In our case, however, we became firmly entrenched in opposing roles – I, the self-sacrificing ‘martyr mum’, and he, the somewhat reluctant dad.The more I sensed Alex’s inability to cope and felt him retreat from us – even when he was there physically, he was vanishing emotionally, hiding behind his Black Berry, looking put upon and regularly losing his temper – the more I threw myself into mothering.Women become angry and bitter and feel abandoned with the babies.’Abse believes that the immense pressure on parents today adds to the challenge couples face to make their own relationship work.
Sleep is such a basic need, and when it is taken away from us as new parents, it can push us into a childlike state where we don’t deal with our partner as we should.’Karen Woodall, director of the Centre for Separated Families, adds: ‘When children come close together, you extend the period you spend attending to very little babies.
Life can end up being about feeding, nappy changing and grabbing the little sleep it’s possible to get.
More than anything, though, I can now see that Jake’s arrival completed my conversion from ‘wife’ to ‘mother’, and it was this change in the family dynamic that really killed us.
When we’d just had Anna, it had been a case of a child and a husband and dividing my time between the two.
Seeing photos now of Alex beaming with her strapped to him in the Baby Björn sling, I hardly recognise him. If we stayed with friends for a weekend, Anna would sleep in the room with us and, even when we were woken in the night, we were both able to take it in our stride.
And with But where one baby felt to Alex like an exciting, if exhausting, new adventure, two children felt like ‘a family’, and not in a wholly positive way.
The ‘fun’ of our pre-children existence was not that important to me, whereas for Alex it has always been a fundamental part of life, and our ability to share that mattered to him just as sharing the joy of the children did to me.
Alex felt rejected by me once the children took over and as though his needs came last (which, frankly, they did).
Once the children arrived, I was only too happy to say goodbye to all that.
As someone who had grown up in a very broken family, my life’s aim became creating the ideal setup I’d never had.
Abse says: ‘All the energy goes into the parent-child relationship.