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Getting support from our partners/spouses

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

OK, here's a thread to talk about what our significant relationships have been like in the wake of our long, arduous births and difficult recoveries.

 

How has your S.O. been supportive? What hasn't worked so well?

post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'll confess, this has been a really difficult place for me. My partner and I have been together for almost 20 years, so we know each other really well and are generally speaking well suited to one another and able to support each other in lots of ways.

 

But the difficulties following DD's birth, and the long period of sleep deprivation for me, just brought out the worst in us and made it very difficult to be good to each other. There were a lot of fights. She said things to me that I have had a very hard time forgiving. I'm sure I did things that she has trouble forgiving. We tried couples counseling, but it actually made things worse. I left every session feeling like I wanted a divorce. In fact, I probably would have separated from my partner if I'd had the energy to do so and if it had been at all possible to parent that way.

 

What I've had to accept is that DP and I have had very different journeys. I thought that because she was there with me through the whole labor, delivery, and post-partum period, she would understand what I'd been through and know how to support me through it. But I've had to realize that she had her own experience, one very different from mine, and there are lots of ways that she just can't understand what I've been through.

 

I've also had to look for support elsewhere when it comes to things very specifically related to the birth, and accept what I can from my DP. I need to focus on all the things that she does well and all the ways that she's a great support, and pay less attention to the ways in which she does not get it.

 

That is much easier to do now that I'm getting decent sleep on a regular basis. Our relationship improved noticeably after DD night weaned and started sleeping through the night (which was not until she was 30 months old, mind you!).

 

I had a lot of fantasies about birth before I went through it. One of them was that my partner would develop this amazing awe and respect for me by watching me do this amazing thing with my body. HA! Just another crazy fantasy that I've need to toss out the window. We came through birth together and stayed the flawed human beings that we were before it started. That's just how it is.

post #3 of 12

DH tried very hard to be supportive. He still tries. Sometimes he still says the wrong thing. Other times, he says all the right things.

 

I value that he doesn't tell me he's over hearing me talk about the birth. I hear lots of women share that story about their partners.

 

The whole thing was very difficult. I made all the decisions for how the birth would be, the kind of childbirth method to study, etc. We did a self-study thing, and DH didn't really keep up on reading or working with it. When labor began, he was unable to help or comfort me very much, though he learned as he went. Sometimes I resent him for that.

 

The post partum period was immensely hard. We fought a lot too. I'm usually the one in the relationship that makes the decisions, does the managing. I take care of the finances, the bills, all the practical things. But when DS was born and I was healing from a cesarean and out of my mind with anxiety, depression, and no sleep, I needed DH to step up. But he wasn't. He was still looking to me to tell everyone what to do, to tell everyone things would be okay. I needed someone else to do that for once, but it wasn't happening. So of course, we argued a lot.

 

Even now, DH tries to comfort me with "it could've been worse" and "look how great our kid is." I know how great our kid is. Duh, I'm not stupid. As I said in another post, things could always be worse. Always. Ever. The earth could explode. A meteor could crash into us and end mammalian rule of the planet. It doesn't make the reality any easier to deal with.

 

I often meditate on what I wanted to hear. What words or actions might've helped, or would still help now. Because I ask myself whether there is/was actually anything anyone could've said, or if nothing would've soothed.

 

But I think there were things, are things. I wanted to hear, still do, that someone is proud of me. I want to hear that I didn't do it wrong. I want to hear that it's okay to feel like my c-section wasn't a failure, that I'm not part of an anti-woman medical epidemic that's ruining women's lives. I want to hear that I get to still be in the club and and that I'm still an authentic mother even though I didn't have some kind of transcendent euphoric experience written about in Spiritual Midwifery. I want someone to tell me that all that garbage out there about how c-section children grow up emotionally scared for life, and have to work out their "birth issues" via hypnosis when they're 45 years old is actually yes, garbage, and that even if he had been born vaginally we might not have fallen in love right away. I want someone to say that my baby came out about six inches away from my vagina and that six inches compared to a lifetime of diaper washing, feeding, rocking, hugging, tear-drying, teaching, laughing, disciplining, and loving is nothing

 

I want to hear that I'm a f***ing hero for facing my greatest fears in order to have my son, and on his birthday, I want a dozen roses and a high-five for being a warrior woman.

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Partaria View Post

 

I want to hear that I'm a f***ing hero for facing my greatest fears in order to have my son, and on his birthday, I want a dozen roses and a high-five for being a warrior woman.

My partners family are now going on and on about wonderful my sister in law is and how proud they are of her and wonderful f**king birth while they just try and not talk about mine. Why are they so proud of her when she had the easiest time in the world. I'm the one that suffered. I'm the one who had all her dreams and hopes shattered. I'm the one who brought a life into this world in the worst imaginable way and yet was back on her feet only 8 hours after the c-section and was home the next day (I refused to spend more time than necessary in that god awful hospital and when the doctors told me that the sooner I was up and walking around the better it would be, I was up like a shot, pain and all).

So how come she's the hero and I have to suffer the indulgant smiles and changes of subject if I say anything about my experiences.

 

My partner tries to be supportive and tells me that he's proud of me and tells me our son is wonderful and beautiful. But he really doesn't want to talk about it. I understand that he had a bad time too. The only time we talked about it he said he thought he would lose us both. But he has a different was of dealing with things and just tends to bottle everything up. I think he also sees my jealousy towards my sister-in-law as petty and stupid. He showed me a photo of her yesterday just after the birth with he baby resting on her chest, and I don't think he gets what a magical moment that is supposed to be and how I'd been dreaming of that moment most of my life. That to me is the most heart breaking thing in the world, to not have seen or been able to hold my baby when he was born.

 

I thought my other sister in law might understand better what that's like because she had a c-section too, but hers was planned because her daughter was breech. So she knew 3 weeks in advance what was going to happen and had time to come to terms with it.

 

The only people who understand what i'm going through and ave given me any support have been the people i've met in this group. Thanks again! :) xx

post #5 of 12
Quote:

My partners family are now going on and on about wonderful my sister in law is and how proud they are of her and wonderful f**king birth while they just try and not talk about mine. Why are they so proud of her when she had the easiest time in the world. I'm the one that suffered. I'm the one who had all her dreams and hopes shattered. I'm the one who brought a life into this world in the worst imaginable way and yet was back on her feet only 8 hours after the c-section and was home the next day (I refused to spend more time than necessary in that god awful hospital and when the doctors told me that the sooner I was up and walking around the better it would be, I was up like a shot, pain and all).

So how come she's the hero and I have to suffer the indulgant smiles and changes of subject if I say anything about my experiences.

 

Oh boy do I know this game. I am so sorry that's happening to you. 

 

When we experience something hard in life, no matter what it is, we need to talk about it. Desperately. I have found that with birth stuff, this is absolutely key. A woman will process her birth her WHOLE LIFE. Even if it is a dream birth, she will carry it with her always. I am not a religious woman, but I often recall the bible verse about Mary, when she found out she was pregnant with her son. It mystified me as a child. Something like "and she kept all these things deep in her heart and pondered them." I now know exactly what that phrase means.

 

I think one of the reasons, MatthewsMum, that people are this way to you is fear. Other women here have remarked before that they don't share their birth stories because people treat them as cautionary tales. Like oh, tell me your story so I can understand where you went wrong so that I won't. The reason our stories spark that response and spark what I think is deep discomfort in people is that they are tales that remind us that we humans cannot control everything.

 

Even in a world where we basically worship rationality and science, there are still things that are just as they are, that we cannot wrest into our orbit of control. Birth is one of those things. What a terrifying proposition it is to think that you could make every "correct" choice, do every "correct" thing, and still, yes still end up with the outcome you didn't want. You know how scary that is because you lived it. It takes courage to stare that down, especially while in labor, one of the most vulnerable moments, arguably, of a woman's life (there is a reason that cats and dogs go hide under a porch to have their young). It was scary to live that, and it is scary to some people to hear about it. It is a narrative that produces discomfort. People don't know how to react, or what to say, and the truth of it, that you and babe might've been lost, well, that is so scary and so upsetting, that people push it to the sides. That awful part is that in doing so, they sweep you off to the side too, and you are left out in no-man's land.

 

I think you have a right to be angry at these people for not being able to hear your story and talk to you about it. Their discomfort should not stand in the way of giving you the support you deserve and need. My family is the same way. Whenever I open my mouth about the birth, I'm cut off midsentence with "well the important thing is you're both okay now and healthy." Yeah right. That's all that matters. Would you say that to a Vietnam Vet? Would you say that to someone who survived the Titanic sinking? Well, it's not worth talking about because at this moment in time you're fine. Ha- guess what? I'm NOT FINE. To borrow a term from war-trauma survivors, I feel like I'm walking wounded.

 

I'm going to make a recommendation to you, MatthewsMum. If it sounds useful, please consider it. If not, leave it. But I would encourage you to find a way, if you can, to shield yourself from these exalting conversations over your sister in law's birth. Can you leave the room when these conversations start? Can you find a way to change the subject? Can you say something that is true to your heart, maybe something like, 'every woman works hard for her child, whether they are born in an ideal dream or in a terrible heartbreak.' That might not be possible with your family's dynamic, it might not be possible for you in the place you're in right now. And that is okay. But you are still so fresh in your experience that I want you to be insulated from this, because it feels to me like it's just pouring salt in your wounded heart over and over. 

 

If none of that is possible, then come here. Every time you have to witness one of these conversations, come here and post or re-read and know that WE want to hear your story. For as long as you need to tell it. My kid is 12 months. I know other mamas here have much older children than that. And we are still talking. We won't get tired of listening to you. And we will never stop calling you a hero, telling you that you have the might of oceans in you, and that we are so so proud to count you among us.

 

Hugs and love to you.

post #6 of 12

Partaria thank you so much for your advise. I'm really trying to insulate myself from all this but it is diffucult with my partners family. There have been several moments today where I have felt the need to defend myself. I feel almost like they are criticising me even though nothing is said directly. Today the were all in awe because my sister-in-laws milk has come in today less that 36 hours after the birth and that here little one is really getting the hang of latching on. My LO was born in the early hours of Monday morning and he didn't manage to latch on until Tuesday and my milk didn't come in until Thursday. I had to point out that most of the time c-section babies take longer to learn to suckle and that c-section Mum's milk often takes longer to come in (mine actually came in reasonably quickly considering), but I just got blank looks from everyone except my other sister in law who agreed with me because she had the same problem after he planned c-section.

 

Sister in law and baby were released from hospital this afternoon and the funny thing is that even after everything I went through I was in hospital for less time than her. Tomorrow will be the first time i'll see her and the baby and I'm really dreading it. I'm dreading having to hear her tell us how wonderful her birth was.... or even worse have to smile indulgently while the goes on about how horrible and painful it was and how much pain she's having to suffer now with the few stitches she's had to have. I guess i'll just have to grin an bear it.. there's no way I can avoid going to see her and the baby.

 

I have to say that I feel better being able to get everything of my chest. Thank you for listening and putting up with me :)

 

Hugs xxx
 

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm posting to bump this thread...

 

Anyone have new insights to add to this topic?

post #8 of 12
One of the positive experiences that emerged from an otherwise painful journey has been my husband's opportunity to feel competent and accomplished as a new parent. He's disabled, has chronic fatigue, and often worried that if I were ever injured or in some other way debilitated, he wouldn't be able to assist me in the way I assisted him after his two disabling car accidents. After my 60-hour labor, three days in the hospital after the cesarean, and a prolonged recovery at home, he had to assume all the responsibilities I had been carrying and (despite sleep deprivation) did an amazing job and made me feel so loved, cherished, and cared for. About a week after Luthien's birth, I told him, "If you ever worried about whether or not you could rise to the occasion in a crisis, please know that you've now proven yourself!" He also has an incredible bond with Luthien that began at birth, as he's the one who accompanied her during all her postpartum procedures. My family showed me wonderful support as well, which I'm grateful for because I'm the first in a long line of fast and easy births to have one that was neither. My mother-in-law, while very kind, is heavily invested in that New Age philosophy that everything happens for a reason (karmic or otherwise), which annoys me under the best of circumstances, but when she said that Luthien *wanted* to be born the way she was born, I bit my tongue hard to refrain from creating a domestic diplomatic incident. Why on Earth would our poor little girl prefer to be yanked back out of my pelvis after getting stuck there and into a cold environment, surrounded by bright lights and poking strangers (including the grouchy doctor who, when she cried in response to the unwelcome prodding, observed accurately, "You don't like me, do you?"), and enduring medical procedures over a peaceful birth in our home? Aaaaargh! Then there are those lovely people who interpret her birth as a lesson in why nobody should have a homebirth--"that'll larn ya, young lady!" Actually, the transfer went fine and I'm thankful that I labored at home, so the grouchy doctor was only part of her birth for an hour. (Alas, we had to endure her for the hospital stay, but the nurses were awesome and the doctor was only a brief visitor each day.) I was so relieved to get out of there and be back home with a supportive spouse and my parents, who visited with us for a week. Although they're elderly and weren't able to help with housework and such, their presence and reassurance was priceless.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PacificMar View Post

One of the positive experiences that emerged from an otherwise painful journey has been my husband's opportunity to feel competent and accomplished as a new parent. He's disabled, has chronic fatigue, and often worried that if I were ever injured or in some other way debilitated, he wouldn't be able to assist me in the way I assisted him after his two disabling car accidents. After my 60-hour labor, three days in the hospital after the cesarean, and a prolonged recovery at home, he had to assume all the responsibilities I had been carrying and (despite sleep deprivation) did an amazing job and made me feel so loved, cherished, and cared for. About a week after Luthien's birth, I told him, "If you ever worried about whether or not you could rise to the occasion in a crisis, please know that you've now proven yourself!" He also has an incredible bond with Luthien that began at birth, as he's the one who accompanied her during all her postpartum procedures.

 I found this really moving. What an amazing story! And what a great unexpected outcome from a difficult experience. Thanks so much for sharing this.

post #10 of 12

I had that same fantasy CI Mama... hoping my husband would see me give birth and be amazed and impressed and beyond words about my abilities as a woman. I feel like a failure as a woman for not being able to deliver our baby. I think one of the things that makes it so hard for me to be ok with the cesarean is that i spent months and many many many hours training my brain to believe my body would birth my son and it would be empowering. 

post #11 of 12

Is it horrible to complain and admit that I am still mad at DH for not staying with me after X was born? After 36 hours of labour and then a surgery, I get he was tired and wanted to go home, but I was more tired... I wish he would have stayed at the hospital with me. I had a horrible hospital experience after the surgery (was told I was doing everything wrong by nurses because I was doing skin to skin and BFing on demand instead of putting baby in bassinet and feeding on schedule). DH left a little after midnight and didnt come back until almost 11am the next day. I felt so bullied by the nurses who took away my baby so I could 'get some rest'. All I did was cry because I had nothing left in me to argue and stand up for what I want and what my baby needed.. his mom. 
My DH had never changed a diaper before X was born. We were convinced X would be born at home and then I was going to do all the 'baby' work and DH would take care of me. Well I was in so much pain after surgery that I couldn't get out of bed without help. So DH had to do everything. It was hard on him and he felt like baby hated him because X would cry when DH changed his diaper and stuff. So DH was really really stressed and sleep deprived so he said things he didn't mean. But it hurt. It still hurts. He told me to get a grip and get over myself when I was crying one time because he wouldn't listen to me when I tried to explain something to him. It was so frustrating for me to not be able to be on my feet and taking care of my son the way I had always dreamed. I was desperate to make SOME decisions about our boy and his care and DH just wouldn't listen and I would break down and then he would yell and it was awful. 

Things got better once I recovered and we started getting some better sleep. Baby is 6 months old now but I still have this resentment toward DH. 

I don't talk to him much about my trauma but every now and then he will ask me why I couldn't sleep and I'll tell him I was having another c section nightmare. He doesn't say anything, 

post #12 of 12

I am sorry you are having trouble finding support from your husband.  My husband was actually more supportive after my first c-section than after my CBAC.  I guess he figures I should have known what to expect and be back to myself, but I found the failed VBAC even more disappointing if that's even possible. After our first baby DH did all the baby work and he did great...and he got praised up and down and well, I was there I guess. And after the second he did a bit less, went back to work sooner, left me with two kids to wrangle and a scar to heal...and got praised up and down and I was there I guess.  I have healed faster physically, but there is no one to talk to me about the emotional part. 

 

It is frustrating what we as women are expected to just deal with while our husbands sleep and are called wonderful. My daughter is 3 and a half and my son is almost 9 months old. I still wish my husband would give me some praise for going through all that labor and a surgery. You are not alone and it is not horrible.  It is normal both to feel resentment and for your husband not to get it. How could he?  But, it still hurts.  I wish I had better advice than just go ahead and vent.  {hugs}

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