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Surgical Resident Balks After Partner Demands He Take On More Responsibility In Raising Baby

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Having kids and a career is an incredibly difficult balance. And for one guy on Reddit, who is a surgical resident working up to 100 hours a week, the situation has struck up drama with his partner, who feels he doesn’t help her enough with their new baby.

He wasn’t sure about how he responded to his wife, so he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by throwawayres1462 on the site, asked:

“AITA for not helping my partner with our newborn?”

He explained:

“I know the title sounds bad, but I’m finding myself in a very difficult situation and I’m genuinely not sure if I’m in the wrong here. I 27M[ale] am a surgical resident, my partner 27F[emale] was a teacher, but is currently a stay at home mother to our newborn child. We met in college and have been together for just over 7 years now.”

“Last year she took a pregnancy test after missing her period and found out she was pregnant. We were both happy, but also concerned about taking care of a child. My main concern when we found out was that I could not help out with the child because I work 80-100 hours a week.”

“However, we both love each other and did want a family, so in the end we decided to keep the child and that she would take time off of work while I was completing my residency and take care of the kid. I would complete my residency and then, after having somewhat more humane hours would obviously split child caring duties equally with her so that she can also return to work.”

“It’s been 3 months since our kid was born now and things have been rough to say the least. I’m still working nearly 100 hours a week and am constantly at the brink of exhaustion, if anything my workload has increased since then, as I am now learning how to perform larger operations.”

“My sleep is almost non-existent and I’m constantly under intense pressure due to my work environment. Things have obviously been rough for her, too. The pregnancy and delivery were without complication, but it goes without saying that it was still hugely taxing on her mentally and physically.”

“Recently, my partner has been asking me to take care of our kid when I get home. Initially I helped her without hesitation, feeling like it was within my capacity and wanting to support her, but in the past few weeks she’s been asking more and more of me and a few days ago she demanded I take care of our kid immediately as I walked into the door. I hadn’t even had time to take off my shoes yet and when I said ‘just give me a second’ she told me to ‘hurry the fu*k up.’”

“I later learned that she had an incredibly rough day and was just at capacity, but in the moment I was so caught off guard I yelled at her to back the fu*k off. I was too exhausted to deal with it then so I locked myself in the bathroom to take a long shower and calm down. We later talked about what had happened and apologised to each other, but during it she essentially told me that she felt like I wasn’t doing enough to take care of the kid and that it was our responsibility equally.”

“I told her that I felt like I was already doing more than we agreed on and that I can literally not do any more than what I am currently doing. After talking and arguing about this for about 2 hours we still couldn’t come to an agreement and decided to leave the topic for now. So am I the a**hole for not wanting to take on a larger parenting role during residency? Friends I’ve talked to seem split on the matter.”

People on Reddit were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And while responses varied, most of them felt that this situation was so difficult, both sides were understandable.

“NAH”

“This is a case of two people drowning and arguing over who has their head up out of the water a few inches more than the other. You have a newborn, are working 100 hours a week and a wife who is most likely so overwhelmed she can’t see straight. Both of you are sleep deprived and not in your right mind.”

“What you need is HELP. I don’t care who said they would do what before the baby came, it’s here now and it’s not what either of you expected. It’s time to start from scratch and use your limited energy to find solutions to give you both reprieve.” –homemakinghedgewitch

“This. This right here. No one in this situation is the AH. They’re just both exhausted, doing very taxing and demanding jobs/tasks and need help. I know OP said they can’t afford help right now, but they both need to figure out something before this tears them apart.” –frightfully_disturb

“Agreed NAH. I’ve been your wife going through my husband’s residency. We had to hire a mother’s helper for twice a week for 3 to 4 hours, figure out what meet your needs! It saved us both, we had no family where we had moved for residency.”

“He is now an attending, we are on our 3rd kid. He has a much more set schedule and can be so much more involved.”

“People not in this situation, it’s really hard to understand. There is no flexibility in residency. So you guys need to find teammates to help you through this!” –pelopitterpatter

“NAH”

“My spouse and I have twins. They were born in late February 2020, so after the first 3 weeks we had no physical help because of lockdowns. It was rough. My spouse was working full time from home after the first 4 weeks and I was on maternity leave. But two newborns is tough going.”

“Before they were sturdy enough that one of us could deal with and feed them both at the same time, we had to take a baby each overnight, every night. There was no spare capacity to let each other catch up on sleep and we couldn’t get outside help. They were easy babies, everything else was fine but the sleep deprivation was hellish. Towards the end of the worst of it, I was so sleep deprived I developed paranoia and hallucinations.”

“One night in this period, during a wake-up around 1-3am my spouse was really sh*tty to me for no reason. I don’t remember what it was about, but they were just an absolute, uncalled-for a**hole. I ignored it and carried on with what I had to do and went back to bed.”

“We are normally really kind to one another and have almost never fight or been sh*tty to each other in 18 years together. The next day, they were so apologetic and also thanked me for not escalating. I told them that it didn’t even count. When you’re that tired and run into the ground, at 2 in the morning, it just doesn’t count. That’s why I ignored it. I didn’t have any energy to spare and I knew they didn’t mean it anyway.”

“Sometimes no one’s wrong and it’s just fu*king hard. Listen to the others here and get some outside help.” –a_peanut

“NAH…”

“Sit down with her and have a heart to heart. Ask her what specific things are giving her the most trouble, and what would help her most. Are the grandparents actually helpful to her, or are they only taking a sleeping baby during prime bonding time for her, and leaving her to do chores during that time?”

“Sometimes family help really just translates to mom still doing all the childcare and chores with no actual breaks. Sometimes mom doesn’t even realize they won’t be helpful until after baby comes and she might feel bad telling them so. Depending on the relationship she has with them too they might just be adding stress simply because she has to socialize with them and be “ON”.”

“Don’t worry about anyone’s feelings here but yours and hers, and really encourage her to open up and disclose everything she’s feeling. Postpartum hormones are still in a big shift at 3 months, and she might be having ppd/ppa warnings as well.”

“Suggestions:”

“Try to make sure she gets 30min-1hr of free time every day to do whatever she wants- not just things that need doing. Maybe she wants an hour long shower, or to do yoga, watch a Netflix show. I know you’re exhausted when you get home, but maybe you can shower when you get in, and take baby just for 30 minutes so wife can be free to do whatever without the responsibility of baby on her shoulders.”

“Consider hiring an overnight helper or a daytime helper even just once or twice a week. Just being able to get longer than a 5hr stretch of uninterrupted sleep every few days will help her reset and get out of the spiral that sleep deprivation causes. Baby is likely on a feeding schedule right now that is very predictable, and that should make deciding what time/day would be most useful easier.”

“If she needs distance from relatives, consider that help from them might be more useful if it were cooked meals or washed laundry. Maybe a couple days a week they still come to help during the day, and maybe they drop off freezer friendly meals and do laundry for you the other days. This is still bonding time for her with the baby, and she might feel like she has to host these relatives. Maybe she’s doing chores instead of relaxing when they have baby?”

“Things I struggled with the most as a ftm and had a hard time expressing:”

“Breastfeeding exclusively is very lonely. You’re often awake in the dark while everyone else sleeps, and you don’t get many chances to do much for yourself because you’re tied to baby. Having a newborn made me feel very lonely too, as even just simple trips to the store either weren’t possible at all, or exceedingly more difficult.”

“I sometimes felt incredibly overwhelmed as I wasn’t ever actually alone and couldn’t decompress and recharge. No one saw me as a person anymore, just an extension of baby. Try to say hello to your wife directly and ask her how she’s doing often. (Look her in the eyes while you do!) It is VERY hard to get past that especially early PP, and it was the hardest time of my life mentally.” –potattooed

Hopefully OP and his wife can find a way through this.

Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.