The first six weeks…

“They” say that the first six weeks of the life of a baby are the toughest. If you want my opinion, “they” don’t know what they’re talking about.

My father-in-law came to help us for a few days after our boy was born. My mom stayed with us for two weeks. My husband took 6 weeks off. During that time, all I had to do was breast-feed. Sure, it was a bit boring and my bum did hurt from sitting on the couch for so long, but things were relatively easy. I could read or doze off while I was breast-feeding. Someone else was doing laundry, taking the dog out and cooking supper. When Elliot cried, I fed him. If he was still crying, one of us rocked him or carried him around. When I was hungry, someone had cooked supper. If we were trying to eat and the baby cried, we ate one after the other. Sure, I was up a lot at night, but I also slept a lot during the day – as soon as Elliot napped, I went down too.

Fast forward to now. I haven’t had a full night of sleep in more than eight months, and it’s definitely showing. During the day, Elliot never naps for more than an hour (and it’s more often 30 minutes) and I gave up on sleeping when he does because I find it too frustrating when 8 times out of 10 he wakes up just as I had finally managed to fall asleep. There is laundry, dishes, meals to cook, purees to prepare, and all the thinking about what needs to be done next. Breast-feeding takes a lot less of my time, but it has been replaced by following Elliot around trying to make sure he doesn’t crack his skull open on everything he explores. I can’t leave him alone, even to go to the bathroom, without fearing what he’ll do next. Sure, we have baby gates, but there isn’t enough storage in our apartment to keep everything that he’s not allowed to touch away from Elliot. So I keep having to say “No!” and take stuff from him, which frustrates him and makes him grumpy.

At night, I still get up once to breast-feed. Often, though, Elliot wakes up one or two more times, and it takes a while before he falls back asleep (not to mention us). When he was first born, we knew we had to respond promptly to every cry and feed him on demand. Now, we keeping worrying about wether we’re letting him cry for too long (but he has to learn to fall asleep by himself), wether he’s getting enough variety in his food, or wether he needs some new toys to stay stimulated enough. I used to carry him around in a sling. Now he’s too heavy, of course, and in his stroller he often has meltdowns that I cannot calm. I’m sore all over from carrying him and picking him up from the ground. He refuses to lie on his back for more than a few seconds, and every diaper change means a lot of crying and a big fuss trying to pin him to the change table while I hurriedly wrap the diaper around him and do up a few snaps.

There are the great things too, of course. Elliot now smiles and laughs, he comes to me, climbs on to my chest holding to my clothes and cuddles up in my arms. It’s easier to understand what he wants, he doesn’t cry as often and we usually know why he’s crying when he does. He has his own personality and, as a neighbour put it yesterday, he now looks like “a real person, a member of the human race instead of just a blob”. I love him immensely and I don’t regret any of those sleepless nights – in fact, I’m sure I’ll remember them fondly in a few years when Elliot won’t want to cuddle with me anymore. But I’m exhausted, and I just want to bite the head off the next person who asks me “so Elliot must be sleeping through the night now, right?”

Take it as a warning…

2 Responses to “The first six weeks…”

  1. Danielle Says:

    A la naissance de mon quatrième enfant, Alex n’a pu prendre que les trois jours de congé durant lesquels j’étais à l’hôpital. Personne n’est venu m’aider. J’avais un nouveau-né, un enfant d’un an, et un de six ans qui m’attendaient. J’ai repris, sitôt rentrée à la maison, ma routine ménage-bouffe-enfants. Par contre, c’est pour cette raison que je n’ai pas allaité Nana. Je n’avais pas assez de temps, malheureusement!
    Les six premières semaines sont, à mon avis, les plus angoissantes et épuisantes… le bébé est fragile, on ne dort pas, et quand plusieurs personnes dépendent de vous alors que vous êtes épuisée…
    La période la pire, à mon avis, est justement celle que tu vis en ce moment. La marche à quatre pattes, quand ils veulent explorer le monde et en ont la capacité physique… mais pas celle de comprendre les dangers…

  2. sophie Says:

    Wow… Je savais que j’étais chanceuse que mon homme ait pu prendre 6 semaines à la maison, mais je ne peux même pas imaginer comment je m’en serais sortie avec juste un bébé, seule après trois jours… Comment as-tu fait? Chapeau!