As I approach the amazing milestone that is my son’s fifth month anniversary, I can safely say that these five months have been the best of my life. I feel however in the nature of my blog, honesty and the importance of transparency, I let you in on a little secret.
The first three months were the hardest months of my life. It goes without saying that I’ve experienced the highest of the highs, but without a doubt, the lowest of the lows. I’m going to try and explain little what I mean here and to hopefully reassure any new parents that they’re not alone.
There are so many well-documented stories in scripture and online that go into great detail of the most amazing elements of the first few months of having a new baby. The first smile, the first time they roll over, when you manage to crack breastfeeding technique, master tot sleeping through, when they grab your finger… the list goes on. It is without a doubt the most special, incredible time, however I can’t help but feel however that people don’t talk about the other elements of having a new baby that can well and truly rock the boat and pull the rug from under your feet.
Many of my friends have had babies, and they’ve embarked on the incredible journey with their husbands, or long term partners that they’ve gotten to know inside out and have a strong foundation to build their new family on. It is with this foundation that they can find reassurance when there are surprises and bumps along the way, as they know at the heart of it all they love each other and know each other inside out. They just know that this is a high pressure scenario that they’ve spent the last few years working towards.
Whereas my journey is a little different, we’d known each other for four months as friends and only one month as lovers when we found out I was pregnant. We were facing down the barrel of the unknown in terms of everything about each other. We hadn’t even said “I Love you’ yet, even though I knew in my heart that I already did.
Looking back on the last year, almost to the day that we found out we were expecting, we have spent nine months of our relationship pregnant and four months with a new baby. It would be hard for anyone to determine if the bumps in the road and the emotions were a product of an extremely high pressure situation, of it that was our DNA and who we fundamentally were as a couple.
It is with great relief, that at the other end of the barrel (where the light shines) that we absolutely are the people that we each fell for and that any bumps (some more serous than others) were due to hormones, lack of sleep and massive amounts of pressure for everything to be perfect (which we only put on ourselves). Its easy to think that our situation has been the way it has due to all these factors, however I can safely say that after speaking to friends, and friends of friends that have had children, this is a universal symptom of an amazing life event.
So, if you’re reading this and you’re due to welcome your bundle of joy, or you’re four weeks in and tearing out your hair, or even three months down the line and are worried that this is forever, rest assured you’re not alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
When you welcome a beautiful baby to your life, it is without question the most special time. The love you feel is polarising and the determination to give this bundle of joy the best life is overwhelming. ‘Overwhelming’ being the operative word as it is a time so much for your shoulders, and your relationships to bare.
The big secret is… the first three months are fucking HARD WORK. Aside from the beautiful baby that you love more than life itself, here’s a little roll call of what else to expect (that many don’t tell you about, but that everyone that I’ve spoken to has experienced – which beggars the question; “why it isn’t spoken about more”):
- Lack of sleep (for both of you, whether you’re breastfeeding of formula feeding, your partner will wake up with you despite your best efforts) – Whilst I truly believe that women have a super human hormone that kicks in for the first month that enables you to operate on just two hours sleep, the men aren’t so lucky. With many men only getting two weeks paternity entitlement from their companies, they are coping with 2 hours sleep, plus getting up for work and having their game face on. After the first two weeks you can wake up for the 10th time in the middle of a cluster feed and be physically shaking due to the tiredness, it is a all you can muster to stifle the tears rolling down your cheek to ‘put a brave face on it’. Which brings us swiftly on to my next experience…
- Lack of communication/ understanding – He’s working full time, you have a little person permanently attached to you. You’re both not sleeping, you’re sore and exhausted and he’s expected to go to work and have the same level of productivity that he did before the arrival of baby. He’s feeling guilty that he’s leaving you both all day, and you’re feeling resentful that he doesn’t understand how hard it is to go from being you, to being ‘mum’. Arguments ensue, pretty fucking bad ones too.
- Second Guessing – So many comments (from anyone, not just your partner) are misinterpreted as a dig against your skills as a parent, and even the most sincere of actions can be construed as an attack, or ‘point scoring’. We’re all doing the best job we can do, and most of the time feel like the blind leading the blind, so no, we don’t want to be asked if “the bottle might just be for the best”, or “to try and sleep whilst they sleep” (and face your partner come home from work and loudly do the pots and pans whilst slamming every door as if he’s silently saying with each bang, what the fuck have you been doing all day?!)
- The infamous ‘Day Five Blues’ – Yeah sure we’ve read about this one, even our midwives has asked us about this and told us to brace ourselves, however no amount of warning can prepare you for the rush of emotion that takes a hold of you. It’s perhaps not surprising that you partner is scared shitless that his missus is a sobbing wreck, when all she’s spoken about the last nine months how this is all she’s ever wanted…
- Intimacy (or lack of it) – You have a new small person sharing a bedroom with you, they’re attached to your body at least 75% of the day, and the other 25% you’re sleeping. The last thing on your mind (especially after pushing a human being from down below, or being cut open) is being intimate. However whilst you might expect this for the first 4-6 six weeks, to often can go into months rather than weeks (although I do think it’s massively important to make time for each other).
So if you’re experiencing all, some or none of the above, you honestly are not alone. Talk to your friends, be honest with our parter and don’t be afraid to have a good cry! It helps honestly. I can say hand on heart that if you weather the storm, you’ll be on the other side and will eventually laugh about the rows and misunderstandings, even with a bit of fondness… maybe…