Drained and Squeezed

I was all ready to write a post about how well Mi.Vida was handling this transition. How much better he was dealing with if this time, as compared to when Osita was born. I was all ready to write a post about how things were actually pretty good, or at least better than I expected they would be.

And then we had a talk, and now I have to write a different post.

I guess the truth is a little more complicated. Mi.Vida does seem to be doing better. He doesn’t seem as unhappy as he did when Osita was born. And while he does seem exhausted and overwhelmed, he hasn’t seemed as negative about it as he did before.

Turns out he is just hiding it better.

I’ve tried to talk to him about how things are going, how he is feeling, but usually he shuts me down and I don’t push it. I know he’s tired and he doesn’t much enjoy verbalizing these things. So when he says things are okay, that we’re okay, I try to believe him and move on.

It’s more complicated than that. Life is always more complicated, isn’t it?

I was right that he really just doesn’t want to talk about it. Actually, what he said was, “I have so little time to myself, I don’t want to spend it hashing it out with you.” And I suppose that makes sense. Usually my desire to talk about things pushes me to push him, but right now I’m just as tired as he is and if I can avoid conflict, I’m inclined to do so.

You know I must be REALLY tired if I don’t even have the energy to talk to my partner about important things.

The other reason I don’t say much is because there isn’t much to say. This time is hard. It’s going to stay hard. Then it’s going to get harder (when baby boy becomes mobile) and then, a long time from now, it will get easier. But that easier place is far away and not worth talking much about now. Right now we’re in the thick of it and we just need to move forward. I have faith that we can get through this and I guess part of me just feels like it’s not worth working on things now, because I know only time will really help to make it better.

The problem is, I worry that if we don’t work on things now, damage will be done, and time won’t be enough to improve things between us.

Mi.Vida is unhappy right now, that is clear enough, but he seems to be managing relatively well. We’re both exhausted and overwhelmed. He described it as feeling both drained and squeezed. He has no energy and no time. Without either of those things, what’s left? Not a whole hell of a lot. And that is how he’s feeling.

I guess the big difference between us is how we approach this difficult time. I’m trying to make the best of it, to accept it for what it is and not judge it as good or bad. Mi.Vida clearly judges this stage of our lives, and harshly. There are days where he swears it will never get better. When I remind him that the only constant with children is change, he reminds me that every challenge we’re facing with Osita we’ll have to face again with Monito. I remind him that every child is different and he reminds me that they all go through the same developmental stages and we just keep dancing around and around the same issues, never reaching the center.

I don’t know how to help him. I don’t know how to make it better. I asked him today, if he thought he might be at risk for PPD but he shrugged it off and assured me he was just drained and squeezed. I still wonder if it might be something bigger though. He had such a hard time when Osita was born, I wonder if we didn’t miss it then. I’d hate for him to have to suffer unnecessarily, but if he doesn’t believe he has it (and therefore won’t seek professional to treat it), what can I do?

The reality is, this is hard, really fucking hard. Osita is having a hard time with the transition, we’re strapped financially, we’re overwhelmed personally and we’re barely making ends meet in every sense. But this time is also wonderful: our son is amazing and our daughter delights us with her incredible humor and wit. Our families are helpful and our house is warm and inviting. We have so much and I refuse to look past it. I just wish I could help Mi.Vida see it too.

9 responses

  1. Men. I think they all have a hard time adjusting to new babies. B would never admit it, but I see a lot of this in him too. He has the luxury of working so goes out after work with friends, yet still complains about not having his own time. What about me? I parent these kids on my own from 7-6 each and every day, and although I feel myself coming unglued, I sure as hell can’t just “go out for a work thing” whenever I want.

    Men have a hard time not being the center of things, including their own lives. It’s maddening, but it is what makes them them.

    Hang in there. Like you, I talk about how it will be better soon, which is exhausting because we’re trying to convince ourselves as much as them!

    • Amen Courtney. Mi.vida gets so much more time than I do, both because he needs it for work (and other commitments) and because I give it to him. He gets so much more time than I ever get. Even now, when I’m not tied to the baby via breast feeding, he still gets so much more time than I do. I think that is part of what frustrates me: that he gets all this time to unwind and be himself, time that I don’t have, and yet he struggles (and complains) more than I do! That really bothers me sometimes.

  2. McRuger had a hell of a time adjusting to Cadet joining the family. He describes Cadet’s first year as “utter hell” for him. His biggest concern about #2 is that it will be “worse than hell”. Add on Cadet’s special needs, McRuger’s ADD, and my lack of ability to handle sleep depravation…and it’s a whole bunch of fun!!! (Insert snarky eye-roll).

    I agree with Courtney…I think men just have a harder time adjusting to any big life changes.

    Might I suggest something I did with McRuger that might help you? One night a week, when Cadet was little, I gave McRuger the night to do what he wanted: hang out with friends, go shooting, game, read, sleep, nothing…Just to give him a little space to do what he needed.

    Sending lots of love to all of you!!

  3. Do you think the financial aspect of his stress is spilling over to his stress about the kids? I know this has been the hardest and most devastating year of our marriage and yes, we had a baby, but the stress of our financial situation has been just overwhelming and all-encompassing. Either way, I am angry for you. I just don’t understand men (and I’m not saying that to be cliché, it’s true- I don’t get them or the way they think or process stress). And from what you write, your guy gets a lot of time away- work, his music stuff, etc. You, on the other hand, get none. It’s not right. Interesting question on PPD- I always forget men can get it too. But you are right, if he won’t consider it or get help, it’s not worth spending much time contemplating it. Ugh- so sorry.

  4. Not to be flippant, but from the title I assumed this post was about pumping.
    But like the others above, I am really angry and frustrated on your behalf. What EXACTLY is so hard for him, when his day to day hasn’t really changed that much (going to work and events). Maybe I’m not being adult enough about this, but I don’t like the suggestion of giving him even MORE time on his own when you don’t get any, because “its not fair!” as my 3 year old says.
    I think men complain and struggle more because we as women are taught NOT to complain. To take it all “gracefully”, knowing that our role is to be the center of the family, absorbing all that the kids and husbands throw our way and magically channeling our negative energy into keeping the home running, clean, and beautiful.
    Sorry I’ve gone off on a rant, but my husband is the same as yours and it drives me f-ing nuts. Buck up or get some help, or find a (healthy) outlet to let out your stress but DO SOMETHING if you are so miserable.

  5. I know my husband is reluctant to jump into number 2 (even though we both agree we want to adopt again and SOON), because he’s not able to handle the lack of sleep as well as he thought. I get frustrated, because apart from my surgery recovery recently, I’ve handled 99% of all night wakeups and 99.9% of all mornings. Meaning, I’d let my husband sleep in ’til 10 or 11 (or later) pretty much every single weekend for the last 2 1/2 years. He works such insane hours (and until last fall was taking a full course load of college classes as well), that I felt like he was already pushed to his max. He’s definitely the kind of guy that needs a lot of down time, which he mostly has to get from 9 pm to as late as he wants to stay up. Sometimes work steals some of that time (a lot more lately), so his “me” time is usually around midnight. It can feel like he’s getting way more time to himself and annoy me at times, but when I take a step back and realize that I’m able to lay down for a nap when Isaac does, and if I need a break we can pop on a movie, I feel like he definitely has the shorter end of the stick.
    Your situation is a little different though, because it sounds like MV is getting as much time to himself as anyone can expect as a parent (possibly more than most parents). The reality is that your time is no longer your own, and I think it’s harder for men to accept that. It doesn’t have to be a depressing thought, but maybe a starting board to finding joy in the lives we have.

  6. Your description of MV reminds me of the spouse’s PPD this time (it was much more severe with the kid and clear to most people that something was wrong). Luckily it went away within a few months but it was pretty awful for a bit there right around 2-3 months after LM was born. I get that it’s hard and stressful but it also matters that he has some skin in the game as it were. If being stressed and such makes him unable to be a part of the family and unable to help you and Osita out with the transition, then it’s a problem and could easily be causing depression. It’s not impossible or anti-masculine to get evaluated and see if something would help (therapy, meds, both, whatever). Yes, more money and less time but it matters. “Coping” doesn’t always get at the problem and it may be that new ways of coping are needed. I hope something gives and you get more rest and sanity and calm for everyone soon.

  7. Hmmph. I’m so sorry that he’s so down about this time. My husband has it the same – he says all he does is work, drive, come home, have dinner, then wrestle the kid to bed, get up and do it all over again. It’s hard. It is. we both don’t have time for self-care or ourselves, or each other. It is exhausting and hard and I have a hard time seeing how things look from my husband’s perspective to be honest. It has to be such a different experience.

    My husband is exhausted, but somehow he’s been getting up to workout in the morning and do some self-care and I’m really proud of him for that. I think it’s helping him feel better about himself in the midst of the chaos. I haven’t gotten there. I am sad that he hardly ever holds Kate unless I ask him to. I realize this is because he cares for Leopold and feels like there’s not a lot he can do for K since I BF her. But I just wish I saw more of a connection between them I guess, and I am sure it’s more imagined than anything that I don’t see it. I just know I would come home and scoop this baby up but he comes home and scoops L up and kind of forgets about her.

    Anyway, I feel you this time is hard, but the baby-ness, it’s so fleeting and beautiful. I hope soon our toddlers ease up on us and we get a bit of sanity before it gets crazy again. I have a post brewing about the changing family dynamics too, but It’s hard for me to make sense of all the changes happening here.

  8. I’m really late to this. For some reason, Feedly is giving me posts in different orders. Or maybe it’s the way I’m using it. Anyway, I just saw this today.

    Obviously I don’t have experience of PPD or having a baby, let alone two. But I do know a bit about men. (Having counselled men and hundreds of their wives over the years). And men really do like to process things quietly. Talking about things is, to them, often a form of torture. (Whereas for us, it’s a form of therapy). So I can understand him saying he doesn’t want to take his precious “me” time by talking about things he can’t fix. He wants to tune out, if he can, and that’s how he will process things.

    I’ve often quoted my husband, who told me once that if he doesn’t want to think about something (or feel something), then he doesn’t. And that men can do this. (I envy them that, at times.)

    So making them think about things, talk about them, can just accentuate some of their feelings and concerns, remind them that they’re stressed. Maybe too Mi. Vida feels inadequate, feels like he can’t protect you, feels stressed about the financial difficulties and that makes him feel like a failure. Men want to protect their families. They want to be the providers. They want to fix things. And this is something he can’t fix.

    And of course, most of your current situation doesn’t need to be fixed. (It is what it is). But to be honest men aren’t always good at noticing when things don’t need to be fixed. (I’ll often say something to my husband, and he’ll try to come up with a solution, when actually I’m just expressing frustration with a situation, not asking for a solution.) But in my experience, you can’t always tell them that either.

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