to not understand why all the support and sympathy is centered on the newborn bit?

(50 Posts)
IdaClair Fri 19-Apr-13 23:09:51

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 grin)

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!

AgentZigzag Fri 19-Apr-13 23:16:59

It's because it can be a bit of a shock, however many you've got already, and it's such a definite time in a life that it's easier to mark it with an outpouring of 'advice'.

You're always going to have to look after an extremely needy person with a newborn, whereas the other stages go at different times and with their own sets of unique problems.

I would say parents with two year olds ('terrible twos') or teenagers get a similar amount of sympathy and support.

I think it's probably more do with feeling like crap after labour and birth and be possibly trying to heal episiotomies or c-section wounds.

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 19-Apr-13 23:18:18

Totally agree! I found both my newborns a walk in the park in comparison to age 1-3! It makes me laugh seeing new mums complain about being tired! This takes on a whole new level when you have two or three under four, but you just learn to run on empty!

IdaClair Fri 19-Apr-13 23:21:51

I don't really want to do competitive tiredness, I don't think there's much point. It's not about which bit is harder, as such, my point is more - each bit has a totally different set of challenges and one bit is not always going to be harder than the others, but the newborn bit seems to be treated that way.

Cravingdairy Fri 19-Apr-13 23:29:03

scarlettsmummy Lovely to think of you laughing at me while I was in hospital for four nights, after a 29 hour labour and ELCS, with a non latching baby and ferocious baby blues.

OP, what sort of support do you think would be helpful?

quoteunquote Fri 19-Apr-13 23:30:21

I'll take a couple dozen colicky teething babies, twenty toddles on sugar come downs, and a couple of grumpy seven year olds, over one teen during exam season any day.

IdaClair Fri 19-Apr-13 23:36:25

Same kind of thing really. It just comes from noticing that people stop asking you how you're doing, if you're getting much sleep, how feeding is going, as the baby gets older, kind of assuming it's all hunky dory rather than assuming you're up all night with a screechy baby, as they do when the child is smaller. This isn't coming from any resentment or need for support, just musings! I suspect we were spoiled, when we had newborns we were offered things like babysitting for the older child, or a meal out, occasionally someone would visit and bring food - not in a generally social way but in a 'you won't possibly have time to cook, here's your dinner' way that has only ever been done for me when I had newborns (and I was very grateful, but really I had much more time and opportunity to cook with a newborn than with an older baby or toddler!) Just things like that.

I think Agentzigzag is right. If it's your first it is definitely a shock to the system and the round the clock feeding is knackering. Then you've got recovery from the labour, baby blues, the realisation that you will, in fact, be doing most of the care yourself... But yes, it becomes more challenging as your baby becomes a toddler. I don't know why people say things like "oh, it'll get easier".

When, exactly?


edwardsmum11 Fri 19-Apr-13 23:41:40

Give me back a newborn... I have a chattering, running, climbing toddler who has a bit of an attitude.

Littlehousesomewhere Fri 19-Apr-13 23:48:29

I think the specific advice about the newborn stage is meant to help the mother get over feeling poorly from labour &birth.

a good mother is meant to have her babies in routine and sleeping the ought by 6 weeks didn't you know!?

I think there is general sympathy for parents of babies to a certain degree, just if you have a 'difficult' or 'high needs baby'. But you are right you won't be getting any meals brought over (I didn't even get a single meal brought over even during the newborn phase).

IdaClair Fri 19-Apr-13 23:49:46

I wish I could kind of defer all the cake and sympathy and access it when I need it across the whole parenting bit. Not just when they are brand new and cute and don't actually do anything.

To be fair my first just slotted straight into my life no problem, that was the easier one, my second not so much, but still much easier to handle when tiny than now, with opinions, and needing entertaining. The round the clock feeding hasn't changed yet either. I'm still up all hours feeding and rocking shushing, all that, but there's work to contend with too. And then the older one gets up and we have nightmares and existential angst and fallings out at school and all in all, I wish I could have the babysitters and be sent back to bed to nap in the day whilst someone else rocks the baby - that was offered back in the newborn days when all I had to do was bf and read good books.

Why don't you ask for help?

JollyJumpingJelly Fri 19-Apr-13 23:57:40

There's the added hormones and higher risk of feeling overwhelmed by the sudden change/PND earlier on whereas change is more gradual the rest of the time.

Littlehousesomewhere Fri 19-Apr-13 23:57:42

Also I think it goes with the congratulations and celebrations of bringing a new baby into the world.

Just a tradition maybe carried over from when mothers had a period of rest and recovery while her extended family helped her out with the practicalities so she could focus on herself and her baby.

IdaClair Sat 20-Apr-13 00:02:06

I didn't think about the recovering from labour bit, thankfully I've never really had anything to recover from, I've been very lucky in that the only after effect of giving birth was feeling a bit dizzy for a day or two, other than that I felt brilliant due to no longer being pregnant.

Sure I'll ask for some help if I need it, I'm not shy, just wondering why it's all centered on that very first bit.

Shylepite Sat 20-Apr-13 00:39:32

I totally agree re older babies being much more tiring than newborns (I'm currently bf my 1yo for the 4th time tonight) but I think the pampering the new mum thing is more about recovering from giving birth and bonding with baby imo.

DoJo Sat 20-Apr-13 00:46:31

I found not being able to sit down way more tiring than actually having a baby, so I'll vote for the post-labour trauma too - constantly having to stand or lie down was actually surprising exhausting and I really needed more help then than I do now with a much more demanding child but the ability to actually pick stuff up for myself should it fall below waist height.

LittleFeileFooFoo Sat 20-Apr-13 00:50:46

I agree with you, OP. I also wonder why everyone is so keen to see the new baby, who will likely be sleep or eating, and not want to visit the much more engaging and fun 4 month old?

I just had my first child, and wanted family to come a little after a month or after but they all ignored my wishes and descended upon us within days.

I had had a bad labor and emergency CS, but none of them did dishes, made food or anything but sit around while DH made food and we entertained.

Now do they want to come? nope! Just ask occasionally; littlest is now talking giggling and looking around and interacting, he's so much more fun!

He is more work, because he's awake, and I'm more comfortable letting others hold and play with him (was a bit protective, but he's my first!). And I would love a break!

Definitely the post labour trauma for most people I'd say. I had a section a few days ago and I can barely walk and can't do anything useful except feed the baby. I need sympathy and to be waited on a bit.

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Sat 20-Apr-13 02:56:00

I think it's meant to be support to give you time to get over the physical effects of the birth and time to get into your groove/ figure out your routines (I don't mean a routine for the baby, but things like, how do you have a shower with a newborn and a toddler, how do you cook dinner- I was standing in the kitchen the other day faced with the dilemma of "DD is screaming because she wants dinner, but I cant put her down to make her dinner. Shit."

After that initial stage, it's assumed that you can cope because, barring the unexpected (SN, multiples, PND etc) you planned it like that. Most people have children by choice now rather than because they just happen. That isn't to say it is'nt tough but I dont think you can expect the same degree of help as most people are very busy themselves. Sometimes I think people have this "la la la la la not listening" thing going on when other mums tell them that small gaps are very very hard work and very very tiring.

I have a friend with 2 (planned) 15 mo gaps between her children, continually complains she's exhausted and her mum should step up, and I'm afraid I have relatively little sympathy. I'm not sure how she could have expected it to be any different.

I was hormonally very up and down after giving birth, the baby blues hit and I spent most of my day either in a salt bath, cuddling the baby or having a little cry! I think that is why a lot of people need more support in the newborn phase, I'm sure even more so with cs or traumatic births.

Dd2 is now 4 months and from experience I know I need to look after myself just like everyone else does. I will still nap when the baby naps (until she finishes napping at around 3 1/2 if she's like dd1), plan easy but healthy meals and get food shopping delivered. Make sure everyone in the house is doing their share of housework and have a massage when I can, if money is tight then a hot bath with a face mask, some camomile tea and a really early night. Drink lots of water, get out in the sunshine when it's out too, very simple stuff.

Past 3 months or so people do tend to have their own lives to go back to and it wasn't their choice to have a baby so I wouldn't expect anything (apart from dh, who obviously is also 50% responsible for childcare when not working).

TiredFeet Sat 20-Apr-13 06:47:41

Totally agree. The only exhausting thing about having a newborn in my (admittedly limited) experience was all the sodding visitors who would stay for hours and offer to help but not realise how exhausting it is just having loads of people in your house the whole time. And newborns don't do anything but sleep!

TheGirlOnTheLanding Sat 20-Apr-13 07:09:14

To be brutally honest, I think it's mainly because people get bored. They're excited about a sweet new baby, and willing to offer tea and sympathy (to varying degrees) but after a few weeks it's old news and they're not so interested. That's my experience anyway.

frazmum Sat 20-Apr-13 07:16:43

I agree with QuoteUnquote. I have this theory which is slowly being proved with my 4 DC's that, that really annoying behaviour they had as toddlers resurfaces when they are teenagers. So have had a DD who during exam time throws full on temper tantrums (she has now learnt though it is more comfortable to throw yourself on the bed instead of the floor). The next one has reverted to her stubborn 'No' ways. And no. 3 who is 11 has reverted to his not telling you when he's done something wrong. Unfortunately teenagers can't be picked up and put on the naughty step smile.

HollyBerryBush Sat 20-Apr-13 07:24:45

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.

CailinDana Sat 20-Apr-13 07:51:43

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.

MrsClown1 Sat 20-Apr-13 08:11:53

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!

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.

MorrisZapp Sat 20-Apr-13 08:15:12

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.

CailinDana Sat 20-Apr-13 08:24:19

Fwiw i currently have a 2 year old and an 8 week old. 2 year old is far far easier to look after.

Overreactionoftheweek Sat 20-Apr-13 08:24:49

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

JollyGolightly Sat 20-Apr-13 08:58:15

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.


Minshu Sat 20-Apr-13 09:11:10

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. wink

Pigsmummy Sat 20-Apr-13 09:15:56

It gets harder? Crap

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!

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.

MiaowTheCat Sat 20-Apr-13 09:48:36

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.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Sat 20-Apr-13 09:52:20

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.

Jan49 Sat 20-Apr-13 10:06:46

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.

Laquitar Sat 20-Apr-13 10:19:32

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.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Sat 20-Apr-13 11:16:57


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.

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.

motherinferior Sat 20-Apr-13 11:29:08

It varies for everyone. I found the newborn bit utter, utter hell. Totally.

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.

TiredFeet Sat 20-Apr-13 20:11:35

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)

IdaClair Sat 20-Apr-13 20:38:42

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.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Sat 20-Apr-13 21:07:16

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.

YoniRaver Sat 20-Apr-13 22:19:35

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

plantsitter Sat 20-Apr-13 22:24:02

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.

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