When pregnant with my son, I was told a dozen times how hard life would suddenly be. I was told that having a baby would be tiring, hard-work and totally life-changing. Like most, I humoured them, thinking that they were making a meal out of it all – surely having a baby couldn’t be that hard? Yes, I was prepared for the broken nights sleep and regular change of nappies, but what else was there to do? Babies spent the rest of their time sleeping didn’t they?
The first night at home with our new son was a complete eye opener – he was waking every two hours for a feed. My husband and I were taking it it turns to get up and prepare the bottle, but still, the next day, we were shattered! This went on for weeks. We decided that the best thing for us both was to do ‘shifts’ and sleep in separate rooms so that the other one could get some undisturbed sleep. I would go to bed at 8pm, leaving my husband with our son in the front-room with the spare duvet. He would do until around 2am when we would swap and I would sleep in the front room with our son in his moses basket until 8am. It was tough and we were so grumpy that we started sniping at each other – we were both so tired. Life suddenly felt like such an uphill struggle – would it always be like this now?
Being sleep deprived was only part of the stress of having a new born baby. Our son was unfortunate enough to have an intolerance to the protein in cow’s milk. This was something which we only discovered after three months of constant screaming, sickness and pooey nappies every hour, and was due to being force fed regular baby milk which, low and behold, contained cow’s milk! Our son was obviously in constant pain but being new parents, we assumed all babies cried and pooed as much as him.
Being off work was totally new to me as well. I had worked full time since I was nineteen years old. Before having our son, I thought being off work would be luxury – I could spend all day watching TV, going shopping or having my hair done. However, I hadn’t considered how much work a tiny baby would create. I felt like I was constantly washing clothes, steralising bottles, feeding, changing nappies or walking around, just trying to get my son to stop crying. Some days I didn’t even get round to changing out of my pyjamas! I suddenly wished I was back at work because that was easy in comparison to this!
I thought I was the only one to feel the way I did. I felt like a terrible mum to even consider going back to work. I would sit and cry, feeling totally exhausted. I’d look on Facebook and see all my friends chatting about their next night out and feel so envious – even if I did join them in a night on the town, none of my nice clothes fitted anymore – I felt so fat and unattractive. I felt like my identity had gone – I was no longer ‘Kelly’, I was just ‘Mum’ now. However, after chatting to a few other new mums, I realised that I wasn’t the only one to feel like this – everyone had felt like it at one time or another. This knowledge gave me so much comfort – I wasn’t a bad mum after all, I was just, like all new mums, finding the adaptation to my new life a struggle. I was told that after a few months, I would get used to the change and it would suddenly seem easier – and it did. I got used to spending less time out with my friends, my son’s sleeping pattern started to become less demanding and my husband and I stopped sniping at each other because we were both getting more sleep. There was light at the end of the tunnel.
So this article is for anybody who is expecting, or has just had a new baby. It may seem impossible at first, your life WILL totally change, you WILL be more tired than you ever imagined, but the challenge is worth the reward, because in four months time, you will suddenly realise what you have been working so hard for – a beautiful child who will spend the rest of his life loving you for it. My son is almost two now and we are having the time of our lives with him. I finally understand why people do it over and over again!