11 things parents forget about the first year

My youngest daughter is edging closer to 18 months and has left the baby days behind her.

My two toddlers are brilliant fun, and I love watching them do new things every day. But as I type my ovaries are screaming at me to have another baby, just so that I can sniff their head whenever I want. That newborn baby smell is completely addictive – I challenge anyone to resist it!

It just goes to show you how very quickly we forget the bloody nightmare that is the first year.

Only a few months ago I was typing about how I was about to go stark raving bonkers from lack of sleep.

Now I’m seriously considering adding a third sleep thief to the mix. A third!

Who can resist the idea of a newborn, especially when you have conveniently forgotten how blooming hard they are to look after

Despite having the two of them at the moment, we do manage a decent night’s sleep, mostly. However when even just one of them is poorly, it sends the entire house of cards crashing down. They cry all night, which keeps the other one up all night, which means we don’t sleep a wink, all night.

And then they’re cranky, and need entertaining, feeding and all other things doing for them. And having doubled this problem, I now want to triple it.

Yet for all of the hard days, I still think I can manage it again. It’s like a kind of selective amnesia making you remember only the fun stuff and forget all the nights you paced up and down the nursery trying every different kind of silly walk you can imagine to find one that would send the baby to sleep.

Mother Nature is a clever so-and-so. She knows we would never procreate again if we really remembered the full horror of the newborn baby months. So for anyone who needs reminding, before you get a craving for a whiff of that newborn baby’s head, read this:

1. It’s absolutely bloody knackering

Giving birth is like running 10 marathons, through sand. And then you have to look after a child requiring 24/7 attention at the end of it. No medal for you!

2. Teething is a total arse

I swear that one of my youngest’s teeth was coming through for about four months. Sophie the Giraffe did sod all to help – although she has been a trooper given how many hours she’s spent being gnawed and dribbled on by a six-month-old.

Teething takes your child from smiling, happy and cute to being like Damian from The Omen movies.

Nothing settles them, the crying is unbearable, there is no sleep and there is no escape.

3. The feeding debate is so stressful

Every baby is different. This means you may be able to breastfeed one successfully for one year, while the next doesn’t even last a week.

The trouble is, the emotional fallout from not being able to breastfeed can be horrendous and the guilt that gets piled on you is just exhausting.

You would hope that by baby number three I would be strong enough to tell the anti-formula haters, and the prudes who hate women breastfeeding in public, to mind their own business and let me make my own decision.

The trouble is when you’re vulnerable and worried about taking the best care of your baby, you do get suckered in to these debates. The fed is best policy is absolutely true, but when you’re in the early weeks and trying to get breastfeeding right, this resolve to stay strong just goes out the window.

4. You don’t ever have a conversation with your partner

The only communication between you and your other half is the odd grunt about dinner.

“Chicken or pork chops tonight?”

“Urrgh.”

“Chops it is.”

A combination of fatigue, tantrums, crying, washing, and housework make it pretty much impossible for you to communicate as an adult couple.

5. Zero freedom

Of course you have limited freedom with toddlers, but a newborn baby provides no wriggle room at all.

You can’t just pop out for a drink with your mates when you’re breastfeeding and the baby likes to cluster feed like you’ve starved them all day in the evenings.

Any plans to have a quiet night in with a takeaway are also ruined by the dreaded witching hour, where your child screams for no apparent reason from about 5pm onwards every night.

6. The bottomless washing pile

Newborn baby nappies just do not contain the poo. This results in an endless stack of babygros, vests and bedding to wash and dry. Plus babies also have a habit of vomiting without warning, adding your own outfit to the pile too. The struggle is real.

7. The worry

What’s that rash? Is that poo normal? Why is she still crying? Should that cradle cap still be there? How much milk is enough? Has she gained enough weight this week?

Is she too cold? Is she too hot? Should the bed be further away from the window? Have I child-proofed everything?

The worry will take 10 years off your life and add hundreds of grey hairs to your head.

8. The noise

Newborn baby cries do not make for easy listening for anyone. However when it’s your own baby it causes all normal brain function to cease and places sole focus on making it stop.

The problem is, you can’t make it stop. Because sometimes newborns cry just because they can.

9. The advice

Everyone is an expert when it comes to babies. You could be paying for groceries and the checkout person will peer into the pram and say “you ought to get that rash looked at”.

Something about a newborn makes everyone feel like they need to give their opinion and advice – it’s the protective instinct that exists in us all. The thing is if it hasn’t come from our GP, or been expressly asked for, we don’t need it.

You won’t ask for it, but you will get it anyway, and some of it is so barking mad you’ll struggle to maintain your polite and tolerant exterior. How about a nip of whisky in the bottle?

10. The toll it takes on your body

The long road to recovery after having a baby is easy to forget, because you have a lot of other stuff to think about at the same time!

But your body post-baby is pretty beat up. You may have piles, stitches, abdominal separation, night sweats, hair loss and those hormones mean you cry over absolutely everything.

11. The sleep

Of all the things that we forget, this has to be the biggest one!

Although we know that we didn’t sleep much, we forget what it actually feels like to emerge from a night of just one hour of broken sleep, blinking with confusion at the time and wondering how you will survive the day. Therefore when those primitive urges to make more babies hit, we think the sleep deprivation might not be so bad after all.

Then we reach for the biggest lie of all, which is telling ourselves that maybe our next baby will be different, and sleep through from two weeks, and never poop through their clothes, or cry, or refuse to eat their lunch, or answer back, or throw a tantrum.

Are you thinking of adding another baby to your brood? Do you think you’ve forgotten the tough parts? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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11 things parents forget about the first year

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