowns, the tears, the anger and the frustration. They're understanding and supportive, concerned and helpful. They hold it all together the best they can and step up when needed. The love they have for their wife/girlfriend means more than anything else and their children are an extension of that love. They genuinely love spending time with their little family, watching their babies grow and develop their little personalities, going on outings or holidays together. You can see the love and pure enjoyment oozing out of the words and photos.

It breaks my heart.

I thought I'd finally met a man who wanted the same things I did. He started off being so caring and considerate. He took care of me when I was sick. I was thrilled he was the man I was having a baby with. I dreamed of our future together. After L arrived unexpectedly, he helped me change my pads in the hospital and that's when I thought "wow, I have a keeper!"

We'd never spoken about how we wanted to raise our kids. It never even crossed my mind to bring it up, I just assumed we'd be on the same page. I thought he would allow me to do all the Mummyish things and follow my instincts, while working with me in finding our rhythm. I thought he'd be excited to get home and spend time with his girls, before gently urging me to go to bed while he had some Daddy/daughter time.

That's not how it worked out. You don't want others to make you feel like you're always doing the wrong thing, but you sure don't want your partner making you feel that way too. You don't instantly give birth and know exactly what you're doing 100% of the time. It's all a bit of trial and error and it's freaking scary being in charge of a little person! And also very exhausting. You still need to find time to look after yourself too - I'm not talking about getting your hair done or having a massage or going out - just the basics of rest, shower and food.

G made me feel guilty if I sat down to eat my tea before attending to L, even if I hadn't had the chance to eat all day. I hadn't yet mastered holding her while eating one-handed. He made me feel guilty if I went to bed to sleep, even though he was staying up late anyway and could feed and settle her. I didn't see the point in both of us being awake when I was going to get up through the night as well. I was questioned every day if she'd had any tummy time, like it was a huge deal if she hadn't. While it's important for their development, its not an act of neglect or abuse if it's not done for a day or two (especially if she would just scream and get worked up about being on her tummy). Usually she wasn't awake long enough anyway - awake, bottle, cuddle, back to sleep. Before a feed she would be to hungry and cranky and after a feed her belly would be too full.

I know in this day and age that Daddies are not clueless individuals who know nothing about babies and need instructions from the Mummies and I definitely know that having already had a child, G was very capable of taking care of her. What I didn't appreciate was him taking over. It was like nothing I suggested or did or bought was right. I shouldn't have bought the portable bath with attached change table because he didn't need it (regardless of the fact that I'm home taking care of her a majority of the time and will be the one bathing her). The baby carrier shouldn't have been purchased because again, he didn't need it. Doesn't matter if I have a screaming child who needs cuddles for 24 hours and I'd like a little bit of hands free time. In the end I wasn't the best baby wearing mumma and the one wrap and one carrier I bought were not used often, but at least they were there if needed.

He complained of her skin being too dry - "she needs to be moisturised!" he said. She broke out in excema so I bought a special, natural ingredients cream which cleared it right up. But oh no, applying it several times a day left a brown tinge on her face as it was building up so he decided to go back to using the awful lotion that caused the excema in the first place and she ended up with what looked like a burn at the top of her nose. Just before her newborn photo session too. Thank goodness it could be edited with Photoshop.

**Woohoo - I can now post from my laptop!! I worked out one little setting on my phone needed to be changed to allow me to use it as a hotspot to connect to the internet. Oh the little things that make me happy **

I was told she was too old to still be swaddled (which was completely untrue. They do make sleep sacks for toddlers after all). She needed to be wrapped up so she would go to sleep and stay that way. Yes, I took a while to transition her to one arm out, then both arms out, then no wrap at all - but we did it at a time that we were both ready for it. He would argue with me about the order that the blankets went on - not really a big deal except for the fact that I already knew that if they weren't put on in a specific order she would wake in the middle of the night and I would be the one getting up with her and spending the next 2 hours trying to get her back to sleep. No, it may not matter to YOU how they are put on, because after that it's not your problem.

Then there was the issue of the car seat. I was adamant that she be rear facing until at least her first birthday. There were really no issues with getting her in or out, we had a great car seat that was big enough for her to be in until she was 8 years old and as far as I was concerned it was the safest way for her to travel. After we separated the first time, I took the car seat as my Mum was the one who had forked out the money for it. When we got back together, I got him to reinstall it... and he did so forward facing. She was only 10 months old. I don't care if your brother has already turned their seat around or your parents are saying she should be facing the other way - it is safer for her to be rear facing and she's not even reaching any of the markers to indicate she should be forward facing. Does her safety mean nothing to you?
I am happy to say L is now approaching 16 months and is still rear facing and will be until her brother arrives.

These are only just a few issues I had to deal with - there were many more. I made the bottles wrong, sterilised them wrong, was told her bath towel had to be washed after every use, couldn't take her out to visit people when I liked but it was OK to see people when he wanted, fed her solids wrong. If I suggested we take the pram, he wanted the trolley cover - if I said take the trolley cover, he wanted to take the pram.

I know relationships are not easy, they take work and everything is stressful when a baby arrives. It should be a time that strengthens your relationship, not tears it apart. The whole time after L came home, I didn't feel like a Mum - I felt like a baby carrier, that now the baby was home I was no longer needed. After all, I wasn't breastfeeding and anyone could feed her a bottle.

So my message is for the Dads - please be supportive and not pushy and controlling. Yes, you can absolutely have ideas and suggestions on how the baby is raised. It is your baby too. Remember, your wife/girlfriend is going to be a bit (or a lot) emotional after giving birth and probably even more so if there were complications. She doesn't need you to make her feel crap about everything else, as she may also be getting the same response from other family members too. What she needs is reassurance that she's doing a great job - if nothing she is doing is unsafe or harmful to the baby then she is doing a great job. Choose your battles wisely.

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