ACT TWO: ACKNOWLEDGING MY HUSBAND’S POSTPARTUM JOURNEY

“I think I’m feeling well enough to try again.  I think I’m in a really good place, I’m ready for another baby.”

My husband’s face was paused on an emotion I did not recognize.

“What?” I asked him, “Why are you making that face?”

He stuttered a little, clearly feeling a little trepidatious, “I don’t want to minimize you.  It was worse for you.  Pregnancy and postpartum was so hard for you and I know that.  But in a way, it was also hard for me and I’m not sure that I’m ready…”

I wanted to yell at him and instantly condemn him for the role of victim he was trying to play in my great tragedy.  It was MY pregnancy, MY 36 hours of labour, it was MY body that opened and ripped and strained, it was MY blood, it was MY postpartum depression, they were MY emotions, MY tears, MY worries, MY constant agonizing and MY multiple sessions in therapy.  It was MY journey.  I was the lead character that suffered and everyone else was simply part of a fog that I managed to heroically triumphant above.

But then a quiet film reel started to slowly spin and flicker in the back of my mind.  Before I had a chance to yell at him for his insolence, I could hear my voice yelling and screaming.

Yelling at him that I needed more water.

Yelling at him that I was hungry, but there was nothing good to eat, after he had just purchased groceries.

Yelling at him that he ordered me the wrong toppings on my pizza.

Yelling at him because he had the last glass of juice in the morning.

Yelling at him because none of my clothes fit anymore, and the one pair of pants I can fit into were left in the wet wash overnight.

Yelling at him because pregnancy was so hard – so hard that I wanted an abortion.

Yelling at him because I knew something was wrong with the baby and that it wasn’t genetically from my side of the family.

Yelling at him because he convinced me to stay pregnant and that he would regret it when I inevitably miscarried.

Yelling at him for not being as scared as I was all the time.

Yelling at him because I needed the windows open in the winter because I was hot.

Yelling at him for driving so fast and so hard over the speed bumps and potholes on the highway.

Yelling at him because he wouldn’t drive an hour to buy me the salad, I wanted.

Yelling at him because he acknowledged, when I forced him to answer, that his colleague was attractive.

Yelling at him that he was having an affair, with zero evidence and zero likelihood.

Yelling at him during labour because he allowed the nurse to scare me.

Yelling at him during labour because there weren’t any of the yellow Gatorades left in the vending machine.

Yelling at him because I was so so sad after the baby was born.

Yelling at him because he wasn’t crying with me.

Yelling at him because our baby wasn’t what I thought he would be.

Yelling at him because I wanted to die.

Yelling at him because I didn’t want him to leave for work while I cried.

Yelling at him because I was worried that I didn’t love our baby.

Yelling at him because I wanted the house clean, very clean.

Yelling at him for folding the laundry wrong, fluffing the couch pillows wrong, making the bed wrong, sweeping wrong, missing a spot, leaving his shoes out, hanging his sweater on the back of a chair, living in his house.

Yelling at him because the anti anxiety meds were making me feel strange.

Yelling at him for driving too fast with our baby in the car.

Yelling at him for not driving fast enough when I wanted him to come home from work.

Yelling at him for not hearing the baby cry while I was in the washroom.

Yelling at him for not hearing me call his name while he was tending to the baby.

Yelling at him for suggesting I was maybe spending too much money on maternity leave.

Yelling at him for not telling me how far in debt I had put us while on maternity leave.

Yelling at him because I was angry, sad, overwhelmed, busy, irrational, medicated, hormonal and scared.  20 months of yelling.  I recalled the mass quantity of eye rolls, exasperated declarations of inadequacies, raised voices and full on screams.

I could not recall, however, a single moment when he responded with anything other than copious amounts of patience, rationality and love.  His support was relentless and unwavering.  Although my journey had been difficult, it did not mean that he did not feel every blow I hurled at him, almost all of them unwarranted and unkind outbursts.

I didn’t realize that he was also hurting, crouched at my feet in the shadow of my own pain.  Now that the dust was settling and I was recognizable again he was asking me to acknowledge his role, which in some ways was also heroic and triumphant.

It wasn’t about blame or owning past mistakes – because we both knew that pregnancy had swallowed me and contorted my emotions – it was about acknowledging that he had suffered at the hand of something larger than both of us and that I wasn’t the only person in the story that needed to be stitched up and mended.

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Feature Image via @mie_juel

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