The truth about having a new baby – what it was really like

baby handsAs I sit here, one ear on the monitor to check Scrip really is napping and not chatting away to herself, I know that we’ve got a good routine going. We’re living family life with one toddler and managing OK. That’s not to say it’s easy – it’s never easy – but this is our life now and we’re in a pattern. So just the time to throw it all off track by introducing number two into our reasonably balanced equation.

I was reminiscing with a friend this week about the early days and about how hard we both found it – especially with the first (she has three). It’s funny but it’s a conversation I never really had at the time. I felt – possibly like many others who were also keeping it to themselves – that I was the one not coping as well as everyone else. I was the one who it didn’t come naturally to and that maybe my baby wasn’t responding to me.

The first day my husband went back to work I cried and cried. In fact my sister had to take a day off work to help. And I remember feeling the dark March evenings drawing in all around me in Scrip’s first few weeks. Of course the lack of sleep compounded it all, but all the other new mums I knew were suffering in that way too so why were they managing so much better than me?

It’s also fair to say that my love for Scrip grew and grew. Now I can see I was stunned the day I had her, euphoric the days afterwards and then overwhelmed as soon as we brought her home. I fell more in love with her as the days went by and she started responding and we were able to bond more and more. But that seemed to contrast with my friends who had babies at a similar time who were constantly declaring their adoration for their newborns on Facebook – why wasn’t I doing that?

Then there was the loneliness. For the first time in my life I felt I was alone for the majority of my week, because being with a newborn isn’t the same as any kind of company I was used to. I loved seeing friends with Scrip but that was always only part of the day. And the wait for my husband to come home from work at the end of each day seemed eternal.

Even now, two and half years later, it’s so nice and reassuring to have these kind of honest conversations with friends. If only I’d been a bit more honest at the time, maybe things could have been easier then. I have a lovely supportive NCT group and friends made in antenatal classes (one of whom I was chatting to about it this week) plus friends who happened to have babies the same time as me, but somehow I felt that if I confided just how tough it was they wouldn’t feel the same.

It sounds like it was all doom and gloom: it wasn’t and it did get easier. But it was by far the most challenging thing I’d done and probably still is. But it was also so worth it and I couldn’t imagine my life being any different now. Days with her fly past now and they’re my favourite days of the week.

I know this time around will be very different but I also know I should be prepared: there will be lots of new challenges I know. But I’m prepared to share them all now.

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