Lies about the first year with a baby

Lies about the first year with a baby

People love to give you advise, welcomed or not, about how life will be with your first child. Although some is great and invaluable, some can be a whole lot of BS. Aside from every baby being different, each mother is different and will have their own unique way of parenting and conquering the whole mum thing so something that has worked wonders for one mama may not work for another. You have to find your feet (or legs, these babes can really knock you on your ass) and do what works for you and your family.

Here is a short list of some of the misconceptions I discovered about the first year with a baby (again, every experience is different so this is just how things went down for us);

Teething…Not so much a lie as an omission. When did this become such an enormous bitch? Has it been a natural progression of the infant species or did I miss it on the universal Mothering Newsletter? I feel like everything is blamed on teething, runny poo – teething, rash – teething, crying for no reason – teething, not sleeping – teething. It does get the blame most of the time but it seriously feels like it will never end in the first year. One pops through and you get your happy smiling baby back then 2 days later the tears and ear pulling start again. And I’m lead to believe the worst is yet to come with the 18 – 24 month molars. I think you have enough teeth now so let’s skip them shall we?!

“You’ll never sleep again”. I’m extremely sorry for those that have unfortunately proven this to be true but I found myself surprisingly functional on minimal/broken sleep and after a few months we were lucky (so very very lucky and I am eternally grateful to the lords above for blessing us with a decent sleeper) to have stretches of 5 or 6 hours shut-eye at night. Yeah we were tired and some days we resembled zombies but nothing that some strong coffee and stronger concealer couldn’t fix. I definitely miss sleeping in past 7am and being able to cuddle up in bed at 7pm on a cold night watching movies but I was preparing for the absolute worst after everyone telling me to enjoy my last months of quality sleep but its been surprisingly bearable. Again, deepest sympathy to those mama’s and papa’s out there battling the sleeping war – hang in there troops!

“Breastfeeding, oh you’ll do great – don’t worry”. I’ve written a blog previously about my feeding story but the general gist is I gave it up after a few months (2 months I think) as we weren’t getting a good latch and then my milk dried up pretty quick. I went through the normal mum guilt and feelings of complete failure, I realised quickly that I had made the best decision for Chloe and my sanity and I moved on from it. But it is something I was completely unprepared for, like no fucking idea what I was in for. Why the hell don’t they prepare first time mums for this better? Shouldn’t there be a certificate or course you need to pass?? Seriously though, it is something that is made out to be so natural and normal but I feel like people must have been laughing behind my back saying “Haha, she has no idea” or “What a rookie, I give her 3 months tops before she switches to formula”.

“Cleaning can wait, you should sleep when the baby sleeps”. My sticky floors and empty underwear draw would beg to differ. Admittedly I am a bit of a clean freak and having a messy house gives me anxiety and the last thing a new mum needs is added anxiety. I would much prefer to do a quick tidy then sit down and relax for some trash TV catch up or to eat for the first time in a day and maybe catch a few z’s if I’m super lucky. Plus, we all know babies have this annoying radar that sends ‘wake-up screaming’ alarms off when they sense we are doing something important like taking our first shower that week or tip-toeing out to the back door with a book to have a little read in the sun. There were days where Chloe just didn’t want to nap and those days were hard, especially when the hubs was working away so it was just me for 2 – 3 weeks, but they were few and far between so speed cleaning was a regular and the cat naps were lovely but I was far more content with a relatively tidy house than a few micro naps during the day.

“Oh that, that’s normal”. If that rash doesn’t look right or the fact that colic seems to be the only diagnosis Google is giving you then trust those motherly instincts and get a second opinion. If a fourth or fifth opinion is what you need to put your mind at ease that your screaming infant isn’t going to turn into a warlock and eat your soul then don’t feel ashamed to seek more advise. You know your baby best and if things aren’t adding up or you just need peace of mind then do what you gotta do to be content that all is OK. Even if it’s your family telling you to stop worrying, if you’re still not convinced then it’s your right to go bat shit crazy and see another pediatrician or change GP’s. In saying this I would also add not to expect a magic fix all the time. Some things just need time to work themselves out.

“It gets easier”. Nope, no it doesn’t. Yeah it gets easier in the way that you start getting more sleep (if your blessed with a baby that sleeps – again thank you Jesus – you did good with Chloe) and over time the baby develops and is able to do things themselves but then they want to do everything themselves. Even the stuff they aren’t capable of yet, and when they can’t figure it out you’ll know about it. Babies don’t communicate frustration well, it generally involves flailing limbs, throwing their head back crying and lots of unsuccessful attempts to distract them with anything shiny, noisy or fluffy. And if anyone tells you “You think that’s bad, you wait till she’s 2” feel free to remove them from the Christmas card list. Life with a newborn is hard enough, you don’t need reminding of what’s to come in toddler-hood.

“Just go with that the baby wants, they are in control”. I agree with this to a degree, you do have to follow your babies cues but sometimes the 9 month old that hasn’t slept all day and thinks 10pm is a good time to party doesn’t really know better. I’m a firm believer in structure and babies needing a steady routine. Of course you need to be flexible, some things are unavoidable such as screaming troll-itis after 6 months needles that might require cartoons and napping on the couch to relieve, but I do believe that keeping to some kind of regular schedule helps baby know what to expect and helps mama maintain some control in the craziness of mum life.

“You’ll never know a love like when you first see your baby”. So this is not a lie but it’s so SO much more intense than you will ever be prepared for. It is a love like no other, it’s so new and exciting, unconditional, terrifying, captivating and it hits you like a speeding bus. It doesn’t always happen right away, but when it does you’d better look out as you’re never going to love anyone so deeply again. And the feeling of wanting to throw your baby in the bin to moments later wanting to cuddle them till they pass out will confuse the shit out of you but it is truly amazing.

I won’t lie, the thought of this next stage we’re entering into (toddler-hood – wtf I have a toddler?!?) scares the shit outta me. The tantrums Chloe throws are already toddler worthy and I have been warned they are only set to get worse (some of that unwanted advise I mentioned earlier). I feel like I have made it through this first year fighting Silent Reflux, feeding aversion, food aversion, teething, immunisation aftermaths and numerous leaps so I will probably survive toddler Chloe, maybe…hopefully. Might have to get that ‘Free to good home’ sign out and ready to go just in case, kidding…maybe.

Looking like such a big girl
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This kid is broken!

This kid is broken!

I am a first time mum so I don’t doubt there will be plenty of seasoned mamas rolling their eyes and scoffing as I say this, but fuck me my child must be broken with the amount of whining she does. She is only 12 months old and I already feel like I’ve been through toddlerhood and should be heading into teen tantrums with her. And if one more person tells me “it’s normal” or “it will get easier” I might have an aneurism. I know it is and I know it will but right now while I’m in the thick of it I feel like my life is endlessly dealing with a demanding cranky mute mini human and I just want to know how to please her, if that’s even possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I love her, I really do. But some days, boy I want to post her on gumtree at the next fit over jamming her own finger under a puzzle piece with her hand or tripping over the same piece of furniture for the 8th time that hour. She is far from a chilled easy going baby and never has been, she has her moments of happiness and they do outweigh the hard difficult times but those tears and squealing leave little scars on my soul. I feel like in the last 12 months I have aged 8 years. My eye bags are dark and heavy and I now have permanent frown lines, if only I could afford botox..and a full time nanny!

A regular day starts with a fit and kicking like a donkey as soon I lay her down to change her nappy as she doesn’t like being sat still, then the head throw back and waterworks at breakfast as she doesn’t like being sat in her high chair so a switch to her mini table it is. After about 7 minutes the wriggling and moaning starts as she doesn’t want to sit anymore, then another screaming fit when I head to the kitchen to wash my coffee cup because god forbid I walk 6 feet away from her. Any trips, bumps or tumbles will end in an eyes closed, voice breaking, dripping snot break down from which she can’t be spoken to or picked up or she’ll just cry harder. If I do happen to pick her up and she eventually stops crying I can’t put her down again or the high pitched squealing starts. It can get pretty miserable when she has been crying on and off for the first hour of her being awake for the day, I feel like I am a complete failure and sometimes feel like I don’t know if I can cope for the rest of the day. The worst is generally in the afternoon when I’m trying to prepare dinner and Chloe will sit at my feet and cry the entire time no matter how many measuring cups and plastic utensils I throw her way to entertain her.

I think it’s normal to feel like you need to fix your child when they cry, call it maternal instinct or the fact you can’t handle another tantrum because your out of the good wine. But when those tears start flowing you just want to scoop your baby up and cuddle the pain away. Apart from Chloe not being a cuddler she is nearly impossible to soothe, sometimes a distraction will work but most of the time she just needs to cry it out. Of course I try each time to settle her but when she just starts wriggling and crying harder I have to sit her on her padded mat and let her cry. A lot of the time I have to leave the room as the sound of her relentless wailing gets me so frustrated that I can’t help her so I generally end up on my bedroom floor crying also. This may seem dramatic but it’s my way of coping, although it’s not affective in that it doesn’t soothe Chloe it does give me a chance to breathe and feel all the frustration built up flow out of me so I can hit the reset before I go back to trying to be a good mother.

A lot of the first half of Chloe’s life was painful for her, silent reflux was not easy on either of us but she was the one in constant pain that I couldn’t take away. I don’t know if this conditioned her to cry whenever she feels out of control, when she doesn’t get her way or when she has a slight bump but it still makes me feel like I’m the most inadequate mother on earth. Why, why can’t I just figure this kid out!?! Finding a pattern to her angst is difficult as it is extremely random and frequent but meal times seem to be the worst. I thought I was setting her up for good eating habits by eating at the same time and letting he self feed as she refuses to be spoon fed but most meals end in her crying and throwing herself around in frustration. No matter what I try, it all seems useless.

I guess the worst part and the part I struggle to get out of my head is that I don’t know my child. I don’t know how to make her feel safe and protected. I thought this was all meant to come naturally, it’s the motherly instinct that everyone tells you hits you like a tonne of bricks when you first hold your baby in your arms. What did I miss? Did I not get bless with that special instinct? Why do I struggle so much to read the signs and know how to make her happy? The doubt and questioning isn’t healthy and it just gets deeper and deeper when all the advise your given, welcomed or not, doesn’t work no matter how many times you try. I’m her mother, I’m supposed to know how to make her happy. Sometimes I look at her when she’s been crying for 15 minutes, eyes shut, face full of tears and struggling to catch a breath and I just think maybe you chose the wrong person to be your mummy. I just wish I could take all the tears away and just see her smile and hear her little laugh instead.

I know I’m not a bad mother and it’s just a tough period that will pass with time. I will look back on this time when Chloe is 16 and telling me I’m ruining her life and she hates me and I’ll think this was easy. Don’t know if I’ve said it before (insert obvious sarcasm) but parenting is hard, really fucking hard and there are days that I just want to throw in the towel but I’m still learning and I’m not always going to get it right. You can’t fail without having tried and I haven’t given up trying yet! I’m not sure what the universe is trying to teach me right now but I know this difficult period we are going through will make me stronger and we will be better for it.

Don’t be fooled by her cuteness, she has a decent set of lungs on her