I only offer my experience and can’t give you the right answer for your situation.
I remember being a first-time dad well. Not to bore you with those details – my brief was: a four week premmy, working full-time, my wife with considerable detachment syndrome and post-natal depression. I spent most nights ’til 4am bottle-feeding while working overtime from home then going to the office for 8am and getting back home at 6pm, I had two weeks paternity leave most of it with calls from the office for support, but did most of it from home.
I’m sure I did it wrong and in hindsight would change a lot. What I learnt far too late was: keep communication with your partner as open as possible, do not take criticism negatively and control your emotional urges to react to them, they only exacerbate an already volatile environment. You have a lot to deal with but she has had so much more already with much physical and emotional change in such a short space of time. Be gentle.
You both need space to unwind, you both need time together to embrace and strengthen your relationship for the benefit of your child and your own sanity. Take every opportunity to get rest, but work on it together, work out how you both deal with your own time or time together, it’s a trickly balancing act and remember she is recovering and will do for some time yet despite a desire to put more effort into family life, she needs a lot of support to do it. That may put extra pressure on you to support her but you will both benefit sooner the more effort you put in to it now.
With the crying, this is a natural reaction to uncomforted stimulus – waking up and not having interaction from someone. If you react every time to crying, this can backfire however, be aware of changes in their cries – a higher pitch, a more pained cry or scream could mean something a little more uncomfortable like cholic. Our first suffered cholic and we found gripe water to be more effective than Infacol, but it’s best to speak to a health professional about it first if you think there are problems. Often too, regular wind can be mistaken for cholic, so make sure they’re relaxed and winded well after feeding, dry and clean before bed. We were given mixed advice on how to position our babies when in the cot, but I would suggest taking the current advice suggested to you by health professionals.
Keep a regular routine which is calming not just for your baby but for all involved. I did all the bathing for our first and found that quiet talking to them whilst doing it was more soothing than just going through the motions, even with no sleep. It also cheered me up and I would come up with some rather bizarre routines to entertain them.
You’re in a period of trial and error to find out what works for all of you. Stay calm and as Mr D says, be kind to yourself and your partner, keep trying routines you know work. Don’t change too much too quickly though if you think something else will work better, we’re all learning all the time, so making small changes which work are what you’re looking for.
I think I’m in a similar position to Mr D, we have three – 17, 16 and nine, we’re only just in our early forties, though I think with more limited support from family. Scheduling time for you-time, intimate time and family time is great if you can do it and from experience I wish I had sooner.
Keep talking, keep learning and be patient.