FIRST-TIME MOMS: WHEN BURNOUT AND RESENTMENT STRIKE
Updated: Nov 27, 2023
Making the decision to become a parent isn’t an easy one by far. It likely feels scary, overwhelming, and you may even feel a bit clueless. But, the thought of growing your family by adding a mini mix of you and your partner makes your mama heart burst. You find yourself curious about how the baby will look, love feeling their little flutters and kicks, and are likely in awe at the fact that this bundle of joy was created in YOUR womb. Those tiny arms and legs? How were they even created? They’ve got lungs, ears, and noses? All while being in YOUR womb? Mind-boggling to say the least!
You were, also, expecting the sleepless nights and the frequent feeds. You hear about this all the time. It will be exhausting and limiting. Say no more, you get it. You don’t need to keep hearing it. “Sleep while you can now,” you hear. As if there’s an inventory that you can pull sleep out for later? Or the… “just you wait until…” comments. I never understood the benefit to those remarks or how they could be remotely encouraging.
Then you’re here. You have your beautiful bundle-of-joy likely after hours of labor. You’re exhausted. And, somehow, you don’t feel the initial overwhelming love that everyone talks about. It takes time. You just endured something very painful and now you need to recover physically. In fact, in a matter of days, you’ll be expected to return home and carry on as normal. But, how? How do you do this when you need to care for yourself as well? Or is this the beginning of when you compromise your own needs for someone else’s?
And while you’re trying to get accustomed to your new role as a parent/homemaker, you still have to withhold the previous ones as partner, sister/daughter, friend, and possible other career. But, you can’t because you’re running out of steam and don’t have the capacity like you once did. However, you’re expected to appreciate and enjoy this new postpartum journey. “They grow so fast,” you hear. And what happens if you don’t enjoy this period? Insert mom guilt here. Wait…You’re not present and embracing all the moments with your little one?! Double trouble mom guilt.
And then partner/husband goes back to work. They go back to enjoying their past hobbies prior to the baby. They start integrating a healthier routine and balance into their life. And you’re left to figure everything on your own; so it seems. Such as focusing on the baby, the house, meanwhile you’re showering less, eating less, and are overall less active physically. You cater to the baby as soon as he/she cries, while partner may take a minute or two to intervene. He’s not moving at the speed that you’d like for him to. You ask him for a favor, but he declines. It starts to become easier if you just do it. The partner you once felt close to, now feels so far away and disconnected. And the anger and loneliness develop.
Partner reacts too slowly. They get to ‘play’ on their phone. Partner gets to enjoy a hobby outside of the house. Partner gets to move at his own pace. “Must be nice,” you think. “Can’t they see that I need some help here?” “I wish I had some time for myself.” “Am I even considered?” These are just some of the thoughts that run through your mind and the anger continues to build. You may not voice your needs because these should appear obvious. Right? But, your partner is simple and literal, and probably is not aware of this internal narrative that you’re generating. They weren’t aware that the favor request was your last ditch effort for help. He/she wasn’t aware that if they denied your request for help, that they would be feeding your narrative. You may assume he/she doesn’t care or that you’re dismissed. And the loneliness and anger strike again…
Mama, this is tough on you and you’re just trying to keep your head above water. You’ve been carrying so much. Maybe you haven’t felt that you have the energy to articulate to your partner what it is that you need/want. And maybe you don’t even know what it is that you need or want. Maybe all you want is just an hour to yourself to do nothing. To just reset and not have to pay attention to anyone else. To do something completely brainless. That’s allowed, mama. And you don’t have to provide a convincing argument on this either. You deserve a break and deserve to be prioritized. You don’t need permission, either.
Here are some tips that you can practice to improve the symptoms of burnout/resentment:
1. Initiate compassionate conversation with your partner by integrating “I” statements, such as "I feel," “I sense,” etc. to establish understanding as well as accountability. Remember you work as a team, not against each other.
· Example: “I encourage you to do things that you like. But, I feel dismissed when I don’t get the same freedom.”
· Example: “I don’t always feel taken into account. And maybe I have not been the best in making myself clear regarding my needs.”
2. Giving yourself grace. You don’t have to have everything in order. And the baby is allowed to cry; after all, it’s the only way they know how to express themselves. It does not necessarily mean that you have to rush to their aid. Maybe they’re frustrated or bored; they’re allowed to be.
3. Explore possible activities or interactions with others that energize you. And take it one step at a time. You don’t have to dive into running all of a sudden. Even if just driving around town and ordering a cup of coffee is what you need, then go for it. Your self-care does not have to be based on what others categorize as “self-care.” You get to determine what energizes you, no one else.
4. Reaching out to one of our therapists at Fearlessly Authentic Psychology for guidance, support, and being challenged to reach the best version of you. We are open for a free consultation to help in determining if we would be a good fit on your mental healthy journey.