Oh my honey pie....first of all, I'm so sorry. It is never anything short of a nightmare, for a mother to think that her family is stepping into a bright new future as a real family with kids....only to see her partner turn into someone she doesn't recognize. I'm so sorry, I know this must be so scary and confusing for you...and I do not envy the road you are headed down...I'm just really really sorry, this is not how it's supposed to work.
This will be hard work, but don't let anyone make you feel like this is not something that can be worked through...maybe, just maybe it IS!
This situation scares me a lot, because, either:
A. He really isn't doing it mindfully and it is his knee-jerk reaction to hit when the baby cries. This is a sad, but also very scary situation...because it would make this man a prime suspect for potential baby shaking. A person who has about two seconds worth of tolerance for crying...is going to move quickly from a swat on the behind to a "SHUUUUT UPPPP!" - and hard shaking in NO time, if left alone with this infant...and my darling...it only takes ONE SINGLE MOMENT, ONE HARD SHAKE, for your world to go from bright and full of possibilities...to the agony of seeing a child, clinging to life on ventilators..or, coming home from a quick run to the grocery store to find your baby dead and your husband endlessly sorry....but forever guilty of killing your precious child. Shaken baby scenarios are nightmarish, to say the least...if you haven't ever seen much about this...please look on the internet...to see how serious this is. I'm actually GLAD that he has been swatting her, instead of shaking her...I mean, spanking, I can grab my baby and run away from...sadly, with shaking, too many babies never come back from that..or do, and never become the person they were born to be.
B. He is lying, is not
doing this out of a knee jerk reaction and is an abuser who need to become your ex-husband immediately. If the man is an abuser, especially considering that this all started in infancy with your child, this just needs to end. The fact that this is behavior that you've never seen in him before...scares me even more than if you had seen anger, etc in his personality before now. THe fact that stepping into a parenting role has brought this out in him, sends up bigger red flags for me....it more than frightens me, when people develop violent tendancies out of *nowhere*...that, to me, signals some sort of past trauma that MAJORLY needs to be worked on.
So....I think first, you need to start *really* thinking about what you know of this man. Is this behavior coming out of nowhere...or is there something you've missed? Either way, he needs to be in therapy immediately. Also, this therapist needs to agree to giving you feedback...this therapy in the long run, will be to help him overcome whatever it is that is creating this bahavior...but in the meantime, is on an emergent basis and to help you to determine if this man can be around your child AT ALL. Obviously he can't be alone with her for a moment...but you need to know if you need to leave, or if this is something which will begin to improve, if he has the support of therapy...someone who is meeting with him weekly AT LEAST to support him in becoming the father he needs to be...the father your baby deserves.
I have no idea how I would handle this situation as far as leaving or staying...I would rather see him leave the house and crash on his brothers couch, or something...that see you leave your home. You haven't done a thing wrong here and your baby CERTAINLY doesn't deserve to be uprooted. If you go to your husband, explain to him that he needs to leave...and his reaction is one of "Oh come ON, its not THAT serious" - then you DO need to get out because he's not tkaing this seriously. BUT...if his reaction is more along the lines of "I don't want to be dangerous, I really won't do it again, I promise" and then you say "I know, but what if, in a split second, you lose it and shake her hard once...that's all it takes to seriously injur, kill or permanently disable her, I'm doing this to protect her" - and he says "I want her to be protected, okay, I'll go, I'm so sorry this is happening" - then you know that he understands that this is SO not okay and that he has a problem...that would indicate to me a much better chance that he's got a REAL and VALID issue that he just needs help in sorting out....and that he's not just an abuser.
To the other posters on this thread, who are saying "leave NOW" - okay. I understand. I really do...an I get, that when you have a baby, your priorities shift and no matter how much you love your spouse, you do what you must at all times to protect your child. HOWEVER...please imagine this womans nightmare. This woman has a DH she loves...they have a history, are building a family...and the next thing she knows, he's hitting her kid! Oh my gosh my heart poiunds just thinking about it....she says he hasn't ever shown signs of violence before and that he doesn't mean to do it, doesn't want to do it. This man is probably sitting there thinking "What's WRONG with me, get ahold of yourself, Jim..." - or something similar. He probably feels guilt, rage, powerlessness..all wrapped into one agonizing moment of realizing that he;s done it again. There could be something REALLY wrong here...this woman has a duty to her child to protect her...but she also has a duty to this child and a duty as this mans wife...to try and help her spouse get to the bottom of what this is all about.
If he's an abuser....she's got to walk and not look back....but let me tell you something. **I** am the product of an insane childhood...I wen through INSANE amounts of therapy to overcome my issues, to prepare for being an adult and, someday, a mother. I had no good mother figure and only abusive men to serve as male roll models. I had an idea in my head of the family life I wanted...but I didn't have the tools. I didn't want anything more than to be a good mom, so I worked on it. Now, I'm the wife to a FABULOUS man and the mother to a one year old and a little one on the way! There is *NO* hitting in my house...as a kid who was constatnly hit, etc...I won't tolerate even, like, pinching or anything that resembles physical touch that is not playful or loving....but in the back of my head....every once in a while...there's that voice. That ugly, sick, twisted voice of my angry mother..."SHUT UP, you are BAD, why do you always mess everything up! You've ruined my whole LIFE!" - saying terrible things. I'm sitting there, holding my precious baby, doing all the right things as she cries...I rock her, hold her...pour my love into her...but there's that voice. It hardly ever comes, but it's there. Some residue on the back of my brain...some recorded message that is still persitent, still not compeltely faded away.
I brush that voice off and move on with my day. It's not something I *feel*...it's just from year and years of hearing it as a normal response to achild in distress. I can't help it...I've done the work...my home is happy, it's just something I have to disregard. I'm not her.
I share that bit of my story....because when I hear what this man has done, it strikes me that, maybe he didn't know that he would be so effected by whatever it is, that planted this seed of rage in him. Maybe on a deep level, he doesn't feel like he has what it takes to be a good dad and feel powerless and snaps...maybe he was also a victim of abuse...I'm saying, it is quite and entirely possbile, that like many many many people (especially men) who edure something traumatic, he tucked it away in the back of his head and never thought about it again...and that it is now rearing it's ugly head...and really, only serving to worsten the situation by reinforcing this idea that he is stupid, doesn't know what he's doing, etc.
I'm not saying this mother doesn't needtp put her childs safety first....I'm SAYING...that this man doesn't need to have the book thrown at him first thing. Maybe he's a real creep...maybe he;s an abuser and she didn't know it...or maybe she should've seen signs but didn't...who knows, who knows what the situation is.....but if he is a loving, good man, who just has something creeping in his past that even HE doesn't understand...he AND this family, deserve the chance to survive this intact...before he's sold down the river as the worstguy who ever lived.
Sending the idea to this mother, that this man is a disgusting creep who can never be forgiven, will only serve to make her feel more alone, more betrayed and more hopeless than she already must feel.
So..OP..sorry this is long and weird and disjointed....but the bottom line is this:
1. Immediate space
2. Immediate therapy
s for you, because this sucks
4. Don't give up or feel like there's no coming back....in your life asa married person, you and your spouse will have so many ups and downs, so many things to overcome...this is a tough, tough tough one...because it involves your child being hurt. But please have hope, unless there is something major or really bad that you don't know or that you just haven't told us....I think that your husband is probably also really upset and may not have a clue as to why he can't cope with a fussy baby. If you determine that he is a safe guy, with an unsafe coping mechanism...as apposed to a straight abuser, than there is definitely something here worth salvaging.
GL and KUP....we're rooting for you, your precious little one and your marriage.