When my wife and I found out we were having a baby, we had the normal roller coaster of emotions that any couple has. However, the one thing I HATED was how every parent loved to tell us how hard it was and how crazy we would be. Every story we were told was a tale of exhaustion, of falling asleep at your desk at work, of constant fights with your S/O because you’re both exhausted.
Parenting was absolutely nothing like that.
I want to start out by saying that we realize that our parenting situation is an anomaly. We realize we got incredibly lucky with the child we have, and that it may not last forever, but it was hard during the pregnancy months when we were trying to prepare to be bombarded with stories about the oncoming stress, like we were the Titanic knowingly heading into an iceberg of diapers and tears.
Our son, Ellis, definitely kept us awake every few hours the first few nights we took him home. My wife and I definitely had moments of frustration with each other. I remember vividly one night my wife waking me up from my deep sleep to feed Ellis a bottle. I quickly snapped that it wasn’t my turn, and rolled over and ignored her (It was indeed, my turn, and I begrudgingly got up to feed him).
After a few weeks, he started sleeping through the night. There were no signs of him starting to sleep longer, it was just one night he went to bed at 8pm, and decided to stay asleep until 8am. Our first instinct was to worry… Every single story we were told was that a baby is supposed to drive us crazy, we’re supposed to have these huge moments of frustration where you feel like giving up, but your deep love for your child is supposed to keep you going.
It even got to the point where we asked the doctor if there was anything wrong with him, since he was sleeping through the night. Our doctor assured us that he was fine, and while it’s uncommon, it definitely happens.
I felt so lied to. Everyone told us it would be terrible. I honestly think this is what keeps so many couples waiting as long as they do to have children, because of all the horror stories they hear from friends and family. I don’t want to discount what people say as exaggerated or fictional, but I think the hard moments are much more memorable because of their difficulty in the early months.
I wish a parent has told us something like: “You know what? Maybe you’ll get lucky! I’ve heard parenthood is hard, but some babies are easier than others!” My mind was so clouded with the negativity and poop-covered moments that I expected infant parenthood to be so much harder and emotional than it ended up being.
Instead, when we told other parents things like "Hey, we had a really great week", we were greeted with "Well, just you wait until his teeth come in...sleep regression....once he turns one...once you have a second baby...once his molars come in...etc." It never got THAT bad for us. Sure, we had our rough times, but it wasn't the hell we were expecting.
If you’re expecting a baby, I’m not saying you WON’T be exhausted, but just know that there is hope that the newborn months/years won’t be as bad as everyone tells you. Even in the times that were tough, parenthood was nothing like it was described to me.
I realize I may be signing my death warrant here, and that our next child someday is going to be a disaster, but until then, I’m going to focus on enjoying a baby that gives my wife and I so much joy, and much more sleep than we were expecting.