Whenever pregnant friends ask me what they should be warned about before their babies arrive, I always make a point of steering clear of the usual advice. They already have enough people telling them “expect to feel exhausted”, “breastfeeding might be painful” and “you’ll never go to the toilet alone again”…
What I always warn friends about is the thing that no one ever tells them… there will be times that their partners will drive them crazy! Sure, most of them can’t imagine it happening before bub arrives. “But he’s such a great guy” they say or “He’ll make an amazing dad,” they’ll tell me. And yes, I know all these things are true. But I’ve found even the most loveliest, hands-on dad will be the source of a least some angst for his partner when she becomes a mother for the first time. He won’t know he’s done anything wrong, but there will be many innocent ways he’ll irritate her:
1. His body hasn’t had to do anything to create this baby
Okay, there was one thing it had to do but it was the good bit! In the nine months since then, it hasn’t had to do a thing. While your body has experienced morning sickness, aches, pains, stretching, leaking, exhaustion… his looks and feels exactly the same. And after childbirth, when you’re dealing with stitches, bleeding, soreness, peeing razorblades, even more leakage… again, his bod remains unaffected by the whole experience. You don’t want to resent him, but you can’t help wish he knew what it felt like.
2. His life hasn’t changed quite as drastically
It starts in pregnancy when you suddenly have to give up all things you love – soft cheeses, oysters, champagne, sky diving… But what about your bloke? He can hit the booze or eat sashimi by the bucket load safe in the knowledge that whatever he ingests will have no impact on your unborn bub. More so, he now has a designated driver whenever he goes out. It’s a win/win for him, but not so much you.
Even once bub arrives, he gets to meet up with his mates at the pub to ‘wet the baby’s head’ while you lie in a hospital bed with a frozen, water-filled condom in your underpants. Welcome to your new life!
3. He still receives recognition for his work
You slave away all day at home with a baby – feeding, changing, bathing, playing, settling… on top of all the usual housework of cleaning, cooking and shopping! But unlike his paid job, there’s no one there to witness it and give you a huge pat of the back. More so, when he comes home from work, there may be little evidence of all the chores you’ve done all day because witching hour has hit and chaos has taken over!
4. He’s treated like a hero for doing any of the babycare
My partner once used a parent’s room at a shopping centre to change my son’s nappy and do you know what happen? He got a round applause by the mothers who were also in there. A round of applause for doing exactly what mums are doing every day! One day you will find yourself at a family function and old Aunt Nora will turn to you to say how lucky you are to have a husband that gives the baby a bottle every now and then. It will drive you crazy that no one ever tells your husband how lucky he is to have a wife who gets up 16 times during the night to settle your bub!
5. He still sees the pre-baby you
He may come home from work one day and simple ask “what’s for dinner?” and you’ll lose it as you haven’t even managed to have a shower before 6pm let alone think about what you’ll cook for dinner! Or worse, you’ll finally collapse into bed at the end of a long day, then you’ll feel his hand reach over to you in that way. You may resent that he doesn’t understand that bed has become a destination for sleep only!
6. He gets the highlight reels of having a baby
Due to most likely spending less time at home than you, he’ll get to actually enjoy his time with bub. He’ll be there to witness the baby highlights – playing cute little games, experience the joys of bath time, feeding those little spoonfuls of solids... But he won’t be there for a mind-numbing, seemingly endless groundhog days. He gets the good bits - and you get the rest. Well, at least that will be how it feels.
In a nutshell, I tell my friends that they will feel that their lives have been turned inside out and upside down. But more frustratingly, they’ll feel that their partners have only experienced a fraction of the upheaval that comes with life with a baby – this won’t be his fault nor even necessarily true, but it can still feel that way and cause some major irritation!
It might seem like negative advice to dish out, but I like to warn new mums that they may feel this way. I figure if these feelings do kick in, at least they won't feel alone.
But I always make a point of adding this advice too… there will be another very strong emotion they feel about their partners for the first time. What is it? “You will fall more in love with him now as the father of your child – and you will be more connected than ever as a family of three.” And this is worth every irritating moment in between!