Monday, October 20, 2008

Some Feelings of Guilt from a New Mom

Anyone who has been reading this blog for any great length of time knows about the struggle we had to get pregnant with Ellery. You know about the pain, the losses of babies and body parts, and about the repeated broken hearts that the husband and I both suffered.

So now she's here. She is the absolute love of my life, the reason for my existence, the bounce in my step, and a dream come true. Being with her every day is one of the best jobs I could ever ask for, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

At his job at the hospital, the husband works 12 hours shifts - from 7:30 to 7:30, so is usually gone almost an hour before he starts, and is home about a half hour after his shift. That makes for a long day.

Often times when he's working a weekend I'll pack up Ellery and we'll go home to my parents' house in Ontario, since because of the lengths of his shifts, he leaves when she's sleeping and gets home when she's sleeping, so it's not like he could spend any time with her anyway. We come back into the city when he's going to have a couple days off, and usually spend time together just the three of us, which I love.

On the weekends when he goes back to Ontario with us, sometimes he'll go out for a few hours, or even an entire day, fishing, or golfing, or visiting friends he doesn't often get to see. Now he doesn't do this all the time, and in fact he never goes without asking me first, but herein lies the problem. I don't feel like I can ask him not to go. If he stays at home with me there isn't usually anything really exciting going on, just visiting family most of the time. If I tell him to go I feel almost angry at him, because that means he gets an entire day to himself, not to have to work, or take care of Ellery, but just to do what he wants.

See? Now I'm sitting here bawling because I feel like a bad person for even confessing that...

When he's off for a few days in the city I'll ask him if he can watch Ellery for a few hours, just so I can get out. He always tells me that of course he'll watch her, and to go out and relax and do whatever I want. I used to go and have to be back within a couple hours, because I was breastfeeding, but now I can stay out longer if I want. One day I even spent about 7 hours away, and it was great, but I couldn't help but feel guilty when I got home after being out the whole day.

I keep thinking that he's the one working, so why should I ask him to watch Ellery alone on his days off? Even for just a few hours?

If he has to work the next day I never expect him to get up to feed her in the middle of the night, and even when he's not, I usually get up with her before he has a chance to. Plus, he's pretty much dead to the world at night, so he never hears her. But then when I'm sitting there in the dark, giving her a bottle and falling asleep, I'm angry at him for not getting up. And sometimes he really doesn't get a chance before I'm out the door, so I don't know how I can be mad about it.

Now I know that to any mom out there, and even to most fathers, this sounds stupid. I know (especially you moms) that staying home with a child every day absolutely IS work, and I'm an idiot for thinking that somehow his work is more important than mine. I'm with her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - I know her better than anyone else.

The thing is that I love being with her. I never, ever resent her, or feel like I don't want to be with her, not at all. But I just miss being able to go out and do mindless things, like shop or take a walk. I miss the chance to exercise my mind by doing freelance work. I miss spending time with other people, ones that I'm losing touch with simply because they are not in baby mode.

Why is this such a difficult thing? Why do I feel so guilty about it? Why do I get mad at the husband for wanting the same things that I do? Why is it easier for him to do those things?


Alright, I'm done. Time to go get the little shriek-monster ready for the day :)


Blogger Chief Rock Chef said...

Don't feel bad - this is a common feeling, from what I have seen.

When me eldest was young I was in a very similar situation to Chris -working 12 hour nights, wanting family time, wanting my wife to get some time to herself and also wanting time with my mates. It is a really tough balancing act - in fact I put more emphasis on my family, which really pissed off some of my friends. But if they were going to get pissed off at me for that, then hey they aren't really my best friends are they?

My advice is to declare that certain times are family times. I am sure Chris would go for it - he can give the fish another week or so to grow bigger!

12:41 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

You just put words to the "battle" that every single Mom fights...within herself! I am willing to bet my life that everysingle mother feels this way at some time or another...or all the time. I hope knowing you are not alone helps some.

But...I know you already know this b/c you wrote it but just allow me to validate mentioned that Chris works 12 hour shifts...PLUS his commute...but you work 24 hours shifts...all hours of the evening most times w/o notice...never promised a full nights sleep nor uninterupted sleep and let me tell you that takes it's toll on a person!

It's okay to feel the way you do about Ellery and yet feel like you need a break. Just because you need a break does NOT mean in any way that you resent her or are not happy. We need breaks from everything in life...especially from things that require all of our physical, mental and emotional energy all at a moments notice!

You are a BETTER mom for getting that break! You get a chance to clear your head, think selfish (HA!) thoughts, and have a moment or two where nothing and nobody relies on you. When you come back from that are a better Mom than if you hadn't taken it! IMO.

Then there's this. From what I know about Chris...I am willing to bet my right arm that he probably enjoys that one on one time with Ellery. There's a different dynamic to it than when you are also there (which I know he enjoys as well). Just like you enjoy being her sole provider and able to be and do whatever she needs...he gets that chance when he's alone with her. That's a special time for him and her.

Chuck absolutely loves it when he gets to be alone with our kids...especially when I go somewhere overnight. He says it's a whole new dynamic. They act different...he sees a different side of's a total bonding time and he has awesome memories of those times. So, when you go and get your much needed breaks, just know that you are also giving a gift to Ellery and her Daddy...alone time she she can further wrap her Daddy around her precious little finger!! :)

We were never met to "got it alone" in parenting. I think God intended us to have 2 parents b/c He knew we'd all need breaks. So many times, us women, (and I have no idea why we all do this) just want our husbands to KNOW things w/o us asking them. It's somehow romantic for us. Myself included. But seriously, were talking about MEN here...not always the sharpest beings on the planet (no offense know it's true...LOL) and most times they just need for us to tell them what we need then they are more than happy to help us. Maybe Chris could take Ellery with him to visit his friends in Ontario especially since you are no longer nursing her. Everybody gets what they want then. Just a suggestion.

I know I just wrote a's all just so fresh in my memory I guess. Love you deary and know that your hormones are probably playing a role in how you feel too. They say our hormones are not totally recovered from pregnancy for up till one year...or longer if you are ME! LOL!

1:20 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Holy Crap Batman...I think my comment is longer than your POST!!! time I'll e-mail you! LOL!!

1:20 PM  
Blogger Slyde said...

that, my dear, is completely normal. You have absolutely NOTHING to be ashamed about.

I love my son more than anything, but even i need to sometimes just get out and have some time without him.

Its normal. I'd be more worried about you if you DIDNT feel that way.

p.s. chris works for 12 hour shifts? When am i comming over? :)

p.p.s. Take off your #*#&#*ing word verification!!!!!

1:22 PM  
Blogger Wreggie said...

I'm tip toeing out the door since I have no experience on the matter.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Zack said...

I don't really know either of you, and don't know anything about your husband, but personally I don't think its right for him to just take off for the day when you're Ontario. It seems to me that those times in Ontario would be the time to spend with the family! Perhaps In the past I would not have seen it this way, but when we had our child a couple years ago I changed. Fishing should be the last thing on his mind! Why doesn't he stay in and watch her while you go fishing in Ontario - I guess that would only work if you were fishing - but yeah - (hope he doesn't read your blog! Or he might dislike me!!! sorry) - Anyway, and you should NOT feel guilty about staying out for a good chunk of the day. Parents are equal - its not only your responsibility to watch your child - his too - equally - regardless of work shifts.

6:05 PM  
Blogger terri said...

Ok... I haven't even read all the other comments so I may be repeating but honey.... NORMAL! These feelings are SO NORMAL. Just because Ellery finally came after years of heartbreak and disappointment does not mean that you are obligated to be the angelic, eternally grateful mom. Parenting is hard. Parenting a baby is hard! It depletes your energy, and saps your brain cells and can be emotionally draining. You are entitled to these feelings and especially because you can already see both sides of the coin. There will be times you will feel this way and other times when you wonder WHY you felt this way. And then you'll feel this way again. All I can say is that you'll get through it. You'll get to where I'm at and wonder where the time went, but even knowing that, I STILL remember feeling the very things you're feeling. And when I felt isolated and alone, I did exactly what you do. I went and spent time with my parents. They loved seeing the kids and it took some of the pressure off of me.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Hey Zack, I fish maybe 4 times a year.

If I could afford it, I would stay home from work a lot more.

3:41 PM  
Blogger James said...

Ah, TWM, this is ABSOLUTELY the same problem that every couple faces.
The man is out at work spending most of his time doing what he does not want to do. And the woman is stuck at home with minimal mental stimulation. After a while, no matter HOW MUCH she loves her baby, she will go stir crazy.
Sometimes you go around in circles thinking of a solution.
It is much worse if you have no "support structure" ie parents, aunts uncles to call upon.
Both parties can feel trapped like prisoners in their roles and resentment can start to build up.

There are some tricks to help you through it. Like "shift parenting2
But mainly if you can both see what's happening it is just about compromise and thinking about the other person. It is when marriage really begins.

Just my 2p worth.

Love James

10:44 AM  
Blogger Sitting in Silence said...

Ali...Sory been MIA...I just had to pop on and are a wonderful mum, doing all the right things and it's so normal to feel like this...

I call it the survival Mum mode...we just know when we need a break. It's a good thing girl because I have seen Mothers reach breaking point and they only did this because they didn't nuture the person most important...You...

Happy Mother...Happy baby...

Keep up your great work !

10:36 PM  

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