Jonathan sent me this fascinating Am I The Asshole reddit post today: "AITA for being resentful of my husband's reflexive anger during newborn nightime pumping/feeds?" The husband has insomnia, the wife wakes him at his request, to help with the baby. The first three paragraphs (full post below):
My (32f) husband (35m) and I have a 3wk old newborn. My milk supply has been low so I've been pumping every 2-3 hours. The arrangement my husband and I agreed to was that he & I would both wake up for the first "feeding/pump" session, where he would go feed the baby a bottle and I would focus on pumping.
The issue is that my husband has insomnia & can't fall asleep easily. To mitigate this, I'll wear sleep headphones & will listen for the baby's cries when he's hungry; my husband's ask is for me to wake him up when this occurs, so that he can help and I can focus on pumping.
However, when I do gently wake up my husband at the time that he asks me to, it's like a knee jerk reaction for him to be angry. He'll jerk, complain loudly that he just fell asleep minutes ago, slap the bed with his fist or open hand in anger, then stomp off to tend to the baby. After which, he'll cool off, start singing & put on his cute voice with the baby, & otherwise be "okay." Meanwhile, I'm left feeling horrible, feeling guilty for waking him up, to the point where I don't want to wake him up because I'd rather just take care of everything myself than deal with him being pissy.
The conclusion that reddit made is that the author is not an asshole, but the husband is.
I (almost) COMPLETELY DISAGREE.
Their correct solution is for her to nudge the husband, set an alarm to wake him further, then go start the baby feeding process.
Okay, so, what do I think?
The wife is not an asshole. Well maybe a little bit. Exhausted and sleep deprived, but not a complete asshole.
The husband is also not an asshole. Well maybe a little bit. Exhausted and sleep deprived, but not a complete asshole.
As someone for whom waking up is a physically painful process, I completely understand his anger at being woken up. I don't like being woken up, do not fuck with my sleep, allow me to wake up slowly, let my body have the slow process of coming up from the depths of unconsciousness, gradually waking up to the world for another go around the sun. Every part of an alarm or being nudged awake or more movement increases the physical pain, and yes, I wake up VERY CLEARLY on the wrong side of the bed. Sleeping bags don't count, for some reason.
This guy knows that he doesn't like waking up. He knows he has a difficult time with the waking process. He communicated that to her, asked for consideration that those first moments waking are difficult, and requested she look past it.
Sleep deprivation and being exhausted mean neither of these two are in a good place for being considerate or empathetic, which makes this situation REALLY difficult.
But, I'm on this guy's side. He isn't an asshole either.