A Love Letter to the Baby I Thought I Hated

It’s my son’s first birthday today.

I don’t like babies. I really don’t. If I could give birth to a three year old – head circumference notwithstanding – I would.

I like it when they can walk, talk, poo in a toilet. I like it when they have a full set of teeth. When they can pout and whine and needle and wheedle and otherwise articulate what is wrong if something is bugging them. When they want you to play pretend games with impossible-to-pronounce imaginary monsters called “Peeny Pony Pins Bons Boons”. When they can pick their nose and wipe it on you, sing songs about their penis in public and laugh at their own farts during Storytime at the library.

Babies bore and frustrate me, particularly my own.

My one year old has been a “difficult” baby. I say this because he has been much harder work than my three year old ever was, and he was never much like a trip to Disneyland either. My first born never slept much during the day, never stopped moving and demanded my attention all the time. But he was mostly happy. Now at three, nothing much has changed.

My second born son is the kind of kid who would have been an only child if he had just been slightly higher in the birth order.

He had to be induced when I was ten days overdue and subsequently made it very clear for the next three months that he was extremely unhappy about being evicted without prior consultation. He hated the outside world and everything in it. He hated the car, the pram, the bouncer, the cot, the rocker, the bassinette, the sling. He hated being rocked, jiggled, held, bounced, picked up, put down, swayed or walked around. He didn’t sleep much, but he screamed a lot. This is the kind of kid that crazy is made of. The kind of baby that has his mother in tears of despair and impotence and frustration every single day.

The kind of baby you never expect to get second time around. This shit is meant to get easier, not harder. The kind of baby that woke every 1 or 2 hours overnight for three months straight, every single night. The kind of baby that didn’t sleep through the night for 11.5 months and then when he finally decided that he was going to sleep for one long stretch started waking up for the day at 4:30am instead, to compensate for all the extra sleep I would have otherwise been getting.

There were many dark hours in those early days where I swore to myself that I hated him. There were many more again that I regretted having him at all. I say that here openly, not because I am a heartless sociopath but because it is taboo for a mother to admit to having these feelings of ambivalence and regret about her child when the walls are closing in on her and she is running on empty. It needs to be said, and to be said more often, because the truth about babies is that they aren’t all rainbows and unicorns and because they don’t shit silver and piss gold no matter what the perfect parent brigade would have you believe.

A friend of mine – first time mum – posted several times on her Facebook wall when she was clearly struggling herself in those early days with a newborn. I saw lots of generic replies of the “….but you STILL love every minute of it” persuasion and I wanted to scream at all of them to stop peddling this bullshit party line that women must at all times martyr themselves to their children and still pretend to love every stinking minute of it.

My baby bites down so hard on my nipple that I swear to god it almost just shears right off sometimes BUT YOU STILL LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!

My baby screams for 9 hours non-stop between 11am and 8pm BUT YOU STILL LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!

Sometimes my baby stays up for 11 hours straight during the day like a meth addict on a massive binge and he is so wired out of his brain with fatigue that I think I might just go crazy BUT YOU STILL LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT!

Sometimes it borderline sucks. Sometimes it is catastrophically shit. Sometimes you will hate it with every fibre of your being. Sometimes it will have you questioning your sanity. Sometimes you will fantasise about your life prior to having children. And that is OK. It doesn’t make you Mommie f**king Dearest. It makes you a human being.

I love my son but I am the first to admit that I endured that first year more than I enjoyed it.

Happy first birthday kid. I made it through the first 12 months. Now get your shit together.

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