Babies are super cute, lovable creatures that invite you to cuddle them even if you try to resist with all possible forces. Especially if the baby is yours. However, certain parts of that first year are super sucky. So bad indeed, that they start bringing the thoughts similar to the following:
- “How and where can I return this?”
- “That’s all, I quit! … Oh wait, how do I quit this job?”
- “Can I snooze you for at least 10 more minutes? Just 10 min, is it so hard to ask?
Well, you know, something along those lines. Trust me, everybody gets these thoughts. It is normal. And this is when it is most normal:
1. Days 3-10+
The first couple of days of the baby’s life are wonderful. For the parents, that is. You are excited, full of unheard of energy, high on hormones (at least the mom). You have successfully put on your first diaper. You have managed to make the baby sleep. You have dressed the baby (well, somewhat) and took about 1000000 pictures. All goes well and suddenly – BOOM – reality comes. Energy is gone, patience is gone. There is no rhythm, baby does not get that the night is for sleeping and the day is for having fun. Baby wants to eat all the time, needs a million of diaper changes, sometimes juts minutes apart. When the baby cries, you have absolutely no idea what they want (eat? sleep? a NEWWWW diaperrrr????) and absolutely no patience left to try all the possibilities once again. And breastfeeding? It hurts! It takes ages! It’s unpleasant!
The good thing? This phase is short. It goes away and then it seems like it has never been there. You get to learn this little creature and start to get when to expect what. At some point you suddenly can make a list, when the baby sleeps and when the baby eats and when you can take a long waited shower. It suddenly seems so normal, that you no longer remember it could have been any other way.
2. Month 4 regression
That’s when it suddenly hits extra hard. The sweet little baby you thought you knew so well… The baby that was starting to sleep long periods at night and eat at the predictable times, the baby that was smiling and sweetly cooing, suddenly becomes unrecognizable. Sleep is back to the newborn nonsense, with frequent awakenings and mix up of day and night. The baby that could eat efficiently is gone – here comes the distracted baby that needs hard work and enormous creativity to get focused enough to get a full meal. You are back to not sleeping and not having a life.
And it gets worse.
This phase tends to last. Much much longer than the newborn mess. Maybe a month? Hard to say. Maybe longer. Maybe so long that the baby will gain some annoying sleeping habits (e.g being rocked to sleep) due to desperate tired parents taking desperate measures to get some sleep/rest/shower.
Many first time parents think that teething is when baby starts drooling a lot. That is not the case. Most babies drool a lot from around 2 months and that is extremely rarely related to teething.
Real teething starts much later, around 5-6 months and it is more as many short spikes throughout the first 0.5-2 years of your child’s life. Some are worse than others. My first daughter really struggled with the upper front teeth. She could only sleep on me the nights the teeth were coming through and was waking up to cry a little every 20 min. It was a couple of horrible nights, where you start thinking nature is super cruel (well, actually, it is).
Once a tooth is through, though, it quickly gets better. Well, except those times when the little one tries those new teeth on your hand or nipple…
4. 8-10 months
Hello, separation anxiety! Hello, sleep regression No. 2. You thought it is over once the 4 month regression passed? Oh no, somewhere around 8-10 months the baby gets a bit more mobile during the say, which means you have to baby proof everything and still get shocked where they can get into with those tiny little hands and feet.
Worse though, the baby gets super clingy and afraid to go to sleep in case you are not there once they wake up. They want you to be there – all the time! Worst thing is that it is around this time most babies will start to attend daycare (in Denmark)¨and will have to learn to be without their primary caregiver. Double challenge – accepted!
This phase is worse for some than others. By now most parents have figured that everything about parenting comes in phases and they all pass. Once this realization is in the head, everything becomes easier. I swear.