You probably always thought you understood the word relentless, until you become a mother and now you know that relentless is now at the very core of your being.
Becoming a mother is life changing.
All of a sudden your entire world flips upside down, and your life is changed forever. Your heart overflows with love, and you finally feel like you know what you were put on earth to do.
Every single day is filled with joy, wonder and pride, but that’s not to say it’s all sunshine and smiles.
Some days, even some weeks, will feel long and gruelling, as you put all of your energy into being the best parent you can be.
There are certain stages of motherhood that feel almost impossible to get through. Some bits will seem to last for all eternity, and you will find yourself worrying that your baby is going to grow into a twenty year old who still cries every time you leave the room. And then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over, and you live to mother another day.
If you’re stuck in one of these stages, fear not, because it will end, even though it might not seem possible.
Here are 10 stages of motherhood you think will never end:
#1: Sore Nipples
No matter how much you’ve prepared for motherhood, the reality will hit you like an ice cold bucket of water to the face. One of the very first, and for many the hardest, stages of seemingly relentless motherhood is sore nipples. If, each time you bring your baby to the breast, you wince in preparation for the pain to come then you are well and truly in this stage. You find yourself wondering how women ever manage to breastfeed for more than just a few days. But, and it’s a big but, it won’t last forever. Your nipples need to adjust to motherhood just as much as you do, and that means you’re likely to experience some discomfort for the first few days. Seek out your local breastfeeding support group for some advice and much needed support. And remember, your nipples will not feel sore for all eternity. In the meantime, invest in some nipple cream, and ask a trained breastfeeding supporter for some advice. Sore nipples are common during the first few days, but a breastfeeding supporter may be able to offer tailored advice to help you perfect your breastfeeding technique.
#2: Sleep Deprivation
Remember how when you were pregnant everyone used to tell you to ‘sleep while you can’? Yeah, well now you know why. Who knew it was possible to be this tired for this long. And yet somehow you keep going, even when your bones ache from exhaustion and you barely have the energy to change the channel with the remote. You are definitely too tired to take notice of anything that anyone says to you, and probably have no idea what day it is, but every time your baby needs something, you jump up with a rush of energy you didn’t even know you had. The days start to blur into each other, which is easily done when you no longer have the luxuries of ‘night’ and ‘day’. It may feel never ending, but one day soon your baby will get the hang of sleeping at night, at least for a few consecutive hours.
#3: Cluster Feeds
Cluster feeds often happen in the evening, but can take place at any hour of the day. Your baby will latch on for a seemingly innocent feed only to hold you hostage on the sofa for the next three hours. Each time you think she’s finished, she will cry for more food, leaving you terrified that your baby is going to end up in the Guinness Book of World Records for greediest baby. Cluster feeding is your baby’s way of sucking as much nutrients out of you so she can grow and grow and grow. Cluster feeding is exhausting, and can leave you feeling touched out and desperate for some freedom. Rest assured that cluster feeding will not last forever, your baby is probably in the midst of a growth spurt and normal service will resume shortly. In the meantime, make sure you’re sitting comfortably and surrounded by all manner of snacks, drinks and entertainment.
#4: Being A Human Bed
When you were pregnant, you took a trip down to your local department store and perused the baby department. After weeks of careful consideration, hours of trawling through online reviews, and many phone calls to parent friends, you finally settled on the best moses basket you could find. Waiting inline at the cash desk, you gently rubbed your bump as you imagined your newborn baby snuggled up asleep in that gorgeous moses basket. Now, of course, you know that moses baskets are just a hilarious joke, and that your baby is offended at the mere suggestion she would ever sleep in one. The only place she will sleep is on your chest, leaving you wide awake and uncomfortable pretty much all the time. After nine months snuggled up inside your womb, that beautiful baby doesn’t want to sleep without the peaceful sound of your heartbeat in the distance. Frustrating as this can be, it will not last forever. One day your baby will love her moses basket, and you’ll be left in bed with surprisingly empty arms.
#5: Night Waking
Did you know interrupted sleep is pretty much as bad as not enough sleep? Of course you did, because you’re now an expert in all things sleep deprived. And, when you’re that tired, there is nothing worse than being repeatedly woken up during the night. Whether your baby wants feeding, changing or simply someone to play with, you might find yourself crying into your caffeinated drink at 3am while you wonder if it will ever end. Well, the good news is that it will. The bad news is that all babies are different, so there’s no way of knowing when it will end. Just focus on the fact that it will, though, and know that one day soon you will be able to enjoy a full night’s sleep once more.
#6: The Fear
Am I doing a good job? Am I a good mum? Am I terrible at this? Have I made a huge mistake? These are all perfectly normal questions, and you might be relieved to hear that asking them all several times each day is pretty much expected when you’re a new mother. In some respects, this fear will never leave you. You will ponder these questions for the rest of you life. But, as you grow more confident in your (already amazing) mothering abilities, you will feel less worried about the answers. There will come a stage when you know that you are doing a pretty good job, and that your baby is lucky to have you.
#7: Separation Anxiety
It’s pretty hard to select an overall worst stage of motherhood, but separation anxiety is definitely up there. After months of feeling proud about your baby’s good nature and general happiness, you are all of a sudden confronted with a velcro baby who screams the house down each and every time you so much as go round a corner. Now your happy contented baby becomes distressed every time you even so much as think of leaving her to grab something from another room. Now you will master the art of one-handed cooking, one-handed peeing, and secretly hating (it’s a strong word, but you had to shower with one hand earlier so it’s deserved) your partner because you can’t hand the baby over at the end of the day and get so much as five minutes to yourself. Separation anxiety will end, one day soon your baby will realise that you will come back. Until then, you’re going to get one really muscular arm.
Teething. The gift that keeps on giving. Your baby will get twenty baby teeth, and you will have to endure the misery of each of these coming through. Your baby will be really cranky, clingy, drooly and probably even a bit snotty. Oh, and she probably won’t be sleeping very well. There is nothing worse than seeing your baby in pain and not being able to do anything about it. You will run around with bibs, teethers and breast milk ice lollies desperately trying to soothe her poor gums, secretly wondering how long it can really take for a tooth to appear. Horrible as teething is, for both of you, it won’t last forever. One day your baby will have all of her teeth, and then you’ll get the joy of trying to get her to brush them.
#9: Dropping Things
The dropping things stage is a real teeth grinder. And you will probably want to invest in some easy to clean mats to go under the high chair, because your baby will drop food as well as toys. In fact, everything she gets her hands on will be immediately dropped, with relish, and then grieved with such distress that you will be forced to pick it up for her. And Then She’ll Drop It Again. This phase is very frustrating, especially if you have cream carpets in your dining room (though this is not very practical for life with a child so perhaps take this as a friendly lesson from your lovable baby). It won’t last forever, really it won’t. And, your baby isn’t trying to drive you crazy, she’s experimenting and learning. She’s going to be a top scientist! So grit your teeth, and pick that toy up again. She might thank you when she wins her first award for her outstanding contribution to science.
#10: Baby Brain
You’ve probably noticed that since the birth of your child you are becoming more and more like your mother. You forget what you were saying, keep missing appointments and seem to have forgotten at least half of the words in the dictionary. Well, fear not, you have not taken a giant leap towards old age, you’re just suffering from a case of baby brain. As your poor sleep deprived brain tries to remember all of the important parenting information you’ve been absorbing, you may find there is room for little else in there. But don’t worry, as time passes your brain will eventually go back to (at least 90 percent of) its former glory, and you will finally be able to finish a sentence without gesticulating wildly to compensate for another forgotten word.