Being a new mum is hard work, those first few weeks pass in a blur of 2 hour, around the clock feeds, visiting family and friends, husbands returning to work. It really is a busy time and without a doubt the mother behind the baby is exhausted. Whether or not breastfeeding is going well she is likely sleep deprived and struggling to deal with this new bundle in her arms. Even better she finally has a moment to say to someone how tired she is, how hard this is, and this was not what she expected. How do they reply… it gets better.
We need to stop saying this to new mums.
How do you know it gets better? Your child might have slept through by 6 months, or you finally mastered hamburgering your boob in to that child’s mouth, or their reflux finally settled, but how do you know it’s going to get better for this mum. I’ve met so many mums over the last few months and all of their stories are different. Some mums have babies who aren’t sleeping, other mums struggle with milk supply and then the heartache of having to deal with giving their baby formula, while others spend months going to doctors appointments trying to work out what is wrong with their babies to discover they’ve got food intolerances or allergies. Even worse, the unthinkable, some babies get sick, really really sick, I wonder if someone told that mum it would get better…
The more I look through my child’s future I realise that it never gets better. I was told, wait for 3 months, she will sleep better then. At 4 months she was still waking every 2-3 hours, for food. Give her formula that will help, no it didn’t. Just wait till she’s eating that will help… Yea still didn’t. My little soul is 13 months old and still waking 1-2 times a night. I’m ok with it now, it’s not too bad, but it most certainly did not get ‘better’. Don’t even get me started on teeth and we haven’t even started molars yet!! While she’s sleeping better she’s now sprinting around my house, dancing on my coffee table and eating everything in sight edible or not.
It doesn’t get better, it gets different.
Soon I’ll be returning to work and my babe will go to daycare it’s going to be hard and difficult to handle emotionally, then comes toilet training. In a few years, she will start school and have to really push her brain. We might have to deal with bullies, or teachers with different opinions. Before I know it she’s going to be in high school with more bullies and boys. She will want to go to parties, stay out late and drive a car. The list doesn’t stop really being a parent is difficult, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and she’s only just turned one!!
So next time you see a mum of a young baby who looks like she’s having a bad day or just not her best day, maybe ask her how she feels? Is she ok? How is she coping? If you don’t have time to give her your full attention for 5 minutes just tell her she has a beautiful baby, all mums love hearing that, and for the love of all that is holy, never tell a mother her fresh baby is skinny or slim, EVER. This is not a compliment when you’re breastfeeding. Newborn stage is tough, motherhood is tough and we need to stop undermining a mums struggle by using the throw away comment ‘It gets better’ because you may have just lied to someone who’s already holding on by a thread.
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