And down will come cradle, cradle and ALL??
September 9, 2015 6:19 PM   Subscribe

How did you and your partner survive parenthood?

My husband and I are parents (for the first time) to a beautiful, healthy, and mostly pleasant 2.5 month old baby girl. She is awesome, and we love the heck out of her -- and of course, it is the most exhausting work ever.

Some backstory- We'd always known we'd wanted to have kids, and after almost 12 years together it happened - most of that time we weren't trying, and then we were trying for a while, and that took awhile... and anyway, now we are in the thick of it!

I just.. hmm... I mean how does this work? Did your relationship survive parenthood - or perhaps even get better? (Or not, I don't just need the happily-ever-afters, although a few of them would be nice.)

We have been through a lot of phases together over the past decade-plus together, and a lot of working through all sorts of issues, but definitely new parenthood has rocked me- and is rocking our relationship. I feel like the stress of a new baby period- plus going back to work, the household stuff, money being tight, old issues at strange moments resurfacing because we both are vulnerable and exhausted and hormonal.... I mean it's totally cliche, but I feel like we are mostly fighting, stressed or just friggin wiped out. We do manage to have a pretty good time in moments.. but, I don't know.

I feel like the weekday evenings are the worst. The baby gets fussy, we're hungry, we haven't spoken all day sometimes, I've sometimes been with the baby 10-12 hours and am DONE (but really can't be done because I'm the mom)... we're sometimes sleeping in the same bed, but often taking shifts so one of us can get a full nights sleep. I mean, we are hanging in there, but I feel a little anxious- is this all there is for here on out??

I am getting some completely non-baby times (we have grandparents close by, & I am working a little bit, and husband does take baby completely when he is off work and I need a break.)

(I am also looking for a therapist who right now (for myself) because obviously, new motherhood is cray-cray and I need it, though couples therapy would probably be a good idea...)

We do manage to have an OK time on the weekends- it's actually pretty fun getting out together as a family to take walks, see friends, have meals out, whatever.

But long story short: it all just being stressed, tired, overworked, sort of broke from here on out? Or is this new baby phase particularly intense, and then it smooths out? I do feel like we are managing OK at being parents - but our relationship feels a little on the downswing here- and I'm not sure whether we should just hang in there, or is this what to expect at least while you survive early childhood?
posted by Rocket26 to Human Relations (25 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
You endure. This will pass. It might be tomorrow, it might be in the months, it might be a year. But it will pass. Eventually the kids becomes a little person and bit by bit they need you less and less for everything while having personalities of their own.

I mean it sucks. We have a five week old and a two and a half year old. It's fucking horrible right now. My wife resents that I get to go to work every day. No one gets any sleep and everyone had advice. But it all passes.

I only hesitate to tell you that for us the last time the months was the worst and it got steadily better from there. I have good friend who ll say it was six weeks or six months for them.
posted by JPD at 6:37 PM on September 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

The new baby phase is particularly intense, and it does smooth out. The hard part is protecting your relationship so that it's still secure when things get better. Therapy will probably help with that to some extent, but making your weekday evenings easier will also help. Can you do takeout two or three or five nights a week for a little while? Or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Does your partner actively help out when he gets home? (I know he's been working all day too, but he probably got to shower and definitely got to go to the bathroom by himself, so.) Do you use the grandparent time to have dates together?

We are two kids in (3 years and 9 months). Both times I felt our relationship get rocky, and both times it has smoothed out. I would say that in the long run we have more than survived - I have a tremendous respect for my partner that I couldn't have had without kids. He has seen me at my worst and still really loves me, he's generous and oh so patient, and he makes me want to be a better mom for our kids. But when either of our kids were 2.5 months, I probably would have told you that he did less than his share around the house and didn't understand what I was going through at all, and he would have told you that I am drama-filled and irrational and set my expectations way too high. We weren't getting any real down time for ourselves individually much less as a couple. Sleep deprivation really does a number on me (and as the mom, it's usually hitting you harder) and that really didn't help. When they started sleeping better, that made a big difference, and then we made some conscious choices to work on our relationship after we were getting more sleep.

From six months or so on, it got so much better. I mean, it got incrementally better between about 2 and 6 months, but once baby kind of woke up and joined the family (and started @&*(#^ sleeping), it got awesome.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 6:37 PM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Babies are intense. Both of you are undergoing huge changes, are sleep deprived, and hormonal (yes, dad too). There's a reason why many cultures encourage mom to stay in bed for a month after having a baby.

It gets better. Your baby will smile, and start engaging with you in ways that make your heart melt. She will sleep longer stretches. You will get better at childcaring.

Can your find a new moms group? Ask your pediatrician for a recommendation. It's so terribly isolating being alone with a newborn; the more you can do to make contact with the world the better you will feel.

For me, the fog lifted at around 3 months, and things got really fun once she started sleeping through the night at 7 months. Hang in there!
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:37 PM on September 9, 2015

It definitely gets better. That first year is HARD. And after it gets better --for us, around the second birthday we felt "normal" again -- we did have some relationship rebuilding to do. Our son is almost 5 now, and it's just been in the past year or so that we've really had time to have a life again. Including dates and stuff.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:38 PM on September 9, 2015

Rocket26: "How did you and your partner survive parenthood?"


Rocket26: "Did your relationship survive parenthood - or perhaps even get better?"

Yes -- way better and stronger. I mean, the rough times as parents are way, way harder than the rough times as just a couple, because fighting about how to parent a child you both love more than life itself is way more fraught than fighting about ... well, things other than screwing up your child. But we're both calmer, more patient, stronger, and way less petty than we were before we had kids. Our relationship is stronger and more secure; fights don't matter as much because even when we're fighting about a fundamental point of difference about raising our kids, we know we're both totally committed to happy, healthy children, we just have different strategies about how to get there.

Rocket26: "I feel like the weekday evenings are the worst. The baby gets fussy, we're hungry, we haven't spoken all day sometimes, I've sometimes been with the baby 10-12 hours and am DONE (but really can't be done because I'm the mom)... we're sometimes sleeping in the same bed, but often taking shifts so one of us can get a full nights sleep. I mean, we are hanging in there, but I feel a little anxious- is this all there is for here on out?? "

WEEKDAY EVENINGS ARE THE WORST. Children all turn evil around 4 p.m., it is just in their programming. Downside, weekday evenings remain shitty for quite a long time. Upside -- no, this is not all there is! Take a deep breath. The first three months with a new baby are NIGHTMARISH and then you have a bit of an exhaustion hangover for a while after. (Like, objectively things are going to start getting better really soon, but you're going to need months to catch up on the physical and emotional exhaustion.) Personally I felt like after six months I was like "Oh, I might not die" and after a year I was like "Oh, here's my new normal as a mom, this is not so bad." (I breastfed each child until a year, and the relentless physicality of breastfeeding and constantly having someone HANGING on me was really hard for me ... I felt like I didn't regain an equilibrium until I wasn't being TOUCHED 24/7.) After THREE years I was like, "Oh, hey, I'm actually not JUST a mom, I can start to have an independent life outside my beloved children again!"

If you can swing a cleaning lady every other week for a few months, even just until the baby is sleeping people hours at night, it will help a lot. Like I cannot tell you my profound gratitude for my beloved cleaning lady who came every other week and made my house NOT SQUALOR so that I could relax and not be surrounded by constant grossness and not have to worry about scrubbing the bathrooms AND feeding a child a billion times a day. We chose the cleaning lady over cable TV, NO REGRETS. When the baby got a little older I got it back under control and could keep up again, but having her come and clean the kitchen and the bathrooms and vacuum and dust was fantastic. She just cleaned around my piles; we often just threw all the mess (toys, laundry, shoes, clutter) into a couple of laundry baskets. She did not judge.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:47 PM on September 9, 2015 [19 favorites]

We have a 4.5 and a 2 year old, and had them without the benefit of having been together for a long time beforehand.

It is hard, and hard for a long time - at least it has been in our case. The learning curve of taking care of a child and running a household and working while doing that are very steep, and you are going to lose parts of yourself and your relationship - hopefully temporarily - in the process. There is just not enough time and mental bandwidth to do all of these things well simultaneously, even if you have help from family. Most of the parents that I know have had a similar experience with this.

Now the good part: it really does get better - you will not be exhausted, stressed out, and resentful forever. For us, age 2 was when things began to improve w/both of our kids - they can communicate their needs, are on the cusp of starting to become more self-sufficient (e.g. by age 3 or so they'll start dressing themselves at least some of the time), and sleep was longer and more predictable. You'll get much more effective and efficient at life tasks generally, out of sheer, survival-driven necessity. Hopefully the lessening of the sheer, unrelenting slog of early parenthood lets you reconnect with yourself and your partner. We're working on it.

Mostly, though, you just have to be extremely patient and forgiving, and realize you are playing a very long game that neither of you know the rules to yet. Even when it is going well and is heading toward a happy, sustainable rhythm, it can sometimes take a long time to see it.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:49 PM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

You will survive but don't do what my partner and I did: Focus exclusively on our kid to the detriment (and eventual end) of our relationship. (Don't worry, there were lots of issues involved, not just parenting.) Do what we didn't do: Make regular deposits into your couple account by having a regular weekly date. You don't have to go out, you don't have to have romance. You just have to spend time together regularly that reminds you why you are a couple, how much you love each other, how funny or smart or whatever you both are. You need those deposits. You need that time. Lots of smart couple I know did and do this. That shared couple time is vital to help keep your bond solid.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:08 PM on September 9, 2015 [7 favorites]

It gets better. We just got home from our first road trip with our nearly-5 and nearly-2-year old and it was FUN. In a way I wouldn't have believed until fairly recently.

You're in the worst part right now. The sheer physicality, and mind-numbing boredom of caring for an infant will let up. Your kid will grow a brain and learn to communicate. Your kid will develop interests and you will rediscover some wonder in the world that's been jaded out of your adult eyes. We slept in a caboose last night, yo. Did you know you wanted to do that? You might actually be excited about it in a few years.

Also watching a not quite 5 year old stand and contemplate a giant mural of the battle of Gettysburg for a solid 20 minutes is both adorable and profound, and has me thinking I probably want to re-read some history books.

Finally, having kids has reignited my passion for model rockets and Legos and things I thought I couldn't do because I'm a grownup. But I've learned to own it.

Gotta go now, this Lego cinema isn't going to build itself. It gets better. You'll have a chance to find yourself again. Maybe not right now, but sooner than you think.
posted by telepanda at 7:18 PM on September 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

Two and a half months is a rough time--they aren't sleeping quite as much as during the newborn weeks, but they still need need need as much as ever. It totally gets better, and you will start to notice small positive changes in the next few weeks. Probably. Every baby is different. But I remember the four-month or so period as being like a weight lifted off my shoulders and parenthood was mostly enjoyable for both of us.

The main thing that helped the relationship between me and my husband survive was to never forget that we were on the same side, partners in the sleep-deprived intensity of adjusting to the new family, and not adversaries. We said "I'm sorry" a lot and laughed as much as possible at the absurdity of balancing everything. He was finishing up law school and I was transitioning to being self-employed, we had no family in town, so it often felt like us against the world. Not gonna lie--sharing a bottle of wine together after the evening nursing session probably saved us. That and the bouncy seat.
posted by chaoticgood at 7:44 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Argh - hugs! I distinctly remember how tired and overwhelming and vaguely awful everything felt. I remember that "I showered and ate today = success!". I remember eagerly anticipating my husband coming home and practically throwing the baby at him! IT GETS BETTER.

Now we have two full time jobs and an almost one-yr old who's in daycare 4 days a week. I do time-in-lieu in order to have 1 day/wk at home with him. We don't have family around, and we're the first of our friends to have kids. We eat a lot of take-out. We're tired. We've been sick a lot this winter (thanks daycare!). But. BUT. Daily life has gotten so much better than it was at two months. At two months I had sorta failed my six-week checkup (helloooooo prolapse!) and was barely leaving the house, and we moved - UGH. Things are sort of normal now. The hiccups are frequent, but things always go back to a pretty good new normal. We start early and finish early, so we're all home by five. I get home first and do a few quick things - feed the cats, clean the cat litter, take my pill, pee... Dad gets home with baby, and baby has a big breastfeed while dad takes his shoes off and stuff. We play for a little bit. Dad helps Baby and I have a bath about 5:30 and gets his PJ's on; Dad goes for a jog while I read Baby a few stories and get him to sleep (hopefully about 6). Dad makes dinner while I work a little, although usually I am still getting baby settled! We eat dinner and talk about our day. Do dishes, swap backrubs, he reads comics while I crochet. Baby stumbles out looking for us and I put him back to bed. It's do-able. We have his cot side-cared to our bed, so we're sorta cosleeping. If he's not sick or teething (rare) he sleeps through, but I'm still rolling over and pulling a boob out a handful of times a night. We go on a lot of three-person "dates" ;) (We are mostly succeeding at once-a-week sex, fwiw, in case you're wondering - my husband sure was at the two month mark!)

I "love breastfeeding" now that I am doing a lot less of it. Breastfeeding in those early days is such a huge demand, huge time suck (ha), and huge invasion of your personal space/autonomy... I found it really really hard. My kid never really went for bottles, so I was relieved when he day-weaned himself at around 7mo.

Anyway, 2 months! It gets better when they can hold their heads up and don't feel so fragile. It gets better when they laugh, when they babble, when they want your food, when they walk!when they look at you, grin, and "sneakily" hide their kale down their pants...

At one he's his own little person. It's a whole different ball game. It definitely gets better. Free feel to MeMail me ANYTIME - happy to listen. And let me know if you want a link to my instagram for a preview of what you have to look forward to!
posted by jrobin276 at 7:45 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

It totally gets better. New babies = crazytown. I have 10 month old twins right now and we're still living the kind of total exhaustion you describe, but with singletons I don't think it ever lasted more than four or five months.

I think sex and grownup cuddles are a good way to reconnect when I have no brain cells remaining to talk. But I have friends who get very touched out by newborns and would rather die than cuddle at the end of the day when the baby's finally in bed. So I don't know what'll work for you, but I think being intentional about taking even a very little bit of time to hang out together is really helpful.

I can't say whether our relationship is better or worse than it used to be. I depend on him in a way I never did before children. We are an indivisible team. I know him better than I did. I have a million new things to admire in him. And, a million new things to be frustrated by. I simultaneously feel like he's more a part of me than he ever was and like I haven't seen him in a year. Overall I guess I'd say we're stronger together, but less intensely romantic.

Good luck. You're going to see the light at the end of the tunnel soon. The first morning that you wake up having slept like six hours straight you will feel like a new person.
posted by gerstle at 8:18 PM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

There is a very good reason that my family only adds a new member every 5 years. You nailed it. The first bit is terrible. TERRIBLE.

Only When my son was 5 years old, were we ready, and then we had a daughter. When the daughter was 5 years old, we were finally again ready and so we got a puppy. When the puppy is 5 years old, we might be ready to expand again. This is the myth we tell the kids, who are ready for a second puppy yesterday.
posted by u2604ab at 9:43 PM on September 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

It gets better when the baby starts sleeping through the night. Our daughter started sleeping for 5-hour stretches around 2 months and then it just got longer and longer until she was sleeping through the night. The only times my husband and I were screaming at each other was when my husband's sleep was compromised. I was lucky enough to be able to stay home. Our daughter is a dream and always has been so we've been lucky in that respect.

I've heard and keep hearing that children and babies are a HUGE stress or on a marriage so maybe just remember that and step back a little bit. When you're screaming at each other over your crying baby, just tell yourself, "Every couple does this when they have infants." I know that comforted me--knowing that everything we were going through was "normal."

I used to have TONS of time to read when I was breastfeeding so I recommend getting a ton of marriage therapy books (used or at the library) and just plowing through them. They're probably all good and they can provide some good help.
posted by Piedmont_Americana at 9:49 PM on September 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

It absolutely gets better and then all of a sudden you've just dropped your firstborn at college and seriously, where did the time go?

You're right in the trenches right now. The days are long, but I promise you, the years are short. Pretty soon she'll start sleeping through the night (or not soon, but it will happen eventually) and you'll start to get your sanity back. And then she'll get sick and keep you up all night! It's always two steps forward, three steps back when they're little, but honestly, I swear, it gets better. It's all very physical in the beginning, it's literally hard work, and then as they get older, it turns more into emotional work and that's hard, too, but it's so worth it.

Like I said, we just dropped our firstborn at college about three weeks ago. I thought my heart would break at first. I'm pretty okay right now; this is our new normal and it's okay. I guarantee you, in two, five, ten'll be looking at your kid and thinking, "I swear I just gave birth like yesterday. How is she going to kindergarten/getting braces/learning to drive/graduating from high school already?!!"

It gets better. And easier.
posted by cooker girl at 10:04 PM on September 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

We have a 2.5 month old and are getting pretty tired but the tone of our house is a happy one- I mostly attribute this to being unable to breastfeed, mr pair of shades is able to take half the feedings when he's home and during the work week he takes the one around 6am and I grab some sleep. He also didn't take his paternity leave until now, and the result is he's able to really help now that baby doesn't sleep as much. I also use a lot of food prep packets and frozen veggies- that way we get a hot meal on the table with less than 10 minutes prep time. I also developed a "uniform" so I can get dressed and feel good about myself everyday. Finally, when baby is crying and nothing helps I just pop him in the pram and put on my headphones. I also switch the baby's position quite a lot when he gets restless in one spot, he gets a little cuddle and then I put him somewhere new, the swing, tummy time, car seat carrier.... And we got a babysitter very early and went out for our anniversary... We also have a go at sexy times when we can and talk ourselves up as team pair of shades. We also use ear plugs ALOT when we are "off duty"... We're also traveling at the moment but plan an appointment with a sleep consultant when we get home with the goal being to improve his sleep because we are just stabbing in the dark at the moment when it comes to naps etc. And we tell each other we love each other and are doing a great job.
posted by pairofshades at 2:25 AM on September 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

We our kid is 20 months. For his particular personality and quirks, it went from "constant 200% effort and exhaustion" (with no room for anything but surviving, and frankly, misery) to "we're seeing the silver lining" at 6 months, the day he learned to crawl. Then around 8-9 months he started sleeping more than an hour at a time at night (not without extensive help, but we got there) and that took the difficulty level from 10 down to probably 5. Since then it's only gotten better. Around 18 months we were finally at a point where we could hang out as a family, have actual extended conversations, resume hobbies to a modest degree (and include our kid in some of them), get some genuine relaxation, travel without (all that much) anxiety and stress, etc. We parents could stay up and watch at least half of a movie after bedtime. In our case tantrums have been diminishing (not linearly, but as a trend) since about 15 months. He stopped waking up at night more than once a week around 18 months. Basically it just keeps getting better, and better, and better. I know some folks have an uptick in difficulty in the toddler years, which depends on the child, but for us, it's just been a crazy ride that gets more fun and less hard with every passing week.

Here are some things that we did to keep ourselves together and connected through the worst:

-try to have actual dinner table and/or evening walk conversations. I know this is laughably difficult when one of you is constantly ON DUTY and totally preoccupied (and if your baby cries a lot in the evening, I know, this sounds crazy), but as soon as it's possible, turn on the radio for 5 minutes and talk about the news, or try to mention something you read on Facebook, or whatever. Make a small effort to have these little conversations that aren't about surviving and whether the kid has pooped recently. I know, it IS an effort to think outside your bubble right now, but I do think it's worth it to listen to the situation in somebody ELSE's life. It can kind of cut through the constant swirling thoughts and confusion and mental lists and your world will feel larger. Suggestions for good times: while baby is nursing/feeding (both parents sit on couch and chat), while taking a walk to calm a fussy baby, while eating (if baby is allowing you to both eat at the same time)

-schedule at least one day per week for each of you to sleep in. I know it seems like you're taking away the only small bits of time when you might actually be a couple (weekend mornings, etc.) but you really, really, really can't be an interested partner if you've had 3 hours of sleep. ASK ME HOW I KNOW. If your baby is a terrible sleeper (and ours was waking 8-10 times a night for a large part of his first year) you need to address the situation one way or another, at the VERY least by ensuring that you each get some consolidated sleep once a week, no matter how contrived and difficult that may be.

-when you can (weekend afternoons? after dinner?) watch a TV series together while the baby nurses/feeds/naps (yeah you'll have to interrupt it constantly, I know) and commentate on the episodes. We watched DS9 when my son was a newborn and it gave us something to think about besides surviving.

-if you can afford it even occasionally, take lots of walks to places which sell treats you like. We did bubble tea, hot chocolate, and even occasionally pizza. We'd take a 1-2 mile walk there, grab the item, enjoy it on the way back. Often the baby would sleep, and most of the time (not all, I know it can be stressful) he'd be enjoying being worn and soothed by the walking. It's not the healthiest long-term solution, but it gets you gentle exercise, something immediate to look forward to.... it's a simple pleasure and you need that right now! Sharing a simple pleasure in the midst of such difficulty is a really nice thing.

At some point within the next year or two you will arrive at a place when you have the opportunity to feel like a real family, rather than like two adults who are tag-teaming a relentless job. And even before then, it will get more fun and engaging, if not easier, as your kid's personality emerges. This is not all there is. Before then, it's worth it to go through the motions of being a couple so it doesn't feel alien when you get a sense of stability back. I'm really glad we did.
posted by Cygnet at 4:10 AM on September 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

It gets easier!!

My kids are 6 and 3 and while there are some challenges now that I'm struggling with (mean girls at age 6! playground dynamics! establishing good habits for homework and piano practice!) it still is, by a large margin, physically easier than dealing with a baby. A baby is draining. The first year is exhausting. I have worked harder in my life at stuff but I've never worked so physically hard at anything. The sleep deprivation is no joke.

My kids are still pretty demanding but they can get talk and get themselves dressed and brush their own teeth and use the bathroom without help (mostly, 3-year-old still needs a bit of help sometimes). It gets SO much better, I promise!

In terms of keeping your relationship intact - be forgiving of each other this first year. My husband and I didn't do that on purpose, but we sort of ended up doing it anyway during the first year of each kid's life. We got a lot of mileage for awhile out of listening to the same podcasts - I'd listen to it during the day while taking the baby for a walk and he'd listen to it on his commute and then once the baby was asleep or at least occupied, we could talk about it. If I were you guys I'd take the baby for a walk after dinner, just a slow one, and you can catch up on your day while the baby chills in the stroller (or put the baby in a baby carrier - whatever is preferable). There is a new parent couple on my street and I see them do this a lot and it's really cute.

Prioritize your sleep. Housework can wait. Outsource what you can - a cleaning service, laundry, maybe even a food delivery service if you find getting dinner on the table difficult. Have sex when you can, or at least cuddle a bit before falling asleep. Find ways to communicate throughout the day. My husband and I both have the g-chat app on our phones and we do stuff like send each other funny links or funny pictures. We both work and can't always "chat" but we sort of use it as a dumping ground for checking in or reminders.

My parents live nearby and they are a massive help, and even though they live six hours away by car, my in-laws are also a great help. Don't be embarrassed to call a grandparent and say, "I just need a nap for a few hours, can you take baby for a walk?" It has been wonderful watching my children develop their own relationships with their grandparents - and this is because we basically threw the kids at them whenever they offered, from when they were babies.

With my kids being a lot more self-sufficient now, my husband and I are having a lot more fun, both with them, and together. Sometimes it's still hard to have a conversation with the kids around, but you know, they eventually go to bed and we can watch a movie, or just have a beer and chat about our day. It's been really hard and our relationship hasn't been perfect - but it's gotten easier as time goes on.

Finally, make some other new-parent friends. It's helpful to have them as a sounding board and also as a way to check in about your kids and your relationship. It's always nice when your kid is doing some weird behavior, and you check with your friends with similar-aged kids, and their kids are doing the same weird thing. We have friends we swap a lot of childcare with, which is also enormously helpful. We found it easy to make friends at our kids' daycare, but if you go to and look for new mom groups you're sure to find them.

Good luck and I promise it gets easier!
posted by sutel at 5:12 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

During the 1st month, babies are really just getting oriented to the world, and I hope you're through that bit. I hope she has figured out nursing/ feeding and sleeping. If not, ask for help from your pediatrician and family.

Relentless organization helps a lot. Buy enough diapers, wipes, formula, other essentials so that you don't have to run out at night. Plan weals for the week, and shop for everything. Ask for help. Ask a grandparent to come over so you can shower, or to help with vacuuming or whatever. Simplify routines, ignore the houseplants, use frozen meals.

Have sensible standards. Babies need things to be pretty clean, but not sterile. They need company, safety, cuddling, but they don't need flash cards. Any day you get dressed in anything other than pajamas, wash your face, and brush your teeth is a triumph. Brushing your hair is over the top. Stop listening to any article that suggests that you can dress baby in adorable outfits, dress yourself in total style, make spectacular meals, and start a business while baby naps, or anything along those lines. Recognize what a terrific job you're doing.
posted by theora55 at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2015

Echoing that it gets much easier around two. Certain things are harder (THE WHINING!) but the sleep is better and the hormones have stopped and I could feel like a person again. Now we have a 2.5 and a 6.5 and things in our relationship are better. They're better because I enjoy sex and physical intimacy again. They're better because I know we won't have any more kids, so I can see the changes we are making as being reasonably sustained.

In the early years, we survived by 1) getting a cleaning lady and eating a lot of cereal and letting go of a lot of those types of expectations and 2) making sure there was at least one day a week where we both got to sleep as much as we wanted, while splitting up the rest of the nights ("You get everything before 1 am; I'll do after that" or "I'll do pre 3 am and you do post 3am").

It's hard, it's mostly worth it :)
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:56 AM on September 10, 2015

Things really started to get better around 3/4 months when my son's nap "schedule" became more reliable. My son naturally was a 2-3-4 nap schedule kid and once I noticed that pattern and read up that this was a known pattern for babes I fully committed to keeping that schedule and not messing with it at all. By 6 months we had a pretty solid routine in the day for play and sleep and that made evenings much easier for us. Around the same 3/4-6 month age they really start to get into playing and mimicking and laughing and the more their personality comes out the more fun your day will be. Babyhood is still intense and a lot of work, but those belly giggles sure have a way of making everything ok.

You got this! You are right about to come out of the intense newborn haze and into babyhood giggles.
posted by Swisstine at 9:24 AM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ours are now 13, 7 & 4. For us, it's gotten better and stronger. A lot of that was my own growing pains, if I'm honest. I think we're probably in a better place over the last ~3 years than we've ever been before.

Remember that it's not all responsibility and late nights and sleep deprivation.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 11:36 AM on September 10, 2015

I say this as a lactivist: breastfeeding a baby through the first six - twelve months is a full time job. Hell, it's a full time job with lots and lots and lots of unpaid overtime. Which isn't to dissuade you from it--I love my breastfeeding relationship with my toddler and wouldn't trade it for the world, six months of leaking, clusterfeeding, bleeding nipples and all. However, acknowledgement that it was a full time job and a half was absolutely key for me feeling validated and valued in my relationship. This meant dad took over whenever I asked so I could shower and have a few moments to myself, and while balance has been a struggle in our relationship, I know he appreciates what I do, which includes lots of unpaid physical labor with some cleaning/working/spousal duties as bonus. It gets easier, too, as your baby starts taking in other foods as nutrients. But right now you're carrying a huge burden as the mother, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and I sort of feel like any relationship's success at this time is predicated on, you know, acknowledging and talking about that.

Otherwise, I'd recommend that you get out of the house more and connect with other parents while also doing primary childcare, not just on weekends. It makes a huge difference. Walk around the mall in a stroller for a bit if you can. A screaming baby is much more tolerable out of the house when you've managed even a two minute conversation with other human beings, and it gives you something to talk about with your significant other besides "ohmygodi'msoooootiredtakethiscreatureoffmytitsplease."

It gets better. More joyful and so much richer. One other thing I will add is that both you and your spouse will be changed by this, and to roll with those changes. You'll find each other again, but it will be a new sort of meeting place, informed by new experiences, and that's okay.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:38 PM on September 10, 2015

I just want to add that yes, it does get easier, but please don't keep your hopes pinned on a specific time. Each kid is different, and maybe your kid will become massively easier at 4 months, but maybe your kid will become massively easier at 10 months.

People told me that it gets easier when your kid is 6 months and can play by herself for a minute, and I think we finally got her playing by herself sometime around her fourth birthday. I do truly believe it gets easier and better and more fun and less exhausting, but it's less of a "today it was suddenly easier" and more of a "well, now she sleeps more and eats less, but she's now climbing on shelves" or whatever.

It's *hard* to be the parent of an infant, so try to ignore all of the people that tell you to "cherish these moments", lest you kill them in their non-interrupted sleep.
posted by freezer cake at 11:00 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

It will get easier. My anecdata: I was about where you were, at least according to your post, in my son's infancy. As he got older, my parenting relationship with him got better and better. He's almost 5 now, and I am finally in a place where I really really love being a parent and honestly cherish every minute I get to spend with him. But, uh, that's a recent development.

Not to be a scaremonger, but I'll say it because it doesn't get said often enough: some people aren't good at babies: we get frustrated easily, want to use logic where logic doesn't apply, and simply don't get the quantity of joy and satisfaction out of a newborn that other parents seem to. Some people are unlucky enough to be not-good at babies while also being expected to be the primary parent to one, and also are not very good at demanding help from their partner. Hello, that would be me. It might be you. Advice from the future: demand the help that you need. Take care of your sanity. See that therapist if you can afford to. Schedule time out with your friends while you're at it. Eventually, you'll get some of your individual personhood back, I promise. Depending on your kid, it might be soon, or it might take a while, but it'll come.

The other part of your question, regarding your marriage, is harder. In my own case, parenthood almost killed my marriage. It's not to do with my son: he's lovely and always has been. But the wildly unequal division of labor took a huge toll on me. This year, after four very bad years of resentment and decay, I decided that things were going to get better or I was going to leave. They've gotten better, but it's been a long hard road full of painful, endless talks about our expectations, and changing deeply-ingrained parenting habits that we didn't mean to make in the first place. Talk to your partner about what you need, and work to create a good co-parenting relationship as early as you can. I'm rooting for you, rocket26!
posted by libraritarian at 1:34 PM on September 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

The new baby phase is seriously intense but thankfully it does get easier and eventually even fun!! Just seconding everything everyone says here re: 2.5months is still early days especially if you have returned to work but the sleep torture does improve especially once they start sleeping longer hours (for us 6 mths but it varies child to child). Some things that really helped us included batch cooking large volumes of meals & soups on weekends and then freezing dinner size portions for throughout the working week, so rather than cooking on those nights it was just a 5 minute microwave and this gave more time to unwind on workday evenings. Having a well-understood routine around who does the feeding and when can really help too (assuming you are bottle-feeding) i.e. one person goes to sleep sooner while the other does the last night feed, and that person then gets to sleep in longer in the morning while other does the first morning feed. Everything came down to routine for us right down to who did the bath time, washing, bins, dishes, cooking, everything on which days. Routine gave us alot more freedom to spend quality time together. Thankfully as bubs gets a bit older the sleeping and feeding cycles do get longer = more sleep for both of you. Another thing that helped us was following some aspects of the gina ford method from around 6 months (just following the recommended sleep times/hours per age, (not the whole gina ford routine which is way over the top). It made a huge difference for us.

Hope you are feeling better soon, it's seriously hard work but it does get easier!
posted by Under the Sea at 11:37 PM on September 17, 2015

« Older Just started new job, but does my superior team...   |   Can I cook with this? Pomegranate juice edition Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.