This is really, really, really hard

Friends without babies often ask me what having a baby is really like.  Before the cub came along, I asked people that too. The response is almost always “hard work… but worth it.” Hard work? I thought. I’ve worked hard before, I’m not afraid of hard work. Everyone has babies, how hard can it be?

Over the past 9 months, I’ve learned what a huge understatement “hard work” is. I write this post while we are in the middle of dealing with a particularly nasty bug. The cub is puking randomly, and because of this I am at home looking after him (despite having only returned to work last week.) He is hot, cold, snotty and grumpy. He does not eat. He will not be distracted, played with or placated in any way. He cries, a lot. 

He is visibly exhausted, but he will not sleep at night. For the first two nights of the bug, he was awake at least every half hour, all night, 7pm-7am. And not just awake, but crying. I do not deal with listening to the cub cry very well, I find it deeply distressing. I hate not being able to help him , I hate feeling like a useless mum, I hate that he is tired and in pain. I want to fix it, and I want some quiet, and I want to go to sleep. If he is crying, I cry too. I can’t bear him being so upset.

And on a different level, the constant noise drills into my head, and I start to feel frustrated and angry, and I want to run away, far far away. All night, I listen to him cry, and I try to help him, and he goes to sleep momentarily, and wakes again, and cries again, and my brain tells me to hide, and I cry. I feel  guilty that I feel anything but compassion towards this sick, helpless little one. My self-esteem plummets, and I decide I am an awful human being.  I offer him my breast. He rejects me angrily.

All day, he cries and moans, and whimpers. My nerves are shredded to pieces and I feel like I can’t take another minute. I need to go somewhere quiet, and rest, and sleep, and dream, for more than half an hour. But there is nowhere to go, he only has me. I plan meals, which he does not eat, I try to read stories but he cries. I try to play, and he cries. I try to sit with him for a cuddle, and he cries, and struggles, and tries to get away.

I fantasise about sleep again. I fantasise about having a night away, child free, about that holiday to Vegas that we never went on, and that we probably never will now for years and years. Then I feel bad. He is just a poorly baby, and he depends on me completely. How selfish of me to choose to have a baby, then wish for all the things I took for granted before.  He needs me, so I carry on.

This is hard. This is really, really hard.


21 thoughts on “This is really, really, really hard

  1. It is hard. And, there are moments where you feel like you do. Just remember that there are moments on the other end of the spectrum, too. There will unexplained joy, elation, and happiness from the simplest gesture or sound. The first steps. The first word. The first day of school.

    Because, really, that is what makes it worth it.

    ps. My dad is quick to remind me when I am having a tough day, saying ‘This too shall pass, nothing lasts forever’. Hang in there! And hopefully when your hubby comes home he can give you time to escape for some sanity.

    • I’m very lucky to have a fabulous husband who very often saves my sanity!. Don’t get me wrong, these hard patches are worth it, but the difficult days are way more difficult than I had ever prepared for, and that’s been really trying for me. However, cub is on the mend, I am still alive, and my baby is amazing and beautiful. I am very fortunate. It’s just sometimes hard to remember that at 3am!

  2. All I can say is that I sympathise and we have all as mums felt like you do now I think.
    I remain a clueless mum ten years after having my first baby but you learn all the time and can share tricks of the trade with other mums via networks like BMB or Netmums, Mumsnet etc.
    You love your son. You also remain an individual. And that is the part that is really hard to work out. Or that is how I find it anyway.
    But you would not be without him, now would you?

    • Thank you! Of course, I wouldn’t be without him. I would literally do anything in the world for him. And you’re right, that bit about being an individual eternally tied to another is tricky sometimes. But amazing too.

  3. Aww, those times are awful aren’t they? Sometimes they get illnesses that seem to last for ages, you’re stuck at home not doing anything, not seeing anyone and it is miserable. It certainly is really, really hard! Is there a friend who doesn’t have a baby that could come over to give you some company during the day or anyone who can stay with him while he takes a nap so you can get out and have a breather? He will be better soon though and then everything will seem brighter again 🙂

  4. You aren’t alone. I just want to climb through the screen and give you a hug. Most parents have been there and you probably feel this way because you are exhausted too.

    My son is now 11 and I can guarantee the only time I really have problems is when I’m not 100%. Even as babies they sense it and especially when he is so poorly too. It does pass and knowwhentoshutup is right ‘This too shall pass, nothing lasts forever’. You will look back and think “What was all the fuss?”

    I hope he gets better soon.

    • It’s funny how we come back from days which feel utterly awful, and start to feel ok about them, until eventually, you can’t really remember why it was so bad. That must be why women give birth more than once! I know this will pass. But there is then that fine line between holding on until things get better, and wishing away the very short period of time when our babies are tiny. And, on balance, that time is just wonderful. He is much better now, thank you!

  5. It is, without doubt, the hardest thing I have ever done and sometimes I feel that when he is totally healthy.

    When they are ill, they’re is nothing worse and it feels as if it is going on forever. You sum it up perfectly, a mixture of sympathy for them, exhaustion, frustration and then guilt for feeling frustrated.

    You don’t need to fee useless though. Just being there is helping, plus you are feeding him which is giving him all he needs. He will eat again, although it takes MM ages to get back to normal food wise which is frustrating and worrying.

    Hang in there

  6. You poor thing! You have my deepest sympathies and I hope he gets better really soon! I know exactly what broken sleep is like, no wonder it is used as a form of torture! My son has reflux and as a newborn he only slept for 40 minutes at a time, day and night. The rest of the time he was screaming in pain, until they put him on the correct medication. It was awful. Is there anyone who can take over for a while so you can have a break? I hope by the time you read this he is on the mend

    • He is much better now thank you, a little snotty and tired but basically back to being a happy little chap again! My husband is great, we help each other but sometimes it’s still bloody knackering!

  7. It is hard. Believe me, I know: we have 10-month twins. When 1 is ill ,so is the other of course.

    You’ve seen the doctor, right? What did they say? ‘Cos that doesn’t sound like your average everyday bug. Our visits to our local doctor’s / hospital may well have literally saved at least 1 life. It is hard: that’s why we all need all the help we can get.

    Hope it gets better for you!

    • Yep, seeing a doctor was the first thing we did, but there weren’t any signs of anything other than a nasty cold type bug. Don’t know how people do it with twins- I can’t imagine how difficult that must be, but how wonderful too!

      • Difficult, & wonderful, yes! It was especially hard in the first few months as they both had reflux: Jake’s was silent which meant convulsions which often woke him (& us) up; Ellie’s symptom was frequent Projective Vomitting – so I can sympathise!

        They had to be held for at least 30 minutes after every feed, which was lovely of course, but left no time for much else. We’re lucky though in that both of us have been able to look after them at home up until now.

        Good to read that he’s better 🙂

  8. aaaah it is awful. I want to kill things when mine cry and I feel like a psychopath. Then the storm clears and I realize maybe I’ m not so bad after all and my kids really are just tired.
    My little man is finally sleeping after 14 months of insomnia. As he’s my third round in the metal arena of sleep deprivation I feel as though I’ve conquered Everest.
    They do sleep eventually, after they short circuited your brain and driven your eyes deep into your skull where they can never be retracted again!

    • Three times? That’s real crazy talk! I can’t imagine doing all this again, though I’m sure one day I’ll forget all about it and decide more babies are definitely a good idea!
      Now pass the spoon, I need to try and retrieve my eyeballs! x

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  11. Oh my goodness, I wish I could give you a hug and sit down with you for a cup of tea. I have felt just the same as you. It is lonely but we are not alone! Great post so wonderfully caprturing emotion of being a Mummy.

    • Aw, thank you! I can’t believe that post is only three months old, it feels like a lifetime ago- things haven’t felt that difficult for a while. I guess the thing that you learn is that everything passes eventually.

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