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Relationship troubles post partum

21 replies

Sag1990 · 24/11/2023 17:38

A bit of background: my fiance (together for 8 years, engaged for 3...I know, COVID) gave birth to our amazing baby girl 5 weeks ago. We'd gone through multiple rounds of IUI, and then a cycle of IVF with Cryos donor sperm to get to this point. It was really tough going, especially for my partner (emotionally, mentally, physically, financially for us both) and on top of it all, she ended up with moderate OHSS. However, despite all this, we stuck together, supported each effortlessly and ultimately felt it brought us even closer.

Up until now, I'd say our relationship was great - we had open communication, bickered healthily, were very affectionate with each other and weathered a lot of challenges over the years (moving house/cities several times, job changes, health problems etc).

The birth itself was a 20 hour labour (at term) followed by an emergency section. So, the past 1.5 years have been pretty relentless with stress and non-stop interventions from start to finish.

Over the past 5 weeks, things have been REALLY tough. This was something we were both prepared for and expected with a newborn. The part I didn't expect was to feel suddenly very distanced from my fiance - our baby is 90% breastfed and so I'm only able to help with the occasional bottle. We sleep in separate rooms (which works for sleep but unfortunately not for our relationship) and I do the 10-3am shift whilst she does 3-8am.

Due to the section, I've happily done all of the driving, housework, laundry, cooking, life admin etc. I'm fortunate to be able to take 3 months parental leave from work.

I'm delighted to do those things as I want my partner to feel 100% supported. I want to give her as much bonding and healing time. I get plenty of time to bond with our baby also, and instantly fell in love with her.

But our relationship has taken a complete back burner and I feel like I'm second fiddle. I'm not a child and don't need praise for all the things I do but it would be nice to be thanked once in a while! To that, my partner says "you don't thank me for breastfeeding". My partner hardly looks at me/initiates physical contact. We never kiss any more. We argue most days about things which in hindsight are stupid. We have no quality time together (again, to be expected!) Our baby comes first, of course! We're both exhausted and have different priorities now. Our baby is extremely colicky, unsettled, sicky and relatively hard work which makes things that much more stressful!

I just hoped we'd have a more united front and turn to each other for comfort/solace in tough times. I worry that our relationship will crumble under the strain of parenthood and feel I can't voice these things as my partner is already so sleep deprived/overwhelmed with lots of different feelings. Sometimes I wonder if my partner even likes me any more.

I'm not sure why I'm posting this - I secretly hope someone somewhere has gone through something similar!

OP posts:
Sorrento79 · 26/11/2023 03:38

She's exhausted and has major physical, hormonal and life changes. Your relationship and you are/is second fiddle right now to the needs of your new child. You just need to keep going and try to be kind to each other whilst getting through the next weeks/longer. We haven't had our baby yet but I think i am expecting it to be full on and really tiring and we just need to work at it together with a lot of forgiveness all round while we try and get it right
good luck

Redsheeps · 26/11/2023 03:42

IVF, emergency c-section, newborn! Of course you’re second fiddle for a while. Give your partner a break

Spencer0220 · 26/11/2023 03:54

I haven't had a child, but I speak from the experience of watching my sister have 5. I lived with her after her eldest was born until he was 18 months old.


I can tell you that in my experience, that is completely normal.

Your partner has gone through massive physical trauma (birth). Not to mention, the physical exertion of breast feeding.

Her hormones will be completely out of whack and my sister described it as "living on a bloody awful rollercoaster" that she couldn't get off of.

I understand that you are feeling the way you are, and I am really not trying to minimise that at all. I say this without any malicious intent: you have not been through what she has, so you won't fully understand and feel the same way she does. I only mean because you haven't gone through the physical changes or hormones. I'd imagine you are feeling what a lot of fathers are feeling right about now.

The best thing you can do? Just carry on being there. Carry on being the amazing person you are. In time, your fiancée will find her hormones and physical changes allow her some breathing space. And then she is going to be super grateful that her rock hasn't moved from her side.

Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby.

Smugandproud · 26/11/2023 05:07

It’s early days and things will improve.
Do you need to sleep in separate rooms?
My dd had a baby last year and due to a recent house move we’re sleeping in the same room but on two single beds. Dh and I spent a week decorating the double room and building their bed so they could be a family at night in a tranquil space.

Can’t believe you want to be thanked though. You’re going to have a shock in 14 years time when your teen screams how much they hate you.😂

justwatchingtelly · 26/11/2023 05:25

Wow, OP You sound so immature and insensitive.

You are second fiddle.

Take care of your partner, make sure she is fed and rested, so she can take care of your baby.

This is a time for you to be completely selfless and to put the family that you have created, and your partner who has gone through ENORMOUS changes and major surgery, first. And it should be this way for the foreseeable future while everyone adapts and recovers.

Goldbar · 26/11/2023 05:30

Your fiancee has a point - who thanks her? You're mentally making her default parent by expecting thanks. All both of you are doing at the moment is keeping your family going. If you do your bit, it is appreciated. It may not feel like it, but she will look back once you're both out of the hellish newborn phase and realise that you were there for her and for your baby.

Sidetalk · 26/11/2023 05:57

Look, I mean this kindly, but your partner is right! Do you thank them for breastfeeding your baby?

For donating her whole body and mind to creating - and continuing to grow - this new human?

Imagine you have a moderate hangover. You are bleeding heavily and are full of stitches. The stitches tug and pull and itch. Having to clean up copious amounts of blood every time you wee.

You absolutely must get up out of bed and run 5k, if you don’t someone you love will die. Then try to find the energy to eat and drink enough to run another 5k tomorrow. Tomorrow you will also have a moderate hangover, still have stitches, and blood is fucking everywhere. This will repeat itself every day. And you can’t sleep. Your body is wrecked. Your muscles are jelly, your joints are jelly. Your hormones are raging worse than the teenage years.

This is how it feels to be 90% breastfeeding and recovering from pregnancy and recovery from major surgery and transitioning to parenthood. Especially in the first few months.

Nothing you are doing around the house can come close to what your partner is experiencing right now.

Now is not the time to argue with them. Stop that!! They’ve just birthed a whole human and you want to bicker over petty stuff? Stop!

Why are they left alone? Why are you not keeping them company? Solitary confinement is used as a punishment for a reason. They are stuck - trapped - attached to the baby. Go and be with them. If they have no energy to chat, just sit quietly nearby.

Make sure you are around when the baby is sleeping so they can wee, shower, drink a hot drink. Refresh their drink and snacks. Charge their phone.

They probably haven’t had time to even brush their teeth today, and you’re demanding time for an affection and intimacy?

What should your partner prioritise - their teeth? - your ego?

I'm being harsh, because you need to hear it. Your partner needs you to hear it.

This time of difficultly passes. In 3 months things will start to feel better. Right now your partner is going through hell and they need you to put down your ego help them.

Help. Truly, deeply help. In the way your partner is sacrificing their body and mind to keeping your baby alive and thriving, you need to be doing that same for keeping your partner alive and thriving.

It is shit. It can also be beautiful and loving. It is shit.

Stop bickering with the bitterly sleep deprived, hormonal person!

Stop asking them to meet your needs too! They’re not meeting their own needs right now. Be better!

How you treat your family now will resonate for years to come. Be the partner that is remembered for doing the right thing.

LimeOrangeLemon · 26/11/2023 06:07

Your baby is only five weeks old! Your partner is still feeling like she's been hit by a train, it's completely normal for your relationship to be on the back burner for a while and to squabble about silly things when you're both tired. My DH and I had more arguments in the first few years of our DC's births than at any other time - by miles! Things will gradually improve, if you're still feeling like this in a few months time then you can start to worry.

Leo227 · 26/11/2023 06:11

write off any feelings about your relationship for at least the first 3 or 4 months. this is alllll about survival, recovery and the baby. your relationship will come back in time if you just be supportive and positive through this period.

scrunchie2 · 26/11/2023 06:14

Just to add to the above, you've been a strong couple for 8 years and a measly 5 weeks is making you question the relationship.. take a breath and just give it some time.

teenysaladandsniffofarose · 26/11/2023 06:15

This has to be a wind up.

Hibiscrubbed · 26/11/2023 08:53

She’s been through the mill. You haven’t. You can’t fully understand the upheaval of this. The hormones alone are fucking brutal and rule all for a while.

You will be on the back burner for a while, you have to just be there, be supportive and hope it comes back. It probably will.

I felt extremely resentful of my H for a while afterwards because he could walk away for a while if he wanted (he didn’t) but I felt I couldn’t for a while because healing/feeding/sleep deprived etc.

Sidetalk · 26/11/2023 09:28

teenysaladandsniffofarose · 26/11/2023 06:15

This has to be a wind up.

I really hope it is!

SunRainStorm · 26/11/2023 10:58

Is this for real? It's been five weeks.

Stop being ridiculous.

And if you are actually arguing with your five weeks post partum partner about anything then you're being a dick and not supporting her.

Marshmallowtoastie · 26/11/2023 11:25

It’s been 5 weeks…
she’s still recovering from a c section, and breast feeding constantly. Loads of hormones, loads of pain and discomfort, massive trauma to deal with,
are you thanking her - no.
are you initiating the kind of physical contact that may make her feel better? Probably not.
or are you just catastrophising, based on 5 weeks out of 8 years.
im sure you’re tired too and so maybe that’s why you’ve said this, but you just need to support her. It sounds incredibly immature to be asking for the things you do to be acknowledged, whilst your partner has literally told you that you don’t acknowledge her, i actually cant believe you said that to her and have repeated it here, like you haven’t learned anything from her response.

justread · 26/11/2023 13:53

EVERYTHING that PP's said.

I will give you a handhold for the colicky baby though. That is just soul destroying and so so tough listening to those cries. Poor baby. Poor Mums.

But seriously, and I say this with tenderness.... step up. Be agreeable, be supportive, expect nothing back and just get through this stage. Do not put pressure on your partner to stop BF, do make sure she is well fed and rested as much as is possible.

What you are doing now is laying the foundations for a strong parental relationship.

And feel free to have a moan here. It sometimes feels good to get it all out and as you have seen, you will be told if you are overreacting

Mountainormolehills · 26/11/2023 14:14

I sympathise @Sag1990 its more than what other posters are seeing, it can feel like you’re being shut out of the relationship. I have been there, albeit without IVF or a section and it was difficult. I enjoyed looking after my child whilst my ex (partner at the time) slept. I found the book ‘The Other Mother’ very helpful as it’s not like being a father, you can feel erased from society in many ways. Good luck, it will get easier

Sag1990 · 26/11/2023 22:33

Thank you for being so kind, will definitely check this out! 😊

OP posts:
menopausalmare · 26/11/2023 22:45

When you've had a baby, you feel and smell like your body isn't your own. You leak from your breasts, vagina and sometimes urethra. I didn't want much physical affection until I had made peace with my new body. On Friday nights I would go to Tesco just to walk freely around without pushing/ carrying a baby, to just be me for a bit.
Give her time.

2mummies1baby · 21/12/2023 19:11

I hope things are a bit better now, OP. You need to give your fiancee a hell of a lot of leeway at the moment- I can promise you she is struggling more than you are. Bite your tongue and vent to others if you need to.

2mummies1baby · 21/12/2023 19:16

PS The reason my relationship has stayed so strong throughout some very difficult times in the first year of parenting is that my wife has ALWAYS put our baby first and me a close second. She found other people to talk to when she needed it, but she understood that for a little while, she had to come third.

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