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Please help me with this letter to DH and tell me if any of these points are unreasonable

(78 Posts)
totallypeedoff Mon 29-Sep-08 09:45:43

Ok, to set the scene - DS is 8 weeks old, been mixed feeding him on Dr's advice (don't ask - big mistake) for 6 weeks.

DH has been gradually getting on my wick with the way we share caring for DS. I'm sure this is a bit of an old chestnut but this weekend he really upset me and I'm still pissed off so thought I should tell him really. I can't face an argument though, I really can't. So I'm going to put it in a letter. Please can you tell me if any of these points are unreasonable as I just want to get to the stage where things are fair.

Dear DH,

I'm afraid I'm still a little bit upset with you after Friday night. I know we hadn't made an arrangement long in advance that you would get up with DS the first time he woke that night. I understand now that you were confused about the arrangement we made but instead of arguing with me about it while the baby lay crying I don't think it would have taken much for you to recognise that I could have done with the break and just gone and fed him.

I know you work full time but I try my very hardest not to disturb you when he wakes in the night, and I don't ask you to do anything for him in the night. For the first time in 8 weeks I thought I had a chance to sleep through while you fed him but you refused and started an argument.

I understand that you are finding new fatherhood hard. I find it hard being a parent as well but I have to be honest with you - the hardest parts for me have been pregnancy, childbirth, getting up in the night and breastfeeding. I accept that you've tried to support me through these things, and that watching the birth was understandably distressing.

However, you don't seem to acknowledge that
these are things that I have to deal with alongside the general day to day care of our child. I amsick of arguing the toss with you over who's turn it is to change a nappy.

I'm fed up of you claiming that it's not your turn to give him a bottle as you gave him one 6 hours ago despite the fact that I've been breastfeeding him for 3 hours in the interrim.

You seem to be determined to split the load down the middle without acknowledging the many hours a day I spend feeding him and the broken nights that I spend with him.

This probably doesn't sound like much to me you but it is making me feel as though I am increasingly on my own.

I do appreciate the other things you do, especially the cooking. But please could you try to be more supportive and involved.

Sorry, v long...

BalloonSlayer Mon 29-Sep-08 09:57:11

None of it is unreasonable, but I wouldn't give it to him.

Generalisation here, all new parents go through this. I remember it well, and now we have DS2 (3rd DC), I smile because of how "well-trained" DH is now. When DS1 was 8 weeks old I felt much as you do.

Sorry this is not much help, I would just think it'd be better to continue talking rather than write letters.

ruthosaurus Mon 29-Sep-08 09:58:06

Sounds fine to me - I'd leave the last sentence off about being supportive and involved tho'.

Tell him it's not about whose turn it is - he should WANT to get involved in caring for your child and that changing a nappy a) takes about 2 minutes and b) being able to face up to baby poo is a sign of real manliness.

Also, he doesn't just get to come in after a day at work and then do the fun bathtime and playing bits - you don't get to clock off your job of looking after the baby after 8 hours!

Can you get any time away from the baby, jsut the 2 of you, even if it's only an evening or a lunchtime?

I'm 33 weeks pregnant and my DH is making noises about not sharing ANY night feeds as he has to work. I have tried to point out that this will mean that for at least the first 2 months of the baby's life I will only ever get 3 hours sleep max at a time, but no joy. Last night he said he was already starting to feel left out. hmm I can think of a great way for him to get involved when the baby arrives...

Aren't men weird?

totallypeedoff Mon 29-Sep-08 10:00:22


yoy know as soon as i saw it written down i eralised it is totally normal and everyone must go thrpough it.

not much chance of getting ouy without ds - no family nearby and all my friends have tiny babies too.

mankymummy Mon 29-Sep-08 10:01:33

I wouldnt send it either. It's too formal and if I got a letter like that from the mother of my child I would be really cross.

what i would do is draw up a rota of who does what... if he's arguing over who changed the last nappy then do it by days... Mondays he does the feeds and nappies, tuesdays you do... etc.

its new to you both, he probably doesnt understand how draining it can be feeding a baby and being up in the night.

some men just dont "get" it, like they miraculously dont see the hoovering needs doing.

draw up a rota you can agree on and stick to it. it will get easier.

Servalan Mon 29-Sep-08 10:02:55

Congratulations on the birth of your DS. I hope you are all doing well.

You sound knackered - I would say I remember those days, but they are a blur!!

I don't think the points you make are unreasonable - BUT

My first thought on reading what you've put is that it is quite antagonistic and if I was in your DH's position it would put me on the defensive.

I'm not saying don't raise this stuff with him. Obviously you need to because you don't want resentment to build and it is important that you get the support you need,

I personally would chat about it rather than confronting him with a letter. Make it a dialogue - how is he feeling/coping?

Also, when raising stuff with him I would be more inclined to approach it with a slightly more positive twist of how can we make things work better for us? - and maybe praise him for the things that he does do - like the cooking - before negotiating with him about how things can be made better for you both.

Good luck

Cappuccino Mon 29-Sep-08 10:03:39

it's not normal

it's not normal at all

men should not be like this

dh never argued about whose turn it was to change a nappy, or give a bottle. He got up to do night feeds (with dd1, who was bottlefed; with b/fed dd2 he made sure I got to lie in in the mornings and he got the kids ready for school etc before work)

being selfish is not okay

Wallerbies Mon 29-Sep-08 10:04:13

Hi Totallypeeoff,

It is so overwhelming in the beginning. Your DH was unreasonable to start an argument with you in the middle of the night. It's really lonely feeding all night and the people who think that the first 6 weeks are the hardest are the lucky ones. Yes this is a great letter maybe try and rethink it a little as DH may think you are blaming him you have a right feel hurt and let down. But be firm you need a break hunny! Do you have friends you can meet and speak to? Get out enjoy being a mum some times a problem shared and all that...

Be strong you are a great mum x

HeadFairy Mon 29-Sep-08 10:04:35

I agree with balloonslayer, I'm not sure I'd send it. I think it's possible to have a face to face conversation without descending in to a row. TBH I'd be a bit hacked off if my dh wrote me a letter. Can you not try and sit down, perhaps with a glass of wine, tell him what you'd like to talk about and be absolutely strict with yourself that no matter what he says you will not get angry.

FWIW dh never did a night feed as I was 100% bfing and I didn't get more than 4 hours sleep at a time until ds was 7 months old. It is do-able, but you have to get a nap in the day time, let the housework slide and live off easy to cook food. Its bloody hard work but it really doesn't last, if you grit your teeth and bear down before you know it you'll be sleeping through as well. I'm still amazed that as someone who NEEDED at least 8 hours a night I've barely had more than 6 hours for a year now and I'm still not here

mumoverseas Mon 29-Sep-08 10:04:58

very well written totallypeed off but I can't help but think you may be opening a can of worms if you actually give the letter to him! I know you must be tired and frustrated but maybe just writting it all down has made you feel better? Can you imagine what his reaction will be if you give him the letter? He may (if you are lucky!) realise he has to do a bit more and realise how tired you are) or, he may get very defensive (men are good at this!) I think maybe just explaining it to him verbally might be a better option. Good luck

HeadFairy Mon 29-Sep-08 10:05:05

still not here??? of course sleep deprivation makes it impossible to make any sense in conversation, but people will understand

TotalChaos Mon 29-Sep-08 10:05:19

Don't send it. I always found that appealing to DH's better nature worked far better than appealing to a sense of fairness - i.e. a simple - I feel shit and tired and need a break and need your help. Or I am just about coping, but if I don't get a break I will meltdown with exhaustion.

floaty Mon 29-Sep-08 10:07:57

Actually I don't thinkit is normal,maybe I and my frinds are just lucky but I certainly never heard of anyone trying to split the work "down the middle"as if it was a huge burden and chore,if he is like this now what is he going to do for the next 16 years or so .I would be having a very serious talk and maybe the best way to open the converssation is the letter

HeadFairy Mon 29-Sep-08 10:07:59

another thing I used to do to make night feeds more bearable (ds was a slooooow feeder, at least 2 hours each time) was watch something funny on tv. I had cable with ondemand and I used to watch reruns of Father Ted, had me in fits plus had the bonus side effect that all my shaking with laughter kept ds awake and feeding rather than dozing off and taking even longer!

Mind you, that's all I remember from that time, last October and November are a complete blur.

policywonk Mon 29-Sep-08 10:11:12

Agree with capp. I think the OP is being eminently reasonable and her DH is being selfish and lazy, frankly (certainly on the basis of what's in the letter).

When our first child was born, I told DP that EVERYTHING bar the breastfeeding was going to be 50/50 (except when DP was at work, obviously). We took it in turns to do nappies. We had an hour-on-hour-off routine when DS1 was awake - so one of us was in charge of the baby for an hour while the other one got to do something ELSE and not be constantly on-call.

I've seen so many new mothers indulging the selfishness of their husbands and partners when a new baby is born. All that happens is that selfish fathers of new-borns turn into selfish fathers of toddlers. IMO you need to get a grip of this situation now. Tell your DH that the baby is 50 per cent his responsibility when he's at home.

ruthosaurus Mon 29-Sep-08 10:12:43

ACtually, I do agree about not actually giving him the letter (bit too close to home for me to be objective about grin).

I personally hate feeling like I'm begging for help - have you tried psychology e.g. "You're so good with him - he really likes it when you feed him"? I'm actually crap at doing this and need to use it more often!

Also, does he appreciate that while you are both tired as hell you are also going through loads of exhausting physical changes - healing, hormone changes - as well?

Are you able to get out and about during the day with your little'un? I am scared about that aspect of being a new mum and think that I'm going to need to kick myself out of the house on a daily basis after my baby comes!

Turniphead1 Mon 29-Sep-08 10:13:15

Your letter brough tears to my eyes, it really did. My DH was very good - but we had these moments. The whole "I work fulltime" argument only goes so far I am afraid. Motherhood, especially in the first few months is 24 hour a day 7 day a week job. Show me a man who is working those hours, and fair play, no night duty for you.

I think do send the letter. But then try and have a chat - be gentle and try to avoid "you do this (bad thing) you do that (bad thing)" type language and try and talk more about how you are feeling and what impact his behaviour has in that.

The biggest difficulty in being a parent is being sucked into a vortex of the "tiredness competition" - ie accounting for every child related task done and every missed hour of sleep. It becomes exhausing and unhealthy (but is sooo easy to get into - ESPECIALLY when you KNOW you are doing the bulk of the work grin).

Best of luck. It will get better.

BalloonSlayer Mon 29-Sep-08 10:16:53

I always BF as well so DH couldn't do anything in the night.

I did, however, resent him frequently saying "whew, that was an awful night" after I had been up BF about 4 times.

Why? what happened to you?

Well, I'm awake as well you know, he would lament hmm

I told him that it was a medical miracle - a man who snored while wide awake . . . call The Lancet. !!

Now he takes responsibility for taking DD to the toilet in the night as I am on BF duty with DS2 (1). The other night she had two accidents, so he had two sets of pissy sheets to change . . . and DS2 slept through. grin

VictorianSqualor Mon 29-Sep-08 10:18:06

You're shattered. Understandably.
He is probably scared, as it seems you do everything so much better than him.
It doesn't excuse his behaviour though.
I wouldn't send the letter.

I would keep talking.

Do you really argue over changing nappies? That's madness. I can't see why anyone would argue over a nappy, if it needs changing then change it.

shootfromthehip Mon 29-Sep-08 10:18:23

Don't give it to him. I pulled a stunt like this in an attempt to get my point across when DD was tiny and all it did was make a bad situation even worse. My DH and i argued continually about who was more tired/ drained/ stressed/ busier/ confused by the new responsibility etc etc etc for about the first 1.5 yrs of our DD's life. All it did was turn into a competition and breaksomething in our marriage that has taken a long time to fix.

He will not ever understand what it is like to be a bf sahm and the tiredness that goes with it. Some advise would be to not try to make him understand as he just won't. You may just end up resenting him and breaking down the communication channels and you don't want to do that.

On a practical note- like the 'alternate baby days' idea but if he is picking up a lot of the slack around the house he won't find that reasonable. You may think that you are just too tired to do anymore than you are but if he is not prepared to help then you will need to stop arguing with him and just do it- otherwise things will just get messier between you. I should have shut my mouth more early days- it's true to say that DH should have been more understanding too but I wish things had been less stressful between us then as it would have saved me a lot of hard work now!!

Good luck.

Cappuccino Mon 29-Sep-08 10:22:23

"I've seen so many new mothers indulging the selfishness of their husbands and partners when a new baby is born. All that happens is that selfish fathers of new-borns turn into selfish fathers of toddlers. IMO you need to get a grip of this situation now. "

policywonk is so very right

a friend was telling me the other day that the one best bit of advice she ever got was 'don't make yourself the expert'. Apparently I told her that but had forgotten, so I can't take credit for it because I didn't remember even saying it

if you let your dh off the hook now and you end up doing 80%, he will never know where the bowls are, or what food the toddler is allowed to have, or if they need a nap, or what homework they need to do on Fridays, or what clubs they have, or who their friends are, or what needs ironing before the morning

HeadFairy Mon 29-Sep-08 10:26:16

so right about not making yourself the expert. I (like the control freak I am) did everything for so long dh didn't know how to do anything and totally lost confidence in his abilities. It took ages for him to rebuild it, caused so many arguements, I'd be in the bath or something and ds would start crying, but dh would just leave him for me to sort out. He's still not that confident on settling him when he's crying but luckily ds is pretty relaxed most of the time.

But I still wouldn't send the letter.

ruthosaurus Mon 29-Sep-08 10:32:50

It must be really weird for men, I guess - we kind of get to know the baby while it's growing inside us - but I agree about setting yourself up for doing all the work in future if you don't have a word.

I do most of the household stuff from organising holidays to buying loo roll to the extent that DH feels like he doesn't know what to get from the shops. Personally, I'd feel ashamed to have so little control over my everyday life, but I can see how it would appeal! grin

I need to nip this in the bud too.

policywonk Mon 29-Sep-08 10:33:23

This is the thing about being firm and standing up for yourself (and your baby) from the beginning. You might feel like a nagging harridan for a while, but in the long term it's better for everyone that the father is fully involved in the baby's care. You're not just doing it for your own sake.

DP is one of the most hands-on fathers I know, and has an extremely close relationship with DS1. I simply don't think this would have happened if I hadn't put my foot down very early on. (Some men will do it without having to be nagged, of course, but the OP's DH doesn't sound like one of those, unfortunately - and neither was my DP.)

About sending the letter: face-to-face communication is always better than sending letters - BUT if it's a choice between sending the letter and doing nothing, because you're too tired and emotional to attempt a real-time conversation, then I think sending the letter is better than nothing.

ruthosaurus Mon 29-Sep-08 10:35:23

Forgot to say to OP - big big hugs, we're all here for you!

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