The Ups & Downs Of Being a New Parent

- According to our Mums & Dads

 

The “Ups” or “Best Bits”

 

”The unconditional love, the smell of her head, her fingers wrapped around my finger, that we had made this lovely little thing who was so dependent on us.  It is the best job I ever had.”

 

“The world reborn. Being needed.”

 

“I fell head over heels in love with my sons as soon as I saw them. I have also really enjoyed sharing this whole experience with my husband. After 10 years together, we had a whole new world to experience with the birth of our children” 

 

“The first smile. It still is the best part of parenting getting one of those open genuine smiles when they are excited about news that they want to share with you.”

 

“Justenjoying the new person in your life and the amazement of it all, being mesmerised, a friend videoed her first child for 15-30 minutes one day waking up. She only realised when she played it back how little was happening. There is a time warp where you go and are completely wrapped up with your new baby. This time warp was shorter for the second and for the third I don’t think it happened!”

 

“Everything is new, there is constant amazement.”

 

“Watching our amazing creations continue to learn every day.”

 

“The milk-drunk look on her face when breastfeeding”

 

“Engaging with my son and making him smile.”

 

“Caring for a new little individual, and feeling the warmth of the little body beside yours.”

 

“Cuddling my newborn baby — his first smiles.”

 

“The feeling of your heart bursting when your baby smiles at you.  Even after 3 I still feel overwhelmed when I look at her and wonder how clever we are to grow a whole new human life, give birth and then keep it alive with milk we produce — it’s all amazing stuff.”

 

“The unconditional love I feel every day. The best thing I ever did was make her. She brings us so much joy every single day.”

 

“Just being in love with my new baby — and feeling so proud.  I loved it when strangers would stop me in the shops or street to admire the baby. Because my first was an easy, happy baby, I had lots of time to enjoy her and would enjoy shopping with her, going for coffee, meeting friends and dressing her!  With my second, I didn’t have as much time to enjoy her as I had to juggle time with her and a 20 month old and I used to feel guilty about this.  However, in some ways, it makes time with her more precious and I probably drive her mad trying to cuddle her and breathe her in whenever I get a chance alone with her.”

 

“Not being pregnant!  I’m sure I am very self centred but it’s sooo good to be losing the pregnancy weight, to be able to interview for jobs, go for a drink, go window shopping, visit the dentist, do housework, have a sauna, sleep, oh wonderful sleep, walk, run, bend over and touch my toes……….”

 

“The early days with any baby are so precious — since becoming a mother, whenever I see a new parent with their newborn, it almost makes me cry — the promise and hope that the baby brings, the desire to do the best for that baby and the pride in the parents’ eyes — it always brings me back.”

 

“There was a feeling of ‘rightness’; an amazement at one’s own creation, something made in love, a physical product and expression of the love between two people. A new picture of the future.”

 

“Holding them for the first time”

 

 “The best part was seeing my beautiful son and realising that I had helped create this tiny person. Watching him grow, starting to come into his own and always smiling at me that is the most rewarding thing you could have in your life.”

 

“Seeing the baby for the first time was the best part.”

 

“Realising this empty vessel was there ready to be filled with all your knowledge”

 

“Enjoying the milestones, the first mile, the chatting, the laughing…”

 

“Just all the little surprises of the new things that she does — all of her new sounds and actions.”

 

“Meeting my second child, and seeing the differences to our first little girl.”

 

I think women, through pregnancy, have a stronger sense of continuity between the pre-natal stage and birth.  For me, it was much more abstract until the moment of birth.  But birth was an overwhelming experience and being a father was, and still is, a great feeling but one that’s hard to describe.

 

“The unbelievable joy of having created this new being together”

 

“Seeing my son being born, knowing that he is mine, watching him grow and develop, and hearing him laugh and say da da make it all worthwhile.”

 

 

The “Downs”

Our Mums:

 

“Managing tiredness”

 

“The lack of sleep, though it’s not too bad in the beginning when you have lots of help and there is a lot of excitement. Not knowing what to do is difficult, and feeling a lack of control. It also can sometimes feel very lonely. I always napped during the day when I got a chance. Going to support groups is also helpful as it gives you a new perspective.” 

 

“Lack of sleep in the beginning. I just couldn’t conduct proper conversations with anyone. I began napping when my daughter did and this helped hugely.”

 

“I think it was the mental strain of having this person to think about every waking minute and the lack of sleep.”

 

“Sleep deprivation! Even though your body can cope physically, you mind goes into a “zombie” state. You cannot really think. I remember those first three months as continuously feeding..changing..feeding..changing… day and night. ”

 

“No other friends were mothers.”

 

“The tiredness was tough, and also the uncertainty about what you were doing! Luckily both my babies slept well from an early age, and I also had good support from friends on how to manage.”

 

“The sleep deprivation. I’m a doctor and I’m used to it, but this was like constant on-call. I also was house-bound for a week after my section, and I was desperate to get out and go for a walk.”

 

“The Isolation”

 

“Being housebound (on first child)”

 

“The overwhelming responsibility”

 

“Not knowing what to do when the baby kept crying”

 

“Having to stay in, while my fiancée went out.”

 

“Having time for all three children, house etc…………….”

 

“I found the stresses and strains of being responsible for this helpless, small, delicate human being very difficult. Ultimately, the buck stopped with my husband and I – and neither of us knew what we were doing.

“I also found the lack of freedom took a bit of getting used to, especially after a few months when baby was in a routine and things were easier. I still longed to join my friends for good nights out followed by lengthy lie-ins. It took some getting used to when I realised that my friends were still partying but that those days were largely behind me.”

 

I didn’t find it too difficult at all. Just not having time to pamper myself anymore (have long showers, blow-dry my hair, take time getting ready) and not being able to just ‘pop out’!”

 

“It was like starting a new job, with absolutely no training. It was so hard trying to work out the cries, and what they meant.”

 

“My partner didn’t realise I would do everything if I was let — and didn’t step in to help.”

 

“As well as the tiredness, there were so many new emotions and fears to deal with at the start. I also found the criticism from others very difficult, as was the tension that seemed to grow between me and my husband.”

 

Breastfeeding tied me very much to the baby and I resented the intrusion at times — it would have been easier had my baby taken an occasional bottle

 

“Sleep deprivation, the feeling of never having any time to yourself.  At first it felt like having an uninterrupted bath was an achievement or a hot meal or making a phone call or having any time with your partner.  It’s very all consuming.”

 

The constant worry of whether they are doing ok, I don’t think that goes away! 

 

“The thing I found most difficult was adjusting to a whole new way of life and having this little tiny person relying on me 24 hours a day 7 days a week.”

 

“Getting into a routine was the hardest thing — particularly when it came to night feeds. I found it very difficult to always have to be planning ahead, even just to go to the local shop.”

 

I am coming to terms with the title ‘Mum’, ‘Mother’ or God forbid ‘Mammy’.   I don’t know why, I loved my own Mother.  She was a great woman and a wonderful mother.  I guess it’s just not how I identify myself yet.  It is slowly growing on me.  This is in sharp contrast to my husband who has readily embraced the title ‘Daddy’.  He refers to himself as Daddy all the time. I am sure even his work colleagues are beginning to call him ‘Daddy’. 

 

Letting go of the things you can’t do for a few months (e.g., maintaining a half decent conversation with more than one adult) and enjoying everything you mange to do with your new baby. 

 

“The most difficult bit was balancing attention between the three kids, husband, friends, housework, family, church life and personal time……………”

 

“I found the broken sleep difficult. However, both of mine always went back to sleep after being fed, so I was lucky never to have hours of being up with them.”

 

I guess the most difficult thing for me is accepting that my time is no longer my own, my activities have to include my baby. Having said that I have never laughed so much in my life, every little move she makes is infinitely amusing.  Her development is fascinating, and when she smiles it’s like the sun on my face, I love her.   

 

“My partner needed to go on a business trip when M was nine days old, and I had to care for her by myself for 2 days. That was very difficult. M had severe colic, and also wouldn’t sleep unless she was in the bed with me”

 

“Our last child was in the special care baby unit for the first 17 days. That was very difficult. My husband, who was a rock, got me through that time.

 

And the dads?  

 

“When baby was not feeling well and not sleeping.”

 

“Time management — i.e. not having any more time to yourself!”

 

“I felt a bit helpless with the feeding, as B was breastfeeding.”

 

“No sleep – I’mstill not coping with the shock of early Saturday mornings!”

 

“Getting used to the fact that the world doesn’t’ revolve around you anymore. Your child is centre of your universe.”

 

“Things weren’t so bad for me because my partner breast fed — so there weren’t many sleepless nights for me.”

 

“No escape, total commitment. Loss of self and personal space.

 

“For the first couple of weeks J was a bit emotional — the slightest thing would set her off.

 

“The most difficult thing about being a new father was trying to be supportive to my partner, when I was so inexperienced. I’m not very good at taking instruction, and have often fallen short of the required standard — but I am improving!”

 

“The hardest part was getting used to the physical reality of continuous responsibility for the baby.  That said, it was more than compensated for by the excitement of having a new baby.  Maybe, we were lucky — or maybe I don’t realise how much my wife was doing — but while it’s physically hard, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  We’re conditioned to being told that its endless work but the upside you only realise when it happens to you.”

 

“I didn’t find any thing difficult, initially. But now that I’m back at work I tend to leave a lot of the responsibility of minding the baby to X, which she resents, and then we argue, the lack of sleep mostly for Xs not conducive to helping the situation. So this stress builds up and it causes a lot of stress in our relationship. I try to balance the responsibilities of what is a demanding job with the responsibilities of being a father and a husband. This is the most difficult thing.”

 

“Having this little person in the house with us, depending on us all the time. I also found it quite difficult as my mother passed away exactly 4 weeks to the day our son was born, but having him made things a little bit better for me.”

 

“I got glandular fever when the baby was three months old, so my wife had 4 kids to look after."

 

“The worst times were when she wouldn’t breastfeed and her mum was getting really upset and more tired by the minute and didn’t want to give her a bottle, so I felt useless.”

 

“I found it difficult to adjust to having a newborn, and a toddler. Also difficult was the interrupted sleep, and having to keep commitments to work, especially on the mornings when I was needed at home.”

 

“Interruption to sleep – although overall we were very lucky — was hard.  Even the anticipation of interrIupted sleep affects the depth of your sleep.  But, it was nothing like as bad as I thought it would be or can be.

 

“The lack of sleep was the difficult thing about those first few months. It was also very difficult not being sure what was wrong with him when he could not sleep — if only they could talk!”

 

I have had a pretty easy time of it. A is a joy during the day if a little demanding and it’s hard to get other things done. S is breastfeeding her so the two are never very far from each other which means she tends to do most of the minding. The lack of sleep for S is the worst, it's upsetting to see her very frustrated and tired all the time, I think breastfeeding is the best food for our baby but I am looking forward to once she is weaned helping with the night feeds and having a well rested wife. 

 

“The crying with colic……….We really had to share the nights. If I was on lates and not up the next morning I would do the night feeds, and I was on the morning shift J would do the feeds. We had to share it or we would have been so tired we would have ended up killing each other…”