Caring for a baby takes a tremendous amount of work, and caring for a baby while caring for your relationship requires a heavy dose of honest communication and openness to compromise.
One of the hardest things to navigate while raising a baby, is splitting time between doing work to pay the bills, and the endless work of child-rearing.
My wife Katie(25F) and I (28M) had our first baby together about 3 months ago. I’m an athlete and Katie’s a stay at home mom. Sleep is very important for me because of my sport.
I can’t be waking up multiple times throughout the night and be sleep deprived. Katie and I talked about this before trying for a kid, and I told her that I can’t compromise my sleep for anything short of an emergency.
I specifically mentioned that I wouldn’t be waking up during the night to help with the baby, but we could hire a night nurse to help out. Things had been going smoothly until a few days ago, when Katie was being cold and distant. I asked if something was wrong, and she said everything was fine.
She was quiet for a while, then finally mentioned that it’s extremely unfair that I’m not helping her at all with the baby during the night. I acknowledged that she has been working hard and not getting much sleep.
But we also previously agreed to this arrangement. Katie has refused to hire a night nurse to help, because she doesn’t trust someone new to watch our baby alone during the night.
I suggested that she could have a family member help, but she didn’t want to burden them. So we’ve been at an impasse. She still doesn’t want to hire help, and I’m still not waking up during the night.
We have a maid that cleans and does the laundry multiple times per week, and we also have a meal delivery service that makes a majority of our food. So I’m not just dumping tons of housework on her.
Katie doesn’t have a problem with the maid being around the baby because she’s known her for a while now. We’ve also been going to regular doctor and therapist appointments, they don’t think she’s suffering from postpartum.
Hiring a night nurse would not be a financial burden, so the cost isn’t the issue. I spend as much time as I can caring for and bonding with our baby, just not during the night when I’m sleeping.
NTA. I thought this would be the normal story of the wife doing all the baby stuff, cooking, cleaning, etc. But you have a maid and food service so she mostly just does the baby stuff.
And seeing as how this is the only thing you’ve told her (and made clear before even having a baby) plus giving her multiple solutions. You're definitely NTA.
NAH. I absolutely sympathize with your wife, I do. It’s SO hard in the beginning. Give her some grace-sleep deprivation is no joke and can totally change a person (temporarily). Is there maybe even one night a week you can help?
An off-season where you can help a bit? I hope if things don’t improve with baby’s sleep she will hire a night nurse so she isn’t so resentful, as unfortunately sounds like that’s where things are going. Best of luck to you all.
INFO: Are you a professional athlete, and does the family income rely on you playing your sport? NTA. I'm never a fan of anyone who agrees to something, then decides to be angry at someone else for their decision. Especially when other options are offered.
NTA. Normally I’d side with mom 100%. It sucks being the only one getting up with the baby, been there done that twice. With my first, we had a similar understanding.
My husband worked early mornings in a field where sleep deprivation was not only unsafe for him, but everyone involved. Was I a bit salty? Yes. But- we agreed on that and had an understanding beforehand so I never made a fuss and just soldiered through until the baby slept through the night.
So I get your wife’s viewpoint but if she agreed to it and has plenty of help during the day to at least maintain her sanity, it’s just a sucky part of being a new parent.
NAH, but I think your wife really needs some tender care and appreciation from you. She's probably feeling exhausted and lonely. Perhaps you can talk to her gently about how she is doing?
NAH. Sleep deprivation is a recognized form of torture. My son did not sleep “through the night” until he was five years old and taking melatonin. He also didn’t nap for longer than 15 minutes at a time.
I was hallucinating and distinctly not sane within a couple of months. My husband was making most of the money and had to rise early for work, plus had on-call responsibilities that sometimes interrupted his sleep.
We could afford some help, but not nearly so much as you and your wife. We divided it up so my husband got up with our son on Friday and Saturday nights but slept in on weekends as long as needed.
I got up with our son all other nights, plus got up with him when he was up for the day, and I got a nap when my husband got off work in the afternoon. It was absolutely brutal and I was not a happy, well-adjusted person.
It’s easy for people to say your wife agreed to this and so she should accept how things are. But my ability to trust other people with my son was one of the first things to erode when I was sleep deprived. It had to be!
The only thing to keep me awake on my fourth 20-hour day in a row was the stone-cold certainty that my son would die without me, personally, keeping an eye on him. I couldn’t just turn that off for any new person who walked through the door.
Do you sort of understand? When you are holding on so tight, you have to let go slowly and not all at once. So it’s not as simple as just “well hire someone then.”
Your mind is absorbed by every morbid story of every terrible thing that’s ever happened when a mom trusted a babysitter in the history of babysitters and you think “no, surely I will just stay awake because I can only depend on myself now.”
It’s irrational as hell but it’s the only thing that keeps you going.
EDIT FOR CLARITY:
I am a professional athlete, and my sport is our primary source of income.
Some of you mentioned the idea of doing a test run period with a night nurse helping out during the day while other people are awake and around, which I think is a good idea.
I talked to Katie about hiring a night nurse to temporarily help her out during the day, and she agreed and seemed happy about the idea.
That way she can get familiar with the new nurse and feel more comfortable about transitioning to a full-night type of arrangement.
She also apologized for lashing out at me, and explained that she was mostly too embarrassed to ask her family for more help when she already has hired help as a stay-at-home mom.
So we agreed to ask my sister since they have a really good relationship. My sister has offered to come by 1 or 2 nights per week to watch our son until Katie’s comfortable having the night nurse be full-time and alone.
That way Katie immediately gets at least some uninterrupted sleep too for now. As some of you figured out I play baseball. Season officially starts in late March with Spring Training late Feb, so I won’t be home much because of the travel schedule.
So that at least gives us a couple months to get comfortable with a night nurse/nanny so she isn’t too overwhelmed. Thank you all for the feedback, both good and bad.
It's always refreshing when one of these posts ends in some clarity for everyone involved.