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Open Thread: New parents, how’s it going?

I didn’t get this posted in time for National Poetry Month, but my friend Rachel wrote a poem every week during the first year of her son’s life and now there is a book.

And my friend & colleague Megan’s amazing essay “Channel B” will be featured in a volume of Best American Essays. Go read it, it is about being a new mom during a Chicago winter and becoming obsessed with the neighbor’s baby and is so, so good.

Let’s make this a thread by new parents, for new parents. What’s awkward? What’s awesome? I know Commander Logic can’t be the only one of you out there.

NO:

  • Gross poop pictures
  • Judging other people’s parenting choices or getting into arguments with other posters about parenting styles/methods/philosophies.
  • Pressure to describe every moment as #$%&ing magical. If something is terrible? You can tell us that it’s terrible. We will get that you still love your child and are doing your best to be a good parent.
  • If you’re not a parent, this isn’t your thread. That’s cool. It’s not really my thread either. Other threads will be your thread.

YES:

  • Photos of your cute babies
  • Gross poop stories
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214 comments
  1. I mean, I love the kid (age 6 months), and when he’s happy he just lights up like a Christmas tree, but the crying, people, THE CRYING. And I don’t even have it bad. He’s just cranky lately because he had shots yesterday. I hate it when my husband isn’t around for tag-teaming. And he feels the same way when I’m at work. And then I wonder how people have more than one kid . . . !!! O_O

    • ona555 said:

      Heh. I have four. You adjust.

      And by adjust, I mean that sometimes you forget you’re a person and sometimes it seems like other people do too, but then there’s the magic of watching them change and chaos becomes normal except when it isn’t and oh please don’t let them all come down with this puking flu at once but then sometimes they let you sleep in just because I love you Mommy and it’s okay. Until it isn’t, and then it is again. 🙂

      I am not a new parent, been doing this for some nigh on 22 years now, but sometimes it doesn’t get any easier than during the days when Spouse and I made a pact that nothing said between the hours of midnight and six AM could be held against each other later, and sometimes, it’s so much easier. Just different.

      /ducks back out so new parents can have their thread

      • We made the same “Night time me is not daytime me so please don’t hold it against me” pact. Our kid is 6 months old and still waking up every one and a half/two hours like a newborn so we’re cranky a LOT. It’s probably saved our marriage (we do apologize to each other almost every morning. I don’t know who inhibits my body at 3AM but it sure as heck ain’t me!)

        • ona555 said:

          I think it saved my relationship, too. Of course if either one of us had gone too far over the top into yikes territory then the pact would have been off, and in fact more a couple times we did end up talking stuff through later, but the spirit of the pact stayed true. Don’t know how else we’d have survived three babies in four years. I certainly don’t get spontaneous urges to tell my spouse what a fucking selfish asshole he is at two o’clock in the afternoon on a random Tuesday, you know? But 4 AM with no sleep and a crying baby and him being all sweetly helpful and better rested than I? Bring it.

          Somehow having both of us know that that was the desperate night monster talking and not anyone’s actual reality made it okay. I don’t know how, just did.

    • Ace said:

      OMG, yes, the crying. We live in a mid-terrace house (sharing walls with neighbors on both sides) and all I can think of is how much they must hate us.

      • Sara (JC) said:

        Eh, to be honest unless you’re an arsehole about it, you pretty much just roll over and go back to sleep. I’m not a parent but I’m told by my parent friends that the sound of your baby crying is electrifying; the sound of other people’s babies…not so much (and therefore can be pretty easily ignored).

        • hrovitnir said:

          I dunno. I wouldn’t hate new parents for something they can’t help, but I tend to be electrified (this is an accurate descriptor!) by any animal/child help sound that’s close enough for me to hear clearly, and be unable to sleep until it’s resolved.

          Luckily I have never lived somewhere that close to anyone!

        • Ace said:

          Either she hasn’t woken anyone up, or my neighbors are kind enough to lie to me because they say she isn’t a problem. We’re moving soon so maybe everyone’s cool with that idea in the back of their heads.

        • atma said:

          OMG, I’ve had actual real neighbours bang on the wall and yell “We’re trying to sleep here!” when I had sick, crying babies at night.

          They had the same reaction a while later when that small country had an unexpected international football-win, and the neighbourhood exploded in loud, so I drew the conclusion that they were rather mad.

          • nerdette said:

            you should bang on the wall back and yell “us too!”

  2. pmscapades said:

    My kid is 4 years old now, so I guess I’m not really a new parent anymore, but I still FEEL new.

    Anyway, I feel like this is an important data point to get out there, because I felt really lost and alone and ashamed when my baby was new:
    I hated being the mother of a baby. HATED. IT. It was hard and exhausting and people kept telling me, “Oh, it’s so worth it!” and I was just not seeing it. I thought I was a terrible parent and that I had made a huge mistake and ruined the rest of my life and my kid’s life too.

    Then she started sleeping through the night (When she was 3! I want to cry just thinking about those 3 long years of sleep deprivation! When nothing worked to make her sleep and everyone thought it was my fault!), started talking like a person, and motherhood started to be a thing that I felt competent at. And the older she gets, the better I feel about it. Part of it is that I had an exceptionally difficult kid, but the other part is that I’m not a baby person. Different people are good at different things, and I am not cut out to be at home with a baby. But I got through it, and now it’s awesome. She’s awesome, I’m awesome, everything is awesome.

    Some of this parenthood shit is way harder than anyone tells you. But you can do it. And it does get better. They change fast, and you will get better and better at parenting as you get to know your kid. Also: you know your kid better than anyone else, so if someone gives you shit advice, you are well within your rights to tell them to shove it.

    • redgirl said:

      This times a THOUSAND! I loved my son since day one, but let me tell you, I was ready to get back to work as soon as possible after he was born. The constant crying (he was colicky), the sleep deprivation, the constant attachment to my body–it was too much. I felt like a failure. Every woman I know gets weak-kneed around babies and just HAS to hold them, and I just…don’t. I’m not a baby person. But then when he was about three–same as for you–he started becoming this interesting little person. I loved the elementary school years and wish I could have held onto them forever. Now my son is about to enter high school and while I’m a bit nostalgic for him being a little kid, I still truly enjoy his company. Sorry…I know this is a thread for new parents and I’m not new, but I wanted all the new moms and dads out there to know that if they aren’t loving the baby thing, they shouldn’t feel guilty and it goes by really fast!

    • I so needed to hear this, thank you! My girl is 1.5 now, and I love her to bits, but OMG, it’s just impossible. She’s got the sort of temperament that her pediatrician calls “high needs/sprited” and has been firing on all cylinders – colick, sleep problems, needing to be held/carried constantly (even still, and she’s over 26 pounds!) – since she was born, and she’s very attached to me (much less so her father) so I take the brunt of it all, and I’m just fried. The sleep deprivation is especially brutal. I’m doing a mix of working outside of the home (w/part-time daycare) and working at home (I’m a grad student – teaching and working on my dissertation), and most days, as much as I love her, I feel like between her and my students, every last bit of ME is being sucked out of me and I don’t even remember who I am anymore. I do have some pretty rocking muscles, though, from carrying around a girl who weighs 1/4 of what I do and is over half my height (I’m a wee thing who somehow created a giant baby!).

      I was telling my husband yesterday how much I am looking forward to a time when my relationship with my daughter is more than just physical. I love kids – but I love kids who can talk to me, who I can have a connection to that isn’t nursing or non-stop piggyback rides. I desperately want to be able to talk to her. The mind-reading games are driving me batty – I hate having to guess what she wants, and being rewarded with screaming, hitting, and kicking when I get it wrong – I’m pretty well attuned to her at this point, so I’m right more often than most people would be, but still.

      I’m just not really into babies. I’m surviving this, but I need it to get better.

      • Kenzie said:

        When my kid was around 3 months old I apparently told my friend that I knew I would enjoy this more when I had a kid that I could actually have a conversation with. I do not actually remember this conversation.

        Then, when he was around 3 years old I said, “Wow, I’m enjoying this parenting thing so much more now that we can have an actual conversation.” “Well, that’s what you said would happen.” She replied matter-of-factly.

        You’ll get there. It will be better, just like you think it will be.

      • eiram said:

        “I feel like between her and my students, every last bit of ME is being sucked out of me and I don’t even remember who I am anymore.”

        OMG, yes, this. I work full-time, and we have two cats at home that were mine from before we met; it feels as though every time I sit down, I have a baby, a cat or a husband on me. And I’m running full-tilt from 5:30-7:30/8 every day; some days I just want everyone to go away.

      • pmscapades said:

        Mine is “high needs/spirited” too, and I wound up breastfeeding her for 2.5 years, not out of a devotion to extended breastfeeding, but because she WOULD NOT EAT. There was nothing wrong with her at all, she just wasn’t interested in eating food while I had these handy milk jugs right there all the time. She started sliding down the growth charts because she wasn’t getting enough calories, and her pediatrician wanted to diagnose her with Failure to Thrive, and I kept saying, “Just wait. She will do it in her own time, like she does with everything else.” And she did, finally. But the waiting, oh, it damn near killed me!

        It will get better. And the things that make your kid frustrating to deal with now will be the things that make her assertive and confident and outgoing when she’s older. I won’t tell you that you’ll miss these times when they’re gone, because as a fellow parent of a high needs/spirited kid, I know that I’ve gotten happier with every passing year and I don’t miss the baby stages one bit!

        • zigeunerweisen said:

          Oh, yeah, we’re still very much breastfeeding these days, though we’ve been trying to cut her back a bit, because she barely eats any solid food and I just couldn’t keep up. Actually, the problem was that I *could* keep up. I’m fortunate to have a high supply, and the sort of body that prioritizes making milk over basically everything else – I was pretty much wasting away but still producing (as I learned when I had to pump over a 24 hour period for a job interview back in January) somewhere around 55oz of milk a day (so we had no worries on the “toddlers need 1000 calories” front – 55oz of milk is plenty for that). We’re down to 4-5 nursings a day, which is a lot easier on my body than the ~12-15 nursings a day we were doing. I do love nursing her, but that newborn-style constant nursing business wears me the heck out.

          I’ve had people tell me that I’ll miss these times, and I’m like OH HELL NO I WON’T. I mean, goodness gracious, I had an awful birth (4th degree tearing, funtimes), PTSD/PPD, and she’s just such an intense, active, clingy kiddo. She can be intensely awesome and fun, too, of course; there have been good times, but I will be very happy to put these early years behind me.

    • Guava said:

      Ha ha ha ha ha, one time my mom asked me: “So…what do you think of motherhood?” I knew she was asking about MY experience, not about what I felt about my kid. My response was: “It FUCKING SUCKS.”

      For me, the 2 year mark was when things started to get much, much better.

      • Erin McJ said:

        Man, I hate this question! It is one of those questions like “How are you?” where I feel like there is only one socially acceptable answer. I do kind of poorly at those, personally, and I wish people would stop asking them.

      • vintagelydia said:

        My mom is about as motherly as I am (that is to say, not much at all. We love our own kids, but that’s about it.) I am glad I can be honest with her about all the bad stuff about motherhood. My MIL would have a heart attack if I were close to honest about it. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for every parent.

      • I had that with my Dad the other week (we are only just under 6 weeks in to this):
        Dad: Isnt being a parent wonderful?
        Me: Nooo (wailing and in tears)
        Cue big hug, and a promise of “it will get better”
        Some days I believe him. Other days I feel like I am going to be eternally stuck in the sixth circle of hell.

    • When my first child was born I lived in a neighborhood surrounded by little old ladies, all of them baby-mad. They’d stop me out walking and cluck and coo and say “isn’t this just the BEST PART???” and I’d go home and cry because if this was the best part I was SO FUCKED. But it got easier, enough easier and funnier that we had a second, and I am so grateful because having them counts as a couple of the best things I have ever done.

      • kereru said:

        Bahaha totally, dancingcrow. I hope you had someone else you could cry (and laugh) with sometimes, too. If only we could enjoy those early days without the fog of desperation and deprivation. Mother nature really knows how to suck us in with those cute little babies!

    • AmyB said:

      Everything of this. And, it gets EVEN BETTER. I have a 12 year old who is the SUPER COOLEST person I know. And that’s the ONLY thing that kept me sane when her brother happened. Totally different, much harder (like, they can CLIMB?), but I know that eventually, I’ll have another cool, talking, fun person to be around (until he actually turns 12 and the hormone moster comes out… or is that just girls?

  3. Kathleen said:

    When I was a new parent I was really grateful that I had a couple of old good friends whose first children were about two years older than mine. I learned so much from watching them, both of them initially took really strong positions about their parenting practices. one was very into attachment parenting and one was very into the whole babywise scheduling thing. Over time, they both had to back down from their extreme positions, the babywise mom got a co sleeper and the AP mom stopped co sleeping after she was almost hospitalised for exhaustion. I’m editing big time here, my point is just that you’ve got to find your own way, and watching your friends deal with their kids can actually be really helpful. It will be interseting to see how they deal with junior high…
    It gets better, you will not be exhausted all the time and your baby will be able to tell you why he’s upset. It gets better, I promise.

  4. Daniel said:

    Dad of a 2,5 year old here. We both took 7 months off work (consecutively) and then both started working again at about 75%, with the support of daycare and family.

    The thing that was hardest for my wife and me was that you basically have to drop everything for months on end. Crying and poop and all that for us was something that could be adjusted to, but having your mind mostly idle all day while the things that used to fill your life (work, hobbies, friends) just don’t get done anymore is soul-crushing.

    Also, if you’re a person who likes to relax in an environment of your own making, you are in for a rough ride. Wasn’t toooo much of a problem for me personally, but I nonetheless noticed really quickly, that control over ones own timetable, surroundings and state of mind goes pretty much out the window.

    • Jaye said:

      THIS. And your wife is very fortunate to have someone who understands and empathizes with this feeling, as it is all too often very one-sided. Sounds like you guys are setting an amazing example for your child about equal and respectful relationships 🙂

    • Pamela said:

      This is so true. I was off work for most of my pregnancy(had to quit do to extreme morning sickness, then couldn’t really find anything to suit) but that was in many was much easier than the past 6 months(just found a job.) Because when pregnant you can, read, cook, watch tv, whatever. When dealing with a newborn you can…. deal with a newborn. Maybe watch tv, but you have to be super focused on them, but without anything to really occupy your mind.

  5. Ace said:

    Right now my 3 month old is sitting happily in her bouncy chair alternately babbling at me (I babble back) and doing her very best to stick both her fists down her throat at the same time. I love that anything near her mouth goes in it instantly. She can’t crawl or anything so it’s still easy to control what that is, but it does mean she’s mommy’s favorite zombie when she noms on my hand. She should take a nap soon so I can shower, but we’re not on a strict schedule so there’s no guarantees. We’re not on a schedule because I’m a lazy fuck and I can’t be bothered to stick to one. Schedules are coming, I know, but right now we’re in a Eat-Play-Sleep pattern and it works.

    The crying will start again soon though because she’s late for her poo. Which means she’s not sleeping quite as well as she could. She usually has a poo twice a week (I checked, doc says it’s totally normal for mostly breastfed baby) but man does she get cranky when it comes around time for that poo to show up. And when she does go, I get her on the changing table right away because it’s a huge poo and a mess, but you have to wait for her to finish and it helps if you pump her legs a bit, so there’s my husband at 3am making our daughter look like a playdoh factory pumping her legs and watching the poo ooze out.

    And breastfeeding. I’m so lucky because I had a ton of support to start and a baby that seemed to get with the program so we’re doing a mostly breastfeeding thing, but I’d really like to have my boobs back sometime. I mean, I like feeding her and that’s awesome and magic and all, but while I’m feeding her it’s a great position for her to fart, so she farts at me the whole time and oh God, the UNHOLY STINK that is baby farts. And also, I’d like to stop being leaky and get to take my bra off sometimes besides when I shower.

    But she smiles when she sees me and she’s way more interesting at 3 months than she was when she was first born when she mostly sat there and blinked at us when awake. And all the old ladies in the supermarket think she’s cute which is good, and apparently I could always get my eyeliner and draw eyebrows on her to make her really funny. And she’s cuddly which is nice, plus, I know her well enough now that I can look like a baby wizard by saying she needs x now and that totally works to make her happy. Also, awesome husband that doesn’t think babies are just for women to take care of, which means I still have most of my sanity.

    Aaaaand in the time it took me to type this she’s asleep. Shower time.

    • nerdette said:

      this is pretty much my stream of consciousness. give your boobs another month or two, and the leaking will slow down. i don’t have to wear nursing pads at night anymore, as long as the normal first feeding/pumping of the day happens on time. i could even sleep tank-top-less, which would be ah-mazing. mine’s about 5 1/2 months.

      • Eh, I’m at 6 months, and I still leak. Totally a personal thing. I think it’s partly because Baby sleeps through the night, so I go about eight hours without any breastfeeding/pumping. But it’s not just that, ’cause I leak at work sometimes. I just bought some of those cloth pads and always wear them with a sports-style nursing bra. (I can’t go braless; these puppies are hugantic.) The one time I leaked on my shirt at work, I panicked and just splashed a whole bunch of water on my shirt. Smooth, right?

        • Ace said:

          I’m gonna go with nerdette but only because I like the idea that I’ll be able to sleep on my side again one day.

        • I used to leak right through pads and be very frustrated by this with my first child. With the current one (now 10 months old), I found a top that essentially hides milk stains: lace pattern over a beige background. I have 7 of them in different colours for work/formal events. (I work 3 days a week at present.)

          Yes, if I leak there is a small damp patch, but once it dries NOTHING CAN BE SEEN. Amazing what this does for my self-esteem. I also bought a jacket for two political conferences (baby was in creche for them) entirely so that if I had a leak I could cover it up.

          I usually sleep in one of my older nursing bras. If I don’t, I leak all over whatever top I’m wearing when it’s o-dark-oclock feed time.

        • Emmych said:

          …okay your leaking at work story made me snort really loudly in the toilets. I’m so glad the other lady left. OTL

        • zigeunerweisen said:

          Yeah, I’m 18 months out and still leak sometimes, but I also started leaking at 20 weeks pregnant (which was pretty surprising and bonkers!) so I guess I’m just a leaky person. Anyway, I was *crazy leaky* at first and basically nothing worked (I just changed clothes a lot and cried about how I’d never be able to leave the house w/o wrapping my chest in a beach towel), but now that things have settled down, I really really love my wool nursing pads. They’re made by Lanacare and they are fantastic – the lanolin makes the milk not stinky and they’re nice and soft and warm and they cover your whole boob so you don’t look funny.

          • Emmers said:

            I started leaking at 20 weeks too! I was like “What the shit is this shit???” Hopefully it correlates with good supply? Guess I’ll see.

          • Emmers said:

            Wooo! *crosses fingers for cargo-cult milk supply*

  6. vix said:

    Before I had my kids (ages 6 and 4), I got the following information, which I pass on to you:

    A friend told me that the first six weeks are the hardest. The first six weeks are a nightmare of sleep deprivation, confusion and chaos. By the end of six weeks, you’re ready to throw the baby off a balcony, then baby smiles at you and you realize it was all worth it. All through my first six weeks as a mom, I clung to that magic date and, lo and behold, baby started smiling and things got a tiny bit easier.

    Another friend told me, while I was pregnant, that the first twelve weeks are the hardest. I thought, wait, what happened to six weeks? But this friend turned out to be right, too. The first six weeks were insanely hard, and the next six were also extremely hard… and then we started to really get in a groove. We were going out more, I made friends with kids the same age (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), I started to ignore the “helpful advice” of relatives and strangers in the supermarket, the baby was more interesting and things got even easier.

    And finally, my aunt told me, when I had a newborn, that the first six months are the hardest. I wanted to kill her. How the fuck was I supposed to get through six months? I could barely focus on making it to the end of the day. But she, too, was right. After six months, your baby can do shit. Like maybe sit up. And roll over, and hold things. You start to feel like you know what the hell you are doing and you start to relax.

    Hang in there, new parents. It does get easier! Sometime it takes weeks or months or years. And then it gets hard again for different reasons, but at least you are sleeping through the night.

    • Erin McJ said:

      Parent of an eight-month-old here. I love this comment. So true. 🙂

    • AmyB said:

      Haha, we’re at the terrible two’s. I can’t wait til he’s, like, 9.

      My MIL said it’s the first 25 years that are the hardest, then you try and marry them off!

      • I love this 🙂
        I hope its not true, but thanks for the laugh!

    • Meghan said:

      We’ve got 2 kids — almost 3, and 8 weeks. My husband and I look at each other DAILY and say, “Just 22 more months. We just have to make it 22 more months.” Things DO get easier in increments — 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years — but man. Those few weeks can be an eternity.

  7. My daughter is 14 months old. She’s smart and sweet and cute and fun, but I agree with Daniel above that it can be soul crushing watching her day after day. I left my job to stay home with her, and then my husband took an amazing job offer halfway across the country (near our families) so I had to move away from my extremely close and supportive group of friends and my awesome city that always has lots going on. Even though I take her to all kinds of baby activities (play groups, swimming, Kindermusik, library story time) and joined a book club through Meetup, we’ve been here for almost a year and I haven’t made a single friend yet. It’s just really lonely. My whole social life is basically my husband, his brother, and my parents.

    I get out of the house almost every day to go to the baby activities or else I’d lose my mind, but I don’t think I have much in common with the women there, except that we all have kids around the same age. They’re nice, but we just make small talk about our kids and then go home when the activity is over. My book club meets once a month and has smart and interesting discussions, but then we all pack up our stuff and leave. Which is fine, but if those aren’t the places to meet people who want to make friends, then I’m not sure what else to do to find people I might click with. I met my last group of friends through school, work, and hobbies, but I don’t have any of those things anymore.

    • JenniferP said:

      That sounds really, really lonely. But I think you rock for making sure you get out of the house every day, and for joining a Book Club, and for going on Meetup, and for recognizing that your needs for this human connection are real and important. Because they are.

      • Thanks, Jennifer. This week has been a lot better because writing my comment above really got me thinking: if someone were to ask me what the three most stressful things in my life are, I’d say that I’m bored, I’m lonely, and I’m starting to feel a little anxious about the 10-month-and-growing gap in my resume. Having a job would solve all three of those problems so I’m going to start looking around for something part time and interesting in my field. I really appreciate your taking the time to respond, and giving me and all the other parents on this thread a chance to get our thoughts down in words, connect with others going through the same thing, and maybe get some new ideas/perspective on how to tackle what’s going on.

        You also mentioned that we could post cute kid stories, so here’s one of mine:

        A few weeks ago my daughter started freaking out, really crying hard. She wasn’t wet or hungry and had already had Tylenol so her teeth weren’t hurting. So, thinking she was tired, I put her to bed. She stopped crying right away so I thought she fell asleep, but then I heard her talking to herself inside so I peeked in to check on her.

        And she’s sitting there in her crib with her stuffed monkey, slowly paging through a copy of Babar that she’d reached out of her crib and pulled off her shelf. The little stinker wasn’t sleepy at all, she just wanted to trick me into putting her to bed so she could sit in there with Mr. Monkey and look at her picture books. She was reading out loud to him, turning each page and babbling in baby talk as though she was really reading the words. It was hilarious. It only took her thirteen months to realize she likes lounging in bed and reading as much as I do.

    • AmyB said:

      I struggled with that until one day I decided to drop the playgroup I was going to. That day a new lady turned up, she was really nice. I stalked her after, asked her for her number and now she’s my best mum-friend!

      Can you take a night out to do grown up hobby stuff while hubs/uncle/nana and pop watch her?

      • Thank you so much for encouraging me to keep going! Just a few days after you wrote your reply one of the other women who takes her daughter to Kindermusik struck up a conversation with me after class and asked if I’d like to go to the museum with her next week. It’s the first friend date I’ve had all year!

  8. Thank you, Captain Awkward, for mentioning Waiting to Unfold! And oh, holy wow, y’all, the things I’m reading in the comments are already resonating with me.

    The first six months were indeed the hardest. And our guy had colic, poor woob, which was not his fault but made things harder. And I had PPD, which was nobody’s fault but also made things harder. And when people would say, “colic usually goes away after 3 months,” I would think: three months? Are you &^%&^ kidding me? How am I going to get through TODAY?

    But somehow our guy is 3.5 now and awesome and hilarious, and I’ve become one of those people who loves to hold other people’s babies. (Maybe because I get to cuddle them and then give them back. 🙂

  9. KT said:

    I’m not a parent but I do want to share my favorite proud new-parent story. Three weeks after my nephew was born, my PhD Chemist brother called me to tell me, his voice redolent with pride, that according to the pediatrician, my nephew was a very advanced pooper. “He said they are the healthiest poops he’s ever seen!” I was so proud.

    And I do have one cute kid story with that same nephew, who is four now . Last summer, we were all at my parents house, and I was with him and his little sister in the family room, playing with the old fisher price stuff from my youth. Suddenly he stopped playing and said, “Aunt Kt, I love you.” I smiled (this was the first time any of my nieces or nephews said this), and said, “Thanks, Ben. I love you too!” He then said, “Cool. We’ll go see a movie sometime.”

    Heart melt.

  10. eiram said:

    I was never a baby person — in fact, the older I got, the more I worried I would never be a baby person. When I was pregnant, I finally started feeling okay telling people I don’t like kids. And sometimes, I still don’t, but I’m better now.

    My little one is just over 18 months, and I think the world of her. Those first few weeks were hard; I was a c-section delivery and she lost a full pound in the hospital, and I was always worried about not having enough milk for her and so on and so forth. I’m a natural worrier, and having a baby and a body full of crazy hormones made it that much worse.

    But then the first six weeks passed, and it got better. I’d made a deal with myself that when it came to breastfeeding, I wasn’t going to worry about having every latch perfect, but I was going to try. And by six weeks, I’d lie her on the pillow and her little mouth would open and she’d just be ready and it was adorable and hilarious and much easier.

    I still sometimes resented having to drop everything to breastfeed for 30-45 minutes, and the evenings — oh god, the evenings where all she seemed to do was eat and cry and my husband was grumpy because he couldn’t comfort her, only the boobs could do that… those were hard. But they did get better.

    And we were lucky, she was a good sleeper and a happy baby. Her third word was happy. She loves attention, and she’s so good-natured, and she loves books and being read to and she hugs her toys and says “awww” when she does it, and when I look at her gorgeous blue eyes just looking at something, it makes my heart melt.

    And if it wasn’t for the money and time, I’d be pregnant again already, I think. But we’re both having a blast just experiencing her and all that comes with her. So that helps me slow myself down.

    My only advice for new parents (aside from vaseline the heck out of their bums during the meconium poop stages) — don’t feel as though you have to follow only one philosophy. Read everything you want, gather all the facts and opinions and advice you want, and then pick and choose what works for you. Babies change their schedules and their rules all the time, and like Ace above, I didn’t force her into a strict schedule, and I knew that what worked this week for bedtime/mealtimes wasn’t necessarily going to be the same next week.

    And try to get out, no matter how hard it is. I didn’t do that enough, but every time I got out of the house, I felt better. My mom was a great support, and going to movies with the baby or baby groups was great, even though we never really made any ‘baby friends’ at the time. I also was able to drop in on my husband at work, and his coworkers gave us lots of attention and that helped.

  11. InTheWings said:

    I chime in more on my own business when I’m not at work, but first and foremost, I have to recommend the excellent podcast One Bad Mother, which is very real, very hilarious, and completely anti perpetuating the myth that every moment of motherhood is magical: http://maximumfun.org/shows/one-bad-mother. I listened to the first episode and got so hooked that I shotgunned seven more over the course of one day.

    • InTheWings said:

      The Bug is five and a half months old. I love her to bits, especially now that she is becoming a tiny person brimming with personality, and she is finally embracing the notion of routine, but holy crap am I tired. All the time. I had to go back to work full time and send her to daycare (for 10 1/2 hours a day, thanks to my commute to and from NYC) when she was just 7 weeks old, since that was all the time I could scrape together between my 12 luxurious days of paid maternity leave and all of my vacation and personal days for the year. I work for a small non-profit, and I get that it’s hard to work out the business aspects of stuff like this, but I really can’t believe how broken the support system is for new parents in the U.S. If she hadn’t started sleeping through the night at six weeks, I have no idea how I would have handled being back at work. I hate that I barely get to see her during the week. I both love and hate seeing her face light up when she sees her main caregiver at daycare in the morning. I’m happy and relieved that she is so content, but I feel like I am missing a lot.

      On the other hand, I was very much ready to get back to the “real world.” Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, I was basically stranded in suburban New Jersey for a month before she was even born (I spent the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy sleeping on the couch in front of the gas fireplace in my heatless and powerless house). It felt like I was a world away from all of my close friends in New York, and then once the kiddo was born I really felt stranded in our little town, especially since she was born in late November and I couldn’t even take her outside for walks.

      I’m also totally over pumping and exhausted by trying to keep up with what she needs to eat at daycare. It cuts huge chunks out of my work day, and I also have to pump in the evenings before bed (another round of pump part cleaning to round out my day) and play catch-up on the weekends only to just barely have enough milk. I have never been able to get far enough ahead to build up a spare stash, and since we were giving her only breast milk, that basically meant I could never be away from her other than when I was at work. I finally came to terms in the last couple of weeks with the idea that my sanity is worth her having the occasional bottle of formula, and I feel SO much better knowing that if I need to, you know, get a haircut, or have an evening out with my lady knitting friends, I don’t have to worry that she is sitting at home screaming for the boob.

      Slowly but surely, we are trimming away things that don’t matter but also making sure we have time for the stuff that is important. Hubs and I commute into the city together every morning and take the time to listen to a podcast together or have a good grown-up conversation. I am learning to simplify my formerly fussy cooking but keeping up with my knitting (so much gratification in making tiny clothes!) and starting a killer vegetable garden. We also just took a serious look at our budget to make room to have the house professionally cleaned, and it is making a HUGE difference in our sense of well-being. The in-laws are coming into town for Mother’s Day weekend, and Hubs and I are going INTO NEW YORK FOR A REAL DATE. It’s crazy, and it ain’t always pretty, but I wouldn’t change it and it’s getting better every day.

      • nerdette said:

        I completely understand the day care bit. I can’t decide if I love it or hate it that she’s happy there.

        I’ve found success stocking up the supply by getting up about two hours before my kiddo wakes up to pump, then going back to bed till she wakes up. Since she sleeps all night, I’m super full and it goes pretty fast. By the time she wakes up, I’m all re-charged for the morning nurse. This strategy has allowed me to save up for an honest to goodness vacation in a couple weeks. Still though, if I don’t quite make the target…formula won’t hurt anybody.

        Have fun on your date!!

        • InTheWings said:

          Thanks, Nerdette! Since I already get up at 5:30 to be at work in NYC by 9, I just don’t know if I can bring myself to wake up at 3 to pump. The joys of an NYC commute and all that. Something that has helped a bit is to pump right after she goes to sleep around 7:30, then pump again right before I go to bed at 10:30.

  12. commanderlogic said:

    WeeLogic just had her 2 month birthday yesterday. Which is different from her 8 week birthday, which could also be her 2 month, but whatever. Time has almost officially lost meaning to me.

    Controversial Thing I Would Never Tell My Mom #1: For the first couple months, it’s just been like having another pet, albeit a very, VERY needy pet. That eats from your boobs. So… the metaphor got a bit stretched.

    I mean, WeeLogic isn’t really doing much yet except eat and sleep and poop, and since we’re not expecting her to do anything else, life is pretty much okay. I’m on maternity leave until June, so exactly no one cares if I don’t get up ’til noon because the baby didn’t want to sleep until 10AM.

    I fully expect there to be hell to pay when I get back to work, but that’s in the future. The Now is a sleeping baby, a freshly showered me, and a plan to walk to the library after her next feeding.

    Controversial Thing I Would Never Tell My Mom #2: If (IF! GREAT BIG IF!) I have another baby, I look forward to not being expected to take him/her all over god’s creation to show him/her off.

    DEAR LORD, I really, truly did NOT want to take the baby on an airplane before her immunizations and while she was still eating every 2hours, or maybe every 4 hours, or for fun, every half hour. But I let my mom guilt me into it because I was weak, and I couldn’t get her to hear my “no.” I vow, to all of you but especially to WeeLogic, that I’m going to get better about saying “no.”

    Controversial Thing I Already Told My Mom To Her Horror: I’m also looking forward to much less fuss in the “shower” area. I DO NOT LIKE GIFT SHOWERS (I initially wrote “I do not like showers”, which… context!). And yet, between both families they threw me an official shower and two stealth “not a shower! a sip and see! so people can see the baby! and give you things!” which let’s be real are showers in disguise. I mean, I get that they’re not really for me, they’re for the attendees, and the pink frilly things are for the givers not the baby. And I feel like an ungrateful wretch, but you guys. Three showers. It’s RIDICULOUS. And every time another package arrives with a new set of newborn clothes for my lumberjack sized 2 month old, that’s another 2 things on my to-do list: thank you note and taking back the clothes to turn into diapers or wipes or something. Like I said: Ungrateful wretch.

    And I feel like even MORE of a grubber when I tell my mom that we don’t want anything, but that if someone feels like they HAVE to get us something, a gift card is preferable. Because if I say “NOTHING. NO HOW NO WAY” we get clothes. But if I say “Gift card” we get gift cards. Clothes I can get second hand for next to nothing. Diapers are constant.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the baby herself is a piece of cake. It’s all the social expectations AROUND the baby that are making me feel crazy. And! I would just like to add that my chosen family – my friends – have been nothing but spectacular, and are exempt from my wrath.

    Welp, someone’s starting to make adorable squeaky grunts, so I’m about to sign off. Today, I reward myself for a terrible night of sleep with a delicious brunch out and that aforementioned library trip, and tonight my lady friends are coming over for dinner and hanging out. A lovely day all around.

    • Cait 482 said:

      I know this is for new parents, but let me just second the “ENOUGH WITH THE SHOWERS” and then you feel even worse thing. Why would you burden an already burdened people with gifts and (yes) thank you notes?

      • I gave up on thank-you notes. First time in my life. Just declared thank-you-note bankruptcy once Baby was born. I had written them for the pre-birth showers, but are you kidding me with this stuff once Baby is actually in the picture?!? If someone wants to get offended, BE MY GUEST.

        • zigeunerweisen said:

          Yeah, I did this too. I’m pretty sure that various family members think I’m an asshole now, but given everything that was going on after my daughter’s birth (crazy tearing that meant I couldn’t even lift my baby or walk for over a month, PTSD/PPD, and a high-need/colicky baby, with no family in town to help, only 6 weeks of maternity leave from my grad program, etc) they can bite me if they actually expected me to make time write thank-you notes for the few things that got sent after kiddo was born.

        • Yeah, I went with text messages for some people, and FB messages for others. While yet other people, I told my parents to pass on our thanks when they next saw them. I dont have the time or energy to be writing thankyou notes and finding addresses etc.

        • Pamela said:

          OH MY GOD. Thank you! I am filing the paperwork in my head right now.
          I’ve been terrible about thank you notes (wedding, then baby shower.) The past two years have just been nuts. So instead of beating myself up, worrying about if it’s now weird to send them I’m just done. I’m ‘thank you’ bankrupt.
          Now I can just do it when I get a nice gift or whatever, instead of feeling too guilty about all the notes I never sent to even think about it.
          My relatives may think I’m a jerk, but at least I can move on now. You made my day.

      • Suzy said:

        Sorry, pre-showers?? Is that a thing? I kind of give showers the side-eye but I live in a superstitious culture where they’re …..not frowned on, but not really the norm. I’m not saying this in a judgey way or anything like that, please don’t think I am. I just can’t imagine being pregnant, and having people trample your boundaries, and then dragging you around after you have the baby, and are sleep-deprived and kind of preoccupied WITH THE BABY.

        • Emmers said:

          I thought most showers *were* pre-showers, *because* it’s hard to do stuff after the baby is born. I’ve heard that some cultures frown upon preparing for the baby at all, because of superstition/jinxing/whatever, but I think showers (before the baby is born) are fairly common in the US at least.

    • Oh man, I cosign all of that. My spawn is 15 months old now, but the first year was hellish primarily because of my inability to say no to my mom’s baby-centric social occasions and excessive gifting. Thank goodness though, IT GETS BETTER! (As long as you develop a good conversation-ending “no.”)

      • Emmers said:

        Our baby is not even *here* yet and there are already interesting boundary issues happening! JOYOUS OF DAYS. On the plus side, it’ll be good to be able to set a How To Set Boundaries example for the kiddo, I guess?

    • Emmers said:

      Re: pets, I generally treat my friends’ infants as being like little hairless cats and that works pretty well! (7mos along here, and really appreciating this thread!)

    • redgirl said:

      I can totally see how having a steady stream of “shower” and “not a shower” things could get really annoying. I just want to present an alternative viewpoint on that.

      When I got pregnant, unexpectedly, I was 3,000 miles away from my family and closest friends. I was not getting along well with my husband and I was raising my two stepdaughters pretty much on my own.

      No one threw me a baby shower. I had two acquaintances who were having babies around the same time as me, and they invited me to latch on to their joint shower, and 3 of my coworkers showed up on my behalf. I had no baby things, and a giant wad of debt. My husband moved out the day after our son was born, so I raised him completely alone for the first 6 months of his life. I was completely isolated, and it was awful.

      I would have LOVED any show of support or assistance that was offered, but none was–not a casserole in the freezer or anyone saying, “Hey, I’ll take the baby for a walk so you can have a nap.” I know that an overabundance can be just as annoying, but I can’t help but envy people who have relatives and friends who just want to lavish them with baby clothes and things. So maybe…ask for those gift cards even when people want to buy frilly clothes (some people still will, but others will respect your wishes) or even ask for people to make donations to a charity that works with kids who don’t have so many wonderful family and friends around? I don’t know. It really seems like no matter your situation, you really can’t win.

      • commanderlogic said:

        Oh, honey! I totally get that I have a problem classed as “my wallet is too small for all these $100 bills and my diamond shoes give me blisters.” I’m sorry your experience as a new mother was so hard, but you’ve obviously come through it brilliantly.

        • redgirl said:

          Thank you–and I didn’t mean to put down your annoyance. I can totally see how people going overboard would be utterly aggravating. I think sometimes I just need to vent about my experience, because I didn’t talk about it to anyone at the time and now it just pops up when I least expect it. It actually felt good to just write it here, because I spent a lot of time not telling anyone how hard things were.

    • Zooey said:

      Despite context I still had a double-take at the ‘I do not like gift showers’. Showers aren’t really a thing in the UK (or at least not usually by that name) and I spent a second wondering whether a gift shower was, like… some kind of highly formalised washing? A new shower inexplicably installed? IDEK. Clearly I need more sleep.

    • vintagelydia said:

      We live about 250 miles from our families. Just close enough for weekend visits, just far enough away they feel abandoned. Result was for every little event, no matter how important, they wanted us to come down. Pre-baby, we were there almost every other weekend (but when we suggested return visits, well, that’s just SO FAR AWAY they couldn’t possibly do that!)

      Post-baby, we put our foot down. We have gone down to visit, but only if we can stay for a week or more (like the holidays.) The result is we’re never down anymore, and we get complaints, but we have a guest room. If they are so desperate to see us/the baby, they’re more than welcome to. We get guilt trips all the time, but it’s like they’ve totally forgot what it’s like to have to pack up a 6 month old. He has a LOT of stuff! I mean, until THIS WEEK he refused to sleep out of his swing. Swings? Don’t pack well at ALL!

      And now we’re house shopping. I think until now they thought this move was going to be temporary. When we first moved, that was the intention. But we love it here and (even more importantly) my husband couldn’t find comparable work in our home area that is half as stable (I stay home.) We are getting a LOT of push back. A lot of “YOU’RE ABANDONING US!” and “STOP KEEPING US AT ARMS LENGTH!”

      Having a baby has really helped us learn how to enforce boundaries. It’s going to be a huge help as he gets older and is more, well, church age. We’re not churchy/religious people and don’t want to be. MIL is. That will be a fun boundary to enforce :[

      • commanderlogic said:

        My sympathies!

        Hilarious phrasing from my mom, who lives 500+ miles away: “If you ever need a break, why don’t you and WeeLogic fly out here for a weekend?” As though flying alone with an infant would constitute any kind of a break. W. T. F.

        Also, the churchy relatives have been… interesting. Lots of insistence that WeeLogic is a BLESSING from GOD, to which I reply ‘Thank you *beatific smile*’ – I think I’m supposed to say ‘yes she is, praise The Lord’? We got a few Jesus-centric gifts also, that are un-returnable. Mr. Logic is an atheist and those REALLY bothered him. I’m more classing them in the same category as the newborn-sized frilly dresses: unusable for us, but very thoughtfully chosen.

        • JenniferP said:

          Ha, your mom thinks she’s a restful presence.

        • Emmers said:

          I think that’s a healthy attitude to take, re: the gifts: they were given with love, and you appreciate that part, and you don’t use them, and it’s okay. (Also the whole thing sounds a LOT like my family…)

      • Emmers said:

        “We live about 250 miles from our families. Just close enough for weekend visits, just far enough away they feel abandoned. Result was for every little event, no matter how important, they wanted us to come down.”

        Sweet jeebus, are you *me*?

  13. boutet said:

    I don’t know if I qualify as “new parent” yet, but we were due yesterday and I want this kid out! These last few days have been an agony of Braxton Hicks, sore muscles and really painful back/hip aches. I know the birth process isn’t any kind of fun either, but at least it is an ending to all this body-is-not-mine invasive feeling. I want to eat sushi and have wine when we have company for supper! I want to sleep on my front!
    If nothing else I’ll be able to take ibuprofen again, which is the only OTC painkiller that works for me.

    Also the excitement and the wanting to meet the kid, but I’m getting a little overloaded on that too since it’s the first grandkid. My mother’s texts are getting ignored a lot this week.

    • Ace said:

      OMG, the first grandkid. My sister took that burden on with great joy. Best of luck, and I wish you an easy delivery soon.

    • commanderlogic said:

      You totally count as a new parent! You’re brand spanking new!

      May I recommend a couple things for the week after you actually give birth?
      1 – Get comfy with ordering people to do things for you. Bring you water, drive you places, change the baby’s diaper, make dinner decisions as well as the dinner itself, etc. You just pushed a human out of yourself, and standing up is THE WORST.

      2 – If your partner has to go back to work, and a grandmother/auntie isn’t staying with you for the first week, CALL IN THE TROOPS. Have a friend stay with you. A different friend every day if need be. But seriously. Standing up is the WORST, topped only by standing up quickly because you need to get to the baby who is all the way across the room.

      3 – I promise, standing up won’t be the worst for very long. It might feel like eternity (who hates feeling helpless? I DO! With the power of a thousand suns I hate feeling dependent), but it really will pass.

      4 – ROB THE HOSPITAL ROOM OF ALL POST-PARTUM SUPPLIES. Ice-packs, diaper things that hold the icepacks in place, enormous maxi pads, witch hazel pads, basically anything that’s not nailed down. They’ve already charged you for them, and will throw them out after you leave because now they’re not “sterile” even if they’re in their sterile packs still.

      Good luck!

      • redgirl said:

        Wow, I wish I’d known that last bit about the post-partum supplies. No more kids for me, but I’ll pass it on to my son/stepdaughters if they choose to have children!

    • Wishing you a speedy and easy delivery!

      And also seconding commanderlogic’s advice, ESPECIALLY about the post-partum supplies in the hospital room. Take all the freebies you can get! We managed to get a month’s supply of diapers from the hospital when my first was born, which was fantastic, because boy do the little buggers go through them quickly!!

    • fizzchick said:

      Yes, to raiding the hospital room. Also the nursery. Maybe just because my son was in the NICU, but they had these awesome wipes that were super soft but sturdy, and disposable. And they get diaper rash if you use wipes for the first month, so that stack of wipes we packed up with the diapers were awesome. Had to switch to washcloths after, not so fun rinsing out poopy washcloths at o-dark-thirty.

  14. nerdette said:

    mine’s 5 1/2 months old. there are good days and bad days, good minutes and bad minutes. sometimes i just feel like i could burst with love for my little family (mostly this happens watching my husband snuggle her), sometimes i feel really indifferent. i am waaaay over feeling guilty for that though.

    mostly, i feel like i won the baby lottery. she sleeps through the night, smiles all the time, and is really healthy. but i’d really like to be able to clean my house or focus on something for more than a few minutes at a time when we’re at home together. i’m back to work now, and she’s in childcare, and that presents its own batch of challenges. i visit her to nurse every day (so much gas! so much money to pay the center! so much shuffling!) and sometimes i hate it and i just want to bawl when i leave. an acquaintance of mine just decided to quit to stay home with her new baby and i could pretty much die of jealousy.

    the thing that’s the hardest is figuring out what my new normal is. this thing that you think belongs to you and is more or less under your control–your body–suddenly isn’t as soon as you get pregnant. i thought that would be better once she was out, but if anything that feeling of the loss of ownership only got worse with nursing and the horrible things that is doing to my hormones. nursing is mostly a-ok with me now, but pumping is a whole other story. i can’t wait till we start introducing food so i can take the pressure off pumping a bit. soooo close. i can’t wait for my boobs to feel like mine again, and if it’s not too much to ask for, sexy.

    there’s also this weird feeling that i’m not a Person anymore. now i’m a Mom. which i don’t i identify with just yet. it has weird connotations in my brain, none of which i feel like represent who i am. now i’m just working really hard to make sure i think of and treat other parents as people first.

    worth it? sure, but i don’t think that captures even part of that story. the thing is that Before Kid and After Kid are so wildly different that it’s not even really fair to compare them.

    this sounds overwhelming negative to me, reading it all. that’s not really representative of the whole experience, but it’s what’s on my mind at the moment.

    P.S. i might punch the next person who asks when we’re having another one. especially if that’s my husband. you want to do this again? you carry it around inside you and push it out next time! my doctor says (a little tongue-in-cheek) there’s amnesia that sets in eventually and i’ll think it sounds like a good idea later. we’ll see.

    • eiram said:

      When people asked me during the first six months when there was going to be another, my knee-jerk reaction was “never in your farkin’ life.” Now, I want to go ahead because she’s just so awesome in so many ways, and I feel like now I know what I’m doing and can do all the early stuff better.

      Which is a load of hooey because our kidlet is a trick baby (she makes you think parenting is pretty easy when you’re not sweating the small stuff), and the next one is likely to be much more of a terror. :/

    • Guava said:

      Re: having another one…I was on the delivery table after my second kid was born, cheering at the top of my lungs: “WOOHOOO! YEEEHAAAA! I am done! SO DONE! NEVER going through that AGAIN!”

      I tell people that story anytime they ask me if we’re going to have any more.

      • nerdette said:

        *high five!* you made it!

    • Ace said:

      I second your anger with the ‘having amother?’ BS. As I was leaving the hospital the midwives were all ‘see you in 2 years!’ Cheerful as fuck. Lucky they didn’t get a punch in the nose.

  15. EddystoneLight said:

    Hey, my baby (he has lots of nicknames, but often goes by Nibsy) was born the same day as WeeLogic. Solidarity fist-bump!

    Now, Nibsy has been a pretty angelic child. He just hit two months, and is already sleeping through the night. But I totally have to agree with the dad who commented about how hard it is to just drop everything and deal with the child. When he starts screaming to be fed, I find myself thinking, wait, I just need to do THESE SIX THINGS before I sit down and pay attention to you! And that doesn’t always work so well…

    The other difficulty I’m having is keeping my thinking objective about gender roles in parenting. See, I’m currently on maternity leave, and breastfeeding, and my spouse is working full time and does all the cooking. But there’s some first-wave feminist deep down inside of me that’s screaming about how he isn’t sharing parenting duties equally, and how it’s not fair that he hands Nibsy to me as soon as he starts screaming. But that makes NO SENSE, since when he’s home Spouse does his share of nappy-changing and baby-entertaining, not to mention, you know, the working and the cooking… Plus, 95% of the time if Nibsy is screaming it’s because he’s hungry, and there isn’t much Spouse can do about that. I guess my subconscious is just terrified we’re going to lapse unthinkingly into Ye Olde Traditional Gender Roles, and Spouse will be perfectly okay with that (a thought that is totally unfair to him), and I shall go mad. It’s just hard to accept that “equal-opportunity parenting” doesn’t have to (and honestly never will) be a true 50/50 divide. Especially when only one party has the food.

    • doodleoo said:

      The way we did the divide while Small was exclusively breast fed was that any time husband was home, I was responsible for inserting milk into the head end and he was responsible for whatever happened at the arse end. 😀 Obviously I was the boss of poo when he was at work, and he took a weekly evening off to do roleplaying games with his friends (on those nights I abandoned all chores, ordered pizza and watched crime DVDs with a baby in one arm). But when we were both around the literal 50/50 split worked pretty well.

      • We do pretty much the same, although I give hubby a break between midnight and 6am so he gets a good chunk of sleep to survive his day at work. He also does any feeds between when I go to bed (about 9pm) and midnight so I get that chunk of sleep to start with. of course, if things go to custard, thats all flexible.
        It also means hubby is in a better mood in the evenings for dealing with burping, poop and clothing changes, so all I do is feed the baby and sort our dinner.

    • If breast feeding is going pretty well and you’re not worried that your kid will stop nursing once he discovers how easy bottles are, it can be great for your husband to give the kid one bottle a day (either pumped or, if you’re not purists, formula). I would feed my kid at 9, then go to bed, and my husband would have some quality alone time with her, then give her a bottle while hanging out and watching Letterman/Leno/whoever it was at the time. My husband really enjoyed that bonding time, and it gave me 4-5 hours in a row without the creature sucking on me, when I could actually sleep. It saved my sanity.

      • Meghan said:

        We’ve been trying that with #2 (#1 refused a bottle always, and for a year I was a complete nervous wreck because I couldn’t go anywhere for more than 1.5 hours). The problem is pumping is a HUGE pain in the rear for me. When I have time between marathon nursing sessions (he’s going through a 2-month growth spurt and cluster feeding at the moment), I just want to sleep or eat or take a shower. How do you manage to find time to pump? I do have an electric pump, and can manage hands-free while wandering around the house, but still. Just getting 3 oz a day isn’t easy.

    • cuntessvonfingerbang said:

      Depending on how breastfeeding is going for you, pumping may or may not be a great option to help share baby-comforting/feeding responsibilities. For me, I had great supply and I was actually uncomfortably engorged sometimes between feeds, so just pumping a little bit from time to time to relieve pressure got me enough extra milk to have on hand for someone else to feed the baby once in a while, and so that I could leave the house for more than half an hour at a time occasionally. So if you’re like me, get a pump and rock it out! (I had a Medela Swing, which I got used for $60 off of craigslist and then boiled, but you can go all out and get a $400 new pump, or try your luck with a $15 manual pump.)

      But if breastfeeding is something that is difficult and/or unpleasant for you, or if pumping is like trying to get blood from a stone, then sign up for some free formula samples and go hard on that instead.

      • photon said:

        All insurances have to completely cover breastpumps because of the affordable care act– the double electric pumps are much easier than the hand pumps

      • Aphid said:

        Just to second; all insurance have to completely cover breastpumps but there are two things to keep in mind: not all cover a double electric pump (some only offer manual pumps) and you may need to have your OB/midwife/GP be VERY specific about pump/brand type on the prescription.

        I have a full set of medela parts from the first kid, but the pump is not-quite-there after over a full year of daily use/commuting – so I wanted to be sure the second would be a medela too. Insurance was useless, so I called a durable medical supply company (M&M medical supply in MA) that had a card in my breastfeeding fact packet, and had them walk me through what would need to be done

    • Kathleen said:

      One of the things that maintained my sanity when the baby was small was that Dad got to give him a bottle after dinner & I got to take a bath. In the mornings I would keep him off the breast that was easy to pump, then pump it when he took his morning nap and stick it in the fridge. That was the milk he would get at night from his dad, and since it was morning milk it was nice and thick so he would sleep. – No one told me that, the milk has a much higher fat content in the morning because you’ve been resting. The reason they hang off you in the evening is because it’s all skim by then ( pump some morning milk & some evening milk, you can see the difference!). Anyhow Dad & baby got to bond, Baby got a full stomach & I got a little quiet time to myself. Win, win, win.

      • I’m so going to try this next week.

    • Once breastfeeding gets way less time-consuming (please see my graph, no I’m not kidding, here: https://twitter.com/marissa_rae/status/329424676247965697), it’ll be much much easier to do the egalitarian parenting thing. Now that my baby is only latched on an hour total over a 24-hour period (if I’m with him the whole time), things are really really balanced now between Husband and me. Hang in there, and keep that feminist voice in the back of your head alive!!

    • commanderlogic said:

      FIST BUMP!

      We’re doing what Alphakitty mentioned; I do an evening feeding and then go directly to bed while Mr. Logic burps WeeLogic and then hangs out with her until she either falls asleep or demands to be fed two hours later. Apparently he reads to her from the internet, and I get a guaranteed bit of sleep without worrying about whether she’ll wake up.

      Last night, she slept for 4.5 hours in a row. VICTORY!

      But absolutely, I feel like a bad feminist sometimes because I do so much of the baby work. I mean, Mr. Logic is a fantastic partner, and does as much as he can, but biologically he CAN’T just be with her alone for 24 hours because I’m the foodsource. Plus, he’s working and gets no paternity leave, so I’m automatically doing over 50% of the baby work. He does feel guilty about it, though, and has not once complained or avoided baby detail. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to weaning; I feel like once she’s off the boob, things will get even more egalitarian.

      • Pamela said:

        I’ve been off work, and only work part time now, so I do more baby things.
        I’m so glad I’m not the only one with an angry and illogical little first wave feminist screaming in the back of my brain. Anytime I’m stressed I start thinking about the “second shift” and the distribution of baby minding and household chores and generally over claiming and being crazy. Bottle feeding has made it a bit easier, particularly the first couple of months when she ate ALL THE TIME. I think if I’d been the only food source I might have gone completely crazy.

  16. Corp said:

    Newish daddy here. The sprog is now 4.5 months old and actually is delightful.

    But is it supposed to be that hard in the first few months? OMG! I’m quite sure my partner actively hated me for the first 3 months. I think the hardest thing to figure out has been the difference between our own expectations of being parents. My partner was expecting me to be a very attached parent and I was still working out how to do that and whether it was a good plan in the first place!

    • redgirl said:

      Looking back on my first year as a mom, the sleep deprivation, hormonal fluctuations, and constant demands on my body were overwhelming. Try to keep this in mind when you communicate with your wife–you are both going through a massive change in your lives but it’s affecting her even more and what seems unreasonable to you might be super-critical to her. Things will even out over time–it just doesn’t feel like that at the start. Good luck and congrats on your little one!

    • Meghan said:

      My poor husband went through that after #1, too. I think the problem is if your partner’s breastfeeding and/or staying home, she’s FORCED to be a very attached parent, so she expects* you to be the same way.

      *For me, anyway, I’m not saying it was reasonable — my husband was deployed for 4 months from when #1 was 3 weeks old, and I built up this massive expectation of, “Oh, when he gets home, things will be SO much easier!” And of course, he had no idea what he was doing when he got home, and was a little scared, and it all went to hell because it WASN’T easier. The same thing happens to me on a small scale every day, when around 5 pm, I start thinking, “Oh, when he gets home from work, things will be so much easier!” And they are, but in the very beginning (our second is now 8 weeks old), it was hard to shake that desperate, desperate hope that he’d whisk in and magically take everything away for an hour or two.

      Good on you for just getting through the first few months and recognizing how hard it is for both of you!

  17. Kat said:

    I’m a new step-parent. I’ve been around since he was about 1.3 years and he’s now nearly 2.5 years. It’s been amazing, but difficult too. Fiance only has him for half the week, and of that time I’m there for two days or so. We don’t live together for financial reasons, and I have a flat and a horde of pets to think about, but I’m trying to ease into spending more and more time with the little guy. It’s difficult to know my level, though, given I don’t live there and I don’t really feel like a parent to him yet, but nor do I feel like a visitor or an aunty or a family friend. I don’t know if it’ll dawn on me gradually, or it’ll just click one day, or maybe I’ll never know “what I am” to him.

    I mean, I love him. And I care about him. I’m not afraid to tell him not to do things, or to do things with him. On the other hand I feel that maybe all I’m doing is basic “coping with being in the presence of a toddler” things e.g. not letting him kill himself, catching him when he falls, soothing him if he’s upset or hurt, telling him off if he’s misbehaving, etc. What is there that distinguishes me from a stranger who visits sometimes? I don’t know. I know he likes me, and is asking for me more and more, and demands I follow him on his rampages round the house, and comes to me for uppies and even lately for permission to do things, although often that has been a “cunning” attempt (toddler cunning is pretty amusing) to circumvent what his dad has said. But that is sort of parental, isn’t it? I don’t know.

    He is difficult, although his terrible twos have been fairly minor so far, he is getting more and more wilful and stroppy. In the moment, it isn’t always amazing, but it has been amazing getting to see him zoom from toddling around precariously to racing around the place, from not having the dexterity to build a tower of buckets to building it more or less perfectly, from having a few words and being reluctant to say them to yammering away and bossing everyone around. That’s the awesome part. The hard part is the shrieking and the crying and the constant colds (thanks, Scotland) and more screaming and the mischief and the deathwish (oh god the deathwish) and the 6am wake-up screams and more crying and a bit more screaming. And the harder part is being in sort of parent purgatory. I’m … fairly sure it’ll get better over time and I’ll get more used to it, but at the moment I’m rather neurotic about my position in the family. Sometimes I feel as motherly as can be, and other times I feel like a family friend who is getting in the way at dinnertime.

    And then, sometimes I have minor problems with what his dad does. Like, he choked on a drink yesterday because he decided to keep drinking through a coughing fit, and – I think out of fright, and only after making sure he was ok – fiance used a really harsh tone and called him an idiot. He’s too young to know what idiot means, but he probably understood the tone. And at one dinnertime, he was jamming his knees up inside his high chair and scrambling around and it was making me a bit edgy, even though I know high chairs are generally designed with wriggling in mind. So I said “put your legs down” and fiance said without looking at me “or don’t, your choice.” I felt really snubbed – I know it’s not a big deal, I was just being overcautious but it wasn’t as if I was telling him off, and it’s a fact that we are going to have different little things that bug us/worry us…but when is it time to raise that subject? Ever? Only when we live together?

    And I don’t think I’m ever going to stop dreading the possibility that he’ll hate me for keeping his dad away from his mum…and the inevitable “you’re not my mum” battles…

    Anyway I guess this just turned into a general worries ramble. Apologies if step-parenting is irrelevant to the thread.

    • cuntessvonfingerbang said:

      *big jedi hugs* Step parenting is super hard! It sounds to me like you’re doing a great job.

      When I was a stepmom to my ex’s 11 year old the hardest thing was setting house rules and enforcing them as a team. It’s so important to be on the same page and to back each other up, even if one adult thinks that what the other adult wants to enforce is irrelevant or silly. If I was in your shoes, I would want to have a big “what rules are we going to enforce/do we have each other’s backs/etc” type conversation with your partner *before* moving in together. And then periodically check in with each other and have non-judgmental talks about it so that it doesn’t become a big festering issue. It’s also really important to remember that you get to set your own house rules in your home, regardless of whether or not they’re rules that your partner or kiddo’s mom would prioritize themselves – does that make sense?

      As for the emotional connection/how will he know who you are to him part… that part I don’t have any words of wisdom on. My girlfriend is still sorting that out with regards to LittleDude, and I know it’s tough for her sometimes. I’m trying to help her by not having any rigid expectations for her, teaching him that she’s someone important in his life, and showing her love and respect at all times. I feel like mostly this sort of stuff just progresses naturally, and I think (hope!) that it will get easier for her, especially once we’ve been together for more time and LittleDude sees us being stable and consistent. I don’t know though, I wish I knew what else I could do to make it easier for my girlfriend and for LittleDude.

    • Ace said:

      I don’t have any step-parent wisdom, but wanted to say you’re totally relevant. You’re still a new parent finding your way, still counts.

  18. CJS said:

    Well this has got me out of lurking mode! I’m the mother of a 6 month old little guy. I love him to bits, and he’s an absolute delight at the moment – getting more active, smiling and laughing, playing with me, grabbing things… He’s also hard work, despite the fact that he doesn’t have any of those terrible things I hear about from friends. He’s not colicky, he almost always sleeps through the night, he eats well now and so on. But it’s still tough to be ‘on’ with him 22 hours out of 24.

    I’m in a bit of a weird situation in that I’m working full time, but my ‘job’ is that I’m an Anglican priest. So I take the little man to meetings, school assemblies, pastoral visits and church services – handing him off to volunteer members of the congregation when I’m actually leading the service and can’t do so with a baby on one arm. My work-at-home husband looks after him for 2 hours a day, during which I either do ‘sit down’ work (emails, writing, studying) or do the kind of visits I can’t do with him (funeral visits, wedding preparation, home communions). I still end up working after the little guy goes to bed though, and it does feel like the work never ends. All the same I’m so glad I’m in the position where I can both be with my baby most of the time and do my job.

    The tough stuff for me has been when tough things happen that I wasn’t expecting. You get warned about no sleep and poo, both of which were fine. You have a baby, you buy in to that stuff. But no one warned me about ‘baby blues’. I thought they were a euphemism for post natal depression. They’re not. Everyone, 3-4 days after having their baby, suddenly has a crushing hormone slump. I found myself sitting at the dining room table sobbing my eyes out for no obvious reason, and wondered if I was cracking up.

    Equally, no one warned me that breast feeding can be hard. Not hard in that you’re the baby’s only source of food, that they can feed every 2 hours and take a whole hour to eat all they want to, that you will be physically and mentally exhausted by the feeding, although all that’s true. Hard in that sometimes your baby can’t or won’t latch, and that sometimes you just don’t have enough milk for them. Both of those things were the case with me. I’d had an emergency c-section birth, and my milk just didn’t come in. I was told my breasts should swell and leak and all that. They never did – the colostrum just turned to milk one day and there was still hardly any of it. At the same time, the little man refused to latch. He’d either shut his eyes and go to sleep or scream, arch away and hit at me with his little fists. For the first couple of weeks of his life he was formula fed only. I was gutted. I had known since before I was pregnant that I wanted to breast feed, and now it seemed there was no way I could.

    Thankfully these days there’s a lot of support (at least in my area) for new mothers wanting to breastfeed, and with the aid of an amazing breastfeeding clinic, a lot of online searching and support, and a hired hospital-grade pump, the little guy managed to latch, and I managed to build my milk supply enough to feed him. It took a couple of weeks though, and they were 2 weeks of non-stop feeding and pumping. But to all those new mothers wanting to breastfeed (you don’t have to want to, of course – formula fed babies are perfectly fine) and having trouble, it can be done. Stick with it and whatever you do, and this goes for any baby things you’re having issues with, use all the help you can find. Helplines, clinics, support groups – use ‘em all.

    • Guava said:

      Hey there – just wanted to say that you are not alone with the difficulty breastfeeding. I had a terrible time with my eldest – who was born a month early via unexpected C-section. My milk never “came in” either. Even with twice-weekly lactation support, round the clock pumping, eating and drinking every milk-boosting supplement anyone recommended, trying every type of nursing/latch encouraging gizmo, I was never able to produce more than a tablespoon of milk, a few times a day.

      I ended up giving up on the breastfeeding after about three months of hell. We still nursed for snacks, but I formula-fed my little guy for most of his meals. And then we found out he was lactose intolerant, so we switched to soy formula. And the funny thing was that, instead of my milk drying up (like everyone said it would), I continued to produce the same little trickle of milk for 13 more months! That was when I realized that my body just wasn’t going to do all of the things that the experts said bodies were supposed to do.

      There’s a lot of all-or-nothing rhetoric out there about breastfeeding, but truly, really, honestly, every body is different. I realized that 100% after I had my second child, and had a textbook-easy breastfeeding experience that was nothing like the first time.

    • With you on the difficult feeding. I was due to leave the hospital when they realised he hadn’t gotten any nourishment out of me for the better part of 8 hours, so no wonder he was screaming. So I stayed an extra night, went on pills, pumped my puny 2mls a side in 15 minutes which then got fed through a tube while he nursed. I cried at the pain he had managed to inflict trying to get milk out, which is only just healing 5 weeks later.
      But now its making sense and working well enough, finally. It can be done, most of the time. The hardest part for me was the formula top-ups, I felt like a failure even though I had nothing against formula.

  19. MamaCheshire said:

    We had an annoying mess of awkward tonight because FirstKid’s preferred name is a gender-neutral short form of her name (it’s what we called FirstKid since FirstKid was a fetus of unknown gender, and it suits her well now that she is a seven and a half year old tomboy who occasionally cleans up nicely when someone gives her a good-enough-for-her reason to). We decided to make an evening of it at McDonald’s with a PlayLand, and as is her custom, FirstKid studied both Happy Meal toy types before deciding she wanted what was being marketed to boys this time.

    She then traded the toy she got for one a boy who was playing there had that she liked better. And they were running around and having a great time, but Spouse was showing signs of exhaustion and noise overload. So I did the, “GIRLS! Five minute warning!” shout and apparently some boys who thought FirstKid was a boy got very confused and somewhat offended, and also kept telling SecondKid to “go get your brother!”

    (We went right after they were retrieved from their after-school daycare, still in the gender-neutral gym uniforms of the Catholic school they attend. FirstKid’s hair would definitely be out of uniform on a Catholic schoolboy. But whatever.)

    As I was trying to retrieve SecondKid (who is four and a half, tends to misbehave in loud areas due to what may or may not be a sensory processing problem, was being less than cooperative, to say the least, and was trying to bolt away from me), things with FirstKid apparently escalated and I’m not sure exactly what happened other than “boys touching [FirstKid] and pretending to be scary monsters”. It’s not like this wasn’t a crowded area full of parents, but Spouse had already fled to the car with a severe headache and I was trying to wrangle SecondKid before she caused a serious problem.

    I’m generally frustrated with how this went, and now REALLY exhausted and unable to brain, and I have a major research paper due very soon. 😦

  20. I’m not precisely a new parent any more. She’s 17 months old and big, bouncy, and can now say ‘Cuddle, Daddy!’ and run at me. I’m the Daddy – her father is called Mummy. She is very certain about this, and attempts to correct get a frown and a ‘No!’.

    I still have issues because people talk about how wonderful little babies are. I hated that time, and sometimes I hated the baby. If I say that, people look the other way, or are horrified.

    I have issues about pregnancy – the big thing pregnancy taught me was that abortion should always be allowed. When I say THAT I get hard stares.

    Maybe TW for depression? Not sure. Really fuckin’ long.

    My pregnancy involved my limbs swelling to the point where my toes disappeared into folds of flesh. I could no longer wear shoes or walk properly because the bottoms of my feet were so round. One midwife called another in to say it was the worst she had ever seen. My skin split sometimes from it. My hips stopped functioning, and I had pelvic girdle pain that eventually rendered me wheelchair bound. Sometimes I would collapse, the ligaments now no longer holding the joints, and be in agonising pain on the ground. I ended up crying in an appointment because the fetus had turned posterior and I was told it was my fault for sleeping in a rocking chair. The bed was too painful to sleep in, as if I rolled in the night the staggering pain from semi-dislocated joints awoke me. I was told to go for walks, or scrub the floor to try to turn it. I couldn’t get into the wheelchair without help by that point. I was frustrated and angry.

    I had other issues, gestational diabetes, blood pressure, etc. The birth was worse, and highly traumatic, with being told at one point the baby had died. Then I nearly died. I needed emergency surgery to live through it, and later, blood transfusions. I’d asked for a Cesarian, being at a month overdue, and feeling that with a posterior baby, and being unable to move, and being terrified of an epistomy. They told me I was ridiculous for being worried. No Cesarian. Cesarians left scars.

    So I had the epistomy, and the third degree tearing, and all the awful stuff, and then the emergency because I couldn’t deliver a posteriorally positioned giant baby after being so exhausted and the surgeons having to call in the hospital experts as they couldn’t recognise what parts of me were what anymore from the damage and…

    And then three days later I was sent home, in terrifying pain, with a small (well, okay, huge for a baby, but small for a human!) new person. I had sixty stitches. I had been told that I had to work harder at breastfeeding.

    Within a few weeks I was hearing noises and seeing things that did not exist. I was pumping all the time, and trying to breastfeed, but I had cracked nipples, and the visting midwife told me they were not cracked ‘enough’ for me to be complaining about it. I was a failure. My hips clicked, and the baby wanted me all the time. I hadn’t had decent sleep for six months by that point, and everyone else adored this little person who I began to hate.

    I had been incrediably fit, lifting serious weights, spin cycling, lean, and actually had visible muscle groupings on my belly from all the core work. I had a body that could do amazing things. Now I limped and was ugly and badly out of shape, and had to get up the courage to sit down in the car because of all the stitches. It took weeks before I could walk to the mailbox. I had been someone who needed a lot of alone time and who had issues with sleep – I need perfect silence to sleep. I did not have it any more. The only time I felt good was when someone took the baby away. But then I panicked because WHAT IF she got hit by a car or someone executed her while she was away?!

    I realised I understood infantilism because it was not like babies were people. There was no sentience there, no connection. As soon as the baby stopped feeding, it didn’t want to be near me. I realised I could kill the baby and all I would have to do is go to prison for twenty years! That was all – and there I’d be allowed to sleep and eat – I became fixated on how amazing it would be. Someone would provide me with clothes and a bed. And I wouldn’t have to worry about being hit by a car.

    The midwives told me my breastfeeding was bad and to try harder. I could do it! I could manage it! I just wasn’t dedicated enough.

    I realised that killing the child would be bad, so suicide was a better idea. It was all pretty embarassing, so I couldn’t talk to anyone about it – who would believe I heard voices anyway? Also I had ruined three people’s lives – my own, my partner, and the child’s, so it would be better to kill myself. I was a failure – awful at pregnancy, awful at giving birth, awful at breastfeeding, and I didn’t even love or like my own child. I couldn’t work out how to do it, and I told my partner this, because holy crap, I couldn’t even work out suicide. I was such a wimp I was frightened of more pain and too scared to slash my wrists but maybe I could work it out? Also the voices, god that was embarassing. No one was going to believe me, because I was making it all up for attention, like a failure.

    He panicked, took me to a doctor who said: You have PND and Post-partum psychosis. You don’t have to breastfeed. You have to have sleep. We don’t care if you get addicted to sleeping pills as long as you live through the next while. You need anti-anxiety medication now and your child needs to be on formula so you can get a break.

    My husband’s job nearly fired him for taking so much time off. He took every. Single. Night shift. For months.

    Even now, that she is nearly a year and a half, her morning drink comes from ‘Mummy’. I’ve kicked the sleeping pill addiction – which did, inevitably happen, as the doctors said it would. I’m still on medication for the anxiety and psychosis.

    This is what ‘the baby’ is now – a person. An awesome little independant, opinionated person. She says ‘Daddy, Cuddle!’ and hugs me all the time. She was what everyone called an ‘easy’ baby – and she was! No colic, an early smiler, very happy to please, cooing, reaching for people. She falls asleep easily in the arms of her family and friends, and she adores animals and has no fear. She eats anything – she went onto formula without a peep, and will drink any kind of it. She knows I go to work, and she is okay with that – she cries when ‘Mummy’ has to go to work, though.

    She loves drawing, books, and she likes to dance with me, and she likes gardening with me. She’s really very big – she’s in clothing for two to three year olds, and massively tall. She has worked out who ‘Daddy’ and who ‘Mummy’ are for herself, and she loves us like that. The bond is very strong, and when she is upset, she calls me and cuddles me, and she will leap up into my arms. I love that she kisses me, that she brushes my hair and strokes my face. Holy cow do most humans never get enough touch and how wonderful is this?!

    The big thing what I went through gave me is this: I find it hard some days, but I feel no more guilt. I may not be her mother, but I can be her father. I will never have another one – the scarring is bad enough that if I have to lift things, it gets damaged and the pain is never going to go away. I’ve had to reset everything I thought I knew, and do things in a different way.

    Oh, the other big thing is that anyone who tries to guilt me for not being maternal enough, for not breastfeeding enough, for not loving my child in the right way? I feel no compunctions to responding to. As harshly as I want to.

    • MamaCheshire said:

      Wow. I am so, so incredibly sorry that you went through that.

      THIS is why I hate the culture of “just try harder!” with the fire of a thousand angry burning suns.

      (Mine wasn’t nearly as bad but there is just enough that resonates.)

    • misspiggy said:

      Wow also. Thank you for sharing this. I really hope some decent physiotherapy is available to you at some point; a good physio who listens can make a big, big difference to recovery, even a long way down the line. Bodies have an amazing capacity to get better with gentle and long term support, rather than being forced to push on through in the way that you were.

    • Ace said:

      Holy cow that sounds seriously rough, I’m so sorry. And I’m with MamaCheshire, there’s a special place in whatever hell you believe in for the ‘just try harder!’ people.

    • anon for this said:

      Thank you, for talking about this. After my second was born I fell into a majorly depressive episode, and constantly wanted to die. I started refusing to leave the house on the grounds that any drive to my usual activities would take me past a bridge, and I didn’t know that I wouldn’t throw myself off it. Or that I’d just, you know, not stop at the red light, or fail to move out of the way of oncoming traffic. But I couldn’t die, because I knew that if I did my children would have no one to protect them the way I felt I could – and that led to a lot of resentment on my part. When I think about that year I want to rush in and just hold my children, who were hopefully just young enough (although my eldest was two) for it not to have scarred them permanently. I feel so guilty about it, so ashamed; dwelling on it has lost me more sleep than I ever lost with newborns.

      It’s one of the things, you know. People talk about it but no one really talks about it, what it is to experience it. They say “baby blues” like it’s not even a thing, like it’s something that happens for a little while and then it just goes away.

      It feels trite to say but thank you, thank you for showing me that I was never alone.

    • redgirl said:

      Thank you for sharing this. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, but I’m glad you were able to share that childbirth and child-rearing are not always the soft-focus floral-scented medley that the greeting card industry would have us believe in. Parenting is hard, and often damaging to the people (usually the mother) who go through with it. I wish we lived in a culture that was more able to recognize that and support families. It sounds like you have found your own way, fortunately. And you’re right–you have no need to fall into anyone’s guilt trip. You’re doing awesome!

    • So utterly surreal you had to go through that! I’m really sorry you did, and glad you have come out the other side. And THANK GOODNESS you at least hit a doctor with the wisdom to say, “You don’t need to breastfeed. You do need to sleep.” Duh, but some people are so adamant about breastfeeding, they act like it is the single most important thing in the world. It’s not.

      Yes, unless there is a particular reason not to, breastfeeding should generally be Plan A. And yes, some perseverance may be necessary to get the hang of it, so people shouldn’t throw in the towel if it doesn’t go right at first. But Plan B, the formula-route, =/= infanticide. With my first child, I gave breastfeeding a good four month try, but I was never a prolific producer and pumping was not enough to sustain production once I went back to work; my body kind of took the decision out of our hands. And she was, and IS, better than fine. Tall, brilliant, beautiful, healthy… Clearly not stunted in any way, even though she had all kinds of issues with formula.

      So no, new moms should not feel like it is the worst thing ever to throw in the towel on breastfeeding. If it is exacting this kind of toll, if it is making you HATE your life or your child, if it is literally making you crazy, go with Plan B without feeling like the worst mom ever. If only all of life’s Plan A’s had such good Plan B’s!

      Oh — and because you WILL get flak about it, from people who assume you are too ignorant to know breastfeeding is considered the gold standard, or too selfish to care, practice this response: “This decision was not made lightly, but it’s what’s best for us. It is not open for discussion.” Good to have that roll smoothly off the tongue, anyway. It won’t be the only time you need it.

      • Emmers said:

        Yes, this, so much. This comment made me blindingly angry at all the attachment parents and other people who are so anti-formula/pro-breastfeeding that they refuse to admit that it’s EVER an acceptable decision to not breastfeed. Arrrrrrrgh.

      • MamaCheshire said:

        THIS THIS THIS.

        I think it all kind of snapped for me the day I had to tell the La Leche League leader that having CPS take my baby, who by this point had a formal diagnosis of Failure To Thrive, was going to be a WHOLE SHITLOAD MORE DAMAGING to our “breastfeeding relationship” than two fucking bottles of formula a day.

        [FirstKid had severe reflux when little, and also managed to get what my lactation consultant called “the worst case of thrush I’ve ever seen!” She did not regain birthweight until 7 weeks old; normal spec for that is 2 weeks, and at 3 they start worrying. Regular medical providers did not properly treat the thrush when it first appeared (used a medication that is notoriously ineffective) and totally missed the reflux for a long-ass time because they were so busy blaming my allegedly-defective boobs. And yeah, my supply wasn’t the greatest either, since I have most of the symptoms of PCOS *except* they don’t see any cysts and my fertility was OK and apparently this is a thing. Oh, and this was happening when Spouse had the mental snap that led to a diagnosis-go-round followed by a meds-go-round and multiple paradoxical reactions to said medications. And we were both broke-ass students. This sucked, it was terrifying, I had CPS-will-take-my-baby nightmares EVERY NIGHT FOR MONTHS, etc. And no, FirstKid is NOT developmentally delayed or whatever the fuck was going to happen to her if I “got bullied by doctors into quitting breastfeeding” (LLL version) or “continued starving my baby to prove a point” (doctor version). But damn it, it’s going to make me a better social worker, and already HAS made me a better parent, especially when SecondKid was a baby and I was OVER freaking out about formula.]

        I had to quit most Internet breastfeeding and crunchy-mama communities shortly after this explosion for a similar reason, with the sole exception of a semi-crunchy-mama community that was explicitly opened as a refuge from this bullshit. And it IS bullshit.

    • Erin McJ said:

      Holy.
      Thank you for sharing this.
      So many Jedi hugs.

    • atma said:

      I am so angry right now at those totally incompetent people who didn’t assist you and trust you earlier. They should have planned the caesarean, they should not have kicked you out to go home before healing enough, they should have supported you! That’s what they’re there for!

    • Guava said:

      I am so sorry that you had to go through that. Jedi hugs to you!!!

      I also had an evil lactation lady come into my hospital room, wake me up after 3 hours of sleep following a C-section, and hook me up to a breast pump the size of a soft-serve ice cream machine. The suction was turned all the way on high, my nipples were bleeding after 45 minutes. I can’t imagine the pain you must have been going through.

      It really sucks when medical providers don’t listen to their patients, and don’t look at women as whole human beings. I’m so glad that your story has a happy ending.

  21. Caorann said:

    I was wondering, are there any parents out there who have adopted, especially an older child? I’m planning on doing this in a few years and it would be helpful to get some idea of what I’m in for. Thanks!

  22. jiapa said:

    My twins are 15 months old, and awesome.

    During the pregnancy, the Edema Fairy arrived at 22 weeks, and the Hurts-To-Stand-And-Walk Fairy arrived at 30 weeks, but the kids arrived at 36.5 weeks, and were gloriously healthy.

    No one told me that the breast pump flanges came in different sizes until I’d been pumping with the wrong size flange for 2 months, absolutely torturing my tits. My milk supply was great, but neither my OB, my PCP, nor my dermatologist could figure out why my tits hurt so damn much. I completely failed at breastfeeding, both because the kids wouldn’t latch, and because my tits hurt too much to let anything touch them for almost three months.

    Yes, I was shirtless, and my sheets only went to my waist for 3 months. From January-April. It’s a good thing my apartment was well heated.

    I hired lactation consultants. I had a hospital grade breast pump and a portable pump. I went to breastfeeding support groups (and boy isn’t that a logistical nightmare with 2 kids, an inability to wear shirts w/o pain, and no car in NYC). I tried every damn thing everyone recommended, except starving the kids until they took the tit. I starved ‘em for 6 hours a couple times, and 9 hours once, but I always gave in before they’d take the tit.

    When they pushed away the tit with both hands and both feet, arched their back and screamed every time I approached their mouth with the tit, did that mean they were trying to tell me something?

    Anyway, I pumped. A lot. And they had plenty of breastmilk in bottles, and I’m lucky my supply was good, but damn, I would have liked to have experienced breast feeding. Anyone who says that “Everyone can breast feed if they just have enough support and try hard enough” should learn that is NOT the case, and learn to say “Most people” rather than “Everyone”.

    I’m a single mom, and I work a long-hours-job, and life was a constant balancing act between the kids and the job. Luckily, I have an awesome nanny, and since I live in NYC, I can hire out all parts of my life that aren’t kids or job.

    Life changed abruptly just over 2 weeks ago, when my son was diagnosed with cancer, though. It sucks awesomely hard for your 15 month kid to have cancer. On the other hand, everything since the diagnosis has been great. His personality is back since the neurosurgery (instead of the cranky crying clingy fussy-pants that had taken over in the last month). The neurosurgeon said he got all of the cancer. My job has given me a leave for as long as I need to get this treated (as long as it’s within 12 weeks of the FMLA). We’re going to Boston in a few weeks to get him the specialized kind of Proton Beam radiation he needs. I have tons of friends in Boston that I never get to see enough of, so visiting Boston will be a kind of vacation, at least during the non-radiation parts.

    He’s learning to sleep again after 2 weeks in the hospital, and learning to walk again. My friends and family have been super supportive, and by report, with the neurosurgeon getting it all, and him getting the proton beam radiation he needs, he’ll have at least a 60% chance of it not coming back.

    Dear God (and I don’t even believe in God), I need his cancer to not come back. I’ve managed to stay cheerful and upbeat and focused on the next steps to get him the treatment he needs, but that’s because I believe (I _HAVE_ to believe) that his cancer is not coming back. If it does come back, it’ll be incurable, since only the first surgery can get clean margins, but it WILL NOT COME BACK.

    Anyway, cute kid stories. My son’s first word, and still his favorite word, is “All Done”. As in, All Done with this milk you are trying to feed me. All Done with this food you are trying to feed me. My daughter’s current favorite word is, of course, the famous toddler “No”.

    This morning, while I was showering, and my daughter was playing with her bath toys outside the shower (largely, by dropping them over the edge of the tub into my shower), I had my eyes closed for just a moment to rinse off some soap, and I heard an “Uh-Oh”. When I looked up, my fully clothed daughter was sitting in the shower with me. Luckily, she did not enter the shower head first, and she was perfectly happy to share my shower as I stripped off her clothes and diaper and then finished my shower. After all, she’d already chucked all her bath toys into the shower, and now was able to play with them.

    • Hee! My kid’s first word was “All done!” too! With the baby sign hands flapping. Even one word is so useful!

      Crossing my fingers for you and your son. I wish I could do more. I hope Boston is a great time (at least the non-radiation parts.) By the way, have an xkcd comic: http://xkcd.com/933/

    • Your kids sound wonderful, and I will also offer [prayers] for your family.

  23. I recently had my second baby, and she is absolutely adorable. The pregnancy part was the worst- having an energetic 3 year old daughter who loves being picked up at random intervals and then being pregnant was tough because I had to set boundaries with her that I never really had to do before (I had to say things like “ok, I can hold you, Daughter, but you have to wait for me to sit down first” etc.) And even though I was only 28 when I got pregnant the second time, my body REALLY let me know that it did not like it. I was so much more achy and in pain but mercifully did not have nasty morning sickness. Labor too was “faster”, just like everyone said. I ended up laboring at home for a long time because I really didn’t know what it felt like and kept thinking “oh, but I’m not in THAT much pain even though I feel like I’m having 15-20 minute intervals of the flu” (the first labor I had was all Pitocin and epidurals so I was kind of out of it) and rushed to the hospital late in the evening because it was getting too uncomfortable and I was pretty much “complete” and ready to push (so no pain medication was allowed). It kinda sucked, but she was born in about 20 minutes and all the pain disappeared when I saw her for the first time (it was amazeballs, srsly) and then I got this weird brain high- I was all “ok, now I’m going to climb a mountain at 2AM with this newborn HURRR!”

    So yeah. Sadly, that doesn’t last. Baby is 6 months old now, and I’m just trying to balance caring for two kids, working full time, keeping my relationship with my husband fairly good and actually caring for my own sanity. The sleep deprivation has been really messing me up during the day, and I sacrifice my breaks to pump breastmilk, so right now I’m feeling pretty overextended and get pretty much zero “me” time which leads to me staying up later than I should and not getting enough sleep and it just gets into an endless cycle.

    I try to be a good parent, but sometimes I just want to hide under a blanket and let the older one eat cereal and park them both in front of a cartoon. Sometimes I honestly do hide in the bathroom so I can read a chapter in a book I’ve been meaning to finish for like a year (but the oldest one can still follow me and then the baby starts fussing and whining, so, boo). My husband is an awesome co-parent (he takes day shift, I take evenings and nights) and he often lowers the workload by cooking and doing the laundry, but the nights are often the most stressful, and my sleep is often really disturbed multiple times per night.

    So yeah. Right about now, I kinda wish I could just temporarily freeze time and take care of my own needs (and nap for like a five day stretch), or simply have a clone with all my memories and kindnesses and such who would take care of my kids and give me a break and then tag team with me.

    Being a mother makes me feel nutty. I want to get away from them when they’re driving me nuts, but when I finally do, I miss them. Gwaahhhhhhhhh……

  24. dualityheart said:

    Oh, and PS for all new moms in the US- if you have insurance, the Affordable Care Act allows you to get a pump 100% covered by your insurance. I had to go through a mail-order medical supply service via my insurance, but I got my Medela Symphony pump (which is like 400 bucks) for free with a prescription from my doctor.

    Apparently like zero of the new moms at my work knew about this, so I figure I’d spread the word.

  25. dualityheart said:

    Apparently the internetz ate my first post. Basically, I’m the mom of two kids, youngest is 6 months old, and the sleep deprivation is the worst. Well, not really. The whole “staying up late to get me time for my sanity because the rest of my day is basically working, pumping breastmilk on breaks, seeing the family for lunch and breastfeeding baby, getting home and doing dinner/house chores, shower time and reading books with Eldest and changing/caring for baby, then putting everyone to bed” basically doesn’t leave much time for anything else, much less fun time for me. So I stay up late, and wonder why I’m nodding off at my desk the next day or passing out on the bed while the 3 year old climbs on me and the baby nurses and coos next to me.

    I really, really despise not having time for myself. But my husband doesn’t get much time for himself either. We work opposite full time schedules to keep the kids out of daycare (we don’t really think we could afford it anyway) and we’re still barely making it in a one bedroom apartment. Eldest goes to preschool and is totally a little person (albeit a little person who is afraid of monsters in the dark and likes to make up humorous stories), and the Young’in is basically 6 months of big doe-like eyes and concentrated cuddles- everyone automatically falls in love with her, which is nice because I can eat lunch while other people hold her (so not feeling guilty about that).

    So basically doing my best to make peace with not having time to myself, or at least not beating myself up too much (that wastes time, goddamnit), and keep to what I know.

    The nice thing is that the second one is similar in needs to the first one (at least when it comes to eat/change/sleep behaviors), so it’s nice to catch baby before she devolves into screaming and crying. I also have an ear thermometer, which I LOVE because it takes a fraction of a second to figure out if someone has a fever, as opposed to trying to hold a thermometer in some orifice for at least a minute while said child is wiggling and screaming.

    So yeah. Best thing ever is that I have the basic tools and keep them close to me, and have developed good habits for making a swift retreat or dealing with a poop emergency (thank goodness Eldest is finally 99% potty trained- we threw away a couple of little shorts and undies before we got there). Plastic baggies and wipes are your friend- just sayin’.

    I love my children, but they make me feel like my brain is about to fall out.

  26. Thanks to @Steampunked for her honesty about the toll having a baby took on her mental and physical health. I’m not a parent but I want kids one day. I have mental health issues including depression and anxiety which, although relatively well-treated for now, make me nervous about my capacity to cope as a parent. Can anyone who had pre-existing depression / anxiety share their thoughts on being a parent with a history of mental illness?

    • For me it’s been a leap of faith. I went off Wellbutrin partly because I knew I wanted to get pregnant – then didn’t get pregnant for more than a year after, long story, but maybe that was good. It allowed me plenty of time to find my balance.

      Anyway, I’m always worried that I’m sliding back into a depressive place, I’m always checking, and I’ve asked my partner to keep an eye out too. But so far, I’ve been lucky. It’s been hard: exercise has always been one of the things that keeps my mood on an even keel, and I literally have no time. Especially now that I’m pregnant again, because running used to be one of the few things that doesn’t require a trip to the gym and doesn’t require me to find someone to watch the baby (running stroller! He loves it, and we can stop at the park on the way home!) and now it hurts too much. And the baby blues stuff is real. But it was different from depression. I was terrified of PPD, and I’m scared of it again now, but at least the first time, I was lucky.

      What I really dread is the family, whether genetic or learned doesn’t really matter, but basically the depression you pass on to your kids. Oh dear god, I don’t want to pass this bullshit on to my kids and I wonder if I will. My grim consolation is that at least hopefully my partner and I will be better at recognizing it, if it happens, than my parents were; maybe we’ll be able to help.

      Also I want to make it clear that there ARE anti-depression drugs that you can keep taking during pregnancy and that I personally know at least one mom who did and her kids are adorable and bright and totally fine. My own health situation was such that I felt okay going off the meds and seeing how that went. Other people have been in a different health situation and made a different decision and that’s worked out too.

    • Kereru said:

      The fact that you have already had treatment puts you ahead of the game. Extreme anxiety & PND brought on by sleep deprivation had me hospitalised 4 weeks after the birth of both my babies. First time for 4 weeks, 2nd time for 3 weeks. It was incredibly scary going for no. 2, knowing there was a 50% chance of relapse, but my psychiatrist was excellent and I saw her regularly before the (planned C-section) birth. If I was planning to have another baby, I would definitely bottle feed as my brain obviously can’t handle the disturbed sleep involved with being the only one who can feed the baby. Also then I would be able to go on anti-anxiety meds, which I couldn’t do while breast feeding.

      Even though it was the most awful hell to go through, it’s helped me to grow enormously as a person and I definitely don’t regret it. And I love my babies (now 5 & 3) with a fierceness that I never could have imagined before I had them.

      I wish you much courage and strength, and good mental health. x

    • vintagelydia said:

      New favorite tumblr! I’ll have to show that to my husband! Thanks!

  27. From a (relatively) old parent (girls 15 and 19 years, first years at high school and uni. I know!! Unimaginable from where you are now, right??) I am sending you ALL THE LOVE and ALL THE SLEEP and ALL THE MORAL SUPPORT.

  28. Erin said:

    I have twin girls that are 7 months. I think the biggest surprise/horrible thing is that I get angry at them. Who gets MAD at babies?? I do. Apparently. I also thought that I would be more comfortable once I was un-pregnanted, but am still in physical therapy and can hardly walk.

    Most days I miss both my mental and physical state pre-baby.

    But they make me melt with love. When they’re not being jerks.

    • This comment worries me. It’s one thing to say “I’m not having any fun being a mother,” “I hate this,” “I get so frustrated never having personal time or space,” “I’m so tired and strung out I can barely remember my name and I am sooooo not feeling Zen Mommy.”

      It’s another thing to describe 7 month old babies as “being jerks.” And to get “angry” at them. Please, please, talk to your pedatrician and/or hunker down with some parenting books, and make sure you are having age-appropriate expectations! Saying they’re being jerks” sounds like you think they are failing to meet a reasonable expectation of more considerate or decorous behavior. All infants are little ids. It is parents’ job to teach them consideration along the way as they grow up, but honestly, you can’t expect much at all at 7 months.

      Getting angry at a 7 month old baby for crying, or spitting out food, or throwing toys off the high chair or pretty much anything a 7-month old would do is like getting mad at a cat for puking a hair ball on the rug.

      • MamaCheshire said:

        It depends on the manifestation of the getting angry.

        For me, there is the Sneaky Hate Spiral version of angry, where I am very frustrated while simultaneously KNOWING that the source of my frustration is not being frustrating AT ME. And then there’s the “it’s personal” version.

        The first version IS frequently applied to cats puking hairballs AND to “kids being kids” in age-appropriate but fucking annoying ways AND to inconvenient manifestations of my spouse’s OR MY OWN mental illness.

        From the one parenting group I hang out in, I learned a very useful coping bit for the kid. Saying to self or to partner or to whatever friend is sympathetic: “Wow, Kid is REALLY being [kid’s age] today!” I’ve noticed that “being THREE” seems to be the most popular use of that one, but I’ve seen it in use from baby to teen.

        Now, that said, there are absolutely age-inappropriate expectations of small children. And many of them are in published parenting books, and this is actually a really serious problem and I’m married to someone who has PTSD in large part because of that style of parenting applied in a fundamentalist cult context. [My MIL actually called to lecture Spouse on how he needs to “show that baby who’s boss!” less than a week after FirstKid was born. Because apparently six day old baby girls are manipulative little bleeps, don’t’cha know?]

        But…on the other other hand, you know how a lot of internet social justice space says intent isn’t magic? This is ALSO true with kids (and pets). It’s totally possible to realize they don’t MEAN TO be jerks and yet to be really upset by jerky stuff they do. Because they DO and there’s no sense pretending they don’t just ’cause they don’t have the mental capacity to consciously decide “I’m going to be a jerk now!”

        And there’s a LOT of pressure to Never Ever Say That Kind Of Thing because what it means is that You Are A Bad Parent Who SHOULD Feel Bad. And that…sucks.

        [See also: Why “Go The Fuck To Sleep” is so popular.]

        • It’s tricky, trying to know what is reasonable to expect of your kid. It’s bad to expect things of them that are not within their capabilities, and get angry at them for not measuring up to a standard that simply isn’t within their reach.

          It’s also not good to expect too little, because it’s your job to be teaching them to be decent, and not total insufferable ids with no empathy or consideration.

          And it is hard as hell to figure out where the line lies, especially since as you say some of the parenting books are pretty wacked, and of course none if it is magically associated with a particular age; it varies from kid to kid, and the little buggers are moving targets, so what you can’t reasonably expect of a kid one month, you can the next. I just wanted the commenter to be conscious of the issue, and to do some checking… because 7 months is pretty darned little, and a lot of harm is done to kids because their parents just don’t know what it is/is not reasonable to expect.

      • JenniferP said:

        I think this is an ok place for people to vent about unkind feelings and being overwhelmed. I have totally felt angry at the cat for puking a hairball on the rug or peeing in a basket of clean laundry or wanting to snuggle ALL THE GODDAMN TIME OMG GET OFF GET OFF. I don’t do anything mean to the cat, but I do feel totally frustrated at times when she knocks over a glass of water onto an expensive hard drive or, in one recent case, parked on the headboard of my bed and projectile vomited across my entire bed. She can’t help it, but does affect me.

        If anger becomes a default state – more than a passing flash of frustration or annoyance – yes, it’s time to get some help managing some parts of that.

      • This sounds to me uncomfortably close to concern trolling or telling parents how they’re supposed to feel.

        Erin, I absolutely had days when my coworkers would beam “How’s the baby?” and I would literally, honestly say, “He’s a jerk.” My partner and I were recently sort of reminiscing (anti-reminiscing? looking back at the bad old days?) about the first three months. We would get so mad at that little guy. Sometimes. Not all the time but sometimes. I swear sometimes it felt like he was crying just to fuck with us. Nights when it wasn’t enough to hold him, you had to hold him and STAND. Holding him and sitting down wasn’t good enough. Also, as Mr. E says, “Remember that night he would only sleep if I held him AND jumped around like some kind of fucking elf?”

        And yeah, we knew he didn’t mean it. We didn’t need a pediatrician to tell us that, he was like four weeks old. We knew he was only a tiny helpless baby and he wasn’t really trying to fuck with us. We knew it perfectly well. But emotions aren’t perfectly rational. I don’t think anger is a problem. It’s what you do with it. We traded off when we got that mad – one person tag in, other person go get an hour’s desperately needed sleep, or alone time, or time out of the house. Or I personally have been known to sing “Rockabye Baby”. If you think about the lyrics, it’s really passive aggressive! And it doesn’t hurt the kid any.

        And it’s true that I was seriously not happy to discover that I was the kind of person who could get *really mad* at a tiny helpless baby. But I am. And I’m still a perfectly good mom. And alphakitty, you are apparently not that kind of person, and I’m really happy for you; because I’m sure it’s nicer, and feels better, and you’re lucky. But you’re not the only kind of perfectly good mom there is. A person can be the getting angry kind and still be a perfectly good mom from the kid’s point of view.

        My little guy is now almost two and he’s wonderful and sometimes I still look at the darling face of my sweet little innocent angel-pie snookie wookie wookums and want to tell him to shut the living hell up. And as long as what I actually say is “We’re inside, love, you need to use your inside voice” then it’s not a problem and it’s not a reason for anyone to be ~worried~. Kid’s doing fine and so am I.

        • Trust me, my comment was not coming from a place of smug zen maternal perfection. I once almost bit my screaming infant’s shoulder because I was so exhausted and some primitive urge to defend myself against the creature tormenting me welled up inside me. But if you read some of the stories folks have posted about their childhoods, it is clear a horrifying number of parents lose perspective on what is appropriate to expect of their very little kids. So all I was saying was “be conscious of that.” Not “you are horrible and clearly getting it wrong.”

          I also think “angry” may mean different things to different people. When I think of the word anger, it has a component of righteousness, not just annoyance or upset. (To me) it means you believe you had a right to expect different behavior. If it doesn’t mean that to you, saying you’re angry is a lot less fraught.

          • MamaCheshire said:

            Yeah, can’t speak for the OP but I think this is different definitions of anger at work. Because “angry” is easier to say than “frustrated” even though the two are practically interchangeable for me. 🙂

          • alphakitty said:

            I think the scope of our disagreement is actually pretty narrow. I am ALL in favor of women’s righteous anger as a general matter, believe me. I’ve got NO problem with anyone feeling fed up, frustrated, exasperated, on-their-last-nerve, annoyed as all hell, or profoundly peeved with their child. For thinking, at times, that they wish they had not had this fucking annoying creature or wondering if they’re going to make it through this awful phase, whatever it is. I do not imagine parenthood is unmitigated bliss, or think that if you’re not loving every minute of it and talking to your kids exclusively in sweet and soothing tones or never feeling resentment at parenthood’s demands that you’re a bad parent. Yeesh, would I be a bad mom by those standards.

            I’ve shared elsewhere on this website that I think it’s not just ok but valuable for (somewhat older) kids to see that there is such a thing as going too damned far, and that you can make even people who love you very much angry and they may yell at you. (Within reason).

            My ONLY issue is when frustration and annoyance cross over into righteousness-tainted anger toward children for not meeting expectations that were never reasonable to have of them in the first place. And I still think that’s a reasonable, non-concern-troll-y thing to care about. I don’t think it’s safe to assume, “if you are self-aware enough to write in to Captain Awkward you could never lose sight of whether your fury was really appropriate given the age of your kid!”

            Because there ARE parents who get righteously, ragingly angry at their kids for throwing things off the tray of their high chair over and over or spitting out food, for not falling asleep when they’re “supposed to” or getting up in the middle of the night, for peeing their pants when the parent set them up for failure by trying to start potty-training when the kid totally wasn’t ready for that yet, etc. etc. etc. And it is incredibly damaging to those children to live with a constant barrage of anger over things that are not actually misbehavior for someone their age.

            That’s not you, Metaphortunate, or other commenters? You’re confident that your expectations are age-appropriate, and that you’re keeping your expression of frustration within appropriate bounds? Awesome! Then the comment was not meant for you. Because you’re already doing the self-check that I was advocating. Because that was all I was saying: if you’re feeling angry (which, as I have explained, in my lexicon includes that element of righteousness) at an infant, double-check your expectations.

          • JenniferP said:

            Alphakitty, I know your intentions are in the right place, but please let this subthread be. You are not wrong about people having incorrect expectations of what a child is capable of sometimes leading to rough situations. But you are definitely projecting that worry and your own understanding of what “angry” means in this case. The poster has come back to clear it up, other posters have come in to back it up, they are not using “anger” with that extra thread of righteousness that you are. Solved.

            We have a thread for new parents to share their feelings honestly and where it is said at the outset that they can share the uncomfortable ones without judgment. It is ok to be angry. It is not ok to take it out on kids who can’t help being kids. I think everyone gets that here, and this is not a How To Parent Correctly thread. It’s in part a “I love them, but it fucking sucks sometimes” thread.

        • Erin said:

          Thank you for this, metaphortunate. I must admit, I read the first comment and ended up in tears. I never said that I hate being a mother. I love my babies. Being a mother is the best thing I have ever done. It is also, by far, the hardest. And while I’ve been very frank with my friends, and no one has batted an eye, maybe this wasn’t the right place to vent.

          I have two teething 7 month olds, so yes, I get frustrated (you’re right MamaCheshire, that is the more appropriate description), and I lovingly call them jerks. That does not make me unfit, or even a bad mom. I wish I didn’t get angry/frustrated, but I do, and I don’t think it is unhealthy. There is more than one emotion out there, and I find it’s okay to experience them all once in awhile.

          I’m going to try not to obsess about it. It’s already made it a tough start to the day, someone making me feel like a bad mom.

          I know I love my babies. I know they drive me crazy sometimes. Both of those are totally valid.

          • Oh, I just want to send you all the hugs. That comment put me on edge, too. I know you love your babies, I know you’re not a bad mom.

            I got so frustrated with my girl when she was that age and teething, too (or heck, even now, at 18 months…molars are HORRIBLE) – and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying that a teething baby or a toddler is a jerk. Of course they’re jerks! They can’t help it and with our help they’ll learn not to be, when they get older (I sure hope, at least!), but of course they are, right now.

            So many ::hugs::

          • commanderlogic said:

            YOU ARE A GOOD MOM. Babies ARE jerks, and feeling angry is NORMAL.

            Also, HOLY SHIT TWO OF THEM.

            I get angry/frustrated/whatever every evening, when WeeLogic starts a super annoying cycle. My milk production is slower than the rest of the day, so it doesn’t come out as fast as she likes. So instead of suckling, she yells at my boob. Counter-productive and stress making! She will eventually try that “suckling” thing and realize that there IS milk in there nomnomnom, but all the boob-yelling gives her mad gas, which makes her yell more. Then I burp her, and she’s so upset, she spits up, which makes her hungry all over again, and ARG. (Per our awesome pediatrician, we only do this dance for 20 minutes per boob, then switch to a bottle of either pumped milk or formula. So there’s a set end time!)

            It pisses me off. The SITUATION pisses me off, and I wish I could communicate to my 2 month old what was happening. But I can’t. Because babies are stupid AND they’re jerks. I love her to pieces, and I’m mostly mad that I can’t tell her how to fix the situation. So I will lovingly use a TON of swear words in a soothing tone to try and help her understand.

            I validate your anger, your love, and all of it.

          • JenniferP said:

            I am really sorry, and you definitely didn’t do anything wrong. Both things are extremely valid.

          • Epiphyta said:

            Oh, holy shitballs, honey, NO. You are NOT a bad mom.

            (TW: discussion of suicidal ideation and attempts)

            Being told that my anger was a sign that “something was deeply wrong with me, because no GOOD mother would ever feel that way” — when I had been dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, hyperemesis gravidarum for nine goddamned months, the loss of my job at 5 months (I filed a wrongful dismissal complaint that went nowhere), nearly bleeding out during delivery, the hormonal changes kicking off my barely controlled severe clinical depression, being 3000 miles from my family with a husband who went back to working 60-hour weeks 5 days after the birth and NO ONE to help me, and a kid with serious colic and inability to latch on — led to my first serious suicide attempt.

            When the people telling you your anger is WRONG are your husband, his mother, and all the other doting moms around you? When, in fact, your husband assumes that because you’re miserable and pissed when you should be fulfilled at doing your “proper work”, it’s a sign that you slept around on him and he withdraws from you when you need him? Why the fuck should you stay around?

            Sweet zombie Jesus, between this and a discussion elsewhere about how non-religious people are missing a component of “how people are”, I’m about to dropkick the defenseless laptop. Even when my PPD was at its worst and I was seriously considering the edges on my kitchen knives, I knew that actually playing handball with the screaming pooping lump of humanity was a bad idea, and I was able to put him somewhere safe and scream in the shower for 5 minutes. Or make a pile of pillows in the bedroom and pound on them. Or, on one memorable occasion, throw the packages of thank-you cards across the living room. (I don’t recommend that option: I had to clean it up.)

            Feelings are not wrong. What we do with them is the important part. The Acorn is 26 and a perfectly healthy, well-regarded human being, and I am no longer with his biological father, which was in both of our best interests. And I am now so thoroughly in RAGEFACE at the memories storming back up that I am going to go outside and take it out on some eminently deserving weeds.

      • rebekah said:

        You are really being too harsh. The captain clearly stated that judging others was not allowed and you need to stop it now. Sometimes babies can be awful and sometimes their parents get mad about it. She doesn’t say that she’s acting on her anger, just that she feels it. Your statement is unhelpful.

    • Also, one of my most unpleasant surprises post birth was just how long it took to get over the physical trauma. Much longer than I had been expecting! Wishing you all possible speed of recovery.

    • I’ll confess that I had a lot of the same feelings with my kiddo, more so when she was teeny weeny and it was the middle of the night and she would. not. sleep. Believe it or not, the thing that helped me the most when I felt myself getting a little unhinged and irrational was to say, out loud, “You are a baby.”

    • Guava said:

      You are not a bad mom. You have teething twins! You are probably so tired you could sleep for 1,000 years!

      I spent the entire first year of my first child’s life in a rage at my husband. I was angry with him for not understanding what I needed, for not helping me as much as I needed, for not getting that sometimes I just want to eat a meal while it’s still hot and without a baby attached to my body. I was angry with him for calling me when I had the audacity to go to the grocery store and telling me “your baby needs you, he’s hungry” because he forgot to give him a bottle, and I was angry with him for defaulting to taking care of himself first and the baby second and me not at all.

      That shit was real. It didn’t mean that I didn’t love my baby. It didn’t mean that I had PPD. It didn’t mean that my husband was in physical danger. It meant that I was tired and I wasn’t getting the support that I needed, and I was fucking angry about it. It took us a long time to climb out of that place and for our marriage to heal.

      I don’t know if there’s anyone in your life who could come over sometimes and sit with your twins on the rough days and give you a bit of a break, but if there is, call them. Even if you think you’re too tired to deal with anyone, or you hate to ask for a favor, or the thought of taking a shower and getting dressed and leaving the house for an hour seems like an insurmountable obstacle. Call them anyway. It helps, I swear.

    • Guava said:

      Aargh…I just posted a comment that was eaten by the spam filter – and wanted to edit something that I wrote.

      **I didn’t mean to imply that PPD isn’t real. PPD is totally real. What I was trying to say in my clumsy way was that when I was in that tired/angry/new parent place, occasionally when I tried to talk about it with people, they’d be all, “Oh, it’s just PPD, you should take something for that.” They’d say it kind of dismissively, like someone who tells you you’re having PMS and go take an Advil. And the response would piss me off because I knew what the problem was. I didn’t need meds, I needed sleep, help and marriage counseling! Just a point to clarify that.

      • Irene said:

        “Just” PPD? Oh my heavens. Someone who could say that knows nothing about PPD, either. Even if they’d been right they’d still have been wrong, if you see what I mean.

        • Guava said:

          Totally. As if PPD is some trifling hormonal woman’s issue. That attitude was really offensive, on so many levels. And then there was the whole assumption that if I just took a pill, I’d be “fixed”. No other adjustments or lifestyle changes required on the part of anyone else!

          Sadly, I heard this from more than one person, and some of those people were mothers.

  29. nerdette said:

    Funny story about sip’n’sees and busy bodies…

    A neighbor of mine wanted to host an open house for the other neighbors to come see babyomg!, and I was NOT feeling it. We’re not close with any of the neighbors, and I was just trying to make it to the end of each day and feel ok with myself. I never told her a good direct “no thanks,” instead I just kind of blew her off repeatedly (classy, I know). Eventually she got the hint and dropped it.

    Fast forward.

    The Mr. and I came home from the grocery store one day with the kiddo in tow to find a flyer on our doorstep. It was a homemade photocopied birth announcement with all the info my neighbor had wheedled out of me over the phone after we got back from the hospital along with our address and my phone number (during that prior conversation she had actually asked me if I ended up with stitches. THE STATE OF MY LADYBITS ARE NOT YOUR BUSINESS, LADY!). Only by this point the baby was three months old already. When we went for a walk later, yup, there was an odious pink flyer on every porch on our street.

    I’m pretty sure I have never been so pissed/mortified. It took me a couple days to calm down enough to call her and explain tersely that was not her news to share.

    • JenniferP said:

      That is beyond awkward. Did you ever hear about it from any of the other neighbors?

      • Suzy said:

        Eeep! That would actually give me nightmares. She probably wouldn’t blink if you tried to give her a graphic description of vaginal tearing either….

        Well done for calling her though. Wow.

        • Nerdette said:

          True story: I never would have called her if not for this very website.

      • Nerdette said:

        Thankfully, no. I’m pretty sure anybody with a brain knew I actually had nothing to do with it. She’s the only one that flyers the neighborhood. Pot luck invites. Cookie exchanges. That sort of thing.

    • Caorann said:

      OMG, is my mother your neighbor? That sounds like something she would do. No boundaries! I’m so sorry that you went through that. Why don’t people think?

  30. Meghan said:

    So I emailed a good friend today a long, huge rant about how depressing and boring it was being home all day with a baby, and she sent me the link to this post in return. I spent the rest of naptime crying and laughing! You guys are all amazing.

    I’ve got a boy who’ll be 3 next month, and an 8 week old. You know what? It’s just as sucky and hard the second time as it was the first, but in different ways. This time around, breastfeeding was easy, I knew how to handle diapers and baths and swaddling and crying, but now I never have enough time for my toddler, and he is basically just now starting to tolerate me again. He was not quite actively hating me, but it was pretty close. He’s always been a daddy’s boy, but it’s been ridiculous since the baby was born, and as much as I want to be with him, I can’t because I’m tied to a chair by a 12-pound lacto-vampire. It kills me. My husband and I just keep saying, “2 more years, and everything will be easier. Just 2 more years,” then cry-laughing at the hopelessness of it. I’m dying to go back to work (I’m self employed and work from home), and my brain is ready, but my life is a shambles so that won’t be happening any time soon.

  31. Anonymous Lurker Person said:

    So what do you do if you can already see abusive tendencies in yourself?

    My twins are two and a half months old. I love them so much that the strength of the feeling almost scares me sometimes, especially since they’ve started developing actual people personalities. (My girl is sunny and smiles at everyone; my boy is a talker, having managed “words” as long as “awooga.”) But just three days ago, I found myself saying, out loud, “Oh, shut up, you stupid baby, there’s nothing wrong with you.”

    (Yes, of course I realize that he can’t understand it. That isn’t the point. The point is that I said it.)

    That isn’t the only danger sign. Everyone in my family thinks I’m supplementing with formula because I couldn’t produce enough milk, which is sort of true—but also, I can’t stand having a baby on my breast for more than half an hour at a stretch. Not because of pain, but because of weird personal sensory issues. And if I can’t fight past my “problems” for the sake of *feeding my children,* what damned good am I? I have next to no maternal instinct and the inside of my head is a constant soundtrack of “poor me” whining.

    I was abused as a kid. I also have mental problems. I told myself that I’d had enough counseling to avoid repeating those mistakes. It’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that I was fucking delusional, selfish, and stupid.

    So, what now? I called my counselor, but should I even be allowed to stay around my kids? What do I do long-term? What do I do when they *can* understand what I spew, and learn that Mommy would rather have an extra five minutes of sleep than try to fix the damned problem? I am—as if the cussing didn’t give it away—truly furious at myself right now, but I’m also feeling a fair amount of despair. Because I don’t know how to fix this. I don’t know how to fix *me.*

    • JenniferP said:

      I think you call your counselor FOR SURE.

      I think you supplement with formula for whatever reason and whatever method works for you. Because holy shit: Twins. There is a lot of judgement around breastfeeding and maybe your counselor can help you let some of that guilt and judgment go. Your family doesn’t have to know all the whys & wherefores. Are your kids getting fed enough food? It sounds like they are, which means you are doing it right. They will adapt and thrive, and you are not bad for having limits about what you can do in that category. Some women cannot do it at all, and they are not bad moms, so why are you a bad mom for only doing some?

      I think other moms in this thread have described saying terrible things (but in a sweet voice) to their kids when angry. And wanting an extra few minutes of sleep before creatures are sucking on you and needing every ounce of your attention is not evil.

      I don’t think your behaviors here are all that terrible. I think your lack of trust in your own decisions and perceptions, and your fear of repeating history, are 100% worth treating professionally and taking seriously not because you are a bad mom but because (though I am but a vicarious absorber of experiences in this thread) PARENTING IS FUCKING HARD and it is taking a real toll on you and you should have all the support and self-care you can get. And post-partum depression is a real thing, and while I am not saying you have that (I don’t/can’t know) you are expressing thoughts that 1000s of other women have had when they are in the thick of PPD, including the “am I even allowed to be around my kids?” stuff.

      As for “going back to counseling” being some kind of defeat, it isn’t. It is not a shocker that issues of being abused would come back and haunt you now, at this time of huge flux and stress, or that you would have those worries. I know a lot about depression; I just called & went back to my therapist after more than 2 years away because knowing a lot about it and actually doing the steps to take care of myself around it are two different things, and to do the stuff I need the support and outlet of someone who is on Team Me and who can help me separate out what is true and what is the Jerkbrain. Your brain is being a jerk to you right now, and it’s not fair. Your best chance for being the kind of great mom that I predict you are is to take massive, massive care of yourself right now. Go to counseling. Talk to your partner, if you have one, talk to your family, and do what you can to get yourself some more breaks from the kids. More sleep/time outside the house/a half-hour to yourself. You are allowed to say “I need to shut my eyes for a little while, can you watch them (and give them a bottle if they wake up/cry)?” You are allowed to decide “That’s all the boobs can take right now, dear ones, here is a bottle.”

      Commenters, please, please do not respond with “breastfeeding fixes/try harder!” suggestions. There are many already in this thread. That is so not the issue here.

      • Anonymous Lurker Person said:

        Oh, Jesus. I posted this *reeeally* late last night, and I’m sorry for dumping the drama on you guys.

        To answer your questions:

        Yes, I think the kiddos are getting enough food. Or, at least, their pediatrician says that they’re okay. I don’t really think I’ve done anything wrong by them *yet.* It’s more a pattern of inappropriate thoughts and feelings. Like really, really wanting to scream at my boy when he gives me this beatific smile and joyously pees all over the changing table, the wet-wipes, the new diaper, the wall, his own face, and my only clean nightgown. Good parents do not yell at their children for things they physically can’t help, and good parents don’t terrify their infant by shrieking wordlessly. So, if I *want* to yell at him . . . you see where I’m going with this.

        I don’t think I have post-partum depression. I’m upright, dressed, and posting on a computer, albeit with a kid asleep across my arms. That’s pretty functional. But I acknowledge the possibility.

        I’ve already called the counselor, so nobody needs to worry on that count. I don’t think that seeing him is a defeat in itself, but I’m still very upset at *why* I have to call him.

        I’m already getting a ton of help, more than most people get. My husband and my mother are picking up a lot of slack for me. And I’m having to fight my own instincts to make myself sit back and take it, because my survival instincts say, “Remove the child from the father’s presence at the first sign of frustration. Do not allow the child to be loud, upset, or out-of-control in the presence of the father . . .” My husband is the opposite of my own father in most ways, but the scripts in my head don’t always believe it, especially when I’m tired.

        Anyway, thank you all for listening, and I apologize for spilling my personal issues all over this post.

        • JenniferP said:

          You didn’t waste our time. I hope you find a way to lighten the burden of bad messages in your head and can be gentle and kind to yourself. No apologies necessary; being honest about where you are at is what the thread is for. If you read through it, you will find plenty of exhausted folks hanging on by a thread. Give yourself credit for doing a really hard thing. Give yourself credit for reaching out when things felt bad.

        • Mary said:

          You NEED more help than most people! You have twice as many babies as most people! You and your husband should be comparing yourselves with how much work two other couples are doing to look after one baby each!

          I am really glad to hear that your initial post was at least partly middle-of-the-night angst, and I hope you feel better at least some of the time. Also, it sounds completely exhausting sorting out useful should-be- listened-to instincts (like sensory issues) from situation issues that you want to work against (like protect-babies-from-daddy). Give yourself LOTS of credit for that mental effort. I think it’s probably something that will get easier as you get more used to trusting yourself on your babies’ behalf, but don’t underestimate how much extra energy that must be using right now.

          Non-sensory jedi hugs! You sound like you are doing brilliantly for your babies.

        • CaitlinMac said:

          Hey, I’m not a new parent (yet), but I did have an abusive childhood, and it is something I have talked with my psych and my parent-friends. Wanting to do something is not the same as doing it. I get that you worry, and I get why–you don’t want to recreate what you had to live through. That is great. Sometimes it takes a little more help: the abuse in your childhood means you weren’t shown a good model for what is OK and normal, and questioning your impulses means you are actively working to do better.

          Calling your counselor is not defeat, it’s sensibly marshalling the resources you need before you hit a crisis point. Likewise, formula feeding, you are doing what you need to do to make sure your children are fed while taking care of your own needs, too. It’s more important that they are fed adequately in a way you are OK with, too, than fed by super-specific Method X that messes you up in the process. You have needs. You will always have needs, and your needs will not necessarily be the needs other people are expected to have. They’re still valid needs, and require care. Being able to balance your needs and and the needs of folks who depend on you is important and tricky (and for me at least, an ongoing learning-by-failure process).

          My parent-friends have told me that there will be times when I will want not just to yell at my baby, but to chuck hir out a window. They also say that that’s the time to put the baby down somewhere safe and walk away, but that the *feeling* is normal, and as long as I *don’t* do it, it’s OK to feel what I feel.

          In short? Your children are fed. Your children are OK. You are doing OK and you are reaching out for support. That’s good. Feel free to reach out for more if you find you need, or think you might need, or just plain want, more.

        • ailbhe said:

          Your body, your breasts, your choice. I *choose* to breastfeed my children until they are old enough to say “Thank you, nummy milk,” because I *want* to. I don’t owe it to them as payment for, what, allowing me to gestate them in my actual body?

          Your sensory issues are a thing, and breastmilk being a very good food for babies is a thing, but you don’t need to give anyone a reason for deciding what you will and will not do with your body, day in and day out.

          Separate from that, if you feel a need for extra support, keep looking. Keep asking. Support is good for people, and supported parents are good for children, so everyone wins.

    • Mary said:

      >> I can’t stand having a baby on my breast for more than half an hour at a stretch. Not because f pain, but because of weird personal sensory issues. And if I can’t fight past my “problems” for the sake of *feeding my children,* what damned good am I? I have next to no maternal instinct and the inside of my head is a constant soundtrack of “poor me” whining.

      Oh sweetie! That is like saying, “what, I can’t even get over my own damn need for oxygen long enough to put the babies’ oxygen masks on? What kind of mother am I?”

      You are ALLOWED to have weird sensory issues! You are allowed to put some of your own needs above the babies’ if it makes it a little easier to look after them. You are an absolute fucking hero for breastfeeding twins at all, and the fact that you’re supplementing with formula isn’t going to hurt your kids a bit.

      It sounds so hard, and I’m sorry you feel self-hatey and angry with yourself when it sounds like you’re doing a perfectly good job of bring a mum. If you have a doctor our a.health visitor or a counsellor out anyone that you can tell this to, please do, and I hope you get some support. If not, I hope you feel better soon. Not a single thing you’ve said here describes someone who is failing, though.

      • Anonymous Lurker Person said:

        I have a counselor. I called him on Friday.

        The weird sensory issues—I realize, intellectually, that formula probably won’t hurt my children. But I can’t even *describe* these issues adequately, let alone prove they exist. The best I can do is say, “Do you know that awful feeling you get at the back of your throat when you hold a live moth in your hands?” and I know from experience that no-one does. It isn’t a real thing that happens to anybody else. I hate making decisions about my children based on stuff that happens purely in my head.

        • Erin McJ said:

          Wow, I don’t have the same response to breastfeeding, but I TOTALLY know what you mean about the moth.

          Also, in lieu of writing a separate comment in this thread, I want to mention that I don’t see this as a waste of time at all. By voicing your fears I bet you’ve helped at least one other new mom reading this thread to feel less alone.

          • Anonymous Lurker Person said:

            Wow, seriously? I don’t think I’ve ever talked to anyone else who feels that thing.

            And I hope you’re right that I’ve helped someone. Thank you.

      • Emmers said:

        YES! Very much the “put on your own oxygen mask first” thing. Lurker needs to take care of herself, and to get to a place where she doesn’t feel bad for it. Sensory issues are no joke – they can quickly make even normal things feel overwhelming. As long as your baby is getting *enough* food, it DOES NOT MATTER if that food is breastmilk or formula.

        it. does. not. matter.

        Take care of the infant’s needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy, woo!), take care of your own needs, call in the reserves, and CALL YOUR DOCTOR. If your counselor isn’t enough, talk to your OB/GYN or pediatrician. It might be PPD, it might be something else, and we can’t diagnose you over the Internet anyway; but your doctors can. Don’t be afraid. You *want* the best for your kid, which is the most important first step. The rest will follow, if you let it.

    • DFTBAwkward said:

      Just wanted to chime in here with a little encouragement. I totally agree with the Captain that you do not sound like a bad mother. It sounds like you are trying to strike a balance between making sure your kids get good care and making sure you take care of yourself, too. There’s nothing wrong with setting limits like only breastfeeding for half an hour and then moving to a bottle–if you pushed yourself too hard or too far, that could make you burn out. It’s not just ok, it’s HEALTHY to take care of yourself especially when you have other people depending on you for care. That’s not selfish. Self care helps you store up enough energy for your babies so you can give them what they really need.

      And like others have said here, formula babies totally turn out fine. I don’t have children yet but I have a younger sister where there is a BIG age gap. She was fed a mix of breastmilk and formula. She just turned 13 and is healthy, well-liked by her peers at school, plays sports and sings in choir, makes great grades in her math classes, and is just amazing. She turned out totally fine, and your babies will turn out fine too if they are fed formula from a bottle.

      I agree with the Captain’s suggestion of going back to therapy if you can, to sort out the parts where your brain is being a jerk from the parts where it isn’t.

      I believe you are doing a good job and doing the best you can. ❤

      • Anonymous Lurker Person said:

        Thank you for your encouragement. I’m having a hard time believing encouragement at the moment, but I’m doing my best.

        I am going to make an appointment with my counselor. I might not be able to manage full-time therapy until my mother’s school system goes on summer break, and that’s if I can pay for it . . . we’ll see. If nothing else, he should be able to work out whether I need to remove myself from the home for post-partum depression. I don’t *want* to hurt my children. I don’t really want to hurt myself, either, although admittedly that’s just because it would hurt everyone around me. I just want to put a pillow over my head and *go away* for a while.

      • Emmers said:

        This. I was Ferberized *and* my parents supplemented with formula *and* I went to daycare, but I got a 1540 on my SATs (in the days when it was out of 1600) and did a zillion quality extracurriculars and got into awesome colleges. Judgmental attachment parents can bite my shiny metal ass. (Sadly, being Ferberized does not *actually* give you a shiny metal ass. I wish it did.) There are people who can do their thing without being judgmental, but those people don’t seem to be on the internet much.

        • MamaCheshire said:

          Judgmental attachment parents can bite my shiny metal ass.

          Mine too.

          Judgmental “method” parents of any kind, really.

          Because really, we need better choices than Masochistic Parenting and Sadistic Parenting. And someday maybe I’ll write a book. 🙂

          • Anonymous Lurker Person said:

            Unfortunately, it may be difficult to promote a book that says, “You know, circumstances are different and *people* are different, so pay attention and do your best.” I have a dark suspicion that most self-help books sell because they are willing to claim they contain the One True Path Of Enlightenment Without Which You Are Dooooomed.

        • Zooey said:

          The term ‘Ferberized’ was new to me in this thread, and the word itself totally sounds like it should give you a shiny metal ass! And possibly lasers shooting out of your eyes.

    • You know how nonparents tend to be judgmental about how other people raise their kids, because nonparents have no idea how hard it is?

      I’m a nonparent. Nothing — NOTHING — that you have described here sounds bad.

      Other people have already spoken about how supplementing with formula is fine. The reason you’re doing it is also fine. Do I know what your sensory problems feel like? No. Who cares. They sound unpleasant. You’re allowed to take care of yourself. You’re allowed, not just because you’ll be better equipped to take care of your kids when you’re feeling okay, but because YOU’RE IMPORTANT TOO.

      You are. I promise.

      And kudos to calling your therapist.

      • Anonymous Lurker Person said:

        Thank you. I generally have problems believing I’m important, but taking care of my children—that’s a reason I can get behind.

    • MamaCheshire said:

      [Mama of two, with a mental illness, with a spouse with multiple mental health diagnoses including PTSD from an incredibly abusive childhood. Also social work student one week from graduation.]

      What do you do if you can “see abusive tendencies” in yourself, and are conscious of them, and have no intention of acting on them?

      Give yourself a HUGE FUCKING PAT ON THE BACK for being a good conscientious parent and a good conscientious HUMAN BEING, first thing.

      Next thing, reach out for help. Not just counselor-type help, but “I need a break, can someone else deal with these babies for a bit?” type help.

      And make sure you are taking care of you. No matter how icky or wrong or selfish it feels – DO IT.

      I’m pretty sure you got this.

      • Kereru said:

        RIGHT ON!! Totally.

      • popesuburban said:

        Yes! Preach it! I’m a nonparent, but I grew up in an abusive household. I was always so terrified that I would turn into that kind of person, that I would be a bully, that I would be unkind to people I loved. Growing up how I did gave me all kinds of weird discomforts that I couldn’t name, that I didn’t think anyone else ever felt. I’ve been there, where I was afraid of myself and afraid to reach out for help. But, man, reaching out for help is important, and okay, and brave, and necessary. Reaching out for help is what makes it possible to get out from under our baggage. Anonymous Lurker Person, you care and you have a good heart. You’re not a monster, you’re a person who is understandably stressed out, scared, and weird-feeling. And you won’t be that way forever, and there are a lot of people who will help you on your way.

        • Anonymous Lurker Person said:

          Thank you so much. And thanks for telling me that it won’t be this way forever. I’ve got to say, these have been the longest nearly-three-months in my *life.*

      • Anonymous Lurker Person said:

        Good lord, social work school. I washed out of that thanks to a fibromyalgia flare-up; twelve hours of class per day is no joke. Massive respect for making it through.

        Thank you for the vote of confidence. I keep telling myself that if I’m worried about screwing up, at least I’ll notice when it happens. Now, to make myself believe that . . .

        • MamaCheshire said:

          I’m still surprised I made it. There were a lot of points I thought I wouldn’t, but somehow my spouse and I have gotten good enough at keeping each other patched that I could go out the door and appear functional most of the time when I really needed to.

          The most important thing, in my experience, is to make sure you’re telling people what’s going on and checking your perceptions against theirs. Kind of what you did here, actually.

          (And that’s gone the other way, too, with a friend of mine who was experiencing something decidedly outside the bounds of “normal new mom stuff” – hearing her baby crying when the baby was not within range to be heard or was not crying at all – but who thought it was just one of those things everyone thought was a little weird so nobody actually talked about. Telling her that, really, she should probably tell her therapist about this was most likely important.)

    • Pamela said:

      Pretty much everything has been covered here. I just wanted to jump in and say that it’s ok to want to scream!

      My husband and I have a sort of code phrase “I’m going to throw the baby out the window” when we are just DONE and need to get some space. You’re not a bad mother even if you do scream. It’s HARD.

      Also, the first three months are the worst for what the doctors call “purple crying.” Which is just crying and crying for no real reason, which usually peaks around 2 or 3 months. It’s when kids are most likely to be shaken, because it’s _really_ frustrating. Hearing babies cry(or just taking care of them) can really really wear down all your reserves and make it very hard to deal with anything. It’s ok to put them somewhere safe and five minutes to deal with their needs, so that you can be chill out somewhere quiet and be sane. 5 minutes wont hurt them, but it might make all the difference to you.

      Good parents DO want to scream when they get peed on. What matters is that you take care of them(and yourself!) anyway. Also, there is more than just PPD, there can be any number of mental issues, depression, anxiety, even psychosis. So talk to your counselor about this stuff for sure, and if money is an issue you might check with your OB/GYN if there are any local resources to help with PPD etc. There are usually a lot of community programs for new parents.

      I think you are doing great to take the best care of them that you can and to pay attention to what you are feeling. Remember that you have to take care of yourself. You’re going to be ok!

      • Anonymous Lurker Person said:

        Thank you. I wonder why they call it “purple crying?”

  32. Nogelle said:

    I’m thrilled I found this thread today. My 7 month old son is sick for the first time this week. Runny nose, hacking cough, vomiting… Good times! He was supposed to start daycare yesterday and I had to cancel.
    I’m a single mother. My birth experience was in the midrange of crappy. I needed an episiotomy and hemorrhaged from exhaustion. I literally could barely move for two days. Then got sent home alone with the baby. He had jaundice and we had feeding trouble. So after two days of virtually no sleep, or food, we ended up back at the hospital. He was there for five days while they treated the jaundice and fattened him up with formula. My epi wound got infected and my stitches popped open because of the swelling. TMI, I have epic scarring! Despite pumping every few hours while very ill and exhausted, and medication to try and boost it, my milk dried up. I officially gave up on breastfeeding at about 3 weeks. The only real consolation was that my one vaguely functioning breast kept producing small amounts of colostrum for a week or two after that, so I added that to his bottles and felt less like a failure.
    The funny thing is, once the feeding trouble was resolved he was a little angel, and still is. He was sleeping through the night at 9 weeks (7:30 – 5/6am) and is full of friendliness and joy. Everyone is besotted with him! Even now, when he’s sick, he spent the six hours we spent getting him checked out at the hospital (he choked on his vomit, since he was already sick I wasn’t going to risk pneumonia) flirting happily with all the nurses. And the doctors. And anyone who happened to walk past… Any audience is a good audience to my son!
    The main downside of the birth once the initial trouble was over was that I lost my best friend over it all. She was my birth partner, she cut his cord, I’ve been an aunty to her two kids their whole lives. Then I had the baby and everything didn’t revolve around her any more…
    Be warned, I’m going to rant now. I’ve been lurking here for a while and have wanted the thoughts of the Captain and regular posters on this. My first son was stillborn at 22 weeks gest, congenital deformities, 0 chance of survival. So when my second son was readmitted, I was absolutely terrified. Particularly given the no sleep, or food, and developing infection situation. During the 2 days we were home and it was all not working my “friend” insisted I call her for the slightest problem. So I did. She came over planning to stay the night and be supportive. Then she discovered there was an actual problem that wasn’t just that I didn’t know what I was doing. So she decided it was too hard and she was tired so she went home again. Which I was actually fine with. If you can’t help, then by all means, get out of the way. No drama. The next day, after I’d been at the hospital all day and was collapsing from exhaustion – She rang me for an update, found out where we were, and threw a tantrum at me. So there I am, exhausted, terrified of losing a second child, Ill, and getting yelled at for not having enough consideration for HER feelings to bother calling her to let her know what was going on!
    Awkward Army reality check – That’s offensive, right? My take on it is that if there’s a crisis, and you’re there in a support role, and you decide you’re too tired and you’d rather go home to bed, you are, by definition, choosing to be out of the loop until the situation is under control, and people have time to spare to give you an update. I feel very sure that’s the right of it.
    The friendship ended not long after because I got lots of narcissistic rage from her about everything after that. I refused to put the baby in the car and bring him over to her house two days after bringing him home from the hospital the second time. That was a major insult as well apparently, she yelled at me for that too. I sent her an email calling her on this behaviour (I used my words!) and got a massive tirade about the fact that I’m delusional and and have lost the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality, also, I’m really ungrateful and I owed her. Then I got deleted. I can’t say I minded all that much. I put up with weeks of passive aggressive digs and bizarre attacks before I’d had enough. So I was done by then. But I do feel bad about losing touch with her kids. They didn’t do anything wrong.
    Moral of the story – remove people with narcissistic entitlement issues from your life before you have kids. They don’t take kindly to competition.
    Apologies for hijacking the thread. It is semi-relevant!

    • JenniferP said:

      Say your friend was genuinely worried and frustrated about you not calling her and wanted to know how you were doing. Or she really wanted you to bring the baby by to her place, and was sad when you didn’t. Whether they are fair or not, feelings happen. But the audience for that frustration is not you. This was not the time or the place to try to work out issues in the friendship (for her), this was the time or the place to support you (if she could) or get out of your way (if she couldn’t).

      It’s really sad to lose someone close to you in the middle of so much stress, and I’m sorry.

      • Nogelle said:

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. I really appreciate it. It’s been long enough that I have a decent perspective on the whole mess, but it’s still nice to hear an objective take on it that backs up my instincts. Meanwhile, parenting is wonderful, even when it gets hard. Did anyone else find it easier than they were expecting? I had it built up to such an overwhelming burden in my mind that the reality was actually a bit of a relief! Mostly, anyway. That might just be because of how hard the first few weeks were.

        • Pamela said:

          Yes. I saw so many warnings about it not being all rainbows and unicorns that I was sure I wouldn’t bond with the baby, and would just be miserable for months. So while it was and is hard, it’s also worth it and not nearly as terrible as I had feared.

        • My daughter is nine months old. I have been having so much more fun than I thought I would.

          I like kids better the more interactive they are. My favorite age (with other people’s kids) is about six. So I was expecting the first year or two to be all work, with the emotional payoff later. Historically, I deal really poorly with sleep deprivation. I’m an introvert. I need my alone time. I was expecting infancy to be awful, and I was looking forward to going back to work so I’d have something to do.

          I got the most wonderful little kid, who had opinions from day one and figured out ways to let us know about them right quick. She’s more cheerful than anybody has any right to expect. She loves people and makes friends wherever she goes. Every week she’s got some exciting new ability. I went back to work for about a month and a half and couldn’t stand it, so now I am home with her and I have not exploded from boredom or been run ragged and sleepless or anything. She is really very interesting and fulfilling and just fun to hang out with.

          I have a fantastic support structure. This kid has three parents in the house, two more down the street, and boatloads of devoted friends & relations. None of her parents had to cook the first week or two she was home from the hospital. People just kept bringing us food. It was great. My husband’s fantastic with her. (I was expecting him, like me, to get along better with her later, once she could talk and play games and so forth.) He’s mostly taken over bathtime because he has so much fun with it.

          We are super lucky. Ever so often I look around and go “Wait, am I taking horrible advantage of anybody? Forgetting some major important thing I’m supposed to be doing? Isn’t this supposed to be harder?”

  33. AMM said:

    It’s been a while since I was a “new parent” — my kids are 19 and 22 — so I’m starting to get wistful about those days. I’m glad it wasn’t as hard for us as it was for some of the posters; even as it was, it was hard enough (in our view.)

    I was just remembering a little song I used to sing to my kids when they were that little (I sang to them all the time, if only to keep my sanity.)

    Oh, what a beautiful baby.
    Oh, how he beautifully coos.
    I’ve got a horrible feeling
    The bedclothes are all full of poo.

    There’s a bright yellow stain on the matress.
    There’s a bright yellow stain on the pillow.
    It’s good that our baby is so cute and sweet:
    It’s the third time today that we’ve laundered the sheets.

    Oh, what a beautiful baby…..

    (sung to the tune of “Oh, what a beautiful morning.”)

    And, yes, the events described did happen. Many times.

  34. Beevol said:

    My 9 and a 1/2 month old is napping, and reading this thread is just reminding how much of enjoying your life has to do with getting enough sleep! I got super lucky and my kid is a natural sleeper, we’re talking 11-12 hrs a night every night (my husband and I were both good sleepers as babies, so hopefully future kids will be too?). I never thought I would enjoy the baby stage, but honestly, I am loving it and already missing it as she moves into toddler-hood. I can already tell that I’m in for it when she gets mobile and this time wherein she has opinions and desires but can’t quite express them is already making me crazy and I’m figuring on another couple years of that… I chose this with open eyes and was able to prepare myself the best way I knew how. Single parents of babies deserve all of the accolades… I don’t think I could do this on my own.

  35. Ellen said:

    This thread has been so great, thank you. I’m 35 weeks and getting a bit nervous. I’m swinging between confidence (I’ve been a nanny, I’ve been around babies a LOT, I have a lot of help, I’ve totally got this!) and shattering anxiety (Holy balls, this is 24/7/365, can I really handle this?)

    • Meghan said:

      You can and will, but it’s TOTALLY ok to feel like you can’t!

  36. Anonymous Lurker Person said:

    So, to counter my negativity earlier, a funny story about poo.

    So, one morning when I put my boy in the crib to check his diaper, he makes a face like he’s trying to invent differential calculus from scratch and says, “Uuungggrrh,” which many mothers will recognize as Universal Baby Language for, “Attention, I am now pooping.”

    Naturally, I immediately put the diaper check on hold and started rubbing his tummy, praising his efforts. As one does.

    His sister was awake in the crib next to him. She looked over consideringly, then raised her legs in the air and said, “UuunnGRRRHHuhhh!” which I took to mean, “I am also pooping!” I reached over with my other hand and rubbed her tummy, too.

    For what must have been a couple of minutes, they *alternated.* One of them would grunt, then the other one would make a pained cackling noise like a chicken that has unexpectedly laid a Rubik’s cube, as if to say, “Well-played, my worthy opponent, now take this!” and then they would lift legs and go, “UUUURGGGHHRRR!” Taking turns.

    The kicker? *Neither one was pooping.* They just wanted their tummies rubbed.

    (Headshake.) Babies, man. Babies.

    • Chocolate Tort said:

      I love this! Such scheming!

    • JenniferP said:

      They already have ganged up on you. Awesome. 🙂

  37. Meghan said:

    You guys, I’m totally full of anxiety right now! I am getting an IUD put in tomorrow, and you have to take a pregnancy test the day before. I’m TERRIFIED it’ll somehow be positive and then I’ll FREAK OUT. I mean, I’ve been taking the minipill, but the discharging OB at the hospital made a VERY BIG DEAL about how you have to take it at the EXACT SAME TIME EVERY DAY, and like, who can really do that? I’m always within an hour, but sometimes I’m (surprise) feeding or changing little one, or fixing the toddler’s blankets or some other nonsense he’s come up with at bedtime to stall, and WHAT IF OMG OMG. This last 8 weeks has totally cured us of even thinking about wanting a third baby. Anyway, I’m sure it’s going to be negative, because who has time to have a lot of sex right now? Not me, that’s for sure. Is the minipill+breastfeeding pretty effective? Was the OB at the hospital (not mine, just a random dude I’d never seen before, thank you military teaching hospital) just scaring the shit out of me for fun?

    • Brightwanderer said:

      It usually depends which minipill. Some of them really do have to be taken within a narrow timeslot, but even the strictest ones usually say you have to take it within an hour of the same time every day, not right down to the minute. And I’m on a minpill (desogestrel/Cerazette) that has a 12 hour window, so definitely not all of them are that restrictive. If you want to double-check, try googling the name of your pill, there should be instructions inside. But I’m pretty sure that you’re fine! “Within the hour” is the guideline I’ve always been given. 🙂

      • Brightwanderer said:

        *online, not inside…

      • Meghan said:

        Thanks, that’s what I figured. I did look up the drug and the info insert said within 3 hours. I just tend to brace myself for the worst thing ever happening — like, showing up tomorrow and my midwife saying, “Oops, you’re pregnant!” and then finding out it’s twins. I know that’s not the WORST thing ever, but you know what I mean. Anyway, thanks! I’m sure it’s fine, and the home test is negative.

        Irene, I thought the same thing, but I’ve already gotten my period! I was all, WTF! because my oldest was a year old before that pleasant experience returned. I’m sure that’s what it was, because it was just last week (ie 7 weeks pp). Anyway, like I said, I’m sure I’m fine, just catastrophizing.

    • Irene said:

      If you’re only 8 weeks postpartum, and breastfeeding, it’s really unlikely that you’re even fertile. But I totally understand the paranoia! Hope the IUD insertion goes well. Mine was painless, even six months or so after the birth. (The replacement many years later was a different story, but it was over soon. I suspect the doctor wasn’t as experienced, too.)

    • “Maybe it’s time to embrace being the kind of parent who … asks God to help you to be a better version of the person that you actually are, not for more strength to be an ideal parent.”

      That’s great.

  38. saffron12 said:

    I am the mom of a 3 year old, and we are attempting to have a third. Our first should be 5 years old and starting school this fall. He died five years ago in April at 3 months old from complications of procedures related to his heart (HLHS.) and lung defects.

    Some thoughts –
    1) Showers and Thank You Notes: We were thrown two showers before our first. I wrote everyone thank you notes. I was so grateful to have even had them at all, and I hoped with all my heart that we would be able to use everything with our (first) son. We were able to use a few of the outfits (like a little kimono that didn’t go over his head because of the ventilator tubing.) After he died, we kept everything with the intention of using it for another baby. We’d planned to have at least two babies any way.

    Eighteen months or so after he was born, we conceived again. We lived in a new area, but I’d already made some friends, and I was offered showers! I told them all my reluctance – just in case this baby didn’t make it home either (even though he looked very healthy in all of the ultrasound, etc.) Finally I said sure, I want a normal experience for this one. Three showers, plus informal gift giving among my husband’s new colleagues before and after the baby was born. By this point, from our first and then with the second – we had 30+ baby blankets (some homemade, which were wonderful, and many, many receiving blankets – too many!!) in our possession. This was in addition to four velcro’ed swaddlers, and two sleep sacks. A few blankets I returned for store credit, and one set of receiving blankets I saved, and sent for my new nephew the following year.

    Anyway, I wrote thank you notes for every thing, and everyone. I think. I hope no one was offended if I forgot. I tried my hardest. It’s hard with a new baby who wet himself, exploding his diaper every hour for the first week after he was born. When he was a week old, the doctor told me that my son was very well-endowed down there. I had to give up on the newborn-sized diapers and go to size one already. I did more laundry that week. . . and I was thank you note weary after my first son’s funeral. Writing thank you notes for memorial money is really difficult. What do you say? Thank you notes for dead/cut flowers is hard, too (I didn’t appreciate people sending flowers, unless it was a live plant. I wanted people to kids donate books or something to the hospital, but that didn’t happen except for a couple of people who really listened to me.)

    2) Post-Partum Anxiety: Yes, you hear all about Post-Partum Depression, but that was not MY issue. Mine was Post-Partum Anxiety. I’ve always had anxiety to some extent, but after my SECOND son was born, by six weeks out, it was pretty much out of control. Some of it came from the fact that my first son died, but still, I was almost having trouble functioning. And OCD was rearing its head. I couldn’t go to sleep at night until I had looked at my sleeping baby breathing (with a flashlight so as not to wake him) at least 8 times. I worried that someone was going to crawl in the back of my car and abduct my baby. While driving. I kept imagining all sorts of terrible things happening (none of which ever did.) I couldn’t sleep sometimes when I needed sleep so badly. I went on a small amount of medication despite still breast feeding – and it helped immensely. Some of the OCD, especially, went away. It

    3) Breast-Feeding: The Breast-feeding support group I went to was great (second son)! It was very helpful. Before each session, I could weigh the baby, and record his weight. He lost over a pound in the first week after he was born, so yes, it was helpful. My son was never able to full breast-feed though. I had a breast-reduction eleven years ago – and in my right breast, I make milk, but very little of it can actually find an exit. More can be had from the left side. I pumped also with a hospital grade pump. He got lots of milk from me, but not enough, so supplemented with formula. I don’t feel bad about that at all. (And the breast reduction was needed and I do not regret it. I’d had back pain and shoulder pain since age 13 due to the weight of my breasts. I could hardly exercise unless I wore a very tight workout bra – but still had to guard against back injury. After the surgery, an unknown benefit – my asthma actually improved as I was able to move my chest better while breathing. And which also made exercise easier.)

    4) Now (new thing): 3 year old asks for food, eats half of it, and then asks for something else to eat. I didn’t want to make food an “issue”, but now it is. The new rule is that, especially if he asks for something specific and I give it to him, he has to finish it before he can have anything else to eat. If it is a full meal on a plate, he has to try to eat most of it before anything else (i.e: fruit/dessert and/or snacks.)

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