Is parenting going to suck forever?
January 18, 2011 3:11 PM   Subscribe

I hate taking care of my 5-week-old and I'm scared it will be like this forever!

After several years and two heartbreaking pregnancy losses, I am now the mother of a gorgeous 5-week-old boy. Unfortunately, I am finding myself becoming more and more miserable every day and I am starting to think that I've made a big mistake and that I am not cut out to be a parent at all. I think part of the problem is that breastfeeding has gone poorly from the very beginning, due to a number of different factors. He is about 50% breastfed right now, which is not the end of the world but not at all what I had planned on or hoped for. But even aside from our nursing struggles, I am finding that I just do not enjoy taking care of him and I'm not sure I really love him like I am supposed to. I spend all day alternating between boredom and frustration. Everyone said it would get so much better once he started to smile at me, but he started smiling for real this week's cool and all, but it doesn't make me feel any better the other 98% of the time. To add insult to injury, my husband is adjusting marvelously, is totally in love, and always knows just what to do for the boy. I find that I am counting down the days until I go back to work and put my son in daycare. I really don't think I have postpartum depression--I have been depressed before, and this doesn't feel like that. I just think that I really have made a bad mistake and that I am too selfish and rigid to be a parent. What can I do to make this better? Will taking care of my son ever be less of a drag?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (83 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
this sounds like classic post-partum depression, and is very common.
posted by radiosilents at 3:16 PM on January 18, 2011 [31 favorites]

Just to hammer home that it's common and you're not alone and it gets better: this classic 2006 thread that is very similar to yours: I'm pretty sure I don't love my baby.
posted by xueexueg at 3:21 PM on January 18, 2011 [8 favorites]

it definitely sounds like post partum depression, which is very common and everyone gets to varying degrees. Things should start to feel better soon (for me between 6-8 weeks). Honestly, taking care of my son didn't start being really fun until he was about 5 or 6 months.
posted by katypickle at 3:21 PM on January 18, 2011

No, it does sound like post-partum depression. It does get better eventually - I went through horrible, untreated PPD after my daughter was born - but I advise you to learn from my mistakes (leaving it untreated) and get some help in whatever form you need. My daughter is nine now, and I still bitterly regret missing out on her infancy because I was unwell.

And look, you will be a good parent. You are a good parent, because posting this show that you do care and you want the best for your family. That doesn't sound like selfishness to me. Good luck!
posted by Ruki at 3:23 PM on January 18, 2011 [11 favorites]

Please go see your doc and tell him/her exactly what you've told us. There is help out there for you. There really is. Start with your OB/Gyn. Or your baby's pediatrician.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:24 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Take heart, it will change.

There were some great moments with my daughters as infants, but the honest truth is that they were not that interesting until at least 3 months, and to be even more honest not until at least 9 months. Then they got a lot more interesting and it's been basically a more-interesting-every-day since then.

Really, those early days mostly felt like work to me. Really shitty work (both figuratively and literally).

Also, do not beat yourself up about nursing struggles. Most of us adults were raised on formula. Maybe not ideal, but I sure as hell think I turned out fine. The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up for not living up to the ideals of La Leche League or whatever. You are not beholden to them. Your son's biggest asset in his upbringing will be your own health and well-being. Concentrate on that part.
posted by mcstayinskool at 3:26 PM on January 18, 2011 [13 favorites]

i was a portrait studio manager for a decade. i've seen more new mothers within the first couple of months than most. what you describe is very, very common. all of it - the detachment, the feeling like your husband is doing better, the "omg, when can i go back to work??" - and none of it makes you a bad person or an unfit mother. all of it makes you utterly human and normal. i've had so many moms tell me that they let post partum depression go on for too long because they'd been depressed before and it didn't feel the same.

as a society and as individuals we put a lot of pressure on ourselves about what certain things should feel like or how they should be. there is no topic this is more true for than kids. you've grown up with an idea about what kind of mother you'd be and you reinforced an idea about what makes a good one or a bad one. and most of it is bullocks.

here's something more new mothers need to hear so i'm telling it to you - i give you permission to not be perfect. i give you permission to feel overwhelmed. i give you permission to enjoy the breaks from your child.

and, one last thing - yes, it gets better. those new moms i saw at their most desperate and sad - nearly all of them got more relaxed and more connected with their child as they both started sleeping more.
posted by nadawi at 3:29 PM on January 18, 2011 [32 favorites]

Yeah, coming back to say, if you're having problems nursing (and even if you weren't), using formula is nothing to be ashamed of. There are a lot of very vocal opinions about this, but ultimately, it's up to you to decide what works best for you and your baby. I had trouble nursing, too, and after two months of frustration, and that at only doing it half the time, I switched to 100% formula. It did help me, and my daughter is happy and healthy. (And so am I.)
posted by Ruki at 3:31 PM on January 18, 2011

I promise you it will be less of a drag, but that's not going to help you right now. What will help you is talking to someone, because while it sounds like it could be PPD, no one on the internet can really say and no one on the internet can help you beyond assuring you that it does get better and it does get easier and they will start to change so fast your head will spin. You're in some of the hard times now if your experience was anything like ours, trying to learn the baby and adjust your life to being with the baby.

Please talk to your ob/gyn or your pediatrician, even if it's just to confirm its not PPD and maybe you can get some help with the breast feeding via a lactation consultant. I know that when my wife started to get a better more comfortable handle on the breastfeeding at about week 6 she felt she turned a corner and while it was (and is) still hard she felt more empowered and connected to the experience. Hang in there momma, you're doing the best you can.
posted by iamabot at 3:33 PM on January 18, 2011

I can't speak about the post partum depression. But breastfeeding a baby is tiring. You can't be away from the kid for more than an hour or so. So you have this little person who has needs but can't communicate them very well and won't let you sleep for 8 hours straight.

In this sense, the first three months suck the most. Then you wean him, and you get some of what is you back. I think it is easier to fall in love after that.
posted by Monday at 3:35 PM on January 18, 2011

Mr. Beagle and I read that "I'm pretty sure I don't love my baby" thread to each other about a gazillion times after having our baby.

I'm not sure I had post-partum depression, either. Honestly, I think having a newborn is just incredibly stressful in the very best of cases. You don't get nearly enough sleep (=psychosis), you don't get to take very many showers, there's this person who's a bottomless pit of need, your life has been upended, and it's going to be like this forever. YOU MAY HAVE MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE!!!!!

It gets better. I found that it got better at around two months, when my baby and I had gotten really good at breastfeeding lying down, so I got basically enough sleep to function.

I'm not going to pretend that breastfeeding is the solution to every problem in the world, but it sounds like you're having a rough time with it not going as well as you'd hoped. I had a very difficult start breastfeeding, but we figured it out. It really helped me feel better about the whole motherhood thing, that there was a part of it I had a stone cold handle on. You don't mention specifics of the problems you're having, but if you'd like some BTDT and (I promise) non-judgmental tips, feel free to memail me, discretion assured.

(I am pretending that I'm some kind of noir-era mama PI.)
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:35 PM on January 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

In all honesty, this sounds exactly, exactly, EXACTLY like PPD. Just like depression manifests differently in different people, different kinds of depression don't always present the same way in the same individual; just because it's not like other depression you've had doesn't mean its not PPD.

My son is ten weeks old, and yeah, you are not kidding with the boredom and frustration. Taking care of an infant is not just ridiculously hard work, it's ridiculously hard in a way that is really different from the hard work I'm used to doing; it's not cognitively challenging, it's not physically challenging, it's just DRAINING. Also, a teeny tiny baby gives you essentially no feedback as to whether you're doing a good job or not, it just makes with the howling. But the way you're feeling is so much like PPD that even if it ISN'T PPD, you really need to be evaluated by someone competent to rule it out.

Memail me for more details, there's other stuff I don't really want to talk about in the searchable web.
posted by KathrynT at 3:37 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hi. I'm going to out myself here - I'm the poster of the I'm pretty sure I don't love my baby post linked above.

It gets better. Oh, it gets so much better.

I have to think that childbearing and childrearing was meant to be a large family group activity, and I can't imagine why we've come to a point in our society where new mothers can get so isolated. Taking care of an infant is hard, hard, hard, hard work.

For me, it ended up being all about sleep. Its likely I had PPD, although I was never formally diagnosed. But I wasn't sleeping, really at all, and that brings on the crazy despair faster than you can imagine.

Please email me anytime. I'll keep secret who you are. I'm available to talk whenever.
posted by anastasiav at 3:38 PM on January 18, 2011 [141 favorites]

It will get better. Are you getting a break at all? Do you have someone you can trust to watch your son for an hour here and there so that you can take a long bath, go outside for a walk, take a nap?

Nobody tells you this but a lot of new moms feel what you're feeling. It is boring. Even when they smile, newborns don't do a whole lot. And breastfeeding can be pure torture. Lots of people will say, "hey I struggled with bf'ing and I got through it and you can too" but look, if it's adding to the difficulties you're having, put less emphasis on it .. or quit altogether. It can be so damn painful and discouraging. I am so sympathetic.

I really recommend finding a place to connect with other new moms. Lots of hospitals, community centers, libraries and preschools have new mom groups and classes. They may call them Mom and Me or whatever, but it's really all about getting out of the house and hanging out with other people who going through a lot of what you are. I made some great friends right after I had my son and we shared a special time together.

And one more thing .. I think it's a myth that the baby is born and placed in your arms and you automatically fall in love. Some people do, and for others it's a longer process. That baby is in your heart, I have no doubt about it, and when you get some rest, and start feeling better physically, and just are able to get out more and do the occasional thing for yourself, you'll find your love for him is deeper and richer than any other. In the meantime, keep reaching out. People want to help.
posted by Kangaroo at 3:42 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

The first couple weeks are HARD, there is no doubt about that. Nursing never worked for me either and it was a huge disappointment. You're going through a major life change and your hormones are way crazy right now so nothing is going to seem right to you. It gets better but there's no magic date when that happens. But it does get better. You just need to get through it and keep going. It will be worth it.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 3:42 PM on January 18, 2011

Totally normal. Maybe PPD, but maybe not. Like everyone else, I'm here to tell you: it gets better, so much better. My daughter is 20 months old today, and it's so much better. Llike Anastasiav, feel free to email me anytime you want to talk about it.

But I also wanted to say: it's boring and frustrating, but it's also hard, so one thing I tell all my other friends with new babies - you are not responsible for anything other than keeping the baby alive, and keeping yourself sane. If this means your house goes to hell in a handbasket, or the laundry piles up, or all you want to do is watch west wing reruns, that's okay. I was lucky that I had a spouse that was totally on board with that - if yours is adjusting better, ask him for that help.
posted by dpx.mfx at 3:43 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

It sounds like you're working hard to do right by your baby, so I respectfully disagree with your "selfish and rigid" self-assessment.

Different parents love different stages of their kid's development. Just because you're not thrilled to kick it with your newborn doesn't mean you won't adore chasing after your toddler, and so on. For the time being, since your husband is thriving in his new role, can you encourage him to take on a little more baby care? It sounds like you're staying at home with the baby now, so maybe he's working--could you swap? Your unhappiness is not the result of a personal deficiency, it's a sign that your family needs to make some adjustments so that everyone can get their needs met.

Finally: when my kid was brand-new, I crammed him into a Moby wrap and did all the stuff I used to do before he was born. This approach might alleviate some of your boredom.
posted by milk white peacock at 3:45 PM on January 18, 2011

Just another data point; I hated it too. You're exhausted. Don't worry about it. Just feed the baby, diaper the baby, hold the baby. If the baby is driving you insane, it's okay to put him down and walk outside for a few minutes.

It's all right if it's mechanical -- just get the mechanics right and try to sneak in showers.

You're not yourself (well, if you're anything like I was) and it's okay. It'll get better, but for now, just focus on surviving.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:49 PM on January 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

Look, if breastfeeding works easily for you, then avail yourself of its bonding benefits. If it doesn't, drop it! The breast-is-best mystique is pernicious nonsense when it's promoted as such gospel that it makes mothers feel guilty or bad. The studies do not show any advantage to babies to outweigh maternal happiness. Formula is just fine. It's in developing countries, where the water isn't safe, that formula is a bad option.

Furthermore, for all the help available, nursing is HARD and lots of people can't do it! Most of my girlfriends had completely switched to formula by ~4-6 weeks, many supplemented from the outset, and most of their (and my) kids' nutrition was from formula.

Everyone else has covered the lack of sleep aspect, the it-gets-better aspect, and the PPD aspect. Please don't be hard on yourself. Your brain is working on no sleep and a cocktail of terrible, awful hormones. Take one day at a time, remember that the terrible thoughts are not your fault, and that no sane person enjoys those first three months of parenting before the kids start sleeping through the night. Take care of yourself and let others take care of you if they can. Drugs can help. A night nanny can help enormously if you can afford it.

And by the way, putting the kid in daycare and getting back to work can be TOTALLY AWESOME and you shouldn't beat yourself up about looking forward to it! Desk work is much easier and more pleasant than caring for a newborn! It's very natural to look forward to adult company and no daytime poop duty.

posted by fingersandtoes at 3:52 PM on January 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

that sounds like textbook post-partum depression. see a doctor, see a shrink, look on the internet, read brooke shields book, whatever. there are tons of resources for you, know that you are not alone.

frankly the idea that when you are handed a tiny little thing that's totally new, you are just expected to madly love it i kind of ridiculous. i took me a month before i really liked my new PHONE. babies are little tiny people -- you have to bond with them before they love you and you love them -- it doesn't always happen automatically. AND as cheesy as this sounds -- if you want to see how hard it is to tear yourself away from your life and focus on your new baby and how uncomfortable it is at first, but how rewarding it is when you do bond, watch season 1 of Teen Mom. watch how ambivalent about motherhood Farrah is, yet over the season when she starts to actually bond with her baby -- she just falls in love. it's a process, don't rush it, and don't give up.

you can watch teen mom on the mtv website would like, but i'm in Canada and can't load MTV USA!
posted by custard heart at 3:57 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Short of having your own baby, there isn't much in life that can prepare you for actually having one. Once you have one though, it's a whole new ballgame. Especially when you're transitioning on so many levels; hormonally, emotionally, physically, mentally. These are the parts of being a parent that don't translate well in the pregnancy books and come as the biggest shocks.

As far as nursing goes, try the Fenugreek, try having a beer, try anything else you can find that might help you with your production. Contrary to what you might have heard, formula is NOT poison. If you need to supplement or eve transition over to all formula, it's normal to feel a sense of failure.

After my wife gave birth to our twins, we had a lactation consultant come in and lecture us about breast milk instead of formula. After my wife tried the best she could to pump for four months, in the end, she took it personally because she thought she would have been able to produce more. And the words of that lactation consultant came back to haunt us, like we were killing our kids by giving them formula instead. Our kids are now a little over a year and are meeting or exceeding their developmental milestones, which is huge.

The first few months are difficult in general because you're up late/early, you change diaper after diaper, you don't ever really get a break. And this little person you are in charge of isn't exactly forthcoming with the smiles and coos, or any of the other things that babies are famous for. It is difficult to emotionally bond with something that drives you ragged with little if any payoff. The payoff will come, eventually. It's hard to see right now, but it is very much worth the wait.

Please don't compare how you feel to your husband. As much as he may have been there with you and for you through this process, you are experiencing the same event from two very different places. The hormones that helped bring your son into this world are going to take a while to go away, and their presence and absence will dramatically alter how you feel. It takes time, but this, too, will go away.

What you are going through is normal, even expected. Even the self-doubt. Please be kind to yourself, you've been through enough as it is.
posted by hgswell at 4:03 PM on January 18, 2011

You love your kid enough to reach out on Mefi for support - that is saying a lot.

As a Dad, I'll tell you this - I was faking it early on - not phoning it in faking it, but I was smiling and sunny, and trying to do things the right way because my wife had a hard time with it too. My wife had a spinal headache from a botched epidural for the first 6 weeks, breasfeeding fell apart completely at the 8 week mark (50% sounds about where we were for the 5 week mark), and I could only smile, help out and try to both calm her down and take care of the kid... I hadn't figured it out, I was just trying to be positive because I couldn't help with her recovery nor make him take her breast instead of the bottle.

She hit postpartum depression pretty heavily, took a long time to bounce back physically, and I didn't know how to help her besides be supportive and help out with the baby. Routinely she told me that I was a better parent and that I had bonded better, but it wasn't the case - I was just trying to keep things together. He's covering for you - not showing you up. Know that there will be times, as I'm sure there have already been, where you will be carrying him... its what love between married folks is.

So formula wasn't bad, expensive, but not bad (get a wholesale club membership). You'll look forward to milk at that year mark, but your kid will not be negatively impacted.

You could try to spend a little time with your son on you (skin to skin) every few hours. It won't make you love him anymore immediately and he's still to young to really get the concept of love, but he will understand that you are his caregiver and that he needs you. It also won't make you love im anymore immediately, but it will grow into love - mutually - over time. It takes time - its defintely not overnight.

Boys love their moms. Freud was right about the whole Oedipal Complex. Everything in my Son's world has been about Mommy probably since 6 months. He and I hang out, I get a kiss goodnight, but if there is a lap to sit on - he will pick hers. I'm cool with that - raising a kid is a long term commitment and we'll get to do some stuff that he won't do with her. It takes time. It isn't overnight.

Also, there are no perfect moms or perfect dads - those folks you think are are barely holding their shit together too. If they describe it one way, they're dusting off and selectively pruning away the hard parts, rewriting the narrative of raising their kid. Strive to do better as a parrent every day and accept that some days you won't. You've got 17 years 11 months before he's legally able to vote and you can make a judgement call on how well you raised a child.

You, your husband, and your new boy will all be in both my wife and my thoughts tonight.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:05 PM on January 18, 2011 [11 favorites]

One more thing: formula feeding saved my ass. It made it possible for Mr. Llama to help me, and it helped me move on from being on the hook in my vortex of mom-failure.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:07 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

It gets so much better, believe me. I had twins and didn't fall in love with them for months. Between the (epic) sleep deprivation, nursing woes and their call-an-exorcist style projectile vomiting, I caught myself talking to them aloud more than once about how I was deciding which of them I could leave on the front porch of some wealthy family. Mothers won't admit it in groups, but when you talk one on one with other parents you'll find that what you're experiencing is more common than you'd believe. You sound human, not rigid or selfish.

Re. the breastfeeding - please evaluate whether it's working for you, and accept that breastfeeding 50% of the time is a victory. Making it as long as you have with breastfeeding is a victory, too. Take it a day at a time - it gets easier, too, once the baby's out of the newborn period.
posted by terrierhead at 4:08 PM on January 18, 2011

I am not a parent and don't play one on TV, and I don't know if you have depression or not. But it is not going to be like this forever. My friend, a mother of four, is just as high strung as I am, is totally nonchalant about taking care of her fourth child. Tearing her hair out about everything else, but the kid? Not so much.

Her secret is practise, which you by definition don't have. You are still learning how to operate this thing. I am not certain what help you need to feel better, but I just wanted to reassure you that it won't be all horrible, all the time.

(Data point: I'm an only child and the tel3mum likes the older version of me better than the baby version... self-cleaning, among other things. A useful property of babies is that they do get older.)
posted by tel3path at 4:09 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hello, you are just like twenty hojillion mothers and fathers that came before you. One of the best things about AskMe is its capability to truly tell you that you're totally normal and not alone.

You have some post-partum depression and anxiety. This is a well understood, well trod, totally normal subject. If you bring this up with your doctor, he/she will undoubtedly leap up out of their chair to help you.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:10 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

What you describe sounds exactly like my situation two years ago - and I didn't think I had ppd (still don't) - I just, well, didn't like infants, and didn't realize that the thing about "it's different when it's your own" isn't actually one-size-fits-all. Breastfeeding never got better, and I hated pumping at work, but it never got worse. Being able to be okay with formula when I couldn't produce enough (and coming to terms with the idea that it would even be okay to go solely on to formula if I wanted to throw in the towel - I ended up not, but just giving myself that permission made the decision to stick at it feel more like a choice and less like a punishment) was really helpful for my sanity.

For me, things started to get better around the 3-month mark when his personality started to show, and more at the 4-month mark when I went back to work (okay, and didn't have to interact with him as much, so when I did became less draining), and way, way better somewhere around 7 or 8 months. That's a really long stretch from where you are now, but if part of what you're looking for is validation that you didn't make a mistake or that you are not a bad mom: What you are going through is normal, and it does get better. I was fairly certain I had made a mistake, and now I am totally in love with my son, and it amazes me how I got from there to here: and the best answer I can come up with is, the kid doesn't love you yet. Until the 3 month mark, he needs you, and takes you for granted, and uses you - I think it was The Happiest Baby On The Block that described this first three month period as 'the fourth trimester' and quoted a mom as describing the period as being like having a new boss who hates you and most of your work, but won't fire you. And someplace around that 3-month mark, the baby becomes a person and figures out that hey, you are too - that you are the best most incredible person in the universe. And damn, that feels pretty good, even if you still resent the little bugger for keeping you awake all night and peeing on everything.

If you can, try to put aside the comparisons and appreciate that you are lucky enough to be going through this with a husband who is 100% involved, willing, and able to help - lots of new moms find themselves forced to cope with equally ambivalent daddies, and just knowing you can lean back and ask for help - and get it, any time of night - is a really good thing. Lean into that for your support system - if your husband finds any aspect of childcare fulfilling that you don't, let him have it and take the time for yourself. Even if it made you a bad mother on some level (which it DOESN'T), the kid won't remember it anyway.

TL; dr: Hang in there. If you think it's ppd, there are lots of resources out there to get help, but if you don't, that doesn't make you or your current situation abnormal in any way. It really does pass.
posted by Mchelly at 4:10 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

By the way, I was a terrified father until my mother-in-law literally picked up my newborn son by the ankle, and while he was dangling there, happily gurgling, she said "Look, it's really hard to hurt them..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:13 PM on January 18, 2011 [22 favorites]

No, it won't be like that forever.

Take a breath, and a moment.

What, in all your experience, has remained completely unchanged during your life? Anything? I can't thing of a single thing, myself.

Rain etches the stone, drip by drop; the hour hand creeps along; trees reach a bit further; the sun sweeps endless arcs in the sky; seasons -- then years -- skitter along like leaves my hat in the wind. Mostly these little alterations go unnoticed but they happen all the same.

We all know this but when we get caught up we can forget knowing it.

Even in the five weeks you've had your son he's changed, and so have you. Remember that first day when you brought him home? The fresh wonder at his being? That new-baby smell? It feels like ages ago already, doesn't it?

One day the little darling will start to feed himself, yes? Dress himself? Speak real words? Not today but in his time. Such big events will be preceeded by thousands of itsy-bitsy changes as he learns, grows, develops, and every one is precious.

Those minute changes are the daily treasure of raising children.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:28 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree that this sounds like Postpartum Depression, but I disagree that it will just go away. It could work itself out, but the fact that it's been 5 months and you're still struggling suggests to me that this won't just go away on its own.

Please try to talk to a medical professional about this. Things can be better.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:28 PM on January 18, 2011

Will taking care of my son ever be less of a drag?

Yes yes, a million times yes. My boy is almost three and when he was five weeks old (the OP said weeks, not months) I felt just like you.

Along with everyone else, I am here to tell you that this is a very temporary time in your life, it will pass infinitesimally slowly, and yet will go by at lightning speed. Trust me.

Speak to your doctor about postpartum anxiety/depression, they can assess you more thoroughly than Metafilter can. Join a newborn playgroup if you can find one in your area. If you can't find one, START ONE, makes it easy. The group I joined saved my sanity during the first year of my son's life. Feel free to memail me - I survived this time, you will too.
posted by pinky at 4:47 PM on January 18, 2011

Oh, if I could give you a hug & tell you things will get better, I would. And then I would send you and a friend to the coffee shop for an hour while I watched the baby, so that you could remember that you DO have a life outside of nursing/changing diapers/wondering what the hell you've done. Seriously, going out with a friend and talking about everything BUT babies was one of the most wonderful things EVER when our second kid was a few weeks old and I was crying all the time because I'd ruined our lives and I wished we could just leave her somewhere and go back to the way things were. It took a while before I started feeling like I loved her, but I certainly do now. (15 months later)

Being home with a baby is surprisingly isolating. (I thought I'd be the glowy-earth mother of pregnancy and mom-hood, loving every minute as small animals frolicked around me & beautiful music played. Ha. Not even close.) If you can get involved with other moms, either in-person or via a forum like altdotlife, I'd recommend it.
posted by belladonna at 4:49 PM on January 18, 2011

It's impossible to comprehend how very, very difficult life with a new baby is. Even if people start to tell you how much your life will change, you're likely to flap your hands and "Yeah yeah" at them. There's no comprehension of how HARD babies are.

There are some stepping stones where things ease off a little. When they start sleeping for a few hours at a stretch. When they start feeding themselves. When they're not glued to you 24/7. And by the time they get to be about 6-7 years old and can entertain themselves and start to feel like little people that are cool folks that you can have fun with instead of drains on your sanity, then you can really appreciate them.

Baby steps. Take each hour as it comes. IT WILL GET BETTER.
posted by Addlepated at 4:52 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

There needs to be a series of "It gets better" videos for mothers of newborns.

I remember sitting in the basement, thinking that if my baby got taken away by a roving band of circus folk, I would not be too upset.

(Now that kid is upstairs taking a shower and I am very grateful that he has been in my life.)
posted by Lucinda at 5:03 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Please email me anytime. I'll keep secret who you are. I'm available to talk whenever.

We're expecting a baby sometime in the next 48 hours, so I'm more open to being overcome by emotion than I'd usually be, but this put a lump in my throat. Thanks, anastasiav and MeFi - it's reassuring as a new parent to know there's so much thoughtful, pointed advice and support at a place I've come to rely on for good people and good information.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:04 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I cried when I read anastasiav's response. The first, well, months of my first child's life sucked hard on my nipples and everywhere else. I can remember looking at my son shortly after he was born and wondering who the alien in my arms was. I can also remember breaking down sobbing in tears in front of my in-laws at week 5 and I'm the kind of person that never cries in front of anyone. Someone had told me things would get better at 4 weeks and as far as I could see they were getting worse. I'm still furious at my partner for not coming home earlier from work for those first months when I was begging for help. We've talked about it a lot but I just can't get over it and honestly don't think I ever will because the whole thing was just SO DAMN HARD.

Sleep deprivation is horrible, more so for some people than others. Newborns are eating, puking, shitting machines that make strange spastic movements. You are on duty all the time. Breastfeeding is hard, hard, exhausting, hard, hard work even when everything goes perfectly. And not every woman is hard wired to be all googly-eyed over a newborn, not by a long shot. I sure wasn't. Personally, I start to like things more around age three, when it is easier to try to reason with the little humans.

Maybe you'll fall in love with your child in a few weeks, a few months or a few years. Just do your best for now - that's enough. Get help where you can from your family and friends. Get as much sleep as possible. You don't have to be perfect.
posted by Cuke at 5:07 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

There needs to be a series of "It gets better" videos for mothers of newborns.


Anon, I promise it gets better. Those first weeks are so, so hard. I didn't love my daughter right away either. I felt very protective of her, but I don't think I really loved her until it had been maybe 6-8 weeks. The sleep deprivation is no joke. Everyone told me "sleep when the baby sleeps," but I almost never could, because I was so tense about what might happen. What if she wakes up? What if I don't hear her? (Even if she was right next to me!) What if I die? What if she dies? What if my husband dies? Etc. etc. etc.

Also, I felt so frustrated because my husband was probably the happiest I had ever seen him. He turned to me at one point when sutel jr. was about six weeks old and said to me, "Aren't you just so happy? Isn't everything so great?" and I just could not comprehend where he was getting this. I was MISERABLE. I just wanted the newborn period to end. And it did, and now I get nostalgic thinking about how sutel jr. (now 21 months) and I used to snuggle all day.

If your baby is 5 weeks old, smiles are coming soon and it makes a world of difference. And talk to your husband and your OB because PPD is very treatable. You may even feel relieved just to say you think you might have it.

I don't know what city or area you are in but I live outside the Boston area and I can put you in touch with a lot of new moms' groups and email listservs that offer a wealth of support, both online and in person. Please feel free to MeMail me at any time for that info, or if you just need someone to listen to you.

Please hang in there, it does get better.
posted by sutel at 5:13 PM on January 18, 2011

I'll add to the chorus. I hated infancy. I didn't bond with my screaming, pooping creature for many many months. Breastfeeding was miserable. I pumped. I used shields, I took so much fenugreek I smelled like a maple syrup factory. Just thinking back to those days makes me twitch a little. It was awful. So awful I have pledged to never ever do it again. I also cried. A lot. Wondered if I hadn't made a terrible mistake. A therapist helped. When 6 months in I was still crying, meds helped too. Talk to someone at least. It was definitely a different kind of depression.
Going back to work helped me a lot. The only thing that really changed the game, though, was time. I'm writing to you from 4.5 years in the future and it gets so. much. better. Somewhere around the 6th month things started to change. It still wasn't rainbows and butterflies but it got better. From there, really every month has been pretty much better than the last. Growing, learning, sharing, teaching, singing, dancing, pretending... there is so much good stuff coming. Slog through it. Ask for help. Have faith that it will be "worth it" some day. Not to say it's not still hard. That I don't sometimes (ok, a lot of times) miss my old "life". But the rewards have gotten so much better. "I love you mommy, You are the best" is worth a lot of missed happy hours and weekend getaways.
As others have offered - feel free to memail me anytime. Being a new mom is the hardest thing I've ever done and I feel like there just isn't enough out there that speaks openly and honestly about how much being the servant to a tiny screaming overloard can really suck.
posted by Wolfie at 5:14 PM on January 18, 2011

A "high-profile" blogger who suffered openly from post-partum depression is Dooce. Her Parenthood archives may be of interest to you, or the entry where she talks about falling back towards post-partum depression after the birth of her second child, and how she reached towards help. It is a difficult thing to do, and she talks pretty frankly about both that and her pursuant struggles with depression. I found it admirable to read about. YMMV.
posted by hepta at 5:20 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

My little girl is four months old now, and I cried nearly every night for the first month. Breastfeeding was so hard for me, with the bleeding, scarring, toe-curling pain. My husband wasn't able to help much because his job took up any possible spare time. I was constantly questioning if I'd made a mistake. I still wonder, but things are already so much better. Breastfeeding started to get better at two months, but really, do not beat yourself up about formula. It is so much better these days than it used to be. I'm not going to say it's a barrel of laughs, but she's just started laughing, and I'm getting better at being able to put her to sleep, so she isn't as cranky anymore. Please feel fee to MeMail me as well if talking will help. Same goes for anyone reading this besides anon. And if you happen to be in Toronto, contact me and I'll bring hot chocolate & cookies.
posted by nprigoda at 5:24 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

My eleven-week old son, our second child, is bouncing away in his bouncy seat at my feet while I type this. Nthing "please tell someone"-- I have no idea whether its PPD or not, but mothers of newborns need support. This modern western notion of a mother handling it all by herself without a village full of backup is nuts. Little babies are an enormous amount of work.

In addition to all the excellent answers above, sometimes it's helpful to get some biological perspective on things. Human babies are born more helpless than any other creature on the planet. Babies have to be born at nine months, because otherwise their heads would get too big to fit through the birth canal (blame walking upright on that, and an excellent argument against Intelligent Design, but I digress.) After nine months of gestation, though, they aren't fully cooked, so the first three months of a baby's life are really a fourth trimester, ex-utero. It helps me not take things quite so personally when my baby seems really needy. It will get better.

And about the breastfeeding, the most important thing really is a happy and relaxed mother. The second most important thing is feeding the baby, by whatever means necessary. There is nothing wrong with using formula if that is what works. But rather than thinking that breastfeeding is going poorly, keep in mind that even 50% breastfed is fantastic--the baby is getting the immunological benefits of breastfeeding, and formula can fill out the caloric requirements, and allows for others to help out with the feeding so you can get a break.
posted by ambrosia at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2011

I was you. Every part. I counted the days until my son went to day care and I could capture one sliver of the life that I had before. I too had the two heartbreaking pregnancy losses before I had my son. And that made me feel even worse when I was feeling as if I had made the biggest mistake of my life.

I had post-partum depression. It was not like the depression I had experienced before. I had rage and anger and just wanted the world to go away so that I could have quiet.

I made a deal with myself: if things weren't better when the baby was a year old, I would let myself just slip away and move to Hawaii. Seriously.

Baby Leezie is 10 months old now and the light of my life. He's still work, but it's so much better. Just like everyone said it would be.

My advice:

1) forgive yourself for having these feelings. They are so NORMAL it's comical that people still think they aren't.
2) get help. Someone who is trained in PPD. Even if you don't think that you have PPD, it will help to talk with someone who has been feeling what you are feeling.
3) Make your goals small. Making it through the day was so hard, but by the time the night rolled around and the baby was asleep, I felt better.

For me, when the baby started to sleep through the night, or at least just wake up once, I felt so much better. At six months, he was sitting up and laughing and it was amazing. I'm at the point now that Hawaii is off the table.

Please, please memail me if you want to talk. I know exactly how you feel.
posted by Leezie at 5:36 PM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Get a lactation consultant to come out to the house. My wife was having all sorts of trouble the first couple of days. We called the hospital and had one come out to the house. In about an hour they worked out which methods would work best for our boy. The improvement was like a night/day difference. Even at 5 weeks I'd still recommend you call.

Be aware that not all breast milk freezes properly. So before you go planning to store a lot of it make sure yours will survive. Store it for a week, thaw it and see that it doesn't have a metallic-like taste (that's among the signs it's bad). My wife's did not, much to our considerable dismay. Something about excess enzymes or something. Yes, it's possible that scalding it right after expressing it can stop the process. But since she planned on (and did) pumping at work that would have been entirely impractical.

There's no shame in using formula. Do not listen to the breast nazis about it. Yes, if breastfeeding works for you then go for it. We did for 3 months until returning to work. But if not your child can thrive just fine on formula. Certainly a lot better than being cared for my a mother wracked with anxiety about not being able to breastfeed effectively.

PPD is a *real* issue. Do not just ignore it. Do not just 'suck it up' and think you can work it out for yourself. GET HELP.
posted by wkearney99 at 5:37 PM on January 18, 2011

I most definitely will not be like this forever, I promise you. I just tucked in my 10-year-old daughter and my nearly-14-year-old son is playing a video game next to me on the couch. I cannot believe how the time flew by. I swear, I just had babies and little kids like 10 minutes ago and now there's this person who's taller and cooler than me, and his sister is going to take the world by storm.

The first few weeks with my son were horrible. Awful. I didn't bond with him right away. It took until he was 9 weeks old and was undergoing very invasive tests to determine why he had a seizure. He was screaming bloody murder - his first ever real distress cries and something kicked in for me and I became the kind of mother that nurses talk about in the break room. I'm sure I was going through post-partum stuff and I can certainly attest to the fact that I become a raving nightmare when I'm sleep deprived. When things got better, though, they really did get better.

Please, talk to your husband and/or your doctor/midwife. Not everyone enjoys the infancy stage, and no one (I hope) is suggesting that you need to love this phase of your kiddo's life. But you do need to bond with him and I think your hormones/chemistry are stopping that from happening.

p.s. not at all what I had planned on or hoped for Pretty much describes about 90% of parenting. These little babies turn into people and all we can do is love them and provide for them; they become who they are going to be regardless of what we planned or hoped for. In the end, that's pretty cool.
posted by cooker girl at 5:43 PM on January 18, 2011

["I most definitely..." should be "IT most definitely..." and please feel free to memail me as well. You're not alone.]
posted by cooker girl at 5:45 PM on January 18, 2011

"I spend all day alternating between boredom and frustration."

Ohhh I hear this so loud and clear. Felt EXACTLY the same way about my daughter. Wanted to crawl out of my skin, kill my husband, leave town forever to hell with the consequences. It was awful. And the whole time heard this constant mantra of "she's an easy baby, you had an easy birth, breastfeeding is going fine, you have no right to feel anything but grateful."

And the guilt. UGH. THE GUILT.

But you know what? After feeling awful for too long (go sooner! go now!) I went to therapy. And it really, really helped. And after therapy I started asking for and getting more help with childcare, and realizing that there are still many things in life that I quite like... and the biggest surprise of all was that my child was one of those things.

Moral: I thought I had to go it alone, and so waited way too long to get assistance. Don't wait. Go now. This is the closest I can come to time-traveling back to my past self, so if you don't do it for you... please... do it for former-me.
posted by lizifer at 5:48 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're so, so, so not unusual or alone or in any way to blame for what you're feeling here. There's a reason our pediatrician spends way more than half of each doctor visit asking how we parents are doing.

A year from now (probably way less) you aren't even going to believe how much things have changed.
posted by pjaust at 5:52 PM on January 18, 2011

And about the breastfeeding, the most important thing really is a happy and relaxed mother.

Please listen to and believe this. The longest I nursed was six weeks; the shortest, about three. None of my (4) kids have any developmental problems, and they are rarely sick.

It was absolutely wonderful for me to be able to cut the (exhausting and painful) physical ties with my babies and just enjoy them as individuals. Formula gives you the freedom to hand off feeding to others, to let yourself heal, and to get back to feeling like your body is your own. I was kind of shocked when I had my first child at how difficult breastfeeding was; everything I'd read had suggested it was a natural, intuitive, and beautiful bonding experience. Not so much for me.

But if you really want to stick with breastfeeding, then talk to a lactation consultant and do whatever you can to make it easier on YOU. You need to reduce your own stress level.

Believe me, you'll fall in love with the baby. You just need to stop being so hard on yourself.
posted by torticat at 5:57 PM on January 18, 2011

I say this because you mention "not at all what I had planned on or hoped for" with the feeding -- get help. Qualified help. Did you get a bum steer from hospital nurses, a public health nurse self-styled as a "lactation nurse," a physician? Because loads of mothers end up with their nursing sabotaged by well-meaning professionals who don't have adequate training. It happens a lot.

Read Finding A Breastfeeding Support Person. Find one.

If you can't get it to work you can't get it to work, but do be aware of the extent to which common problems are easily fixable with the right help.

I also mention this because breastfeeding is linked to lower levels of PPD. And because it does get easier and will get easier, way easier.

I also want to say that lots of new mothers find themselves terrified by the loss of control that a new baby brings, and perhaps there are tricks out there to bring back a semblance of routine. But I don't know them, so I'll shut up, and just suggest Kate Figes' Life After Birth.
posted by kmennie at 6:03 PM on January 18, 2011

I remember those early weeks distinctly and it was a miserable time. One thing that helped me was one friend who came over 1 or 2 days every week to keep me company. Some days we hung around the house watching Gilmore Girls on DVD. Other days we packed up Baby theBRKP and headed to one of the local malls for a walk and a coffee.

You have received some great advice. Take it, especially the part about talking to a health care professional about your feelings and not allowing anyone to make you feel guilty because you are "only" breastfeeding 50%. Memail me if you need to talk. And it really does get better. Baby theBRKP is now Toddler theBRKP and I adore him.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 6:10 PM on January 18, 2011

I'm going to chime back in here because a lot of people have been recommending a lactation consultant.

I saw one with each of my babies. The first one was a ~tiny~ bit useful because she was able to position fingerbaby1's mouth a smidge less painfully. The second one was worse than useless. There was simply nothing to be done about my low supply, fingerbaby2's lamprey-like jaw, and her preference to use the boob as a pillow for sleeping; but rather than acknowledge this, the consultant doggedly prescribed a bizarre system of tubes and tape and... ugh just thinking about it now takes me back to a dark and frantic mental place.

Lactation is OPTIONAL. If you have the spare mental energy to grasp at straws then by all means, but if you don't, forget about it and don't look back. For those of use for whom nursing is painful and traumatic, it is just not worth the trouble.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:15 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

adding my name to the list to memail if you want to talk.
posted by k8t at 6:21 PM on January 18, 2011

I wrote this question when my son was 5 weeks old, when I should have written what you wrote verbatim --including the part about dad seeming so together--but was too ashamed to do so. When Baby Murrey was 5 weeks (and I had just turned 40), I was miserable and frustrated and bored. I feared that I had made a huge mistake. I did not think (and still do not know as I was never diagnosed) I had PPD, since the feelings were so different from the depression I had been diagnosed with before. But I was emotionally and physically wrecked nevertheless.

What I am trying to share is that you are not alone in these feelings and my heart goes out to you. There are these expectations heaped on moms that there is supposed to be this magical and enormous bond with your baby and no one talks about this "other" stuff, which makes you feel alone. You are not.

Baby Murrey is 17 months now and I still think the 5-8 week age was BY FAR the hardest age for me and I hope it is for you too. I love my son and it has gotten easier--especially when I broke the shackles of breastfeeding (yes, that's how confining it felt to me). There are still hard times a, truth be told, but nothing as hard as at the 5 week mark.

Hang in there, get help if you think you need it and know that it does get better. I feel for you and I understand. Memail me if you you ever need to vent/chat.
posted by murrey at 6:34 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

So many people have said it better, but I wanted to chime in that I felt very similarly for a while when I was out on maternity leave. It was hard, thankless work. On top of everything hurting (my body, my boobs), I felt so lonely. Despite a good rotation of family and friends visiting and checking in, there was something about being stuck at home all day with a baby that just wore on me. There were some nights of desperate googling wondering if we could pony up a crazy amount of cash for a night nanny to come in just once for one night of sleep (something to look into if the lack of sleep is getting to you and you have extra money, there are indeed night nannies and night nurses).

I went back to work when our son was 10 weeks old (he's now 5.5 months), and while the first couple of mornings dropping him off at daycare were really hard, I unabashedly enjoyed going back to work, being around adults, and doing something other than 24/7 baby care. And my commute is now the only time of the day I have for myself, so something that used to be a bit of a chore is now enjoyable. There is nothing wrong with feeling like you want some of your old life back!

At one point in the early days I tearfully asked my husband if we would ever be happy again, and honestly, I still have some moments like that now and again, but it has gotten so much better. Also, breastfeeding got better around the 3 month mark for us. It took a long time for the little guy to really figure it out, and it really hurt for so long. He gets formula at daycare and breastfeeding at home, the combination works really well for us. There's nothing wrong with formula if breastfeeding is just compounding your misery!

It really got better right around the time I went back to work. Hang in there, talk to someone in case it is PPD, and you are doing a great job!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 6:34 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ok, here's the thing- going without sleep for days and days and days will make anyone crazy. As will the hormones playing field hockey in your body right now. Listen, I had no problems breastfeeding- my daughter started nursing in the recovery room and we just sailed along fine with no problems thereafter - but I still felt like you're feeling. Three months is the magic number. Everyone told me that but I didn't believe it. I sat there thinking it was going to be nothing but poop and vomit for THE REST OF MY LIFE, oh my god I'll never do anything fun ever again, life is over and I'm only 20, waaaaah! But they were right. At three months, I started getting a tiny bit of sleep, and I discovered that singing "the ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah!" always made her fall asleep, and I discovered that reading Dr. Suess to her made her look up at me with rapt attention, as if I was her whole world. And of course I was her whole world. And it got better.

Well, at least until she turned 13, and her hormones kicked in. But by then I was hooked.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:38 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wow. I'm awed by all the great responses here, but also sad that I didn't have this type of group to talk to when I had the same feelings when my son (my only child) was born. I didn't feel depressed, so you don't think of it as PPD. Maybe it was, "officially," or maybe not. But I felt much more detached than what you typically think of as depressed (obviously anhedonia is also a primary symptom of depression, but I don't think it was anhedonia either. Really a lot like what the poster is saying -- I felt I was rationally thinking, "what the hell did I do with my life? he might be cute, but is it worth it to lose all the freedom I worked for all those years? (I was 42 when I had him).

I did think he was cute and I often enjoyed cuddling, but there were often long, long stretches when I felt that same "bored out of my mind" or "frustrated." Hour after hour after hour of the same thing (and it was February and absolutely freezing and the damned pediatrician told me the baby couldn't leave the house for six weeks until it got warmer!)

I also had horrible feeding problems. The first two weeks I tried to nurse but not much was coming through and I was pumping through the night, completely exhausted, and finally (finally = after two weeks) I decided that I just couldn't take it anymore (I was also recovering from a Caesarian at the time. It was all TOO TOO DAMNED MUCH)

I remember getting an umbrella stroller MUCH too soon -- everybody told me I had to keep him in a huge carriage until he was much older because of his neck and I was heartbroken, because I couldn't maneuver the damned thing into stores (once we finally got out of the house) and I HAD to get OUT.

However, as everyone else has said -- eventually it all changed. I would say that by six months (really, earlier), he was SO much fun it was ridiculous. Smiling was okay, but laughing together, that was just a f**king RIOT.

And now, next month, it will be *18* years later, and I am typing this as he is "shredding" heavy metal in his room and we're waiting to hear about his college applications. And he is the MOST wonderful guy in the world and I don't have ONE regret that I had him.

They really get a lot more fun! But the important thing, as others here have said is, it's ALLOWED to be bored and frustrated and want to go back to work. You're an adult with a LIFE. Retreating into feeding a little person day in and day out and responding every second to his needs IS a bore. It's fine to be looking forward to getting your life back, and you will get it back.
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:49 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

IT GETS EASIER. Do tell your physician about this, as many have already said, this very well could be postpartum depression. And breastfeeding struggles definitely don't help. I am assuming you've talked to lactation consultants, etc. (Our pediatrician was really pretty helpful in this regard-I had a gem.)

This is a stage. This is only a stage. I remember this stage with my first one literally feeling like "what have I got myself into" and then realized I was extrapolating my experience into the next 18 years. This stage is NOT 18 years long, of course. By the time your baby is three months old life will have settled down quite a lot and you will be an old hand at baby wrangling.

But please, do talk to your doctor. And please, do, look at Dooce's archives.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:12 PM on January 18, 2011

Oh, and another thing-would it be possible for you to get a mother's helper or sitter for part of the day? Just so you can take a shower, or read a book, or take a walk? Or a nap?
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:14 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just to add to the chorus, I was you too. I wanted my little boy, but then he came and breastfeeding sucked, he never slept, and insisted on me bouncing/entertaining him every moment he was awake and was just so gosh darn boring! I felt like I was doing everything wrong, that I should be more entertaining, should be doing more. I cried, I cried in front of other mothers in my breastfeeding support group (have you found one of those? They are wonderful, it's a group of moms who are where you are or have been, you know what to say and don't mind you freaking out and crying in front of them), I screamed, to be honest, I even screamed at my son. His infancy was not my shining moment. I was certain that I was not meant to be a mother and that I was ruining his life by being in it. But it got better. Slowly, bit by bit. And now, he's 1.5 and the light of my life. Once he started interacting with me, grabbing toys, smiling when we played, I started feeling like I was making a difference, like he cared about me, like I could do something right as a mom. The problem when they are babies is that they don't do anything. Their are screaming pooping lumps. And some people love this stage, but many great moms hate it.

Some keys to surviving it have been listed above, but I'll reiterate what I found worked. Join a mothers/breastfeeding support group (or both). Talk to others, it is something to do and people who are in your same shoes. Drop that baby in a stroller or wrap or carrier and get outside. Walk around, get some fresh air, it will entertain your son and give you a moments peace. Sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep, and the more sleep, whenever you can. Have your husband take the middle of the night feeding (use pumped breastmilk or formula, whichever you have), and you sleep. Sleep when he naps. Have dad watch your boy and go out with friends.

Feel free to mail me whenever too.
posted by katers890 at 7:19 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm only going to chime in that even Candace Bergen was in your shoes. When she was doing MURPHY BROWN, she did an interview when the show was tackling the "Murphy is a new mom" phase -- and Candace Bergen talked about what she remembered about being a new mother, where she said the first few weeks were incredibly hard "because basically you're now trying to cope with being the owner of a smelly, screaming....meatloaf."

I have no doubt that Candace Bergen loves her kids. But she still went through a period where she felt like they were just "meatloaf" right after they were born.

It is no fun. It is hard. It sucks. But it passes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 PM on January 18, 2011

Get a lactation consultant to come out to the house. My wife was having all sorts of trouble the first couple of days. We called the hospital and had one come out to the house. In about an hour they worked out which methods would work best for our boy. The improvement was like a night/day difference. Even at 5 weeks I'd still recommend you call.

This - My wife had a horrific first few weeks with breastfeeding, and our lactation consultant was an angel from heaven. Whatever ends up being "right" for you is right, whether breastfeeding or formula, but if you want to breastfeed, please reach out to a consultant. We imagined it was so instinctual we wouldn't need help, but subtle changes in technique and positioning can make a huge difference. Good luck!
posted by jalexei at 7:55 PM on January 18, 2011

Coming back to second joining a new-mom meetup group. People kept giving me that advice, and it was the very last thing I tried - between not wanting to interact with what I *perceived* the type of women who joined mommy meetups would be like, and the winter weather, I probably waited till he was 9 or 10 months old. And it turned out there were so many other moms who were not only my age and sensibility, but also so many who had been going through the exact same struggles... I made a couple of really good friends (for me) purely through playdates for him. And being able to hang out with someone else who truly gets it is such a relief. I wish I had had that resource sooner, but was too intimidated by the idea that it would be all women who lost all their baby weight talking about how life-affirming their experience was while bragging about baby milestones, and that was the last thing I wanted to deal with... and it turns out far more of the women who showed up were more like... me.
posted by Mchelly at 8:07 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You will be ok. My sister wanted to give away her son when he was a few weeks old. 11 years later, the boy is still with them. Talk to your doctor, you may need some short term therapy (drugs).
posted by fifilaru at 9:02 PM on January 18, 2011

Please do memail me too if you would like. You or anyone else reading this in the future. I had terrible issues with breastfeeding and really bad PPD with both children (second child came home the day before 9/11 - that was a "WHAT HAVE I DONE??" moment). My first child had really miserably bad colic and screamed nearly constantly for months. Months. I have been in the trenches, my fellow mothers, and it is hell in there. My shoulder is very absorbent.
posted by Addlepated at 9:15 PM on January 18, 2011

Get help with the sleep deficit. Get a mother's helper to come as much as you can - you should be able to find a high school student who just loves babies and knows how to change diapers and give a bottle. When she/he comes over - take a nap - a real one where you know you do not need to wake up when the baby does - someone else will take care of it and will let you know if you are needed. (It is hard to sleep with one ear open for the crying baby). In a real pinch, you can even hire a night nurse for a night or two to let you and your husband get a little caught up on sleep.
posted by metahawk at 9:22 PM on January 18, 2011

Just to add that it usually gets better, but it might not get better on its own, and that you should ask for help sooner rather than later. Don't underestimate the seriousness of PPD, or any kind of depression. Don't feel that you need to slog it out on your own. Getting help is the right thing to do, not something that indicates you're worse at this than other people.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:23 PM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

It will get better! You may need the help of some drugs to get through it and THAT IS OK! There are anti-depressants that are safe for breastfeeding too.

I have a 12 week old boy, and that first month was hard hard hard. I had my husband home with me the first month, and I don't know that I would have managed without him being here. Breastfeeding hurt so much that every time he cried because he was hungry, I felt angry. I would power through the toe-curling latches and cry as he ate and couldn't hand him off to dad fast enough when he was done eating because I was just so tired of being touched. Which made me feel like a bad person. But I am not a bad person and neither are you.

He's been sleeping longer through the night and that has made a phenomenal difference in how I feel. Just getting 4 hours in a row for the first time made things SO much better. If you're supplementing with formula or bottle-feeding pumped milk, you should definitely get your partner to take at least one night time feeding. Breastfeeding has gotten much better for us too. I no longer have to wear a bra all day just to keep from wincing if my nipples brushed against my shirt. Everyone told me to stick it out for 6-8 weeks and it would get better and they were absolutely right.

The days are still very long sometimes, and I spend some afternoons watching the clock for when my husband will be awake (he's working on nights), but I don't feel resentment anymore, and that's something.

Memail if you want. I will never divulge anything to anyone that you want kept private.
posted by chiababe at 9:38 PM on January 18, 2011

I encourage you to find what works for you and your baby. I worked with the great Penny Simkin for a while, and she used to say to the moms in her pre-natal classes, "I'm going to give you the most important piece of parenting advice you will ever get. When we all come back for our reunion after the babies are born, I will be able to just look around the room, and know which of you followed my advice, and which of you didn't. You won't have to say a word, and I'll know. Here is the advice: when your baby sleeps, you sleep. Forget the dishes, the floor, any other demands. When the baby sleeps, you sleep. And remember, I'll be able to tell if you followed it, when I see you next."

Also, at five weeks, you can still benefit from La Leche League, or a lactation consultant, and get some help to make breastfeeding easier and more fun for both of you.

Parenting is hard. We need all the help we can get. Enjoy the tiny moments.
posted by Ellemeno at 11:53 PM on January 18, 2011

My daughter is 10 1/2 months right now. I didn't have PPD but I had MAJOR struggles with the breastfeeding-- her latch was fine but my production never met her needs, quite. I met with lactation consultants; pumped; took herbs; drank Guinness; etc. etc. Nothing really helped that much so we also had to supplement with formula. And finally around 4 or 5 months I realized it was INSANE to bust my ass to pump all the time to supply less than a quarter of my daughter's needs. So I stopped.

Best decision I ever made. I felt guilty at first but now I wish I had done it earlier. I love this blog, too.

So there's my 2 cents about the nursing thing.

But it does sound like you might also have some PPD going on. THERE IS NO SHAME IN ASKING FOR HELP. Please do!

And I am also definitely available. Send memail any time. And best wishes.

PS Babies are so much more fun once they do stuff. I promise. Mine was kinda boring for the first few months. Cute, but boring.
posted by miss tea at 4:15 AM on January 19, 2011

"when your baby sleeps, you sleep"

Oh yeah.... unfortunately some of us simply aren't wired that way. I'm not. Similarly, my daughter was never into the whole "being worn" thing. A lot of people will try to generalize from their experience to yours. Don't let them. Listen to yourself, listen to your baby.
posted by miss tea at 4:26 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

The notion that we fall hopelessly in love with our babies the moment they are born is so incredibly harmful. There's no such thing as love at first sight, period. I felt strong affection and protectiveness for my son when he was born, but the thing about newborns is they aren't really people yet. It's when they start to develop personalities, preferences, habits, and so on that you can form a true relationship with them and fall madly, ridiculously in love. You are not doing a single thing wrong by feeling the way you do.

I was miserable and panicked for a few months after giving birth. I thought my life was pretty much over. It does get better. Every aspect of your life has just changed, and many of those changes are permanent; of course you're feeling a certain amount of ambivalence about the whole thing! But there's a reason we humans put ourselves through the pain, loneliness, and uncertainty of bringing children into the world, and in a couple of months I'm positive you will understand what those reasons are. Stay strong.
posted by tetralix at 5:20 AM on January 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't have kids but I did babysit my cousin's kids (3yrs old and 8months old) in October of last year and found myself on the floor in the baby's room crying because I thought I failed so hard at doing it "right" (and I'm friggin' 50 years old!). I could barely make it through three days (with my husband mostly taking care of the 3yo).

I don't have any advice because I don't have any other experience but I wanted to say how loving everyone's comments and support feels. If nothing else, it helps to feel you aren't alone, especially in something like this.

I hope things get better for you and that you avail yourself of all the support (real life and virtual) that surrounds you.
posted by Mysticalchick at 6:06 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Newborns suck in every possible way. They suck the breath out of you. They suck the energy out of you. They suck the life out of you, and in particular the life out of mothers. I hate newborns. I hated my own newborn. They don't sleep. They often don't eat right. They keep you in this perpetual state of exhaustion.

How the hell is anyone supposed to like or enjoy let alone love a kid before they're at least six or seven months old? I have no clue. Babies should be born six months older at least. It's a faulty mechanism that they're not. Evolution screwed us on this.

Point is, you need to put your own oxygen mask on now. You need to leave the baby with your husband or a relative or someone else you trust and Go for a walk. Go to a movie. Get a cup of coffee. Take an hour a day that is all yours where you don't have to deal with the kid so you can come back a little more able to deal with the baby. Maybe not love, maybe not even care for, but at least deal with and get by.

Is it PPD? Hard to say. You're still within the realm of it just being baby blues and of just being overwhelmed by this impossible creature you can't seem to please no matter what you do. The only person who can diagnose that is a qualified mental health practitioner --- I wouldn't even trust a GP or an OB to diagnose this accurately.

Should you talk to someone? Probably.

But I think the first course of action is getting some time to yourself for yourself.
posted by zizzle at 7:06 AM on January 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

This is common, and it will pass, and you will love your baby! In addition to reaching out for professional help, do look into a mothers' group. They are great, and even though the one I'm in says it's for at-home mothers, there are women who join during maternity leave and then stay connected through email, etc., when they go back to work. Your situation is so common, in fact, that a mothers' group functions more like a psychiatric support group in those early weeks!
posted by palliser at 7:45 AM on January 19, 2011

In a case of amazing timing, a good friend of mine (and of KathrynT!) posted a blog update yesterday addressing a lot of this. Her little guy, her first, is 11 weeks old now; she lost an earlier pregnancy. She's a warm, geeky, loving person (total MeFite), but because she is a scientist with a PhD in some crazy biotech engineering thing, she writes everything (including craft projects) down in little lab notebooks and treats things like fun experiments. Which is great for predicting and remembering things, but babies and bodies and emotions are not always predictable.

She writes:
T. is 11 weeks old, and a bit. I always think of 12 weeks as the developmental divide between "crying lump" and "small baby," and he is living up to this cognitive image by having a ton of little interesting abilities come online recently. Like helping me analyze some data at work [adorable picture of baby at office].

I'm back to work half-time this month. This has improved my parenting skills by several thousand percent. I have to admit something kind of embarrassing here: when I was having a really hard time with this whole thing in the first few weeks, I had the thought that a robot would be a better parent during this early period, and I spent a lot of time coping by pretending to be a robonanny -- an expensive one, very gentle and accommodating, but still just a program. A weird coping mechanism, but an effective one. Being at work makes me feel like less of an automaton, so T.'s actually been getting a parent and not a robot lately. SAHM's, I salute you; you have abilities of which I can only dream.

(Pro tip: The world seems to agree that things get better at about 6 weeks. If you've gotten to 8 weeks and things still don't seem better, that does not actually mean that they will never get better. I think 6 weeks was the worst because I kept expecting things to get easy. No. Things started to be better last week. And knowing that they can get better is also making me much happier.)

When I e-mailed to ask for permission to share, she added this:

A lot of people are talking about PPD in that thread, but I could have written that post almost word-for-word 6 weeks ago and now things are normalish. Obviously it's a good thing to be aware and get oneself checked out, but I also think that parenting a little screaming lump that sucks on your already-sore nipples for 23.5 hours a day, and you don't even have time to poop, and you're only at the halfway point of this before you can OMG go back to work and talk to real people! is the sort of thing that is going to wear the most competent folks down.

(Or maybe I should just join MeFi already. Meh.)
posted by Madamina at 7:49 AM on January 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

Dad here. Our little tadpole was a PITA at first but now he's 19 months and we both love him. But in the beginning, I liked him a lot but Mrs. Frogs didn't know how she felt. She says she took care of him because she felt a responsibility, not because she liked him. She didn't, not at first, not really. I figured, hey, don't feel bad about it - I mean, you guys just met. You hardly know each other. And it was true; slowly, he grew on her, like a fungus I guess. Now she wouldn't give him up for anything - but she had to give up a lot of herself to get to that point, we both did, and it's hard as hell to admit that once baby is out of your belly you aren't going to immediately be YOU any more. Mrs. Frogs felt chained to him, to his schedule, to the every hour on the hour feeding fiasco, to the drudgery of pumping or feeding him to the point she felt like a dairy animal rather than a person. It got better but it got better as she recovered more of herself, and that happened as he developed into more of a person and less of a pink screamy lump of raw need.

Let's just get this out in the open: Babies suck. They do. Especially now, in our closed-off isolated world. We were meant to raise babies as groups, with the support of older, experienced family members. We got away from this. Moms are secluded at home, grandma often didn't breastfeed and as such is no help, women are browbeaten into thinking that a drop of formula will forever poison baby chances at future success and health. Society claims it's love at first sight and everyone loves babies. Well, it's all just as much a load of crap as anything you've seen in the diaper bin lately. People don't love their kids just because they are there. We love them because we had to work so damn hard to GET them there. If they were easy, we wouldn't value them as much as we do.

If you gave (or tried to give) your son breast milk from birth, he got the antibodies you made for him. Great. That's the really important part and you already did that! If you can give him some breast milk now, great. But as Mrs. Frogs and I learned the hard way, breastfeeding is HORRIBLY difficult because you not only have no experienced family support on hand at all times, but you have never done it before and don't really know what you are doing. Worse, your baby hasn't ever done it before, so he's no help. He's just hungry. We broke the no-formula guilt before we left the hospital - the nurse told us breast is best, but formula gets him fed. If the kid is starving he won't focus on feeding, and he'll be so hungry that he might nurse harder than he should. When he was able to relax, when my wife was able to do the same, it went better; when she went back to work it got tough again because pumping isn't the same as nursing, there were clogs and soreness and etc., and of course the tadpole was becoming used to getting a bottle at day care so lost interest in the boobs. He was once again no help at that point. Mrs. Frogs managed to save enough pumped milk to keep him on at least partial breast milk until 6 months, then we switched to formula. Gosh, he survived and he's pretty happy and healthy.

And for the record, I never felt unsure about our boy. No idea why. I just felt that I would be OK, and he would be OK, and I was confident I could help my wife do what worked for her until she was back to feeling good about her life again. Maybe I felt like this because I had seen my wife actually grow a person (holy shit, she can DO that? I sure as hell can't do that!) and if she could go through all of that, what excuse did I have for being anything other than SuperDad in a vain attempt to be as awesome as she had been through it all? My job was to project the Wall of Ultimate Confidence and be the support guy, johnny-on-the-spot with a diaper or midnight bottle or just plain offer to drag the rugrat somewhere for an hour or two so she could sleep. I think she appreciated it, but I also suspect my lack of uncertainty might have annoyed her at first. We did have problems - oh, golly, the number of times I had to dodge a thrown nipple shield, or deal with tears from both of them, and we just. don't. talk. AT ALL about the first time we tried feeding the munchkin rice cereal. It's funny now, I guess. But Christ on a crutch, nobody can ever tell you in a way that you can fathom just how god damn difficult it is for everyone, multiplied x 1,000,000 for the person who not only has been dealing with baby for 9 MONTHS before the birth but is supposed to be the point person after as well. You may not necessarily realize it now but you probably haven't slept all that well in a full year! And with breastfeeding, you are continuing to worry about what goes into your body - again, a year plus of being on edge about every little thing you do, and how it will affect your baby? That has a HUGE effect on your mental well-being. You are being too hard on yourself - and you're feeling guilty about feeling bad to boot. Count your small victories. Be content with knowing your tiny person is there, and knows you only as the source of all that is good in his life - warmth, comfort, safety, and yes food. You know that he will never really understand what you have done for him so far (or will do in the future). But you will know. And as the little brat gets better at taking care of himself, he will start giving more, and taking less, and that will give you time to find yourself again. You will make it. So will he. And in the near future you will look back on your uncertainty and doubt and fear and think "I made it through that. I can make it through anything."

You have friends out here. You must have friends and family in real life too. Asking people here is step 1. Next, find someone in real life who can say what we are all saying, with hugs. Hugs mean a lot. If you can find a mommy support group, do it - even if it is nothing more than 20 minutes over coffee together with a buddy who has been through this or is going through it now. Preferably with baby safe at home with Dad, to give you a few minutes to just try and be yourself again. You've spent a year draining the batteries, so to speak. You shouldn't feel bad that you don't have enough juice left in the tank to be anything other than unhappy and frustrated.

Cool Papa Bell wrote "By the way, I was a terrified father until my mother-in-law literally picked up my newborn son by the ankle, and while he was dangling there, happily gurgling, she said 'Look, it's really hard to hurt them...'"

Ha. I have been throwing the tadpole up in the air and catching him, or dangling him by one leg pretty much ever since he was able to hold his own head up. These days he's just happy as a clam to be thrown around like a rag doll. They are hard to break - but I am careful with him when we roughhouse of course!

posted by caution live frogs at 8:23 AM on January 19, 2011 [7 favorites]

Anonymous, HANG IN THERE. We have four kids and they *all* sucked for the first few months. :7) The strongest evidence I can offer that this does get better is the three kids we had after our first one. It's not you, it's them: they are a bottomless well of NEED, and you are their only source. Just keep feeding and changing and hugging them.

Do you swaddle them tightly? Our youngest is turning three next week and she still gets wrapped up tightly before naps & bedtime in a white flannel blanket from the hospital.

As Dad, I took care of my wife, who had apparently divested herself of any self-preservation in favor of the baby. I also did the middle-of-the-night bottle so my wife could sleep through. Also, I cleaned the worst poopy diapers & barfy/drooly bibs -- which, thank to acid reflux, was a lot of scraping stuff away with my fingernails. I got my wife back after a while, and she got her self back.

BTW, ignore peolpe telling you bad things about bottle feeding. My kids are beautiful and smart as whips and strong, and they all were bottle fed. (Damn stuff is really expensive, though...) My being able to share in the work was helpful for my wife, and also gave me a greater stake in parenting. I thought it was awesome. (It also let me hold my babies and smell their little heads.)

Lots of friends ask if there's anything they can do. Abandon your normal manners and assign them a task (can you do my laundry? can you bring by a dinner?) or give them an errand to run! That will reduce the burden of Things You Worry About Not Doing, and also restore some normalcy to your life.

Honestly, if you're still reading, YOU WILL COME OUT OF THIS! YOU AREN'T A BAD PERSON for feeling this way -- you're normal.

Cool Papa Bell, we were treating our first like glass until a nurse said pretty much the same thing. :7) We were horrified when she flapped the kid's little chicken legs, but it spared us a lot of needless stress.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:54 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Taking care of a new baby isn't only about sleep deprivation, it's also emotionally draining. You are not used to having someone need, need, need you all the time. This might be why you feel selfish, but you are not selfish! You're just not used to the constant need. And you know what? You don't have to get used to it, because it eases up a lot over the next few months. You just have to get through it. And you will.

I don't know where you live, but is it warm enough to go outside on walks? Give the baby something to look at and cool breezes on his face? Go to the store, go to the coffee shop, just give both of you some distraction? Meet your husband at his office for lunch? Whatever helps break up your day. Whatever gets you through your maternity leave.

It must be hard to feel that your husband knows just what to do for the baby. But baby doesn't consider dad a source of breastmilk/squishy comfort/life force. That's you right now. Baby treats you differently, believe me. My husband didn't know what to do for the baby, and he spent all his time following me around trying to give her back to me. That sucked. (Now he's great, though.) All parents have a learning curve.

This will not be a drag forever, I promise. Babies grow and change. Things are different just about every month. Sometimes (often) it's hard, sometimes it's fun. But working outside the home is way easier than taking care of children. Most of my friends couldn't wait to get back to work and let the "experts" spend a little time with the baby. So it's not just you.

I really think that what you are going through is normal. Hang in there!
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:11 AM on January 19, 2011

Everyone has chimed in with some stellar advice, so here's just another voice echoing what's already been said:

It will get better, I promise.

I had a baby girl back in October of 2009. I loved my daughter right from the start, but I hated hated hated maternity leave. I was miserable on an epic level, because what no one tells you is that mat leave can be boring, lonely, exhausting, isolating, dull, and yet you can't get anything done. I never once considered hurting my daughter, not even for a second, but there were several times when she wouldn't stop crying, and I just had to go into the other room and throw pillows for a few minutes. Believe me: it was scary feeling like that.

At one point, I felt the need to assure my poor husband (who was incredibly kind and supportive through all of it, even though I'm sure he was more than a little freaked out) that I would never, ever hurt our girl, or myself. I wanted him to know I was going through a difficult time, but that I knew that at some point I'd be ok.

Honestly. Can you imagine things getting so bad that you have to actually say out loud to your partner that, while things were bad, physical violence wasn't on the table? For someone who has always had a pretty firm grip on her life, that was definitely a low point for me.

Looking back, I now recognize it as post-partum. Not as bad as some have had it, but miserable all the same. I haven't struggled with depression in the past, so I naively assumed, going into it, that PPD wouldn't be a problem for me, when the fact is that PPD can strike any new mom, regardless of her mental health history. I should've talked to someone. I should've gotten involved in some of the mom's groups around here. I really do think those three months would've been so much more enjoyable if I had.

Complicating matters was that I, like you, had enormous difficulty breastfeeding. I never could get my daughter to latch on properly, so I was constantly pumping, which sucked (har har). Pumping can be messy, sort of gross, humiliating, and is really no fun at all -- especially since I had major issues with producing enough milk. Like I'd be thrilled to get 2 oz. out of a single session. Before the baby hit three months, I was done and gave it up for good.

But, but, but!

Things got better. They got way, WAY better. Going back to work definitely helped, at least for me. I felt enormous guilt at first about leaving her at daycare, but the place I picked was terrific, and I knew she was in great hands there. Being around grown-ups throughout the day was a humongous part of me getting back to feeling like me.

I still wish desperately I had been able to successfully breastfeed, not because I believe any of the woo-woo about higher IQ points and iron-clad immune systems, but because I so wish I could've had that primal bonding experience with my daughter.

My daughter is now 15 months old, and every day is a delight with her. I feel so lucky to watch her little personality come into being in new and unexpected ways, every single day. Yes, there are still low points, but they are utterly outweighed by the sheer awesomeness -- in every sense of the word -- of raising a kid.

I strongly recommend, as others have, getting involved in some local mothers' groups, regardless of if you're a SAHM, or if you'll be reentering the workforce in a few weeks. I so badly wished I had done that, because it really does help to talk to other women either a) have been where you are, or b) are going through it right now.

Good luck. Your son loves you, and I promise it's only a matter of time before things will start clicking with you. And even if they don't start clicking, there's a ton of resources and people out there who can help.

It will get better. It will. I promise.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:58 AM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Everyone has offered great words of wisdom. I'm not there yet as mine is about 4.5 weeks old but a couple thoughts. If you can get a family member or a friend to help you out to get caught up on rest... that's huge. I found the most magical thing my mom did when she was here to help was to give the baby a bottle after the morning wakeup. (Yes, I'm supplementing. Breastfeeding hasn't gone the way I hoped either.) So, I'd either do a breastfeed or pump and grandma would give the baby a bottle and hang out with her so I could get an extra hour or two of sleep. Somehow that made the rest of the day more bearable and helped me to recover a bit.

Look in your area for a post partum doula. If you've got a lactation person, ask for a recommendation. Someone in my town started a service and friends got me a gift certificate. The most awesome woman came over twice -- once right after baby came home and once recently. She helped with breastfeeding, offered encouragement and advice but was really supportive of everything we've been doing. She answered lots of stupid baby questions from my husband and I. She's helped so many families and babies that she really has a ton of techniques and made us feel better about the things we already were doing and just had so many tips up her sleeve. She also helped me get the sheets on the guest bed, emptied the dishwasher, helped me get the Moby thing figured out and took out the trash. It was awesome.

Lastly, I just this week started following the rather proscribed "plan" in the Baby Whisperer* book. There's a million books out there with a million suggestions but I figured we might as well try a few. What else do we have to do? The idea here is building healthy sleep habits (and getting more sleep yourself). They call it the E.A.S.Y. method. Eat -- baby eats. Activity -- baby "plays" or has tummy time or you google at the baby (and change the baby) for a few minutes up to like 30 at this age. Then Sleep -- put the baby in a swaddle and put it down for a nap. And Y is for "yourself" -- do something for yourself: sleep, shower, eat, read a book, etc. And then at night do a 10 or 11 pm "dream feed" -- tank the baby up, put on a disposable diaper and see how long he or she goes! Anyway, if you have a library -- worth checking it out. Feel free to memail me with questions.

Anyway, we've been trying that this week and it's been pretty successful. I'm giving myself a full week to see how it goes but it's nice just to have a plan... any plan! And she seems to like it, too. I'm not saying this will magically make everything okay... but getting as much sleep for yourself as possible will help a lot. And do talk to a doctor or a doula or someone in this field for advice.

*Looks like there's more stuff out there if you google "Baby whisperer" if you want the idea without hunting down the book. Good luck!
posted by amanda at 9:21 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just found myself thinking about this thread... I'm hoping by now all is better for you and your 6 (!) month old... and that you never even see this since your new reality is so different than it was when you posted that you don't even remember the despair. Best wishes.
posted by Mchelly at 2:14 PM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hiya...this was me. My son is almost 11 months old now, and my god, is it ever better. SO much better. It took a long time, but the turning point for me was when he began to sit up around 6 months. For some reason that made all the difference in the world. He is so much fun now and such a delight (even though he still doesn't sleep). I barely even recognize the person who wrote this question. So take heart, future new parents! Everyone was right, it really does get a million times better and it is really okay if you kind of hate it for a few months at first.
posted by feathermeat at 4:21 AM on October 30, 2011 [30 favorites]

Yay for happy endings!
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:08 PM on October 30, 2011

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