My First Year of Motherhood: The Worst Parts

In light of Sawyer's birthday in a week and a half I'll be writing a few posts on this whole mothering thing in the midst of the norm. As always, I'll be super honest, probably to the point that I may at times scare people away from having children and/or convince them that I'm crazy.

There are a lot of really awesome things about having a baby. A ton. The joy I get on a daily basis from my child is so much more than I ever thought possible. But that's not what we're going to talk about today. Another day, yes. There's already a draft, actually, but today I'm going to write about what's been really hard. None of this is unique, but since I'm being reflective, I'm going to put it out there.

The Exhaustion
The first week or so after having Sawyer I was seriously sleep-deprived, but the elation of having this super cute little guy, and the worries over things like breastfeeding and SIDS and why I was still FAT, trumped everything. And then I got tired. And I stayed tired for a few months afterwards. 

Eventually, I decided to ignore the pediatrician's advice about waking him up for feedings and started getting 6 or so straight hours of sleep- my new "the amount I need to function properly." Granted he was sleeping in his swing, but that's neither here nor there right now. 

We changed bedtime routines and locations a few times over the next few months, and things stayed relatively copacetic in the sleep department. Then at seven months he got a killer cold and moved right into teething. So basically everything went to shit and I was lucky to get stretches of 3-4 hours a night and had to constantly decide if it was worth it to allow "bad habits" and let him come to our bed.

These days it's hit or miss. We've had a few good nights, so right now I'm going to remain superstitious and not elaborate on the happy details.

Being tired day in and day out with no reprieve takes a toll on you. You get forgetful. You get cranky. You get a little weepy. You get really dependent on coffee. Luckily, I guess, Sawyer he likes to screw with me and when he notices, after a week or so of torture, that I'm a hop skip and a jump away from losing it he sleeps through the night. And lucky for me, I've acclimated, and as long as I get 6 or so hours, even if broken, I can still function fairly pleasantly.

Feeling Like a Failure (Part 1)
Since having a baby I've felt like I've half-assed or have been failing at every area of my life: parts of work, in my marriage, taking care of my house, exercise, friendships, and my intellectual well-being. I know that's all part of the whole parenting thing, but it's still tough sometimes. I am not a failure; I'm not a type-A annoying perfectionist, but I do have standards for how I like to live my life. I have to work really hard to make sure that I'm still social and that I'm still getting out into the world and doing things, even if it's just driving to the beach or a new park. 

And there's give and take; one day I'll feel like I'm doing a great job at work, but I'll realize that the only thing I've talked to my husband about that day is our kid. Or I'll be excited because I've seen friends three weekends in a row but notice there's a fine layer of dust covering every surface in my house. 

Most of this is completely and totally my fault, and I've talked about it before. I put a great deal of pressure on myself to "be productive" pretty much every waking hour of the day. Even during my "down time," which is usually at night after Sawyer is in bed I'm multitasking. I just can't stop.

Feeling Like a Failure Part 2
I know I'm a pretty good mom, but I have hang ups in just a few areas, some that have gone (his torticollis) and some that are still alive and kicking (his bedtime issues... he falls asleep with a bottle- I feel like this is a huge parenting sin). He's super happy, very vocal, and is meeting the developmental milestones, but I get hung up on little things that I think are going to screw him in the long run (is he going to be forty and still need someone to hold him and feed him to sleep? He will never find a wife!). See also: is he eating too many carbs? At what age will he start repeating my swear words? Should he understand the word "no" better than he does?

Being Needed... All the Time
Being needed is actually a plus, since there is something that makes me all warm and fuzzy when I can quickly shush my crying baby or when he snuggles into my neck. But sometimes it's just too much. Sometimes I have a crappy day at work and I want to come home and decompress in quiet or go to a yoga class to take the edge off. But because I have this little creature that I have to take care of all the time I have to put on a smile and take care of his needs first.

The other day I told my husband that every once in awhile I just don't feel like feeding Sawyer dinner. Not that I want him to go hungry, and he wouldn't since he nurses still, I just don't feel like going through the lengthy process that ends up in a huge mess. But not feeding your kid isn't something you can skip, nor is bath time, playing, bedtime, teeth brushing, and whatever else comes up. You can't just quit your kid. Well, I guess you can, but that's  when CPS gets involved. 

So, that's what's been the hardest for me this year. The good things outweigh the bad and I wouldn't change being a mom for a second, but it's not all rainbows and butterflies. 



  1. I love your honesty. These are things we've all struggled with as parents, and are afraid to voice it. My daughter's crib was in our bedroom until she turned one because she couldn't sleep in her own room. Eventually, you have to give in so you can get some sleep. If you aren't getting enough sleep, then you aren't able to be at your best, so it's okay to do things the way they work for you now. And don't worry that he'll take a bottle into his teen years and all of that. It will get better. :) I worried my daughter would be wearing diapers in kindergarten because she just refused to potty train. But one day it just clicked. You just go at a pace that is right for you and your child and ignore what everyone else says or does. That's what I've had to learn to do.

    I love my daughter more than life and can't imagine being without her, but I totally understand needed that break. Some days I wish I could come home and disconnect from all responsibilities!

    1. That's totally it- the need to "disconnect from all responsibilities." Damn being an adult! And I totally agree on the sleep thing- you never realize how important it is until you don't have it.

  2. Being a mom is the best job in the world, but with every job it gets so trying sometimes. You know all of my woes and complaints from our mommy dates (which we need soon). I am still coming down from the 2 years of craziness. I think you are much stronger mentally (and physically I'm sure) and you have done such a great job with Sawyer! You're doing awesome, Christine and it's always a reminder to me that I need to let things go and just chill out. It's nice having mommy friends that motivate you. Thanks for that...I need that in my mommy journey.

    1. Thank you! And yes, we need to get together soon! Joaquin needs to practice on Sawyer ;)

  3. Love this post. I can relate to so much (as I'm sure you know ;) ) . But ugh, I can't believe your paediatrician told you to wake S up for feedings?! Was there a medical reason why (like jaundice) or just that your baby needs to eat every few hours? If there's a next baby, I hope you know you shouldn't need to do this ;) But seriously, I think sometimes we just have to do whatever we need to do in order to get some sleep. And you have to give yourself some credit - you seem to work a pretty tough job - I can't imagine having to deal with the changes of having a baby to take care of, and going back to work after only a few months! And I hear you on the whole making supper thing - some days I dread it, especially when most of it ends up on the floor or all of a sudden he hates something he loved only yesterday. Babies, man!

    1. He did have jaundice and he lost more weight than normal since I was having trouble keeping up and had to supplement and pump to get things going. If there is a second the kid can sleep as much and as long as he/she wants to! Canada gives you a year, right? As opposed to out six weeks?

    2. Ok, well I totally understand then! We battled with a bit of jaundice too and getting my supply up. It was a full time job back then! And yes, Canada gives us one year paid EI, which I feel incredibly fortunate for.

  4. I'd like to say the feeling like a failure goes away, but I can't say that it has for me. I'm not the type that can just let things go, so I suspect that it's a personal failing of mine.

    And the exhaustion... When I get a good night's sleep and wake up rested in the morning, I'm still amazed at how good it feels. I mean, at one point, I probably felt like that all the time, right? I just can't remember anymore.