This is one of the most annoying things you can say to a new mum.
Let’s be honest, pretty much everything people say to you when you’re a new mum can be annoying, however well-intentioned. All the advice, remarks on your weight and the classic “well, mine slept through at two days old”.
But it’s true. It does get easier.
People said it to me when I was in the fog of sleep deprivation so bad I was nodding off while doing the washing up.
I wanted to tell them they don’t know my baby and I couldn’t see how she could possibly get easier to deal with at night.
Throw a demanding toddler into the mix and I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. It was so overwhelming in those early weeks with two under two.
The words are of little comfort at the time, when you’re in the thick of trying to survive your own version of the Hunger Games.
Then as the lack of sleep continued, I felt more rundown and would snap at my toddler and husband over minor things. I thought surely this is supposed to be the happiest time of my life and instead I’m tired and miserable all the time. It was in these moments that I felt like a failure.
But it did get easier. It has been a gradual process but slowly but surely the dust has started to settle.
My baby would cry and cry throughout every evening. We tried to instil a bedtime routine, like we did with our first child. But it was like banging my head against a brick wall.
No amount of Johnson’s Bedtime Bath, nursery rhymes, baby massage or cuddles would soothe her.
Eventually she started being ready to go to sleep at 7pm. She would go down in her cot after a feed without a fuss. No more tears at bedtime. What did I do differently? Nothing. It just took time.
My first baby would not latch and feed no matter how many times we tried. We both cried for hours as we soldiered on.
Because I felt like a failure, I pumped her feeds for five months out of guilt. She was a bright and happy baby on breast milk. When she switched completely to formula feeds she was still the same bright and happy baby.
Breastfeeding my second child has been a smoother ride by comparison but I did nearly throw in the towel many times. These moments were usually at 2am when she was chomping and grunting at my sore nipples like an angry badger.
But my boobs stopped hurting and she stopped feeding all night long. Eight months in and I’m planning to stop soon, but for now we’re still going.
Getting out and about
In the early weeks it was a struggle with the baby screaming so much when put down in the car seat that she vomited all over herself.
Once she was out of the sleepy newborn stage she then decided she wanted to be permanently attached to my boobs. This made heading to places like soft play or the park a challenge. My toddler still wanted attention all the time. I needed an extra pair of hands to give proper attention to both.
Often we would have to leave somewhere early because it had got too much for one or both kids, or me.
Now there is no vomiting in the car seat. The baby sucks her thumb or chews a toy when she wants comfort and my toddler gets mummy playing with her for a while.
It was always around this time when I was trying to cook dinner and eat myself that both our kids had their fussiest periods as babies.
They would kick off at about 5pm and no amount of comforting would help.
Our youngest would often be over tired by this point as she had hardly any naps. I found myself breastfeeding her while trying to eat with one hand and hoping I didn’t drop hot food on her.
Now we all have tea together, even my youngest now she’s on solids. There are no tears until about 6pm when everyone starts getting a little sleepy but it’s not the thermonuclear headf**k it used to be. I get to use both hands to eat.
Getting some “me time”
Free time was always taken up with clawing back sleep. I felt like I was on a baby treadmill with no end in sight. I was desperate to do simple things like paint my nails, but sleep always won the dilemma.
Now that our baby is starting to sleep a bit better at night I can use the evenings to do things for me. I don’t have to rush to bed straight away. I can watch a TV programme or film with my other half. I’m learning how to relax again.
To all new mums who think they’re failing. You’re not. It does get easier.
Your baby will sleep more.
Your baby will cry less.
Your baby will stop vomiting every day.
Your baby will grow – whether they’re breast or bottle fed.
Your baby won’t always feed every hour.
Your baby’s eczema/cradle cap/jaundice will get better.
Your baby won’t always poo through every layer of clothing.
The health visitor will soon stop visiting and making you feel guilty for all the so-called rules you’re breaking.
You will start to feel more human.
You won’t always doubt every one of your decisions.
You will get time to focus on your relationship again.
You will feel like you again.
Try to remind yourself that it does get easier. This needy, full-on newborn stage will appear like a distant memory one day. Keep going mum, you’re doing great.
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