A Love Letter to the Baby I Thought I Hated

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.

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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.

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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.

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468 thoughts on “A Love Letter to the Baby I Thought I Hated

  1. Wow! Your son and my daughter may be the same person…Thank you from the bottom of my heart. She is our first child and I don’t think I can ever be convinced to procreate again. Kudos for you dealing with a spirited and difficult baby while having another little one running about. Loved this raw read!

  2. My first was happy, easy, my second drove me to hallucinations due to the lack of sleep, and my husband to call me at work in tears because there was no calming this kid. The early years were pure hell and I hated him. There were no snuggly moments, nothing really very positive to hold on to to help me make it through the nights of screaming, the endless trips back upstairs, the refusal to eat…. Then he entered school. He grew up. At nearly 18, he is a delightful, mature, ambitious, responsible kid, a joy to be around, and loved by all. His easy going older brother? Easy going, likeable, and going nowhere in particular.

    • Oh man, thank you so much for sharing this. It’s so funny isn’t it, how different they are… I’m so glad to hear that your boys are doing so well. I have two boys myself, and I can’t wait until they are all grown up like this. You’ve obviously done a great job raising them x

  3. Oh it was tough … my little one was such a tough baby, I don’t know how I survived. Sometimes, we used to cry together. I would feel so tired. He is six now, and I love him so much.

  4. This is a really great (and humorously written) post. It is so true, it really isn’t rainbows and unicorns all the time. Keep at it and know that you are not alone, and don’t ever doubt yourself as a mother.

  5. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who hates babies. My soon-to-be-husband is so excited to have children one day, and I am as well, but I am not excited to have an infant. I even stated thinking that maybe adoption was better for me because no one I have ever known has said what you just wrote. I’m relieved to know women actually feel like I do. I want so badly to be a great mom, but feel so badly that I hate babies. Thanks for sharing!

  6. As a childless woman grappling with the decision of whether to have kids, I appreciate your honesty. It seems that all I see are the (seemingly) perfect lives of my friends’ (seemingly) perfect kids on social media…

  7. Frank, funny and I totally relate! I’ve got a Velcro, co-sleeping, breastfed baby who manages to kick off at the slightest whiff of attention being placed elsewhere but on him! BUT YOU STILL …. no I don’t love every minute! I’m imperfect and it’s time we shared our imperfections with each other instead of trying to appear ‘in control’! Bravo mama!

  8. Honesty is gold ! I am not a mother yet, but my brother was born when I was 17 and he was an example of a perfect baby- always smiling, sleeping and cute as hell. Now, four years later life brought me to the point that I am living with my cousin who is almost 2. I just want him to stay quiet for five seconds. I don’t have to love all babies in my family unconditionally.

  9. This is very touching! Congratulations for the write … It’s beautiful that you share your personal experiences with us in such a honest, beautiful way.

  10. Oh goodness, thank you for writing this, and for sharing again years later. This is fantastic. I get so annoyed by that “still loving every minute.” I don’t, and for real neither does anyone. We’re all human here.

  11. YES! I agree and if there head wasn’t so big already at 40 weeks (or 42.5 weeks for my first) I would want to push them out at a one year old stage! So glad to know I am not the only one! Thanks for writing and sharing! You are an amazing mom…an amazingly truthful woman!

  12. I hear you loud and clear- I think our kids must be twins separated at birth without us knowing. My way of coping was reminding myself daily that: you can’t take the credit for a good kid and you can’t take the credit for a shit one. They are who they are. This helped. I’ve started a pretty raw blog about my breast cancer crap- I might scare people if I go on about how my kid is now ADHD, OCD, Tuerrettes and a pain in my arse!

    • YES!! That is so true! It wasn’t until I had my second that I realised that they largely come out a certain way and that I don’t have a lot to do with how awesome they are. Best of luck with your health journey – I hope you make a speedy and swift recovery x

  13. Love your honesty. I’m pregnant with my first and am dealing with guilt for not feeling the “glow” or loving every moment of this whole thing – more often than not I feel like “wow, this thing taking over my body is seriously affecting my life – and not necessarily for the better.” Here’s to kids screwing with our minds, even before birth!! 🙂

  14. I absolutely love this post! I’m going through this right now. My first soon was a walk in the park! He was content 90% of the time! My second son… not so much. He’s only 2 months old and he’s already got the nasty gunk that’s going around so crying it’s a constant thing around here. Before he got sick he suffered from gas so crying was pretty constant then too… I’m praying that things get better soon. Thank you so much for being competely honest in this!

    • Oh, I really hope that things get better for you soon. When you are stuck in that cycle every day it feels like it will never end. I promise you that it will, and you will look back and be so thankful and relieved that you got through it. I’m sure he is very beautiful – I hope he comes to realise this isn’t such a bad place to be x

  15. I am going through the same thing now. My oldest is three and was a good baby and then came number two he makes you feel like no end to this. I am more calm than my husband but he too gets super angry. Thanks for sharing.

  16. I always enjoy posts like this, because they make me feel like less of a psycho. I never wanted kids, but got pregnant after a birth control failure and decided being childless was no longer an option for me. My husband was very supportive and happy to be a dad, but when he left for work, it felt like he was abandoning me with the baby. She was very clingy too, and was the type who needed to be held 24/7, even while sleeping (though I suspect that was due to get being in NICU for the first week of life). I started to internally hate her, hate having her, hating myself for compromising what I had originally wanted, and hating my husband for having a part in it. It was a tough time, but it passes eventually, not to say we don’t have our moments of weakness in a state of compete exhaustion. Kids are just meant to drive you nuts.

    • I think you have hit the nail right on the head! Part of the reason I started this blog was because I wasn’t hearing those voices – the ones who said “It’s OK to admit that you are human and your kids drive you crazy”. I wish there were more of it. Thank you so much or sharing your story x

  17. Absolutely love the honesty! Amazingly I had two wonderful sons, they slept, burbed, smiled, pooped and cried when necessary. Along came miss, and gosh was I ready to send her back?? The witch never stopped crying and being needy. She didn’t like the pram, the car, the hairdryer or the idea of me taking a quick break in the toilet! I did terrible things..like driving with her on my lap cos she would scream like a banji times 10 &it would drive me insane and in tears..the poor nanny quite cos she didn’t dare looking this child’s way. If she dared she would be literally screamed at for hours..I felt like a cow, who existed only for her. But today she is 12 year old beautiful well balanced goddess, takes no shit and cheeky. Its all worth it, but I know the feeling!! 🙂

  18. Society has programmed women to believe that they have to do it all. I’ve found that people generally lie because they want to fit in to the norm and not be judged about their feelings toward their child. There is no way that I ‘still love it’ when my child(ren) is insufferable! But you can’t share that with anyone because then you’ll be a ‘bad mom’. I stand by the quote ‘it takes a village’ and I believe that women shouldn’t have to do it on their own.
    I know that once my guys are married and have had their babies, I will be there for them and their babies – making food, cleaning house, letting parents go for a nap etc – because I know that I really pined for that when my guys were born. Even though they’re 2 and 4, I still wish there was someone there to unload the dishwasher or do a load of laundry. I hope my life experience will be able to help them later in their lives.
    Thanks for letting me know that I’m not alone!

    • Yes, yes, yes – all of this is so true! We are definitely expected to take a lot on and still keep smiling through it all, even when we are worn down to the bone. You are definitely not alone – lots of us are in this very same boat x

  19. People in Germany has a saying, which is translated as ‘A little baby or kid brings little worry, but when the babies are growing up they bring more worry.’ I feel you, but it’s a blessing being a mom (in my opinion).

  20. I gave birth to one of those. Everyone else had a little treasure. My son was different. He didn’t sleep, he wouldn’t eat and he cried all the time. I stopped at one child! At nursery they said he was odd. At primary school they said he was backwards. Then at secondary school he was suddenly gifted! Now he is nearly thirty and wonderful. Some human beings are just complicated. I wish I had more children…….

  21. Great read! My 9 month old is way more difficult than my 2 year old ever was/is and that’s saying something. I especially HATE breastfeeding, even at 9 months, and I want to slap someone every time I read “it gets so much easier at 6 weeks, just make it to 6 weeks!” Lies. It never got easier. My daughter has demanded to be on the boob 24-7 since the day she was born, the only break I get is when I’m at work. She also makes me work for her smiles/giggles like I’m some unworthy peasant and she loves to pull my hair so she can put it in her mouth.

    …wait, maybe I gave birth to cat. I should probably go check. Brb.

  22. Sistaaaaaa!! Thank you for your vulnerability. I had a similar experience and wrote about it in my blog called “the truth.” The first year is BRUTAL. I hope you’ve found some companionship on here.

  23. OMG! This was amazing! I laughed and smiled during the whole thing. Thank you for your honesty, that is really the way it is and those people that talk shit about how wonderful it is ALL the time, do so much harm to most of new moms… I adore my five….yes, five, grown up kids (most of the time…) The third one had reflux and I know exactly what your talking about, the last one was like that just for free! Thank you for a very smart, very honest piece.

  24. Children are our biggest frustration and our greatest joy. It does not start or stop with babyhood…the often pure elation and the trying times ebb and flow. We are pushed beyond comprehension–or are we?–and think we cannot handle any more when something else tries our thinning patience. But we do. We handle it. We endure. And, we love, more than we think we ever could given what’s been thrown at us (and just when we’ve decided we can’t handle this sh*t anymore). From the double pneumothorax at birth and a month in the NICU, to a broken jaw–twice–on my birthday (also Mother’s Day that year) and surgery to put his jaw back together, to driving after too much to drinking and (thank God for) the subsequent arrest, to a near drowning…and the list goes on. We ask ourselves: Why? Is there a reason for this? There are no answers. We learn early on it ain’t all syrup and cupcakes; sometimes it’s goobers and frogs.

    We are mothers.

    • This is an awesome comment – I love it! Plenty of goobers and frogs to balance the syrup and cupcakes! Some of the toughest and most amazing women I know are mothers, and I think – whilst hard at times – we develop a lot of personal strength too.

  25. This is so accurate in so many ways. Mothers are afraid to say how they really feel about their baby because there’s a social stigma towards mothers that are not praising everything their baby does. When my daughter was two months I had to go back to school and it was miserable. She would wake up twice a night and the only time I was able to do assignments was in the middle of the night. I was nursing, and still am nursing. She was very finicky when it came to nursing and gave me a very hard time. I felt like I was forced to slap a smile on my face and parade around like I was doing great. So THANK you for your honesty. It was a breath of fresh air.

  26. Hooray for speaking your mind and being realistic about your feelings. I imagine a lot of people, when in the midst of baby crisis at 3am, have sobbed quietly to themselves that they’ve evoke the devil in the form of a baby. I know I did when my first and only child is just how you describe in this post. He’s 32 now, it took almost 25 years for those tantrums to pass by.

  27. Loved this post!! Im so glad you shared this with us because many people don’t know this side of raising kids. I was one of those people until my mother gave birth a few months ago. We all love the baby obviously, but the second he cries we hurriedly pass him to her and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have to be responsible for the well being of such a little creature that only cries but doesn’t tell you whats wrong. Its definitely no walk in the park, and I think sometimes we really underestimate what moms go through to raise their kids!

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