What did you struggle with most when you had your first baby?(197 Posts)
My niece recently gave birth to her first baby and was complaining that no-one told her about the really difficult stuff of being a first-time mum. Such as colic, teething, reflux etc. I'm trying to get her to join Mumsnet as I think she'll benefit from the support so I want to link this thread to her (and it's also why I've changed my posting name so she will recognise it instantly).
So, be honest and tell me what you found most difficult with your first baby and what advice you would give to others.
For me, it was the colic and breastfeeding. I felt under quite a lot of pressure to keep going with the breastfeeding even though it bloody hurt and I got mastitis. I also remember the sleepless nights just walking up and down with her screaming over my shoulder and feeling so very shite, frustrated, angry and helpless. Then feeling guilty that I couldn't stop her from crying.
The breastfeeding was pretty grim. My nipples still shudder at the memory of it.
The relentless and painful breastfeeding.
The fact that the books never seem to tally with what your baby is actually doing.
The fact that DH would walk back in the door after 10 hours away at work and would ask what I had done that day and the answer was literally, care for baby and nothing else. Not even time to post a letter or buy a carrot.
I was just thinking about this today - I think that one of the hardest things I found is that time is just not your own anymore.
For example, when you might be thinking about winding down at around 6pm, you suddenly realise that you have bath, feed, bedtime to do before you can even think about sitting down
with a glass of wine to relax or eat tea - and this is relentless, every night (or almost every night)
No advice as it is just one of those things that life with a child brings - took me a while to properly grieve the loss of the freedom.
Definitely the colic. I would happily have held/cuddled my babies 24 hours a day if it had stopped them from crying. I found it very hard to be around a baby who screamed for hours and hours at the end of a tiring day, just when I would have given my right arm for some time off and a bit of peace and quiet.
Once that was over (by about 8 weeks with both of them, mercifully) the rest seemed an absolute doddle in comparison!
I struggled with BFing for ages, but cracked it now (he's nearly 15mo and still BFing). I also struggled with feeling so vulnerable physically and mentally after the birth - I felt invincible until I had a baby. My body still isn't as fit as it was - but that's as much to do with simply not having the freedom to hop out for a run/ do a class/ choose mealtimes/ sit quietly eating my breakfast/lunch etc.
To this day, I struggle to hear the news without thinking that all those people who are going through whatever are/ were someone's cherished babies. Ditto homeless people, or people obviously struggling with difficult circumstances/ emotional pain. What if that were my cherished baby? I can hardly bear the news etc.
Practically speaking I do not relish having to arrange childcare to have a poo on my own.
I actually found all the day to day stuff really easy, too easy.
Just got on with it like it was one of the many household jobs.
Looking back it scares me just how detached I was. I also feel I really missed out on the "newborn fuzz" everyone talks about. I have no idea what that feels like.
Despite ttc for 4 years, being horrendously ill with HG throughout my pregancy, a traumatic labour & delivery and a re-admission for a post dural puncture for 4 days when ds was less than a week old I just "got on with it".
I ignored all the pain and tiredness, did every nightfeed, did all the housework (it was always immaculate), entertained endless visitors, wore nice clothes and did my hair/make-up every day.
Everyone kept saying "you're obviously a natural", "you look amazing", "you're coping brilliantly" but I just didn't get it. Genuinely didn't understand why anyone found it difficult when it was clearly a doddle.
Looking back it's blindingly obvious I was borderline PND. It makes me angry that nobody noticed, especially stbxh but mainly I just feel sad that I missed it all.
What's bizzare is that ds formed his own strategy. From about 6 weeks to 4-5 months the only way he would sleep during the day was if I held him. I would have to sit for 1-2 hours at a time cuddling him at least twice a day. It was bliss! Initially all I thought about was how many jobs I needed to do and how I didn't have time to just sit down. But after a while it all sank in.
Now I just feel sad that I missed out on so much.
I think what I'm trying to say through all that waffle is that it is different for everyone. Everyone finds it hard but for many many different reasons. The guilt is always the same though, the "I shouldn't be feeling like this, I should be feeling so grateful that I have been blessed with a child that I am loving every second".
It's hard, bloody hard. Totally worth it but hard.
The only thing I really struggle with now is that I still feel angry with ds when I can't work out why he's crying. When he's fed, changed and well rested but still whinging I feel cross with him. Then feel so horribly guilty for feeling like that because it's not natural.
Without MN to restore my sanity I really would be a basket case! Get your DN on here, she'll never look back
Uuurgggh!! Not being able to just 'jump' in the car and go!!! Having to pack nappy bag, put all-in-1 coat on baby(as it. Was winter), THEN change his nappy once you realise he has shit up his back, strap him into car seat, then into car..... What was I nipping out for again??? People used to say to me 'suppose u think what did u do b4 children?' me:" eh no! Loved running about without a plan or nappy bag for that matter!"
Ds1 is 3 now and have 2 boys to get out of a day and wouldn't change a single thing
I can't remember - was a young single Mum (15 years ago) and have spent my whole adult life being somen's Mum. However, my friends seem to find loss of freedom the hardest
wouldn't know as never had it
Relentless boredom - pushing DS round the same park seven days a week for six months on my own (I moved after that, to a place with more parks)
Having a crap sleeper who at 15 months is still crap, no matter what I do
Friends fucking off or suddenly being too busy to call, no more invites out as usually I can't go
DS being constantly ill. I conceived outside of a relationship so I have had no help at all with nights and minimal help with days
Losing my identity, having to give up my job as it was not child-friendly.
I could go on...
sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep.
That is all.
The lack of sleep.
The loneliness - I was young and all my friends were childless and care free they just seemed to ditch me when they found out I was pregnant because I was gonna have a baby and probably wouldn't be free to go out even of they asked so they just didn't bother also taking a baby out during the day would just cramp their style.
My then partners interfering family always at the house uninvited taking over and telling me what I should be doing and how I should by doing it, really got me down and made me feel like I had no time to myself with my DS to just be able to relax and bond (one of the many things I contribute to the severe PND I suffered which left me feeling very detached from it all / him).
knowing what was normal and what was not and SHOULD have demanded a trip to the GP in terms of exhaustion and energy
Same for BFing, not knowing when its just not working
Knowing when to ask for help or do something to make life easier in general
I was shocked by the relentlessness of it - and that you're never on your own. 7 years on and I still rarely have a shower or a wee without one of them ambling in.
However, although the early days are hard work it's important to switch off from chores and what life was like before and just let yourself sit and gaze at this gorgeous little creature that has changed your life utterly and allow yourself to enjoy it - the snuggles and the contented little sighs when you let everything else go and just be there for them.
Lack of sleep. The never having a lie in. The crazy panic to get to sleep as soon as ds did because I knew how awful the next day would be otherwise.
The worry. Is he putting on too much/not enough weight? Why won't he finish that feed? Is he weeing enough? Is he too hot/too cold, how many blankets? Does he need a cardigan, shall i take a layer off????? And so on to infinity and beyond!
The things I remember most vividly were:
* being so thrilled when she went to sleep and feeling, yay! now I can go out! Only to then realise that no I couldn't go out because I had a baby asleep in her cot. I felt quite trapped and as though everyone else was out and about.
* going for long walks with her in the pram. I just loved that.
* having to work backwards to figure out what time to start getting ready
* wondering how anyone with a baby ever managed a shower
Definitely loneliness. That and the feeling that I had totally lost my identity. No longer was I foxy, but regarded myself as mummsy with no style or body.
I care less now, but feeling so invisible and unattractive was belugh. I went back to work sharpish, for the company.
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Being on a 3hr loop/groundhog day. Same three hours over and over.
Lack of spontaneity.
Lack of space/peace.
The last two on my list still hold true nearly 6 yrs later, only in a different way!
Breastfeeding. The feeding itself wasn't so much of a problem (though DD had colic so I ended up having to feed her in a semi-upright position, which gave me pins and needles), but what irked me what how everyone told me how magical and bonding I must find it. I didn't. It was boring, it was sore and I hated the feeling of being reduced to what felt like a tap.
The isolation was bad, too - the baby group I originally went to was very MC-earth-motherish (the 'magic' of breastfeeding was the sole topic of conversation) and it made me feel even worse for missing my old skinny self. Eventually a friend introduced me to another one which was a brilliant laugh with really friendly people, and it became a highlight of my week.
I would say a) it's OK to feel bored out of your tree - the real magic for me came when DD started responding to things; and b) try a few groups - the mixture of new mums will be very random and one will probably suit you better than others. If I had my time again I would probably buy myself a sling and have some days out - I was a bit apprehensive about leaving the house without preparing for every eventuality, but in retrospect I didn't need half the baggage I thought I did!
Oh, and a postscript - I recently ran into one of the mums who had been very scathing about my return to work ("how could you leave your little angel with strangers? I could never do that..."). She hated the toddler stage with a passion,missed having a tiny baby to cuddle all the time, hated the idea of preschool and wasn't sure that she might not go back to work herself. I, meanwhile, realised that I'm having a ball with my eccentric two-year-old and much prefer the sort of hugs where they hug you back!
The emotions. Ds looks and acts like me to a scary extent so whenever he cried it was like I was upset too. He seemed like such a forlorn little creature and I couldn't bear the idea that I couldn't make him happy.
Luckily he cheered up around 3 months, or I'd definitely have gone over the edge into PND. But being reminded so much of so many details of my own childhood is still really hard - not that my childhood was bad, just that it brings back the terror of slimy food, fear of the dark, etc.
The fact that he was MY responsibility. The first time he cried when we were still in hospital, I buzzed for the midwife. "Baby's crying, I don't know what to do?" To be fair I had had no sleep for three days and a godawful birth. She shrugged - "it's YOUR baby....." And he was, my responsibility to feed, soothe, change nappies. No one else was going to do it. His physical dependence and vulnerability terrified me. And the noise of him crying, it seemed to be relentless and the sound of a crying baby/toddler still makes my guts wrench - I've just heard SO much of it over the last 18 months.
Sleep deprivation too - I explain it to childless friends by asking them the last time when they were really really knackered and how they felt just before they collapsed into bed. "Now imagine, you're not ending but STARTING your day like that - it will be fifteen hours before you can go to sleep again. Oh, and imagine you have a tough day at work ahead of you.... And do it all again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that....."
PND kicked in around 5 months and lasted until DS was a year when I went back to work. I was so happy and grateful for the "break" (and my job is demanding so no picnic really) I practically cried with happiness walking through the swing doors on my first day back.
Revolving doors, I meant to say, I don't work in a saloon bar
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