That first year with baby is one of the hardest you may ever experience.
For some reason, society seems to view babies as some kind of cute pet or accessory to a family.
I’ve lost count of how many times strangers come up to me in public (even pull up next to me in cars), gushing over how adorable my daughter was, how cute her bow was, and how beautiful her hair was (she’s a raging redhead).
Although these are very nice things to say, she isn’t just a lap dog that I get to enjoy and gush over all day.
They don’t have to parent her all day, every day.
All these people don’t see babies behind closed doors, the bad and the ugly, and some people who’ve already been through it, like my mom, forget (it can be that traumatizing).
It’s not just cute bows, cute clothes, teefies and feetsies.
That’s like .5% of babies. Maybe.
Ultimately, babies are hard work and less sweet those early months of life!
Baby stages of development can be a wonder as much as it is excruciating.
That first year with baby is hard and here are 3 struggles many new parents may experience their first year with baby.
Babies Are Hard Work
Since all we see on social media are cute stuff that is virtually 2% ( thats being generous ) of what raising a baby is, it can lead us to unrealistic expectations.
We expect these doll-like, quiet, cute little beings that we get to enjoy our perfectly made Pinterest nursery in breastfeeding with ease, love at first sight, sleep all the time, farts and burps with no problem, just pure bliss, and fun.
I think social media is a massive reason for so many unrealistic ideas about babies.
Like they are just these cute little pets or dolls that you can dress up and take loads of pictures of to pour all over Instagram.
This always showcases babies in a soft rose-colored lens.
Unfortunately, this fantasy is so far from reality that new parents think they’ve been dumped in a twilight zone.
I don’t say these things to scare new moms or dissuade them from having kids.
I want to help set a healthy and realistic expectation for how babies can be, so you don’t feel like you’ve gone insane.
Also, so you can adequately prepare for the baby beyond a cute nursery and cute going home clothes from the hospital, having a baby is SO much more than that.
Sometimes We May Resent Our Babies
Not So Sweet Baby Stage
This one, I know, is a tough pill to swallow, especially if you haven’t experienced the numerous baby stages of development yet.
How could you possibly resent a sweet innocent baby?
Well, think about it.
At the very least, those first six months are all-consuming with your baby.
They need everything from you: getting changed, dressed, fed, burped, and sleeping.
There isn’t a single thing they can do without you yet, with very little give back and reward from baby.
A lot of what you get back from baby is more crying, fussing, and demands.
This means during those early months, baby takes a lot.
Many women even start to resent breastfeeding, which is understandable after time you just get worn down being the only food source for baby.
A healthy relationship involves give and take, but if you have a partner that only takes, demands more, and leaves you no time for yourself to rest, recover or give to you for once, you will start to resent them.
That would be a normal reaction to such an unbalanced relationship.
That’s what those early 6-12 months at the least are, a lot of unbalanced living to tend to baby.
At times, you may resent being a mother.
It is easier initially, but it can get old once you’ve been at it for months.
It’s okay to feel like you hate them some days, dislike them, for them to annoy the absolute sh*t out of you.
Feel it, cry, get it out and accept those feelings to take away your love for your child.
This is part of the process for the first 2-4 years of their lives.
Lock yourself in a bathroom or the car and just cry.
The First Year With Baby Can Suck
There is no shame in absolutely hating the first year, disliking your kids sometimes, and just trying to survive each day.
Raising a baby can be excruciatingly painful sometimes.
If you keep holding it in or even become guilty of toxic positivity out of fear of being ostracized, you will lose yourself.
Be honest with yourself and your feelings.
They are valid.
Be honest with your partner and feelings, so you don’t feel alone.
That first year with baby WILL be hard on your marriage.
If your partner feels the same way, even though you are treading challenging waters, at least you are in it together.
Feeling bad is okay.
No need to put up a front to everyone on Facebook about how well you are adjusting if you are drowning.
You aren’t a bad mother for having these feelings or living like you can’t keep up.
Social media isn’t.
Acknowledging those feelings will help you healthily deal with them so you can grow out of resentment.
Get the feelings out, and share them with your partner but don’t feel shame, guilt, or hide them.
Learn to be honest, raw, and vulnerable with your partner.
Maybe your partner feels the same but is too afraid to speak up.
Babies Bring Us To Our Knees
Babies can bring us to our knees, and if we don’t have someone else to share our struggles with, it can feel like we are the only ones burdened, and we have to deal with them alone.
I love my daughter to bits but holy sh*t, can she test me.
If it weren’t for my husband and my ability to be brutally honest and upfront about how I felt, I wouldn’t have gotten the help I needed and just suffered alone and grew further apart from my teammate.
That helps no one.
A postpartum woman with a new baby suffering alone with her thoughts breeds resentment toward baby and their partner.
This season of your marriage/partnership is a chance to grow closer together and bond over how painfully tricky the first year is, or parenting in general, as they get older.
Remember, you are teammates through thick and thin, and I can pretty much promise for most people, the first year will be a thick time in your marriage.
We both have needs.
Our needs do not cease to exist simply because we have kids.
Do not martyr your happiness and well being for your baby, it is a recipe for resentment and depression.
Be mindful of this.
What can we do to ensure our needs are met and feel more balanced enough to bring our best selves for baby?
Babies Do Not Equal Happiness
It’s So Much Sacrifice
They’re not pets or little supplements to add to your life and not take away.
Becoming a parent=the ultimate sacrifice.
Many of us, including myself, learned this the hard way.
For the mother, the sacrifice of body, sleep, energy, time, and mind.
However, the all-consuming sacrifice and nature of babies and toddlers are only temporary for the early years of child-rearing.
It is one of the most rewarding experiences one can have, and becoming a parent can become a source of happiness when you understand their happiness is not our responsibility.
It isn’t our job to make anyone happy.
We can nourish it, and encourage happiness, however, nobodies happiness, including our children’s, is our responsibility. It’s an endless venture otherwise and is a recipe for enmeshment.
Once this is understood, this can lessen resentment and make it a more rewarding experience, and you will start to appreciate the fruits of your labor.
You will feel more balanced by erecting boundaries so everyone is healthy and balanced.
When we are balanced and healthy, so are our kids.
Easier Said Than Done
I understand this is easier said than done, though.
You can give your all, every day, give your child all the love, attention, a loving home, toys, books, everything, and they still will reject it.
It’s like trying to help a dog in distress, but anytime you show it love or help them, they bite you every time.
In that scenario, you would just raise your hands and say,
“Okay, buddy, I’ll leave you be.”
But you can’t do that with a baby.
They may fight you every step of the way but will still have a meltdown if you stop. It’s a double edge sword situation that you just can’t win sometimes.
“It can be boring, like sitting through a no hitter baseball game.
However in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, someone hits a home run, maybe even a grand slam.
This makes the whole game worth wile.”
This is an excellent metaphor for child-rearing.
Try not to ruminate over the little irritating sh*t that will happen.
You will look back at the overall experience as a positive one.
You won’t look back at the game and remember the early no-hitters, only how incredible the grand slam was!
Annabelle’s First Grand Slam Moment
I remember the first grand slam of my daughter’s first year was when she laughed for the first time.
After months and months of crying, fussing, demands, and little sleep, hearing something other than an expression of disappointment and frustration was like music to my ears.
I couldn’t believe a sound could be so sweet and just lift my soul into heaven.
I genuinely understand why Peter Pan said the creation of fairies was when the first baby laughed for the first time, and that laugh broke into a thousand pieces.
When she laughs, all I can envision is her laugh creating all these little fairies prancing about around her.
Cherish these home runs.
They are rare and indeed what makes parenting so unique and joyous.
Babies Do Not Bring Couples Closer Together
Such a Crock
Where did this notion even come from?
It’s the equivalent of telling women they can get pregnant sitting on a public toilet seat.
Problems will arise in your relationship after having a baby.
Babies are challenging and complex to navigate for at least the first year.
What happens to marital satisfaction after the birth of a child?
Marital satisfaction declines for most couples in those first few years as well.
Well, you have a tiny human incapable of doing anything for themselves and are entirely reliant on you.
Relationship problems after having a baby are common.
Between teething, colds, growing pains, nap trouble, laundry, pets, dishes, work, and life, work can take you away from your partner because it is incredibly demanding and can feel never-ending.
It Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Still Love Each Other
My husband and I’s marriage took a hit after we had Annabelle.
We just weren’t able to tend to it as abundantly as before.
That doesn’t mean we fell out of love for each other or didn’t want to be with one another anymore.
More than anything, we missed each other.
We were simply ran too ragged and spread to thin.
By the end of the day, we only had a couple of hours together and would get to sleep soon after that.
It’s hard to keep up marital satisfaction when there is so little time and energy to dedicate to it.
That was the biggest reason our marriage took a hit at the beginning.
Marriage After Having a Baby
You can expect a baby to at least do the opposite of bringing you closer together that first few months.
You will be tired, on edge, stressed, and generally feel like you are in the twilight zone.
Did mention stressed?
Babies are stress torpedoes heading straight for your submarine, ready to blow your relationships into chaos, at least initially.
This happens even with the strongest of marriages or relationships, so if yours is already in a rocky state, the last thing you want to do is add a baby to the mix.
A baby is a straight-up assault on any relationship.
It bombs the ship you’re on, and while you are desperately trying to patch it up, they blow up other parts of the ship that brings on even more water when all you are trying to do is keep the ship from sinking, and the blows never stop.
Babies are the ultimate challenge for relationships.
You can sail into the sunset taking on that beautiful horizon, but not without working together and patching up the numerous blows your ship took initially.
They Aren’t Babies Forever
The biggest thing that got me through the first year was knowing it was only temporary.
Each day, she’s getting older, stronger, and more capable.
For every tooth that erupts, that’s one less teething period.
As she gets stronger, she gets more mobile and less fussy since she can do more.
It very slowly gets easier and more manageable. You got this.
Babies won’t be babies forever!
If they were, NOBODY would have them.
A new baby is a wonder.
You created a unique human that is a little bit of you and a little bit of your partner, creating a one-of-a-kind blend of a person that is your child.
They are a part of your family, and like anything new, it takes some getting used to.
You may initially feel like you have been blown to another planet of crazy, but it does subside as you get your grip on things.
It is the greatest challenge you will ever face, but the fruit of that labor is fantastic.
Gear up for postpartum with all you have, and take it daily.
Godspeed mama! This, too, shall pass.