I don’t think anyone can quite prepare you for how having a baby can affect your relationship.
Over seven and a half years of just the two of us. Of living carefree and not really thinking about anything other than ourselves and each other.
Our first dance was ‘love is easy’ by McFly, and they summed up the first seven years or so of our relationship perfectly.
‘If this is love, then love is easy. It’s the easiest thing to do’
Life was easy for us. We hadn’t really faced any challenges, we’d just sailed through laughing and smiling. So having a baby was the obvious next step and our next big adventure.
Three months before we fell pregnant, my husband was given some horrible news that his Mum only had three months left to live. Those three months were a blur of emotions, travelling and silence. I’ve always been that person to try and cheer people up, but my husband said to me once that he didn’t want me to try and cheer him up, and that’s all I knew how to do and without that, I felt a bit useless.
One week after she died, we got that faint blue line that we had been desperate for for ten months. I did the pregnancy test by myself and I was terrified of how my husband would react. Having a baby was all that he had ever wanted but the timing of it, I just wasn’t sure. However he was over the moon. I kept telling people that it gave him something positive to focus on, and someone said to me that did I think it was distracting how he was really feeling about his Mum and that maybe his grief would all come out some day. I ignored this.
Nine months went by, and my husband was amazing. When I was sick, when I felt ugly, when I was ill – he was right there looking after me, cleaning up after me and making me feel like the most important person in the world. He had always been good at that, making me feel special. But we didn’t talk about his Mum, or how he was feeling about it all, I thought it was best to just focus on the happiness around our baby.
Less than twenty four hours after our baby was born, we realised our baby was unwell, but we didn’t know how unwell. My husband immediately assumed the worst. I’ll never forget having to hold him, while he crumpled in the hospital unable to hold himself together. He said that he had been holding onto the hope of our baby, and that he didn’t know what he would do if our baby died too.
While our baby was in hospital, before and after his operation – once we knew it wasn’t life threatening – we both supported each other, and the same with those first couple of days at home. But I can remember the exact day it all started to change and he started to change.
On the Monday after we had got home, I went back into hospital to get checked over, and I had basically cried all day, I was so tired and was desperate for some proper sleep. My husband said he would stay downstairs with our baby and let me sleep as long as I needed to. The next day I felt amazing and refreshed. The lack of sleep for my husband seemed to continue the downward spiral that had started in the hospital. He became very negative, reluctant to help out, impatient, always tired and almost like he wasn’t there. On the weekends he didn’t want to do anything but stay in bed, and I started to dread him coming home from work.
Stupidly, I thought it was best to struggle on my own and not talk to anyone, and my husband and I still didn’t talk about how he was feeling or how I was now feeling. I didn’t want to shatter the illusion to others that I had the perfect life. I also didn’t want to admit that I felt like it was my fault. It didn’t connect for me that it might be linked with his Mum, I just saw this negative person who found that having a baby wasn’t actually as fun as he thought it was going to be. It wasn’t until World Mental Health Day, and he posted on Instagram that I realised. I felt like I had failed him, I felt like I hadn’t been there for him and I felt so guilty that I hadn’t realised what he had been going through. I’d been so wrapped up in the newborn world of me and my baby. Some people would say that it was natural to be wrapped up in that world, but we’d always been a team, and that shouldn’t change now that we had a baby.
That post on Instagram led to a very honest discussion that evening and we both started taking steps to support each other. I don’t think my husband would mind me sharing that he was put on anti-depressants and started seeing a counsellor.
Four months later and he is now off the medication and has stopped seeing a counsellor. I won’t lie and say that the past four months have been easy, some days have been really hard, but they have definitely been easier than the first two months of our baby’s life.
We are once again a team, we talk a lot, and we are having the best adventures together again. I feel like I’ve got my husband back, and he’s become the dad I always thought he would be. He’s funny, he’s caring, and our baby is the centre of his world. I’ve also realised that I need to stop being so hard on him, on me and on us. We aren’t perfect and that’s okay.
My advice to others out there. Don’t give up. Talk to each other, and to those around you. Love isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.