Some newborn babies are perfect. They sleep without being held most of the day and night. They are good eaters, and they rarely cry. I know this to be true because Little C was the perfect baby. However, you may not get an ideal newborn. Your newborn could be like Big C or worse. When Big C was a baby, I decided that babies were not for me. (Thank goodness for Little C that I got over it!) Here are some reasons why newborns are hard.
Luckily my babies never had colic; however, I know many parents who had colicky newborns. Babies who have colic cry a lot. Many of the parents I know said their babies would cry for 3-4 hours every night starting around 5 or 6 P.M. It’s not the normal kind of baby crying either. There is no consoling a colicky baby. They aren’t hungry, don’t need a diaper change, and won’t go to sleep. There’s nothing you can do but take turns with your spouse holding a screaming, crying baby until the problem passes (or, passes out for the night). One of my friends said that she and her husband took 30 minute shifts once the crying started in the evening. Eventually babies do grow out of colic, but it pretty much makes for a miserable baby experience. What’s even more frustrating? There’s no known cause of colic, though in some cases stomach pain is an issue.
The Terrible Sleeper
My oldest daughter was a terrible sleeper. In fact, friends, family members, and even strangers on the street would say, “That is the most alert baby I have ever seen!” Yes. Big C was awake and looking around all the time, even at night. Ugh. It was awful. My husband and I were completely exhausted the first five months of her life until we decided to let her sleep in bed with us. (Don’t judge. It was a last resort. We were desperate to sleep longer than 1 ½ to 2 hours at a time.) Honestly, when I think back to my memories of my oldest daughter when she was a baby, I just remember feeling extremely tired, sore from my delivery, and grumpy. It’s really unfortunate.
The Terrible Eater
In addition to being a terrible sleeper, my oldest daughter was also a terrible eater. She didn’t latch well. This made her an inefficient eater, and it caused great amounts of pain for me. My lactation specialist at the pediatrician’s office also called Big C a “grazer.” She said that some babies like to graze all day instead of eating large amounts at one time. This is very challenging for their mommies, especially when their mommies breastfeed. Big C preferred to eat for 5 minutes every 45 minutes to an hour. (Baby C ate for 20 to 30 minutes every 4-6 hours just to give you an idea of the difference.)
Pumping at Work
Maternity leaves don’t last forever, and some moms don’t get a maternity leave at all. If you are a nursing mother, this means you get to pump at work. Although work is required to allow you to pump a few times throughout the day in a quiet location, they might not be happy about the situation. (My boss was not thrilled about it.) It took up all my lunch and break time to pump. Pumps aren’t as efficient as babies either. As a result, it takes longer to drain the breast. Pumping at work can be done; I did it with both of my girls, but it was a huge hassle.
If you are a nursing mom, there’s no break for you until you wean your baby. That’s just how it is. Sometimes, you really want a break. Sure, it would be nice for someone else to have to get up in the middle of the night for once. It would be nice to go out to eat and see a movie without your boobs turning into engorged milk rocks by the end of the evening. It would be nice for your baby to want to go to someone else for comfort. Nope. You are it, and sometimes that is a bit hard on the psyche with a difficult newborn.
Some newborns are nice. Other newborns are hard. I know because I had one of each. Regardless of what kind of baby your newborn is, I promise they will grow out of that phase before you know it. I didn’t believe it when I was in the middle of the newborn nightmare stage, but take heart that it will eventually happen.
Q: If you had a challenging newborn, what did you find most difficult about that age?