There are so many things that people say to you when you become a first time mum. They are almost like catch phrases. They get thrown out there without a second thought about how they sound to this brand new mama and how they might make her feel or seeds of doubt they may plant. Top of the list would have to be, ‘Is baby sleeping through yet?’ Swiftly followed by, ‘Is he a good baby?’
When you have your second baby though (and I imagine it would be similar for each baby after that) the popular comments upon hearing my new guy is a relatively cruisey dude are, ‘well he HAS to be easier being second, you don’t have all that time you had with your first.’ And ‘he’s so much more relaxed because you are so relaxed.’
Excuse me if I call horseshit to both.
This does not mean that my extraordinarily high needs baby was ever going to be anything like one of those ‘cool as a cucumber, I’ll just fall asleep on my play mat or just put me in my cot and walk away, I’ve got this shit sorted’ kind of kids.
He couldn’t be like that because HE himself (that’s right, he’s a whole unique human) is not like that.
He did relax a lot more and became the most chilled out version of himself when I switched off to all of noise about what I SHOULD be doing to manage my high needs man. He still woke a shitload, fussed when put down and startled ever so easily but when he knew that a boob would appear or warm arms would pick him up and a soothing voice would reassure him each and every time he needed (50 000 times a day and night) he was a calmer more serene version of himself.
If he’d been my second, third, fourth or eleventh child, his intense needs would have been the same and to find his calm, he would have needed all the hands on loving he needed as my first.
My second little dear is very different to his brother. He embraced the sleepy newborn stage (a stage we didn’t know existed with our first). He hardly ever startled. He was quite relaxed with lights and sounds, he gave me more than a two second warning when he was hungry, being overtired wasn’t greeted with hysteria. He didn’t cry and cry and cry for what seemed like no reason at all like our first baby did.
He is his own person. I did not do anything to make him more cruisey although following his cues has meant that he has never felt he hasn’t been heard. He is who he is.
Also, a large part of this ‘easier’ and ‘more relaxed’ in our case was actually bound to happen. Even if we’d had another high needs baby, we were better equipped with knowledge of normal infant behaviours particularly around sleep and sleep deprivation was no longer a great fear of mine as I knew it to the very deepest level of my core and whilst not my favourite place to be, I know I can survive it and it does pass. So in all honesty, in our case, any baby was probably going to be ‘easier’ and we had already become super relaxed with our first so naturally this would continue with our second. It all depends on perspective. What we call ‘easy’ may be another family’s ‘hard’. Our second babe while having nothing on number one, behaves and therefore sleeps like a baby. He goes through patches of frequent night waking, he nurses all night long some nights, he catnaps during the day and can be very hard to settle. He’s no unicorn but he is less stressed by life in general. He’s ‘easy’ in comparison.
It is so much easier to be that calm, relaxed, ‘I have this shit sorted’ kind of mother when you have a cruisey baby.
If you’ve only ever had a cruisey ‘easy’ babes and have happily been patting yourself on your back for everything you’ve done right and looked on smugly as other mothers stress and worry about their needy little people thinking the only true difference between yours and their experience is that you remained relaxed and your baby has some amazing routine then I ask you to keep these thoughts to yourself. You are entitled to your delusion but you can seriously back off those other mothers you look at and wonder why she can’t see the error in her ways. You don’t have a clue.
When I say this, please know I do appreciate the huge amount of hard work that goes into raising any child – be they on the easier or harder side and I also know first hand from my own attempts to establish and maintain a routine, it can be extraordinarily difficult. So if you are reading this thinking that I have no clue and that your baby really is only ‘easy’ due to your efforts I ask you, no beg you to imagine for just one moment all that hard work, heart ache and determination you put in with a ‘successful’ outcome happening all over again but instead of success your baby continues to wake every 20-40 mins. Continues to cry incessantly unless in your arms. Continues to need every last ounce of your energy regardless of your commitment and hard work. That is what I’m talking about here.
So, I think what gets on my goat most about these questions is that they once again imply that I was the cause of the problems we experienced first time around. Like if only I’d been more relaxed or less responsive (like apparently you are with your second or more) and not picked him up and carried him so much or answered his cries promptly or taken the time to cuddle him to sleep each time (which funnily enough I do actually do with my second) then somehow my first baby could have been different. This seriously gives me the shits, not because I give two hoots about what others think of me but because it highlights just how freaking clueless many people are to what many mothers are going through each and every day raising their high needs babies copping nothing but pity, crappy advice and lip service from many around them. These women are freaking amazing. They are working their backsides off on F#%^ sleep. They are keeping their shit together and often kicking arse at this mothering gig. They don’t need pity. They need hugs, kudos, offers of dinner drop offs, babysitting, cups of tea and the chance to vent without judgement.
So, if you are someone who throws these lines out at either new mums or second/ more time mums, I ask you, to just not.
Your comment while maybe only asked conversationally, can be quite upsetting and unnecessarily so.
Simply asking a mother how her baby is going and how she’s travelling and listening to her genuinely is all you need to do. She doesn’t want or need your opinion or advice. She just wants to be heard.
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