Parenthood is such a lonely experience. Sure, there are tons of groups and blogs and communities to get involved in, but at 3am when you’re sitting with a screaming baby, you’re on your own. But that’s not even loneliest part about it; the worst part is that somehow, I’ve felt like I’m the only one who feels this way. Maybe I am, or maybe people are liars, or maybe nostalgia makes parents forget, but dealing with a newborn/preemie is absolutely awful.
Sure, there may be sweet moments, but when you’re sleep deprived and drained, there is only so much you can take. Well, only so much that I can take. And while Harley is objectively gorgeous and adorable, she seems way less so when she has been crying and screaming and robbing me and Dean of our rest and our sanity. Instead of staying quiet about it, feeling like I’m the only one, here’s what it’s really like even two weeks later with a baby who shouldn’t have even been born yet.
I am tired. It’s a kind of tired that can’t really be described until you’ve been there. I’ve gone without sleep before – I was in university and I crunched for papers or stayed up all night partying followed by early morning lectures. But this is a different kind of tired. Waking up at 3am is one thing, but to have the baby cry the moment you get back into bed is another. Staying up with her for an hour to make sure she’s fed and falling back to sleep is hard enough, but having that only last half an hour before she wakes up again is just painful. Worst of all, there is no consistency. One night, she’ll sleep for 3-4 hours at a time, letting me do the same. The next night, she’s up every 45 minutes, regardless of how long I sit with her to get her to fall back to sleep.
But it’s actually even worse in the evening. Anyone who is in a relationship knows that the time between five and ten in the evening is that mythical period where you actually get to be together. From making and eating dinner, relaxing in front of the TV, or just cuddling and chatting, there aren’t many times in the day when you get to really connect and the evening is usually the best shot. Of course, that’s when Harley often decides to be her most difficult. In fact, she has the unique ability to be fine for a while and start screaming just as we sit down to eat. In those moments, I’m inclined to take my fork and knife to her instead of the meal.
The nappies aren’t so bad. I really don’t mind cleaning up a poop-filled diaper; the problem is the screaming that comes along with it. Why oh why is it so awful to have someone take away that uncomfortable nappy, clean you up, put on cream and strap on a clean diaper? Why must she scream every time? Is it really so terrible to be cleaned up?
Worst of all, I feel like a terrible mother. Everyone talks about the glory that is a mother’s love, how beautiful it is and how profound. Instead, I tell Dean that I despise her, that I think we’ve made a horrible mistake and one that we can’t undo. People promise that it gets better, but that doesn’t really help me in the moment. Great that it gets better, but for the next bunch of weeks/months/years, we need to deal with the reality of living with a tiny being who doesn’t even seem quite human yet – she is just a bundle of screaming hunger that I like the most when she’s asleep.
So if that makes me a bad person or a bad mother, so be it. But at least I’m not keeping quiet anymore. Motherhood sucks, newborns suck and so far none of this feels worthwhile. Yes, there are days when I’ve bonded with her and found her adorable, but I can’t even remember that feeling at the moment. I’m sure depression doesn’t help, but right now I feel like I’m taking things one hour at a time – not even one day at a time. People keep saying to enjoy every moment with her, that it will be over so soon and I’ll miss these times. I can’t help but think they are lying or deluded; what could I possibly miss about this? Instead, I’m plodding my way through, hoping I get to the “better” part soon.