to not understand why all the support and sympathy is centered on the newborn bit?(50 Posts)
I know everyone has a different experience. Of course.
It's not that I find the newborn bit easy. I've had one pretty settled newborn and one very unsettled poorly one, so I've done both sides, and every way round it's hard. So I'm not saying any bit is a walk in the park, but I generally wonder why all the support and advice seems to centre on the bit where the baby is brand new. All the 'rest when the baby does', all the 'get a cleaner for a month or two' 'take meals round' 'limit visitors and those who come have to do the washing up so you can just hold the baby' etc kind of advice is all for the brand new baby bit, where really a newborn presents very few everyday, logistical challenges compared to what comes when the baby is bigger and/or mobile?
Both mine, even unsettled, colicky newborn, have gotten more and more challenging and life more difficult, with less chance to get things done, or get rest, as they get older, not more. And they've certainly slept more as newborns than as older babies, so I was always much more rested when they were tiny. Is that just my experience? If I wanted a peaceful day and a night of sleep I would take a colicky newborn over a teething crawling drooling older baby any day! (And then probably the teething baby over the rampaging toddler )
AIBU to think that if help and support is to be offered it would be nice to get it later, when things get really challenging? It's not like difficult newborns suddenly become placid roly poly babies who sleep at night and entertain themselves in the day!
It's because that's when the realisation hits that your life has changed forever. So not only are you dealing with a bruised (at least!) fanjo, no sleep and an immense sense of responsibility, but nothing in your life is ever going to be the same again. I felt like I'd fallen down the rabbit hole.
My kids are still quite small (2&4) but nothing has been as intense as knowing that this was my new life and the old, less fulfilling but frankly way more frivolous fun one was never coming back.
DS was admitted to the Childrens Ward when he was four months. He had severe Reflux where he had damaged his oesopagus causing bleeding and they wanted to investigate, he had never slept more than 20 minutes at a time so I was to say the least a little tired. At home I could go back to bed when I wanted, in hospital my bed was taken away at 7am.
A lady came in with a 6 day old baby and honestly they were falling over themselves to help her and give her 'rest' allowing her to keep her bed out, closing curtains round and sushing others as she had a 'new' baby. and that was so hard
No, it's not saying the newborn experience should be the exception - it's questioning why it's hard for you to understand why this particular part is hardest for most/some people, and therefore comes with the most offers of help, etc.
For me, the newborn bit was toughest and there's an 18-month gap between my two, so I've definitely had other periods where I've struggled subsequent to that, but I would never say I can't understand why others find other stages harder.
Of course they will, because everyone's experience is different.
General point being it's odd that everyone's experience is obviously different, but the expectation from others seems to be that the hard bit is the first few weeks/months and then you're OK - across the board, when that is clearly not the case.
For me, pregnancy was so hard that having the baby there was a blessed relief and I felt better than I had in many months, so it's not the going from no baby to baby that makes the difference for me. I didn't find it hard with my second newborn because I have DH, with my first newborn I had a relationship breakdown around the time of birth and did it as a single parent, so even with a harder to look after baby second time round, it seemed easier.
I'm not asking for support or sympathy really, just I'm more sleep deprived and physically unwell now than I ever have been with a newborn, and hankering after the days when all I had to do was look after a tiny one.
to be fair, that is true horry I have been horribly ill with hyperemesis these past few weeks and people have fallen over themselves to help me out with my very bouncy Ds (2.5)
Nice friends and family offer or provide support all the time.
But yes there is an expectation that after a while you are actually physically well (very unlikely in the first weeks after the birth) and that you've fallen into a routine of sorts (very unlikely in the first weeks). And that you'll ask for help if you need it.
It varies for everyone. I found the newborn bit utter, utter hell. Totally.
As you say, everyone's experience is different. For me, the worst bit was the newborn stage, but dd1 was a bad sleeper from day 1, I was recovering from a bad birth and I wasn't used to coping with no sleep.
18 months later I had dd2, who sleeps 3-4 hour stretches, had a straightforward birth, and I know what I'm doing, it seems like a fiddle compared to the first time round.
Every age has its difficulties and unforeseen challenges.
But for most people the simple act of giving birth to a new human being and figuring out what the hell to do is such a drastic change of events compared with the previous status quo - i.e. no children and no-one to be responsible for, other than oneself - that of course the newborn phase is looked on as the greatest transition.
I agree that todlers can be much harder but who do you expect to suport you? Do you mean friends and family? Do you ask them if they need help with their older children then? Do you offer help to parents of teenagers? Even the grandparens could claim the same then. Grin. They can claim that it is harder having grown up children with babies etc. It never stops.
I thought the newborn stage was horrendous, mostly due to lack of sleep, and the months that followed were only slightly better. TBH I didn't find there was any support in terms of people offering help or asking how you were. People wanted to visit and see the baby and that was it. I'd read about how people should come round and bring meals and offer help but it appeared none of my visitors had! In fact I felt even among medical staff, the interest in the mother's health seemed to end once you were no longer pregnant and it was then all about the baby.
I'd like to have had actual help rather than people asking how I was.
I don't really understand the confusion, to be honest.
Surely going from no baby to a baby is the biggest shock to the system. OK, fine, you cruised through the newborn stage, but at least as you move onto the older stages, you're being eased into it at each point, what with, um, having the child in your care, and knowing the child. It being your child, and all...
I found the newborn stage, and the complete and utter lack of sleep, totally hideous. With both mine. Nothing prepared me.
4 week old is much easier than the 1 year old who is teething with a vengeance, irritable, cranky, can screech so loudly it makes your ears ring... and mobile.
It got easier for me with some occasional teething / sleeping related blips. I'm back in the new born stage now and what's hard is the night feeding and the physical recovery when you can get much sleep. The baby herself is no problem.
I've found it easier as my son has gotten older. I certainly see why people are eager to help in the early days - My baby was latched on constantly, I couldn't move for the first few weeks (until I bought a sling and realised I could feed him while I walked to the kitchen).
Didn't get any housework done, didn't cook, had difficulty getting away for a shower etc. That coupled with postnatal depression (which leaves most women after a few months), and the first true taste of sleep deprivation that I'd ever experienced, meant it was very difficult indeed. Mind you I didn't have hoards at my door with tea and frozen casseroles, either.
My tantruming, moody, unreasonable, emotional nearly 3yo is a walk in the park compared to then!
Bucking the trend, here. My DD was far harder to deal with for me when she was newborn. Lack of sleep, shock to the system, CS recovery, constant crying = not much fun. So grateful for an aunt who came to stay for a week when DP first went back to work. Once she was able to sit, then crawl, then walk she was a happier little person = easier baby = happier Mum. But, I do now have a relatively easy going toddler.
So, different people have different experiences and the novelty of someone else's child wears off. Also, people can be put off trying to help out when they've seen the toddler is challenging.
I hear you, OP. Am currently struggling with a massively rambunctious 7mo, who fights sleep, wakes up to play in the night, and strongly resists having a nappy and clothes attached to him. I've got a 2yo too, and haven't had a full night's sleep for over a year (crappy, insomnia blighted pregnancy). The newborn stage had nothing on this.
DS is just shy of 18 months and I still remember the newborn days with horror! Horrendous labour and immediate PND. My mil wasn't working for the first year of his life and thank god, because I needed all the help she gave me.
So in my limited experience, it makes perfect sense to offer help and support in the first months. I'm so much happier and more confident with ds now, whereas I used to dread him waking and crying when he was new, because I had no idea what I was doing.
We're not even thinking of ttc no.2 until next April...cannot face have a smaller gap than 3 years! Wish I was younger so I could leave an even bigger one tbh
Fwiw i currently have a 2 year old and an 8 week old. 2 year old is far far easier to look after.
My own theory is that having a newborn is by far the hardest bit, but that amnesia kicks in and people forget how tough it was.
I have a toddler, sure he's demanding, but compared to the bomb that went off in my life when he was born, he's a breeze.
As others have said, having a baby is an event. Ongoing family life isn't.
YABU. You seem to be saying that people ought to keep asking you, sympathetically, how you are doing whenever they see you for up to three years, or more.
There comes a point when you can't expect other people to be as riveted by the fact that you have a baby as you are.
It might be that you feel a bit miffed about it, but there you have it - after you move house, or have a bereavement, people don't keep asking you about for months or years on end, do they, even though you might still think about it a lot, and similarly people don't carry on being enthralled by the fact that you had a baby.
I do know what you mean about the extra exhaustion - I remember when my 2nd stopped being a newborn & perked up a bit, and my 1st was just gone 2, so not guaranteed to sleep through by any means - I think when dd2 was six months was the most exhausted I've ever ever been, but I didn't need or expect support (outside my husband) because I knew that I didn't have to co-sleep, demand feed etc. etc. but that my choices to do so were part of my exhaustion. (I admit that at that point in desperation I night weaned and put her in her own room). And I knew (hoped!) that sooner or later it would all calm down, and it did.
The other day my DH and I were watching TV and someone said to someone else - oh you have a new baby you and your partner will be worn out. I said to my DH - I can never understand why people say that. The new born part, IMHO, is the easiest part before they can speak, walk etc! I enjoyed every minute with my son who is now 19. IMO the hardest part of parenting is letting go. I have found it really hard to sleep etc now that my son is out and about etc at all hours. Also, yesterday he mentioned that him and his girlfriend of 3 years are thinking of moving in together! Sometimes I yearn for the days when I knew where he was at night!
Because the birth of a baby is an event. It's the same when someone dies - everyone is there for the funeral but 2 months later no one mentions it.
Newborns have novelty value, toddlers do not. That's why, people like to make conversation about newborns. If someone asked you if you were coping ok with a toddler, you'd immediately think you were somehow being slighted with your parenting skills or they had spotted a behavioural problem you hadn't noticed.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.