ASK AMY

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Life - Email Amy at [email protected] amy­dick­in­son.com

DEAR AMY: I have been feel­ing ir­ri­ta­ble to­ward my hus­band lately. Small things bug me.

I no­ticed these feel­ings af­ter the birth of our fourth child, in June. Be­fore she was born, we found out my hus­band’s fa­ther was in the hos­pi­tal. We couldn’t get much in­for­ma­tion about his con­di­tion, so my hus­band was rightly con­cerned.

Our baby’s due date came and went, and she was born 12 days late. I was scared for her, but my hus­band was more wor­ried about his dad. Any at­tempts to talk about the baby were blocked. He changed the sub­ject back to his dad. We later found out his fa­ther has de­men­tia and is now hos­pi­tal­ized.

My tem­per has been short. I try to be un­der­stand­ing, but I need my hus­band, too! Am I over­re­act­ing be­cause of post­preg­nancy hor­mones?

– Short Tem­per in Ne­vada

DEAR SHORT TEM­PER: Yes, you might be cop­ing with post­par­tum hor­monal is­sues, but most par­ents with four chil­dren would find them­selves ir­ri­ta­ble with no other con­tribut­ing fac­tors. In your case, you also have your fa­ther-in­law’s ill­ness and your hus­band’s re­ac­tion to it.

This sort of emo­tional chaos char­ac­ter­izes the hard work of be­ing in a fam­ily. You and your hus­band don’t have the lux­ury of only wor­ry­ing about and tak­ing care of your chil­dren. You have to take care of your­selves, and each other, as a team of two. Do teams have bad days? Yes! But a team still ex­its the locker room to­gether, de­ter­mined to sup­port one an­other.

I have a two-word so­lu­tion for you: Be gen­tle. Gentle­ness starts with the way you treat your­self. Here’s an ex­am­ple: You try to talk about how the baby has started teething. Your hus­band looks at you blankly and changes the sub­ject. Or he tries to talk to you about his dad while you are nurs­ing (or run­ning around af­ter your other chil­dren).

You re­act ir­ri­ta­bly. The first thing you should do is to take a breath, ac­knowl­edge your own ir­ri­ta­tion, and for­give your­self (“I’m a lit­tle over­whelmed right now”).

Take re­spon­si­bil­ity, and then turn the page. Once you for­give your­self, you can ap­proach him with more pa­tience and com­pas­sion. His freak-out likely spans wor­ry­ing about both his chil­dren and his par­ents. That’s a lot to han­dle. Hold hands and do your best to face your chal­lenges to­gether.

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