I’ve been very hesitant to say it out loud, but so far Lila has been what I would call an “easy baby.” Unlike her brother, she has been sleeping through the night without much effort from me since she was about 7 weeks old. She naps on the go easily, is full of smiles, and is generally pretty happy as long as she gets decent sleep and attention. Her brother was a different story. He had extremely bad reflux and dairy and soy intolerances, I couldn’t breastfeed him because he reacted so strongly, and his first few weeks home were the hardest weeks of my life.
I Have An Easy Baby & It’s Still Really Hard
When we brought Lila home, and she started just falling asleep on her own in her bassinet I was sort of amazed. When we got through the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding, and I realized we might be able to make this work, I said a prayer of thanks. I held my breath and hoped her easy going demeanor wasn’t just a fluke for those first few weeks. And it seems like they weren’t. Because she is such an “easy” baby, I thought that this whole new mom thing might be easier the second time around. And honestly, in a lot of ways, it has been easier.
Because we’re getting decent sleep, I haven’t had the same level of postpartum anxiety as I did with my son. (PS, I never realized how much sleep deprivation can trigger anxiety until I spent 6 weeks not sleeping). I have a little more time during the day to take care of the things I want to, because she usually takes good naps. And being a second time mom, I’m just a little more confident in my abilities as a mother. However, being a mom to brand new baby is still incredibly hard. Even with an angel baby. And I want to share a few things that it make it so challenging, not to complain. Because with Lila, I truly can’t.
But I want to point out something that I think isn’t talked about a whole lot. And that’s the fact that even under the most ideal circumstances (a healthy, easy going baby), being a mom is just plain hard. And new moms need and deserve a lot of support. Even ones with chill babies. Especially ones with babies that have more challenges. So if you know a mom whose had a baby in the past year, send her a meal, some chocolate, or a case of wine. And see if there’s anything you can do to support her.
Because ya’ll, I have an “angel baby,” and this shit is still hard AF.
Like I said earlier, I had severe postpartum anxiety with my son. Fortunately, my experience hasn’t been nearly as difficult with Lila, because she hasn’t had any medical issues like extreme reflux and she sleeps well. But let me tell you, worrying about tiny babies is pretty much the universal experience of motherhood. I know babies are sturdier than we give them credit for, but knowing that a whole person fully depends on you to stay alive….is, well, a lot of pressure.
In Lila’s first three months I have worried about the possibility of her developing reflux like brother. I have worried about things like SIDs and have stared at a video monitor after she’s put to bed at night. Speaking of bed, I have worried about her being overtired and cranky on days where naps have been cut short for whatever reason. I have worried about her physical health. I have worried about being able to feed her enough. I have worried about what this world is going to look like when she grows up. And anytime I have been away from her, I’ve worried about her safety and happiness.
My son is 8, and I still worry. I worry about him making new friends. I worry about him having bad dreams. I worry about what he watches on TV, and if he’s spending too much time with electronics. I worry about how he feels after we have a disagreement. I worry about if he’s eating enough during lunch at school. And when he gets older I’m sure I’ll worry about things like him driving safely and the first girl whose going to break his heart.
Being a mom means constantly being vulnerable to pain, because when your kids suffer, you suffer so much more. And knowing this means you probably worry a lot about it.
Babies are Expensive
So technically babies are expensive as you decide for them to be. They really don’t need too much beyond food, diapers, a car seat, and a place to sleep. However, there is a whole industry built on the fact that parenting is hard, and anything that makes it slightly easier will probably generate a lot of revenue. Here are some things I have spent a lot of money on to make my life with a newborn just a little easier: a cordless breast pump, every swaddle that is manufactured, a car seat cover to keep her warm during stroller walks, countless UberEats deliveries, and multiple baby carriers.￼
And for parents whose babies don’t sleep well…..well you could go into bankruptcy buying things that promise to help improve that. From weighted sleepsacks to sleep consultants and vibrating bassinets. If you think you have an easy time not making impulse buys, you might be surprised at the money you will be willing to part with at 3am when you haven’t slept more than 2 hour stretches for weeks on end.
And what are the two most expensive things a new parent will probably deal with? Diapers and childcare. We cloth diaper for multiple reasons, but especially diapers are so freaking expensive. And even though cloth is the cheaper alternative, it still costs a couple hundred dollars (on average) to get a full stash. And childcare? Day care is expensive. A regular nanny is expensive. Deciding to live on one income to avoid the costs of childcare is also expensive.
So even if you consciously choose to be fairly frugal and not buy into all the nonsense that is the baby product world, you’re probably going to be shelling out a decent portion of your families income on those sweet people you created.
Babies Change Constantly
In the first few years of life, babies brains and bodies are growing rapidly. And it can be really cool to watch. Those first steps, words, and every other developmental milestone along the way are amazing to experience. However, if you are at all type-A like I am, it also makes being a mom really freaking hard. Because just when you think you’ve got a nice routine established, your baby decides to do something like drop a nap, or start crawling, or climbing, or something else that requires new efforts in baby-proofing.
Babies are also a whole lot crankier during times that they’re brains are making developmental leaps. Which makes sleep challenging. Which makes life in general challenging. And when things start to change, it can be really tricky to figure out how you need to adjust. Is your usually good napper now taking 45 minute cat naps because he’s overtired…..or because he’s not tired enough? Is it teething? A growth spurt? Demonic possession?
Babies are constantly evolving, and because they can’t really communicate, it’s a lot harder to figure out what’s going on with them. Which makes figuring out how you need to adjust even harder. Everything in the first 3ish years is just a phase. And for someone who likes routine or consistency, that is not an easy pill to swallow.
Being a Mom is Full Time
I think most people realize that there is no real clocking out as a mom. What I think might be harder to understand is just how exhausting it is to be on the clock 24/7. It’s really hard to describe, but I’ll do my best. Being a mom can mean feeling like you can’t ever truly relax, because even though babies sleep and nap, it’s all unreliable.
Could you be called to duty at 3am when a fever crops up? Yup. Could your work day be interrupted because a nap, because someone forgot their lunch? Absolutely. Is there a possibility that your run might be cut short because your teething baby woke up way earlier than expected and is slightly inconsolable. Think you’re going to take a shower without a care in the world? Think again, because even if the baby is in fact sleeping, there’s a super phenomenon called phantom cries. Unfamiliar with this term?
Well, it is so common for moms to hear their babies cry out when there is actually no crying happening that this was given a name. Phantom cries. Moms are on such high alert all of the time that we HALLUCINATE hearing our babies cry. That’s how all-encompassing being a mom can feel. Even when we’re not home, we wonder if the baby is napping well, finished their bottle, or misses you. We research things like weaning, mile stones, and baby toys. Having a newborn can exhaust every single part of your brain. Even when your baby is asleep.
Being needed all of the time can be wonderful. It’s beautiful to see your baby completely light up or relax the moment they see you. It’s also exhausting to feel like you are always needed. How do you really relax when you never know when the call of duty is going to arise? Well, it’s really hard.
Being a mom has been one of the best parts of my life. Being a new mom has been one of the hardest seasons. Is it easier with a baby that sleeps? I can honestly say it is. But I can definitively say that having any baby, even an angel baby is hard AF.