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Life with a newborn...what is it really like?

(69 Posts)
hrpufnstuf Wed 14-Jan-15 09:25:59

We are expecting our first and only DC in the Spring, and since she has known, my mum (who is a total drama queen) hasn't missed an opportunity to say in the direst tones "you won't know what's hit you/it will be a struggle to cope" and things to that effect...

I know that there will be challenges (especially as I love my sleep), but I am getting frightened because she is just going on and on like this, and it's making me panic and lose confidence before I've even started.

I am fairly calm and organised (although I know the baby won't be grin), and I know and accept that we're going to be muddling through for a good while, but she is making it sound impossible - like total unrelenting chaos is the only possible scenario for the foreseeable future. And all of her warnings - some supposedly humorous, but some definitely not - are freaking me out when I should be looking forward to being a mum, after many, many years of waiting.

I don't think I'm being unrealistic in my expectations - I've done a lot of reading on MN and bought a good "tell it like it is" book that lots of you recommend, and I know it's not going to be like it is in the adverts. I've also helped to bring up (albeit only from the toddler stage) my DH's two DC, so I do have a vague idea what it'll be like. I think.

Your thoughts/advice gratefully received.

TheOriginalWinkly Wed 14-Jan-15 09:35:47

DD was a healthy, alert newborn who (after the first week) took really well to feeding, I despised being pregnant, and I have a very supportive DH, so I was very lucky. After that disclaimer I will say that, yes I was knackered, yes there was the odd day when DD wee'd, then pooped, then puked, then wee'd on herself again and I cried on the floor because I couldn't even get her dressed and what sort of mother was I - but it was wonderful. I was (am) blissfully in love with my little miracle. Everything she did was amazing. I coped with the broken nights, I got cosy with box sets and water and fruit and carbs for the cluster feeds and sniffed her wee head and loved it.

TheOriginalWinkly Wed 14-Jan-15 09:38:14

PS if you can, borrow/buy a self swinging baby swing. DD used to doze off in hers and I could shower and make a cup of tea quickly. Plus a sling/wrap is invaluable for clingy days. And good luck, and congratulations smile

Somersetgirl1990 Wed 14-Jan-15 09:38:52

I'm only 4 weeks in but have genuinely found it a doddle! He wouldn't feed so we're ff but he's so chilled and easy, there's only been a few nights this past week where he's been hard to settle, normally he sleeps really well which I think has helped!

stargirl1701 Wed 14-Jan-15 09:41:01

Depends on the newborn!

DD1. DH described it like a baby bomb had gone off in our lives. She screamed all day and all night, and rarely slept. 10 minutes was about average. 40 minutes was good. She had silent reflux.

DD2 was sleeping more at 2 weeks than DD1 did at 7 months! Very contented baby. Feeds, sleeps and smiles. We still haven't adjusted! gringringrin

Good luck, OP!

NotEntirelyWhelmed Wed 14-Jan-15 09:44:02

My first was an easy baby (for the first eight or nine months, at least) but the transition to being somebody's mother and the identity shock and lack of autonomy and solitude was a bit like a hand grenade going off in the middle of my life. It turned out to be an awesome hand grenade. Her little sister isn't too bad either.

My mother is a doom-sayer as well. I just never asked anything of her or told her anything meaningful. She was, unsurprisingly, surprised that I could manage without her assistance.

thejoysofboys Wed 14-Jan-15 09:44:32

Tbh I strugglex with DS1. He was a hard work baby who fed poorly, slept little and cried lots. It was also the depths of a really bad winter and we were often too snowed in to go anywhere. I had some really dark days (no family close by and DH working v long hours) but by about 5 months the fog had definitely lifted and I felt like we were a proper mum and baby team.
So much so that I had DS2 when DS1 was just 18m old. He was a completely different baby. Slept a lot as a newborn, fed well and cried much less - was easier having 2 under 2s than DS1 on his own!
You never know how it'll be until it's your turn. You're obviously prepared as much as you can so don't let your mum stress you out. If it was really that bad no-one would ever go on to have second and third babies, would they?

FishWithABicycle Wed 14-Jan-15 09:46:10

Your mum is not being very good at being supportive - there's a tricky balance to tread here and maybe she thought she didn't get enough warning of how difficult it would be. Certainly I didn't - I thought I'd have plenty of spare time to finish off some outstanding diy jobs and craft projects during maternity leave. In reality, I considered it a massive (and not too frequent) achievement if both I and the baby were clean dressed and fed before 3pm. Your mum is trying to warn you to not be too overconfident - but she's doing so a bit clumsily. It's ok to get into the swing of things at the pace that works for you and for your baby. That could be faster than your mum expects, or could take a while. You'll be fine in the end either way so don't let your mum's pessimism rub off on you.

LackingCommonSense Wed 14-Jan-15 09:47:09

I was talking about this with DH last night actually as some friends have just had their first. Depsite reading up and being fairly prepared (so we thought) it completely bamboozled us tbh, but I get the impression we were quite OTT!

We both like routine and order and apparently newborns don't! (who knew? grin) What threw me the most however was how difficult breastfeeding was (DS had a slight tongue tie, couldn't latch properly and ended up with low blood sugar so we had to stay in hospital for 4 days trying to sort it) and also how emotional I'd be! I'm not an emotional person usually and I just couldn't stop crying during that first week!

After we got through the first week though, things got easier. I found one of those feeding apps helped as they made us feel slightly more in control I think!

It upsets me to think I found those first days with my amazing little boy so traumatic. I want to have another one so I can 'do it properly'!

Congratulations though! You sound quite relaxed about it. Tell your Mum to back off!

prettywhiteguitar Wed 14-Jan-15 09:48:33

I think your mum is probably just trying (in a very annoying way) to prepare you to go with the flow.

Like above I had a none sleeper who loved night ! And whinged during the day ! Then I had dc and she was a dream, slept during the day and 4-5 hours at night from being a newborn, they're all so different.

However this is about your mum, I would just tell her out straight next time she starts banging on, yes yes mum you've made yourself very clear now change the subject. Assert yourself, you're a mum now !

IpsyUpsyDaisyDo Wed 14-Jan-15 09:48:45

It's not always chaos and struggle. Personally I found the really early months quite boring and relentless in terms of what it was like day-to-day. (no-one warned me about that!) We followed a routine from pretty early on, DD slipped into it well, we were all calm most of the time, it was summer & we spent a lot of time outside... Horror stories make the best stories, but it's by no means a given that it's going to be horrendous.

For DH and I, I think the biggest 'you won't know what's hit you' things were in the lifestyle changes that come with having a child - I found mat leave & being at home all the time hard, not being able to go out in the evening on a whim as a couple, things like that.

Your mum probably thinks she's helping by preparing you for a worst case scenario, but it's by no means a given. Don't panic, you sound like you're preparing yourself as much as you can - but actually no-one knows how it's going to be until the little person actually arrives and you start to all get to know each other grin Good luck!

Fairylea Wed 14-Jan-15 09:49:07

I'm going to be honest. I felt like your mum obviously did both times with my dc (born 10 years apart for the very reason it took me that long to forget how awful the baby stage was!) Both dc were very much wanted but I really didn't enjoy the baby stage. The lack of sleep is horrendous, the sense of responsibility is more than you can ever imagine and the panic and stress about everything is like nothing else. But that may be more to do with my own shortcomings.

The only reason I am saying this is because if you DO feel like this it really isn't that unusual. And it does pass. They do get older and when they are 2.5 and a pre teen like my eldest it all seems like a blink of an eye.

NotEntirelyWhelmed Wed 14-Jan-15 09:50:04

Lacking, I still get pangs about having a third child so I can do labour "properly" (I really think I'm getting the hang of it now), but it's not going to happen. Nobody does the first week like a Huggies ad. Truly.

AnythingNotEverything Wed 14-Jan-15 09:52:19

It's quite hard to quantify, partly because it's a different experience for each family (different parents, different lifestyles, different babies), and partly because it's like trying to explain something so very alien, but it's manageable - it must be, as people continue to do it.

In my experience (two "good" babies), very newborn babies mostly feed and sleep. They do this 24 hours a day, on roughly 1-3 hour cycles, all day and all night. So you finish feeding/changing/winding and have maybe an hour to eat/sleep/shower before it starts again. After 6-8 weeks the night feeds space out a bit so you might get 4-5 hours between feeds.

It does feel a bit like chaos, in the way that being in a tumble dryer would feel like chaos - you're kind of going round and round, trying to catch a breath (or a meal) when you're the right way up.

After about a month (if you're lucky), you start to be able to distinguish night from day. By about 6 weeks you might feel like you know what you're doing and able to leave the house a bit more regularly, and by 12 weeks you can get places on time.

Lots of newborns only sleep on a parent. Google "fourth trimester", - there's a theory that babies are born too soon and aren't quite ready. They're quite primitive creatures - you can't spoil them, and they cry because they need something.

You can stem the chaos by having clear roles (I tend to bf, DH does nappies, and everything else actually in the early days - you have to allow yourself time to recover from the birth) and also batch cooking/living off takeaways/convenience foods so you can have a decent meal once a day.

Bf is hard (but brilliant) and induces hunger and thirst like I've never experienced with anything else.

Small babies are a big fat lesson in resilience. Yesterday's solutions are not necessarily today's solutions, and today's problems may magically disappear tomorrow.

This feels like a bit of a brain dump but I hope something in here gives you some idea of what to expect.

This is only my experience - I haven't had bad sleepers or refluxy babies or any tongue tie, so can't comment on the complications those issues add.

My biggest piece of advice for your relationship is to never compete over tiredness. That way madness lies.

Sprinkfest Wed 14-Jan-15 09:56:24

it's making me panic and lose confidence before I've even started.

Tell her this! Use those words, they're great!

As for what life with a newborn is like? It's an adventure. A glorious adventure with highs and lows and lots of incredulity and overwhelming love. We all get through it somehow so it can't be that hard, right?

DaphneMoonCrane Wed 14-Jan-15 09:57:40

My mum did the same. In her case, it was so that I'd let her come and stay for two weeks after the birth hmm

I refused and DH and I coped fine for the first two or three weeks.

However, it got really hard after that (DS1 was a difficult, screamy, wakeful baby). My mum was about as much help as an ashtray on a motorbike hmm and just made me feel guilty for not phoning her as often as she wanted.

Anyway, as PP have said, depends on the baby. My DS2 was easy.

She is not you. Your baby will set the agenda, and you'll respond the best way you know how. End of story.

Hobby2014 Wed 14-Jan-15 09:57:53

Oh I had all this too from MIL, baby will cry all time, no sleep, God you wait for teething/when babies got a cold - you'll want me to look after him all the time for you coz its gonna be horrible.

Well our son, so far, is an angel. 5 months. Sleeps from 8.30-8 at night has slept well at night since birth but from about 2 months slept through. Doesn't need cuddling/rocking/feeding etc to sleep, we can just put him down with a projector on the ceiling which auto shuts off after so long. Didn't BF, didn't try, so don't know how he would have been, but FF he's great, drinks his bottles. He's only ever woken up once during the nights for a bottle, so none of this every 2 hours etc, and literally feeds and back to sleep. I've not had a single night of omg why won't he go back to sleep. He got two teeth without us noticing that much, just a bit of bonjela on his gums and he's fine. We've been incredibly lucky so far. Not everyone has babies like this. All I can think is people say these things to prepare us for the worst so anything better is a bonus.

BauerTime Wed 14-Jan-15 09:59:02

The truth in what your mum says is that you just do not know what it will be like until you do it. BUT no one can predict what kind of baby you will get or how you will cope.

It's hard work because you have no idea what you are doing, no matter how many books you read it's all instinct really, and that's just mentally draining. Even a good sleeper will disrupt your usual sleeping pattern and you will be tired, and physically you will need to recover from the birth for a couple of weeks.

You will be fine. My advice is just don't try to be superwoman and just concentrate on enjoying and caring for your baby. Don't look at others and think they are doing a better job than you are or aren't finding it as hard. Take advice with a smile, a nod and a pinch of salt unless you ask for it.

Congratulations flowers

Lottapianos Wed 14-Jan-15 09:59:15

Hi OP, I'm not a parent but I work with parents and just have to say that you sound very clued up about what to expect. You're not expecting it to be a fairytale, or to be plain sailing and you know that you can only prepare so much. Your mum doesn't sound very helpful - some people just love being the voice of doom. Good luck to you, hope it goes well smile

LackingCommonSense Wed 14-Jan-15 10:01:20

NotEntirelyWhelmed I imagine DC2 leaves you bamboozled in a completely different way doesn't it?

I want a do-over with DS1! It's reassuring to hear others were as thrown as we were though. I forgot about the feeling of responsibility and anxiety! How could I?! I remember my first bath at home with DH/DS downstairs so I could relax. I couldn't relax at all and hated being so far apart from DS! The mother/baby bond is mental!

Nolim Wed 14-Jan-15 10:02:52

Someone i know said that he thinks of the first 2/3 months as a blur. I think it is an apt description.

But seriously tell your dm to give you practical help, not scare you.

Beinghere Wed 14-Jan-15 10:16:16

Both of mine slept thru from 9 weeks. Before that I don't think I had more than 2 hours sleep each day. I was completely knackered. I BF on demand.

Having said that I was able to get ready and go out and be places on time with all equipment and changes of clothes packed. It was a case of being organised and the fact when they are babies if you put them down in a safe place they didn't move. It was when they started moving I found more difficult. And I find it near impossible now getting my teenagers to get ready and get anywhere on time.

BauerTime Wed 14-Jan-15 10:17:24

lacking I also identify with the 'I'd like a chance to do it all properly' as DS was also in NICU for the first 5 days so I feel like I missed out on that initial time a bit.

Annarose2014 Wed 14-Jan-15 10:28:59

I found it easier than being heavily pregnant, which I hated. I could tie my shoes and sleep in any position I wanted! I felt my body was my own again (the bleeding is no big deal if you've ever had a heavy period)

The only advice I'd give is to discuss nighttimes with your DH. We'd decided I'd do them all and he'd do all the cooking as a tradeoff, and bring me cups of tea on request as I fed on the sofa. I thought of nights as a "night shift", a job, and that helped. It gets resentful if you feel you're getting nothing in return for "working" all day and all night.

Also realise that babys need to be rocked/shushed to sleep and newborns almost need to sleep every hour. We had a lot of screaming fits in the first two weeks which were in hindsight overtiredness, but we thought he couldn't possibly be tired as he'd been asleep just two hours before! hmm We couldn't figure out why he was crying. We assumed if he was tired he'd just drop off himself. Oh God, the naivete!

Oh and Lanishoh, lots of Lanisoh. I never had a bit of trouble with my nipples cos I slathered it on so religiously. I had one tube downstairs and one upstairs. So that was honestly fine.

Yep! Still easier than pregnancy!

WhirlyTwirlySnowflakes Wed 14-Jan-15 10:36:18

I had a section
I had twins
Both had terrible colic
Neither of them slept (certainly not together) for months So there was mostly always a baby screaming.
I ebf them but found it very hard.

^^Your basic nightmare scenario right?

You know what? We coped fine.

Some nights/days were extremely hard, but all three of us were up and out every day.
We went to visit friends or to baby groups and had people round. We made loads of new friends during this time too.

We hosted Christmas when they were still tiny.
I organised their Christening & party and a holiday before they were 6 months old.

Having newborns was the hardest thing I've ever done, but also the most worthwhile and wonderful (just wait until your baby's first smile or giggle!)

Your life will change massively, no question but it isn't for the worse.

It can take a while to settle into this stage if your life and to accept that you have said goodbye to life as it was before (I was very shocked at this as we'd spent years trying to conceive) so that's something to look out for and deal with if it happens to you.

IME organised, capable women tend to be organised capable Mothers (even through sleep deprivation and hormones)

You'll be fine OP. It's a roller coaster but it's worth the ride.

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