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Woman horrified by husband's 'reflexive anger' during nighttime newborn feeds. AITA?

Woman horrified by husband's 'reflexive anger' during nighttime newborn feeds. AITA?


When this new mom doesn't know how to handle her husband's nightime outbursts but otherwise sunny personality during baby feeding, she asks Reddit:

"AITA for being resentful of my husband's reflexive anger during newborn nightime pumping/feeds?"

My (32f) husband (35m) and I have a 3wk old newborn. My milk supply has been low so I've been pumping every 2-3 hours. The arrangement my husband and I agreed to was that he & I would both wake up for the first "feeding/pump" session, where he would go feed the baby a bottle and I would focus on pumping.

The issue is that my husband has insomnia & can't fall asleep easily. To mitigate this, I'll wear sleep headphones & will listen for the baby's cries when he's hungry; my husband's ask is for me to wake him up when this occurs, so that he can help and I can focus on pumping.

However, when I do gently wake up my husband at the time that he asks me to, it's like a knee jerk reaction for him to be angry. He'll jerk, complain loudly that he just fell asleep minutes ago, slap the bed with his fist or open hand in anger, then stomp off to tend to the baby.

After which, he'll cool off, start singing & put on his cute voice with the baby, & otherwise be "okay." Meanwhile, I'm left feeling horrible, feeling guilty for waking him up, to the point where I don't want to wake him up because I'd rather just take care of everything myself than deal with him being pissy.

Last night, I told him how these outbursts make me feel. That I'm afraid to wake him up because of them. His response was that this reaction is a reflex, no different to how a knee pops up when struck with a hammer, & that I need to just accept that this response is an inevitability.

Well, it's 2am now. I wake him up, he does his same angry song and dance, and I go to pump. After he gets over his "burst", he comes out being positive & happy, trying to lightly joke about how this really pissed me off and that I really couldn't get over it. Admittedly, I tell him passive aggressively that I'm over it, but maintain a shortness with him.

He gets angry again, stating that of course, between the two of us, he's the one who can't sleep but I'M the one who's entitled to wear the angry b&ch face. He takes the baby to the bedroom and slams the door.

After he's done feeding the baby, I tell him that I'm going to sleep outside for the night and he asks me again to wake him up when the baby wakes up. He adds, verbatim, "Can you just ignore my being mad for the first 15 seconds after you wake me up? I've done a good job here, and I feel like I'm owed that. I need you to be a big girl."

I feel resentful of the fact that the burden is on me to "get over" his outbursts. However, I do also recognize that his bursts are short lived, and that he IS waking up to help me during an otherwise difficult time where both of us aren't getting sleep.

He does do a great job of supporting us and my emotional well being during the rest of the day, so I may be the AH for harboring this resentment. I need some outside perspective on whether he has a point and if I should extend him owed grace for this issue.

Let's see what readers thought.

anonadogmom writes:

The audacity to tell her she “needs to be a big girl” when he’s throwing a temper tantrum over being woken up to feed his child after she just gave birth is 100% a no for me.

OP you are NTA but my husband is similar. I’m pregnant with our first, and I’m sensitive to his groaning and complaining about little things so I know this will be an issue for me too. This puts into perspective what I’m not going to allow.

cmahacula writes:

NAH. I also get irrationally angry when I am woken up by someone (I have to use an alarm) and it lasts longer than 15 seconds. I know it happens, but I'm not awake enough to actually understand what I am saying/what is going on. However, that doesn't absolve me from apologizing for an outburst.

Unfortunately, you need a change of nighttime feeding plans. One option - stop waking him up. I understand he may want some bonding time, but it's not worth the stress on you and the continued argument.

The other possibility could be to get up yourself, get out of the room and set off an alarm to go off a few minutes later. That way he can be angry by himself.

I saw some recommendations that OP whisper or "be nice" during the wakeup. DH tried that early on in our relationship and it just made it worse for me. Others have talked about "what about when husband falls asleep on the couch and gets woken up by the kid?"

I also can't fall asleep on the couch because that leads to someone trying to wake me up. I have tried to "not be angry" when someone wakes me up and it hasn't worked. My alarm needs to be across the room so I have to get out of bed to snooze it. I can do this and still basically be asleep.

cricketsnotallow writes:

NAH/ESH. I think you both deserve some grace. Having a new baby is hard. Being sleep deprived is hard. Breast feeding is really hard, especially when your not one of those over producing lucky ladies that can just sneeze and fill up a bottle.

Some people are super cranky when they wake up, no matter how much sleep they get. Or groggy, or out of it. That's just how they are. They need to know that about themselves and do things to learn to not make it anyone else's problem.

I personally would let ugly comments slide, but everyone has their own line because I have been that morning cranky person. He can be mad and cranky all he wants but hitting the bed is crossing a line, imo.

On your part, of you're not over it, don't say you're over it. Don't be passive aggressive. Just say what you're thinking. Being ugly back feels nice (sometimes), but it doesn't help fix the situation. You're entitled to be mad and wear your RBF if you're upset.

He can't be upset with you if his "uncontrollable" actions upon waking make you upset. HE needs to be a "big boy" and deal with the consequences of his actions if he expects you to also be a "big girl" and cope with his "15 seconds" of anger upon waking. He can't have it both ways, you know?

But at the same time, I don't want to call either of you the asshole because having a new baby is so hard. Hang in there and tell your husband that you should both try to be kind to each other because this time period is about survival and it's basically you two against sleep deprivation.

You have to be a team of you want to clear this level! You can't fight each other and expect to bring down the new baby sleep deprivation boss.

What is YOUR take on this situation? Is OP's husband abusive or is this something they can work through?

Sources: Reddit
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