17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

From the Tales Inbox: Does it Ever Get Easier?

So, I'm a brand new mom to a 2 1/2 month old baby girl, and I need some advice.

I love my daughter so much, but feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water most days! I feel like I should have it so much more "together" considering she is almost 11 weeks old. One minute I think I've gotten the hang of being a mother, and the next minute she won't take a nap and starts crying and I think I'm failing miserably.

When does it get "easier"? Is there a magical age when my fussy newborn will blossom into a happy baby like they always show on tv? Any words of wisdom to a newbie mom like me?



  • As the mother of three boys who were born within three years, I can attest to the fact that what you are going through is normal. You should let go of your expectations of yourself, and of your little sweetie. Don't expect yourself to look or act like other moms, and just take it a day at a time.
    By the way, it does get easier...and lots more fun.
    Best wishes!
    posted by Blogger Mother of the Wild Boys at 2/19/2008 08:23:00 AM  

  • Stephanie--
    I think the first 3 months with your first is the hardest. Don't worry--soon you will be having so much fun and feel like such a natural, you'll look back and wonder why it felt so hard now. I love the EASY system in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer--that routine made my days feel structured and predictable, which helped me alot and I am sure the baby felt that same. Eat Activity Sleep You. Check it out from the library. You are not alone and I am sure you are doing great! Those first few months really took me by surprise, too.
    posted by Anonymous ESO at 2/19/2008 08:30:00 AM  

  • "When does it get easier?"

    It depends on you and your baby, of course, but most babies will start settling into a routine around 3 months. (You're almost there!)

    It also gets easier when they can sit (around 6-7 months)but not move yet. I love that age.

    Also, language makes things easier. When they can talk to you, it helps immensely. First words will come in about a year from now, and then watching them build their vocabulary is like magic.

    AND, it gets easier when they can watch videos. Yes, I said it. Better living through media, baby.

    Signing Time are some of the first ones that will hold their attention, and they also help with communication.

    I remember that drowning feeling well. My whole life was dedicated to keeping my kid alive, and she didn't even have any health issues! Your head will pop up above water soon, and if for some reason it doesn't, get some help. All moms need it.
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 2/19/2008 08:38:00 AM  

  • Stephanie, you're not alone. I remember being right at the point you are now, facing the reality of going back to work in a couple of weeks, and wondering WHAT in the WORLD I was going to tell my friend/babysitter! My son had absolutely no schedule whatsoever, so it was really hard to judge why he was crying/fussy. In my hysteria, I started writing down what time he ate/slept/pooped every day, and after about a week, suddenly he started shifting into a pattern. It was a glorious thing! Long anecdote to say that it's not just you, and the end is in sight. I think at around 3-3.5 months, they get the hang of it, and therefore so do you.
    posted by Blogger marian at 2/19/2008 09:27:00 AM  

  • I remember feeling the same way with my first baby. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing! I was so exhausted and worried all the time. There is no text book baby. Every baby has a different personality and schedule. But once my first baby hit the 3 month mark and developed the ability to self-entertain and express himself, it got so much easier. And it's the fun stage too! The 4 month old babies just smile and laugh and are so dang cute that it makes the harder moments so worth it. And now, as a mom of four kids, I can tell you that it truly does get easier as they get older. They start becoming their own little person and helping themselves. Don't worry- you are in the hard stage now. I also love the Baby Whisperer ideas- I highly recommend the book. Best wishes and enjoy this stage as much as you can- it will fly by all too soon! :)
    posted by Blogger LJ at 2/19/2008 11:46:00 AM  

  • The earliest it gets better is 6-8 weeks. The latest it gets better is 12 months. Ugh. I was just there Stephanie. After my first was born, I felt much better after about 8 weeks. After my second was born, it took me 9 months to feel even slightly normal.

    The one thing I would say is that if you're closing in on 3 months, you might want to talk to someone about the possibility of post partum depression. I had a terrible case with my last baby. I kept thinking, "It's going to get better in a couple weeks, it will be better soon." While it was incrementally better, I spent months, almost a year, in a daze that I didn't have to be in simply because I thought I could do it myself. I will never let myself do that again.
    posted by Blogger Azúcar at 2/19/2008 11:50:00 AM  

  • Every baby is different, but many become easier to manage around 3 months; they sleep longer, eat less ferquently, etc.

    One thing I wish I would have done with baby #1 is have a 'Mother's Helper' come in once or twice a week to help me out, (hold the screaming babe so I can shower, scrub the toilet, vacuum, that sort of thing). I just had baby #2 and I have someone come in once a week and am LOVING IT.

    If we had more money I'd have this last forever. However, in the meantime, it's nice to help me through this rough patch.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/19/2008 12:07:00 PM  

  • I also posted my desperate plea to the Tales girls last year with the birth of my first. She was a fussy one and it was not easy. In my experience it got easier each month, but I didn't hit my stride and ENJOY it until about month 5. Not trying to disappoint you, but just set a realistic expectation that if month 3 rolls around and it's still not better hang in there. And even after it did get better we had a huge regression around month 7 where i thought, "woa...do I have a colicky baby all over again?" But now my babe is 1 week away from her first birthday and is such a happy baby.

    I think the baby whisperer helped, but I also think it hurt me a little at the beginning trying to regulate a baby that wasn't ready for a schedule. Also, I LOVE the book Healthy Sleep habits, happy baby. Like most books, take what helps, leave what doesn't.

    Oh I SO remember thinking "what if I have the first baby who never sleeps through the night and is colicky until she's 5?" But it does change and it does get better. Brighter days are ahead. Good luck and best wishes.
    posted by Blogger miggy at 2/19/2008 12:43:00 PM  

  • Absolutely it gets better. You are still in the thick of it. I don't know much about you, but I think we all go into motherhood with expectations and get smacked upside the head when reality sets in. You are still a new mother so be easy on yourself. Be patient. Be in tune with your own needs as an individual and mother. If you need some alone time, sit down with your DH and schedule it. If you need adult interaction, call other mommy friends or family and have them stop over. Set realistic goals for yourself so that if you get out the house one day - GREAT, but if not you haven't failed. I think no matter how old our kids are there are days we feel like we've got it down, and days that we feel defeated.

    I agree with ESO that EASY from the Baby Whisperer helped me get some "order" to my life. I didn't start doing EASY until the baby was about 8 weeks or so though.

    If you stay in tune with yourself and your own needs, as well as the needs of the baby, there will come a day in the (hopefully not too distant) future where you will realize that you feel like yourself again. Maybe not the "old you", but a new you. Just forgive yourself a little during this crazy time of adjustment! Good Luck!
    posted by Blogger Beth at 2/19/2008 01:46:00 PM  

  • I don't know that being a mom ever gets easier. It just evolves as your children develop and as you grow as a mother.
    Whatever normal was before you had kids doesn't exist anymore. You are now in the new world of parenthood and what will be natural and comfortable for you will develop over time.
    It's different for everyone. I think the patience I learned in the early weeks and months of motherhood prepared me for the toddler phase. The toddler phase prepared me for the negotiation of the preschool years. All that is coming together to help me learn to balance the growing independence of my now almost 10 year old and the challenges she faces.
    I say just embrace the beautiful miracle of this time. It goes by so quickly. It's such a wonderful experience to watch them grow and become more aware. Find joy in the chaos.
    Healthy doses of friendship, chocolate, prayer and Motrin are also useful!
    posted by Blogger normal mom at 2/19/2008 01:48:00 PM  

  • From three months to seven months I remember a blur of dirty dishes, laundry, and wandering around my apartment complex trying to find someone with a baby that I could visit. Once the weather was nice, I spent many days walking the flat sidewalk in front of my house with the stroller reading a book, because my son didn't nap until 8 months. And then only thirty minutes twice a day.

    It's okay to not have it together. And the sleep books are great, but not one of them helped my son to sleep better during the day.

    It doesn't ever really happen. So set small goals (ones that take only five minutes or so at a time) and try to keep smiling.
    posted by Blogger Emily C at 2/19/2008 02:14:00 PM  

  • 1. Today is not the rest of your life. I had to tell myself that over and over again because if I was having a bad morning or afternoon or night or moment I felt trapped and that this might, just might be the rest of my life.

    2. Babies change. Just when you have all your ducks in a row, one falls out of line....it's constantly changing, but you will get faster at anticipating and at adjusting as you get to know baby.

    3. Re: YOU. There are a series of veils that will lift of you as you progress. The first one is about to come off. You will start to remember part of your vocabulary that suddenly dissappeared the moment you gave birth. You might even start caring about how you look or your weight or eating healthy again. The next one will lift around 8 months and you may start thinking life is good and that you should get pregnant again....don't be too hasty. The next big one will lift at 18 months. If you did not suffer from PPD or any other major traumas/struggles in life, then you might be able to say at this point: I feel like myself again or I remember who I am...or you might be able to look in the mirror and recognize the face looking back at you.

    Time and Patience. Patience and Time.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 2/19/2008 02:30:00 PM  

  • I didn't have time to read the other comments, but here's my 2 cents:

    It will get easier. I promise. It has to, because they grow up.

    Nobody is the perfect mother. We all fail in many different ways. And the saddest part about being a mom? As soon as you get the hang of it, the next stage/phase of their development kicks in and you feel like you have to start all over again. But I promise that with time, it will get better.

    But here's a question: How high are your expectations? You didn't mention too much about your days, but is there a chance you could lower them just a little bit? Let the house be messy for a while? I don't mean to get rid of good expectations, but maybe just don't set them up so high.

    And last, but certainly not least: I had Post Partum Depression with three of my four children. The second time I got it, it wasn't until my baby was 6 months old (and then it hit hard). The third time was by far the worst, but I recognized it, so I was able to get help. Please, please, please talk to somebody or go online to find out if you might have something like PPD. I was surprised at how much "easier" my babies were when I was healthy again.

    With that all said, good luck!
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 2/19/2008 02:45:00 PM  

  • I remember when my son was 6 weeks old and someone told me "Don't worry. It gets much better around 3 months". I panicked. Totally panicked.

    I didn't know if I could do another month of it. But I did. And I actually loved that last "hard" month.

    All the previous advice is great. Figure out what is upsetting you (other than the raging hormones). I am a very social person and the furthest thing from a home body. I needed to get out of my house. Once I realized that about myself, I started making a goal to get out of the house at least once a day. A trip to Target. A lunch with a friend. Window shopping. Or even to the gas station to get a treat was good enough for the first little while.

    If you are someone who likes to be entertained find a new show you want to start watching and get the first seasons from Netflix.

    If you like to read, maybe start a series, something that will keep you occupied for part of your day for a while.

    If you need intellectual stimulation figure out an online course you can take.

    If you need adult conversation - get together with other new moms (this is key so you can hear that others are going through the exact same thing - you are NOT alone in these feelings/struggles). If you don't have close new mom friends do you know any you can call? I had just moved when I had my son so talking to all my friends back in NYC helped me a lot.

    Anyway, my point is that it might get "easier" when you feel better, not necessarily when the baby stops fussing.

    Good luck! I am sure you are a great mom to a great baby girl. She is lucky to have a mom who cares so much about being a good mother.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 2/19/2008 04:34:00 PM  

  • My advice: find programs to get out of the house. try the library or the city for free stuff or find a class like Kindermusic or Gymboree.
    I also had a good friend that had her first baby at the same time as me and it was so helpful to have someone in the same situation.
    and EXERCISE!!! Put that baby in the stroller and walk around the block. Fresh air will be good for both of you!
    posted by Blogger Alyson P. at 2/19/2008 05:17:00 PM  

  • I think there is a little bit of danger in holding out for that "three month" or "five month" or whatever mark, when things will get easier. Because when our babies don't fit into that prescribed schedule, we think there's something wrong with us or our babies. My experience over the last two years has been, it gets easier, and then it gets harder, and then it gets easier, and then it gets harder.

    Here's an idea I've come to believe: Whatever you're experiencing as a mother will pass. So treasure every moment and despair at none.

    I strive for a routine with my daughter and it helps tremendously--I need it and she needs it. But expecting her to always follow the routine gets me discouraged when she doesn't. Because often, she doesn't. She's almost 2. It took her over an hour to go down for her "usual" nap yesterday and she was cranky, cranky, cranky when she woke up.

    So in my rare moments of clarity, I work at a routine but allow myself and my baby a lot of variation from day to day.

    But there is no doubt, things get easier so hang in there!
    posted by Blogger sunny at 2/19/2008 06:52:00 PM  

  • it looks like you got lots of advice already... but i just had to reach out. i've definitely been there before & some days it still feels like i'm drowning. i don't really think there is a particular time period as to when it will all magically be easy breezy... that depends on you and the kiddo. but a piece of advice my mom gave me, that seems to work is to live in threes. you know... 3 weeks, 3 months, 6 months etc. by the time that next "3" comes around things always seem to have gotten a bit easier. i've read all the books & i love the system/ schedule idea. althoug i'm the first to admit i'm not very good at sticking to it. but if you two can get on a good schedule that always helps. and although it's been said before i'm sure... when that baby goes to sleep be sure to take a nap. i know it's tempting to clean up a bit, but seriously... if you are well-rested it makes it all so much easier. and here's a totally random-ish thought, but it's totally seemed to help with #2... have you looked into baby wearing? #2 wasn't too thrilled about sleeping, and didn't take to the whole scheduling plan as well as his brother. i ended up getting one of those big wraps & tying him one & he loved it. i would wear him almost all day long. & when he was a little guy it was great. i could do chores, clean, etc, & he would just snuggle into me & nap. i would totally recommend it. there are some really great wraps out there, if your interested, let me know. i've tried everything so i can point you in the right direction.

    anyway... don't worry. just hang in there. to be honest, & not to frighten you, i don't think it ever gets easier, it just changes. but soon your baby will be able to entertain themselves a bit, which is great. we love the baby einstein videos.

    good luck
    posted by Blogger i'm kelly at 2/20/2008 01:23:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Stephanie, for posting. And thanks to all who posted. I'll be a new mom in a couple of weeks and all of your suggestions were helpful.
    posted by Anonymous Rebecca at 2/20/2008 07:58:00 AM  

  • I recently had #2, and in the hospital the nurses mentioned that normal baby blues should last two weeks, no longer. Anything above that we should treat as PPD. Wow! I think a lot more women would seek help (meds, therapy, or even just talking with doctor or friends), if they had this expectation for themselves, instead of toughing it out for months and months like so many of us do.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/20/2008 04:01:00 PM  

  • I'm right there with you. I have one 3 1/2 month old.

    We are just beginning to get into a groove now. She doesn't have a schedule, but she does have a routine. I didn't read the Baby Whisperer, but from what other say about it, that sounds like her routine. She is also much more interactive now, giggles, laughs, smiles, etc... I love seeing her personality. That makes the sometimes tough night feedings worthwhile.

    I had PPD. It wasn't until just last week or so when I started feeling better that I realized how bad off I had been before. If you need help, get it. I could have been feeling better so much sooner.
    posted by Anonymous The DDR Plant at 2/20/2008 04:43:00 PM  

  • Dear Everyone,
    Thank you. In fact, I cannot thank you all enough for these responses. Hearing real, honest perspectives on motherhood is just what the doctor ordered. I feel such relief just in knowing that I'm not the only who has found it so hard these first few months...And just so you will all know, my little one must be a mind reader or something because just a few days ago, we were playing on the floor and she started giggling at me. It was the sweetest sound. Right when I think that being a mom is too hard and too stressful for me, she turns around and does something so darn cute. It makes getting up at 5:30 in the morning a little bit easier...
    Thanks again,
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/20/2008 05:49:00 PM  

  • LOL, yes! I would happily skip the first 10 months or so.
    I'm pregnant with #4 right now. I dread those first few months, but at least now I have the perspective that it really DOES pass, and I have all the other aspects of parenting to look forward to. PLus, the fact that I have older kids means the baby doesn't rely solely on me for attention, and I have real people around me who can talk!
    I consider the years with my one and two kids (2 years apart) my least favorite and the hardest. Once they were 5 and 3 I started having a blast. And even after I had my third, I was enjoying it because of the balance of baby and older kids.
    I wish I could tell every new mom not to bother judging SAHMhood or motherhood on the first year. I can totally understand how a mom chucks it in and happily heads back to work and sanity.
    Another thing that I think is important is understanding that motherhood is like so many other worthwhile work in life. You learn through experience. No one expects to be a best lawyer fresh out of law school. Everyone expects a learning curve in their jobs. Go ahead and expect a learning curve on motherhood. Don't expect to be perfect and an expert the first year, or the second, or the third, or maybe ever (but your confidence will grow as you begin to see that you don't have to be perfect and your failures have helped you learn). As long as you keep doing your best, get all the motherhood education you can (some like to talk with other mothers, some like to read books), be a creative problem solver (no one always knows the best thing to do right off, you have to be willing to look for solutions and try different things before you hit on what works...no matter what the parenting problem is) and as long as you do things in the way that works for you and your talents and the type of mom you are (don't think you have to mother just like everyone else. Bring your own interests and talents to the table) you will end up a really happy, great mom.
    Good luck!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/21/2008 05:06:00 PM  

  • JKS again
    I also want to add that I didn't really feel like myself. My body wasn't normal. I didn't enjoy having to breastfeed or hold a baby. I didn't bother dressing in clothes I liked because of spit up and sticky hands, etc.
    Right now I feel like I've had 2 years of feeling like a real person (my youngest is four). I like the way I dress. I have my personal space. My brain functions well. I have interests. My thoughts aren't interrupted every 5 seconds. There is more to life than housework and baby care.
    I'm 37 and time goes by a little quicker every day. So even though I know I'll go through all the new baby stuff and body stuff and being tied to a baby stuff, I know it doesn't last forever, and in just a couple years it will be behind me and it will be worth it.
    When you are in the middle of it for the first time, it is overwhelming because you don't know when it will end. But if you think back on your pregnancy, it really did end. This season will pass too and you'll move on to bigger and better things. In many ways the hard work you are putting in right now (yes, it is emotional and physical hard work to adjust to motherhood) will benefit you and your child in the long run, so be proud of yourself and what you are accomplishing.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 2/21/2008 07:47:00 PM  

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