I have been feeling really overwhelmed lately. I think a big part of it it is due to being solely responsible for the baby for the majority of the time. My wife is only home for 3 hours before going to sleep on weekdays – she leaves at 5:30am and gets home around 7 or 7:30pm every day. Last Friday she didn’t get home until midnight. And because of her hours, she doesn’t wake up with the baby at all through the night. It’s all on me.
We knew her job was not going to be conducive to family life, but she said she was going to quit before the baby was born. Then she said she would quit during her two weeks off after the baby arrived. Now we are 7 weeks into life with a baby and there is no end in sight. She feels she can’t leave her job, and quite frankly doesn’t have time to look for another job with the hours she works. So I feel like a single parent through the week.
And I feel overwhelmed.
I already wrote about my anxiety with leaving the house. But I’m also easily stressed when the baby fusses at home. I spend my time worrying that I won’t be able to soothe her. Even when she is sleeping peacefully, I am worrying about being unable to fulfill her needs when she wakes.
So I need to take stock of how well things are going and really focus on the positives.
- She naps through the day which gives me time to rest and recuperate, even if I am pinned underneath her (like I am while I write this).
- Evenings and overnights are on a two steps forward one step back trend, so I know I can look forward to fewer Witching Hours and longer sleep stretches, even if they aren’t predictable night after night.
- She is healthy. We even got rid of her diaper rash which she had from one week to six weeks old. I cut out dairy and she is considerably less gassy. So I should gain confidence from the fact that I have been able to cure her rash and soothe her upset stomach.
- I produce enough milk for her to feed every hour some days and she feels full and is gaining weight like a champ. When nothing else will soothe her, I can always offer her a comfort nurse which works without fail. My body is equipped to provide all that my baby needs.
- She is developing her communication skills more and more everyday. Her coos are becoming more complex and we even get some back-and-forth going on. So I know that eventually she will be able to tell me what she needs and I won’t have to worry that I’m missing a cue anymore.
- I don’t have anything else to worry about. The baby may be solely my responsibility all week, but the baby is my sole responsibility. I don’t have to worry about work until January and I just extended my leave from my not-for-profit by another month. I don’t need to leave the house so I don’t need to worry about my hygiene. My to-do list of necessary things is really short: feed baby, change baby, cuddle baby. 3 things. I can do 3 things. Anything else is a cherry on top.
- This too shall pass. Babies grow up fast. Too fast, in hindsight. Her difficult phases only seem to last a week or two, so whenever I start to feel overwhelmed by something in particular, like the evening Witching Hour or clingyness that prevents me from showering for 4 days, I just have to remind myself that there are probably only a few days left of this behaviour and then we’ll be on to all new behaviours.
- My wife may not be home much, but she loves us and she shares the baby responsibility on the weekends. She also makes sure we are fed and clothed. I have a supportive partner.
I’m sure I will gain confidence as time goes on. I know I will always worry about my daughter, but hopefully I will one day feel like I can handle more than those 3 things (feed baby, change baby, cuddle baby).