To all expectant and new mums
Gemama · 27/03/2010 18:36
Throughout pregnancy you?ll read numerous books, attend antenatal classes, ask friends about their labours and visit newborn babies. You?ll be excited and terrified in equal measure, though it?s hard to think beyond the birth towards the reality of having complete responsibility for another human being and the requisite patience and unselfishness. There are many things you aren?t told or that just don?t really sink in - the impact that total lack of sleep will really have on you; the monotony of hour after hour spent rocking, shhing, sitting by a cot just watching, waiting for the dummy to fall out (or be knocked out by a flailing hand), trying repeatedly to get an overtired baby to sleep; the way your baby?s cry is louder, more embarrassing and bone-chilling than anyone else?s.
Once your baby has been born and you are over the shock of labour, there are many more books to read, internet sites and chat rooms, newspaper articles, mostly contradicting each other, telling you how to raise your child. You feel completely clueless and try and read as much as you can but this can make things harder, there is too much information, and you start to think, ?my child should be doing this, sleeping this amount, awake this amount, feeding so and so often? which doesn?t really help matters. The fact there is so much information really goes to show that no-one has the answer, that every baby is different and that endless patience and a stolen half hour nap whenever possible are really all you can strive for.
When it comes down to it though, it?s not the lack of sleep, the repetitiveness of spending day after day with a young baby, the way you seem to have achieved nothing at all all week, the way time has just disappeared and another week has passed and still the future looks dark with no escape. It?s the pressure to get it right; pressure from friends asking ?how is he/she sleeping?, ?is he/she in any sort of routine?; pressure from well-meaning fellow parents saying, ?oh it gets easier after 6 weeks, 12 weeks etc.? whereas you just find it?s getting harder and harder each week, thinking they should be settling now, life should be getting back to normal; pressure to keep the baby quiet at night so as not to wake the neighbours and guilt when you hear them stir; pressure from relatives disagreeing with your muddled attempts to keep your baby happy; pressure to present the perfect baby to visitors; pressure to be super woman, juggling an ambitious career and looking after children; pressure to look good as soon as possible after nine months of eating for two and having an eight pound child tear apart your stomach muscles and make your skin baggy beyond repair; pressure to stay relaxed when all you want to do is creep into a dark space, make yourself as small as possible and cry.
I write this in Cornwall as torrential rain pours down, adding an even heavier weight to my sleep deprived mind. We?ve come away from city life to try and relax, try and instil a small amount of routine into our 11 week old?s day, to interrupt the cycle of hourly night awakenings which have caused me to feel low and depressed for the first time in a relatively sunny existence. Midwives in the UK tell you to follow the baby?s flow, feed them when they want feeding, put them down for a sleep when they are tired, try your utmost to read their signs. Other people swear by set schedules: baby should feed at x time and sleep for two hours at such and such a time?As a new parent, you need to try and adapt your baby into a new life that suits you as much as possible. No-one is entirely honest about the problems they have with their newborns but everyone has them.
It?s not evil or abnormal of you to have doubts and regrets. To look back to your pre-baby life which now seems so simple and free of real responsibility. To wish you?d never gone along this path. To think even darker thoughts, while the baby screams incessantly, and you scream into a pillow in another room. There will be mums reading this who won?t understand, who find the whole process natural and easy, but these mothers are in the minority. I?ve spoken to numerous new mothers and though everyone has different problems to solve with their little ones, the pressure to get things right is the same.
There is no solution to what must have been happening since time began but keep telling yourself you are doing your best and that?s all you can do. Try not to analyse every scenario too much ? often there really is no solution. I?ll continue to muddle through and maybe it will become easier, maybe I?ll look back in a year?s time and have forgotten how miserable certain days were. Like labour, perhaps we?re programmed to forget. One thing is for certain ? I have never admired all mothers like I do now on joining their ranks. The fact they?ve all gone through this and survived is admirable. People say it?s all worth it for the smile lighting up your baby?s face ? that can be true at times but it doesn?t make the hard times any easier. The best you can do is not give in to any pressure from yourself or anyone else and just keep going, one day at a time. Oh, and be honest with friends planning their first pregnancies ? perhaps then it won?t be such a shock for them.
fidelma · 27/03/2010 21:29
All true and I have gone on to have 4 !!!!!
mummymellymoo · 28/03/2010 14:48
What a brilliantly well-put post. It is far too easy to beat yourself up about every little thing and it just gets in the way of enjoying all those precious moments you have with your children that you will never have again. I wished I'd not got sucked into trying to be the perfect mum and follow every single rule with my first child (now nearly 4) - second time round I've ditched the books, ignored all the ever-changing government guidelines and I'm just getting on with it. Don't get sucked into the guilt - parenting seems to have been turned into some sort of job where you get rated on your performance at every given turn. Babies/children are just that for such a short time, why can't we just be allowed to relish that time a bit. After all, they all get to their milestones eventually, they're not robots programmed to hit them at exactly the right moment. Am forwarding Gemama's wise words to my pregnant sister immediately.
hw7342 · 28/03/2010 19:36
Painfully true. I have written posts like that in my head many times.
TulipsInTheRain · 28/03/2010 19:44
It was only with my third child that i finally mastered the art of just going with the flow and relaxing as a mother.
It was still tough with him but so much less difficult than with my first two when i was so obsessed with the 'getting them into a routine' and 'doing it the right way' myths that i know looking back that i missed out on so much of the fun of having a small baby.
And you know what? He figured out sleeping at night and all that stuff all by himself without me having to do a thing about it
MrIC · 29/03/2010 08:28
you should start a blog!
IloveJackWhite · 29/03/2010 09:20
That's amazingly well put for someone who is sleep deprived! So true, but sometimes we just have to work it out for ourselves...great reassurance that we are not alone though - thank you!
Tellhimhesdreaming · 29/03/2010 09:57
What an excellent, excellent post - you have articulated so many thoughts and feelings I've had. Thank you xo
fandango75 · 29/03/2010 12:27
brilliant, cheered me up to not feel so alone
Psammead · 29/03/2010 12:52
Yup, that's exactly it.
At times it seems like a breeze, but as soon as the crying goes on for more than a couple of minutes, I start to go under.
I feel like my last 11 weeks have been a struggle, trying to keep my head above water.
But at the same time, it IS worth it!
Mumsnet mantra - 'this too shall pass' has gotten me through.
Bumpsadaisie · 29/03/2010 13:55
It does get easier - and someday soon you will go out for a coffee with your DC one day and realise that, without you really having taken it in, that things have got easier.
It happens so subtly and gradually that you can't necessarily put your finger on it, but it does get easier.
Its a generalisation but I think I am right in saying that most 6 month olds only wake a couple of times in the night at most (and many sleep through). Many six month olds are happy to sleep in a cot in their own room. Many six month olds sit up and will play with their toys for 30 mins at a time. Most six month olds will have a couple of hour long naps each day, and won't be feeding constantly.
They also giggle and laugh, and are fun to be with as they interact with you and show you how much they love you! By the time they are 9 or ten months, like my DD, they are real little people, who can crack jokes to make you laugh, crawl around, take a few steps clinging on to you etc.
If your DC is two months old now, you're nearly over the hardest part of the "newborn" stage. Before you know it your DC will be sitting up, rolling, giggling, babbling, and eating a banana in the highchair. Its almost impossible to believe at the moment I know, but it WILL happen, and soon! They grow up so extraordinarily quickly.
Don't worry about routines or books at this stage. Babies find their own way. Just because your baby doesn't have much routine at two months doesn't mean it will still be the same when they are 6 months. Just trust that things will all turn out and your baby will find a pattern when s/he is ready. In the meantime, while s/he is very small, just take a deep breath, a swig of G&T, and try and be there for them with whatever they seem to need. My DD spent the first two or three months glued to me in a sling, and sleeping in my bed (as she didn't want to be left on her back on her own ANYWHERE). She still quite happily went in her cot when she was 6 months and now usually sleeps 8pm to 8am (apart from the odd bad night here and there).
Hang in there ... best of luck!
WilloughbyWallaby · 29/03/2010 18:08
Gosh, well done! You have just put so many of my feelings into such eloquent sentences. I've so far only managed to shout random angry words!
I hope that getting away does help, once the rain has gone. Maybe I'll suggest something similar to my DH...
Katyathegringa · 09/04/2010 21:59
Ever thought about writing a book?
megcleary · 09/04/2010 22:08
Wow do you mind if i nick that and send it to my soon to pop friend? Summed it up so well
megcleary · 09/04/2010 22:36
Man I appear to be thread killing tonight
booksgalore · 10/04/2010 21:51
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
MummyElk · 10/04/2010 21:59
i wonder whether reading this book might be a good thing to do at this point
mad4mainecoons · 11/04/2010 11:08
and its sunny in cornwall now!!! even after a night with a 4 week old and 3.5 yr old crying in unison all seems well with the world.
lovley post i too have forwarded to my pregnant friend.
PurpleCrazyHorse · 11/04/2010 12:13
It's taken me 7 months, but I've realised that everything happens in its own sweet time. I've yet to see a nappy wearing, bottle sucking, crying every hour through the night 18 year old
Another pearl of wisdom I received was that if it doesn't bother me, it's not a problem. Have been wise words to remember when well-meaning rellies comment on DD not sleeping through the night and not being on solids yet (she blows raspberries rather than swallowing!)
pamelat · 11/04/2010 21:19
very true, all of it.
Also, I dont think it just applies to newborns.
Pre DD I didnt understand people who "let" children eat sweets , or who wanted to go on a holiday with child care facilities "who on earth would want to be apart from their children on their holiday" I chirped. I didnt understand how precious time out was/is.
When DD was a newborn (who never ever slept and cried constantly), friends with toddlers said it didn't get any easier "just different" and I laughed and thought they were stupid. Now my DD is 2.3 I see their point.
When DD was a newborn, I cried and made my DH promise that I would never have to do this again. I am now 36 weeks pregnant.
I seriously believed I would never get through it.
Now DD is a toddler and I have a newborn on the way, other parents tell me that its just as hard to be the parents of teenagers and I smirk, I bet when I get there, i will also see their point.
My admiration for parents at any age of a childs life increases each day. We are 95% fantastic!
SparklyJules · 11/04/2010 21:34
Wise words Gemama, spoken with true honesty.
My "babies" might be 6 and 2 now, but the days are the same, we just fight just different battles now.
I have so much still to learn, so many new and confusing years ahead of me that I've often to remind myself to just enjoy the here and now.
And tomorrow, with my babies, we are off to the photographer; for a photograph together, to capture a moment before they grow up any more and to celebrate the years behind us.
If we didn't have such dark days, we wouldn't truly appreciate the sunny ones.
booksgalore · 12/04/2010 13:17
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
ben5 · 12/04/2010 13:24
cornwall seems to working a wonder on you!
Gemama · 16/04/2010 11:54
Thanks for all your kind words of support. I'm glad other people out there have been feeling the same way (not cos I wish you to be miserable too, but because it makes one feel less alone).
Mummyelk, another friend recommended that book too and I read it last week. It was brilliant and put lots of things in perspective.
I'd love to start a blog when I have a little more time... My son is now 15 weeks old, has had a cold for the past week and is waking every hour from 1.30am, just for some comfort. He's not even hungry till 5 or 6... Very tough.
Trying to stay positive. Talking about it really helps!
Cazzamarraz · 06/05/2010 22:57
Have had two babies and am convinced absolutely that to love you babies and to follow your instinct in caring for them produces the happiest mother and happiest baby. If you want to cuddle your baby all night then cuddle them, feed them, love them. They do not manipulate (as our sleepless heads can have us believe absolutely) they are simply tiny beings and need us by them so much of the time. Reassure them and they'll have nothing to fear, nothing to cry over. Simple. If you are exhausted, I know how that is, ask for help. Make the change happen around your baby instead of force your baby to change. Ask for help.
Books, fine for ideas, but don't do anything that doesn't sit easily and happily with you. You'll find you're right in the end. And you'll have a confident, self-sufficient, happy child. And day by day, day by day is sound advice x
KatieLunn · 07/05/2010 11:53
Thank you, thank you, thank you. The HV and my GP seem to think I'm killing my DD by co-sleeping and baby wearing and have both suggested I let her CIO and leave her in her moses basket. Why the pressure for a routine? She's 4 week's old!
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