Things we shouldn’t say: I despise my baby

exhausted

Parenthood is such a lonely experience. Sure, there are tons of groups and blogs and communities to get involved in, but at 3am when you’re sitting with a screaming baby, you’re on your own. But that’s not even loneliest part about it; the worst part is that somehow, I’ve felt like I’m the only one who feels this way. Maybe I am, or maybe people are liars, or maybe nostalgia makes parents forget, but dealing with a newborn/preemie is absolutely awful.

Sure, there may be sweet moments, but when you’re sleep deprived and drained, there is only so much you can take. Well, only so much that I can take. And while Harley is objectively gorgeous and adorable, she seems way less so when she has been crying and screaming and robbing me and Dean of our rest and our sanity. Instead of staying quiet about it, feeling like I’m the only one, here’s what it’s really like even two weeks later with a baby who shouldn’t have even been born yet.

I am tired. It’s a kind of tired that can’t really be described until you’ve been there. I’ve gone without sleep before – I was in university and I crunched for papers or stayed up all night partying followed by early morning lectures. But this is a different kind of tired. Waking up at 3am is one thing, but to have the baby cry the moment you get back into bed is another. Staying up with her for an hour to make sure she’s fed and falling back to sleep is hard enough, but having that only last half an hour before she wakes up again is just painful. Worst of all, there is no consistency. One night, she’ll sleep for 3-4 hours at a time, letting me do the same. The next night, she’s up every 45 minutes, regardless of how long I sit with her to get her to fall back to sleep.

But it’s actually even worse in the evening. Anyone who is in a relationship knows that the time between five and ten in the evening is that mythical period where you actually get to be together. From making and eating dinner, relaxing in front of the TV, or just cuddling and chatting, there aren’t many times in the day when you get to really connect and the evening is usually the best shot. Of course, that’s when Harley often decides to be her most difficult. In fact, she has the unique ability to be fine for a while and start screaming just as we sit down to eat. In those moments, I’m inclined to take my fork and knife to her instead of the meal.

The nappies aren’t so bad. I really don’t mind cleaning up a poop-filled diaper; the problem is the screaming that comes along with it. Why oh why is it so awful to have someone take away that uncomfortable nappy, clean you up, put on cream and strap on a clean diaper? Why must she scream every time? Is it really so terrible to be cleaned up?

Worst of all, I feel like a terrible mother. Everyone talks about the glory that is a mother’s love, how beautiful it is and how profound. Instead, I tell Dean that I despise her, that I think we’ve made a horrible mistake and one that we can’t undo. People promise that it gets better, but that doesn’t really help me in the moment. Great that it gets better, but for the next bunch of weeks/months/years, we need to deal with the reality of living with a tiny being who doesn’t even seem quite human yet – she is just a bundle of screaming hunger that I like the most when she’s asleep.

So if that makes me a bad person or a bad mother, so be it. But at least I’m not keeping quiet anymore. Motherhood sucks, newborns suck and so far none of this feels worthwhile. Yes, there are days when I’ve bonded with her and found her adorable, but I can’t even remember that feeling at the moment. I’m sure depression doesn’t help, but right now I feel like I’m taking things one hour at a time – not even one day at a time. People keep saying to enjoy every moment with her, that it will be over so soon and I’ll miss these times. I can’t help but think they are lying or deluded; what could I possibly miss about this? Instead, I’m plodding my way through, hoping I get to the “better” part soon.

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  • K1FF J1MB0B (sizzle edition)

    It sounds like you are suffering from postnatal depression, which can be quite common. You should consider seeing someone about that.

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      on meds for PND, but I think part of this is just the reality of dealing with a newborn…

      • Liz

        Love you. That’s all. Love you. I started typing an essay buy no, I just love you and I can relate in more ways than you know.

        • Her Highness the Hipster

          <3 love you lady, and see you soon for coffee and venting!

  • Zoe, I’m not even going to tell you that it gets better, because when people said that to me I wanted to punch them in their fat, stupid faces. I 100% get what you’re going through. I HATED newborn stage. We had a problem baby first time around as well; he was HECTIC. He was in ICU for the first 10 days of his life and we nearly lost him on a number of occasions. When we finally took him home we thought the worst was behind us, but it wasn’t in terms of our sanity. I remember a period of about two weeks where my wife and I must have MAYBE slept about 20 hours? In two weeks. We fought, we hated being parents, we longed for this baby to just sleep for longer than an hour at a time. He’d sleep for an hour and then scream for six. Rinse-repeat for about 4 months.

    Newborns are the worst. There is very little positive to outweigh the MOUNTAINS of work/effort/tears. Some people get lucky and have easy babies. Some don’t. Clearly we are some of the unlucky ones.

    But then it suddenly just settles. And you look back and realise that this HORRIFIC, SHITTY moment in your life/marriage/parenthood was just that: a moment. I look at our son now, who is 3 years old, and I’d go through it all over again for longer if I needed to for him.

    Second son is proving easier, but we’re still damn exhausted. I’ve heard it gets better. 😉

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      YES! thank you so much for saying it like it is. this is just AWFUL, and I’m ready for it to be over so that I can look back on it with some perspective. For now, it would have to get WAY better for me to see it as worthwhile 😛

      • You can punch me in my fat, stupid face next time I see you, but I promise you, it gets WAY better. <3

    • My wife and I were talking about a second one last night. We realised we are nowhere near ready for all that again. Even though we know we’d be better prepared.

      • It’s easier, but I still believe that NOBODY ON EARTH can ever be totally “ready” for new offspring.

        • 100% agree. Especially not men. It’s terrible for us because there’s no maternal instinct thing for men. We are on the back foot all the way lol.

          While my wife was fairly good at figuring out what may possibly be wrong I was always just like “What’s happening. WHy is this happening. I don’t know what’s going on”

  • Sharon Van Wyk

    Listen, the new born phase is shit! When Ava was a new born, I sore I’d never have another child. It sucked. I I have never been so bone weary in all my life. Everything made me cry from utter desolation. The thing is though, before your baby arrives you can’t comprehend just how shit it’s going to be so you don’t really take on board just how shit it is when others tell you, it’s only when you’re in the thick of it that you realize it sucks beyond comprehension. Ava is adopted, she had colic, every night from 11pm till 3am. She screamed bloody murder constantly, every night between those hours for 8 weeks. I was almost out of my mind. And I remember one night, my husband was up with me. It was around 1am and I knew we had a good couple of hours still to go, I was lying on the bed crying from exhaustion and my husband was holding Ava, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and told me that I believed he was just not cut out to be a father and that perhaps we should phone our social worker and ask if we could give her back! And I think almost every new parent experiences a moment like that during those first weeks. You’ll get through it, by hook or by crook, you will survive this. xx

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      Yes! I keep feeling like I’m not cut out for this, that there must be some way to undo it. Just wish this phase would finish and I could move on to having different problems – convinced it will be easier if I’m able to sleep and she’s able to engage with me more…

  • laurakim123

    What Sharon said! I can not tell you how negatively I felt towards my oldest when he was a newborn. He would just scream and scream. I even went back to work early just to get away from him. I hated it with all 4 of my children. My mom in law was very involved and I honestly didn’t mind because it meant I had to deal with them less. I had 4 non-sleepers, the girls being the worst. With Emma it nearly broke me and my marriage. It is not going to get easier, it is going to get different. And as you get “older” as a parent and see that they are doing ok you learn to be more forgiving of yourself.

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      so, so glad I’m not the only one who feels this way – I’m actually jealous of my husband going back to work this week because he’ll get to spend some time away from her. And I’m ready for it to be different, even if that doesn’t necessarily mean easier.

  • The newborn phase is the worst, no ifs or buts about it. Soon it’ll be over. Beeeeeg hugs.

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      *big hugs* Thanks for the consistent support and hand holding! <3

  • I think everyone has said what I wanted to say – we have all been there, we have all felt like this. I am glad that you are on the meds but honestly your are probably just very very tired. All that I can add is that this too shall pass. It will be easier. And lots of love

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      thanks so much! it is reassuring to know i’m not the only one who feels this way. I wish expectations for what to expect were more honest, and that people would admit that there isn’t much to enjoy at this age. *hugs* thanks for the support, really makes a difference to know how “normal” this is.

  • Yyyyyep.

    I remember one stretch where we went 4 solid days with zero sleep. Not joking. Not over exaggerating. 4 days. I hated all of it by that point.

    I think my wife and I probably fought more during the first 3 months than I’d ever fought in my entire life with others. Added together.

    Our marriage felt like it was falling to pieces. It’s the single most difficult thing to go through. But the strength you gain from it is something one can’t explain. You’ll feel it in about 6 months where you suddenly realise you are capable of more than you ever were before.

    But yeah, it’s rough. Just know you’re not alone in it. As tough as it is and as hard as you guys will fight in the coming weeks, you and your husband are there for each other. Hang in there Zoe. I promise you that you’ll feel its worth it again. You won’t always have these dark thoughts. Even though imagining a happy thought seems impossible right now.

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      thanks so much! so glad to know i’m not the only one who feels this way. wish all those people who say “enjoy this time” would at least be honest that it’s not an enjoyable time at all!

      • as I was saying to you earlier.

        Those people either had
        a) a miracle baby who slept through from the get go
        b) are mentally broken from the ordeal.

  • Naxie

    you are so brutally and beautifully honest zoe – and clearly, your words resonate for so many people – those who comment here AND those who will read your post, nod in agreement and will be too worn out to even write a response!! i don’t know when it gets easier and agree with the others who have said that hearing those words don’t provide any immediate reassurance. sleep deprivation is the worst – no, i take that back – sleep deprivation while having to then take care of your baby for an entire day on zippo hours of sleep is the worst. hope she sleeps more today, tonight, and tomorrow. you are loved, sweet zoe – big time loved.

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      thanks so much and for sure, sleep deprivation combined with responsibility is awful! *hugs* love you, too, lil ma

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  • Alex Hicks

    I know I’m late to join this – and I’m sure your feelings have moved on slightly – but I have to add in my story … what else are blogs for except oversharing (and that goes for comments to!)

    So we had two in one go. Both prem. It’s common to deliver twins prem – the human body isn’t really designed to have more than one at a time – but we didn’t even make the prem date. My wife did extremely well – we made it to 35 weeks; and, with a week to go to our planned date, everything was going well. Then one of the twins kicked open his waters and we rushed to Sandton Clinic to get them delivered by emergency c.

    As it turns out – the twin who decided enough was enough was in distress and suffered a stroke in utero – but we didn’t know that; and only discovered it when he was 9 month’s old.

    But – I well remember what you’re describing. Because there were two of them (and, unlike stories of women in nunneries, they do not synchronise their bodily functions in the slightest) on almost every call both my wife and I were called into action – no tag teaming or anything like that. It is in those moments – you’re holding a tiny screaming human-like being – bouncing it ever more forcefully, having tried every single thing your rapidly shutting down mind can think of (food, nappy, wind, dummy, shushing, crooning, etc), having visions of those lying pictures with smiling people in white linen clothing and diffused lighting, when you can almost understand stories about people doing terrible harm to a “helpless baby” that horrified you when you read them in newspapers you used to get in a prior life that included sleep and fun.

    In our case – I still don’t get to sleep through the night every night. Thomas still wakes me in the middle of the night, at least 4 days a week, for 7 years now. I don’t have to pick him up from a cot, hold a bottle in his mouth, or rub his back anymore – but the disruption is still there.

    I’m not sure that the phrase “it gets better” is entirely correct – your problems mutate as the child grows; and you get better at it with practice (as with many things). Looking back, those first 1.5 years are a bit of a blur. That’s where that sage piece of advice to “treasure this time” comes from – and it’s rubbish. Very few lucky people get to treasure anything – the rest of us just survive it.

    • Her Highness the Hipster

      Thanks so much for sharing your story! I think it’s true, people say to savor these moments because they can’t remember them thanks to a combination of sleep deprivation and self preservation. There are definitely good days and bad days, but it’s definitely harder with a preemie. Geez, and I hope one day you get a solid night’s sleep on a regular basis…

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