This was one of the very first pieces I ever posted on Hugzilla. It was only ever seen by about 7 people, which is a damn shame because I think it is one of the most real things I’ve ever written on here. I thought I’d dust it off because it deserves a wider audience, and to remind myself that I used to write stuff that actually meant something. It came to my attention again recently when it was being discussed on a baby forum, and was roundly praised for its raw honesty. That one year old is now a three year old and I can’t imagine life without him. HASHTAG BLESSED.
Oooh look at me, being all meaningful and shit… Just get on with it.
It’s my son’s first birthday today.
I don’t like babies. I really don’t. If I could give birth to a three year old – head circumference notwithstanding – I would.
I like it when they can walk, talk, poo in a toilet. I like it when they have a full set of teeth. When they can pout and whine and needle and wheedle and otherwise articulate what is wrong if something is bugging them. When they want you to play pretend games with imaginary monsters called “Peeny Pony Pins Bons Boons”. When they can pick their nose and wipe it on you, sing songs about their penis and laugh at their own farts during storytime at the library.
My one year old has been a “difficult” baby. I say this because he has been much harder work than my three year old ever was, and he was never much like a trip to Disneyland. My first born never slept much during the day, never stopped moving and demanded my attention all the time: but he was mostly happy. Now at three, nothing much has changed.
My second born son is the kind of kid who would have been an only child if he had just been slightly higher in the birth order.
He had to be induced at ten days overdue and made it very clear for the next three months that he was extremely unhappy about being evicted without prior consultation.
He hated the outside world and everything in it. He hated the car, the pram, the bouncer, the cot, the rocker, the bassinette, the sling. He hated being rocked, jiggled, bounced, picked up, put down, held still or walked around. Nor did he seem particularly fond of me. What kind of mother can’t comfort her own child?
He didn’t sleep much, but he screamed a lot (thank you silent reflux). This is the kind of kid that crazy is made of. The kind of baby that has his mother in tears of despair and impotence and frustration every single day.
The kind of baby you never expect to get second time around because this shit is meant to get easier, not harder. The kind of baby that woke every 1 or 2 hours every single night for three months. The kind of baby that didn’t sleep through the night for 11 months, and then started waking up the entire household at 4:30am instead.
There were many dark hours in those early days where I swore to myself that I hated him. There were many more again that I regretted having him at all. I say that here openly, not because I am a heartless sociopath but because it is taboo for a mother to admit to having these feelings of ambivalence and regret about her child when the walls are closing in and she is running on empty.
It needs to be said – and to be said more often – because the truth about babies is that they aren’t all rainbows and unicorns and because they don’t shit silver and piss gold, no matter what the “Perfect Parent Brigade” would have you believe.
A friend of mine posted several times on Facebook when she was clearly struggling in those early days as a first time mum. I saw lots of “….but you still LOVE every minute of it” type replies and I wanted to scream at all of them to stop peddling this bullshit myth that women must at all times martyr themselves to their children and still pretend to love every stinking minute of it.
My baby bites down so hard on my nipple that I swear to god it almost shears right off BUT YOU STILL LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!
My baby screams for 9 hours non-stop between 11am and 8pm BUT YOU STILL LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!
My baby stays up for 11 hours straight during the day like a meth addict on a massive binge and is so wired out of his brain with fatigue that I think I might just go crazy BUT YOU STILL LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!
Sometimes it borderline sucks. Sometimes it is catastrophically shit. Sometimes you will hate it with every fibre of your being. Sometimes it will have you questioning your sanity. Sometimes you will fantasise about your life prior to having children. And that’s OK. It doesn’t make you Mommie fucking Dearest. It makes you a human being.
I love my son with a fierceness I never knew existed but I am the first to admit that I endured that first year more than I enjoyed it.
Happy first birthday kid.
We made it through the first 12 months. Now get your shit together.