Tell me you haven’t heard it.
The first six weeks are the hardest.
If you’ve never had to take care of a tiny newborn baby it sounds reasonable enough, doesn’t it? Long, even.
If you’re expecting your first baby, it sounds like a pep talk. You’re like a fighter warming up, jogging on the spot, towel around your neck, a light sweat on your brow as you steel yourself: “the first six weeks are the hardest. Yeah, I know it, I can do this. Six weeks, we can get through this”.
If you already have a baby, it probably sounds – and whiffs – of something you might find in that same baby’s nappy…
So your baby arrives (hurray!) and it’s the most wonderful thing in the world. You’re both thrilled with yourselves and you’re pumped full of life and adrenalin because, wow, look what you made and look what you just did!
The first couple of weeks go by and yes you’re exhausted and it’s tough but it’s okay, you’re coping with feeds and regular wakings. In fact, it’s not so bad and sure it won’t be forever.
Then you hit the five week wall. “I haven’t slept in FIVE WEEKS”. My body feels like it’s DYING.” Your early cockiness has given way to giddy, eye-watering hysteria because all those sleepless nights have accumulated around you like a successful water boarding. Your partner is sleepwalking into work oblivious to his puke-stained shoulder and wimpering into his coffee. But it’s okay because the first six weeks are the hardest and we’re so very, very close. Everybody says so. We’re nearly there. You can hang on.
The glorious day dawns. Your baby is six weeks old! You can’t believe it. It feels like they’ve been here forever and you can’t imagine life without them but still those six weeks flew, didn’t they? It’s all plain sailing from here!
Oh hang on a second.
Everything is…exactly the same.
That’s when it hit me. Things I learned #7: There is no pot of gold at the end of the six week rainbow.
It’s a lie. A damned lie. A cruel myth invented by some sadist who thought it would be funny to dangle a duck down pillow in front of you and then at the last second set it on fire and yell “psych” in your face while you blubber with exhaustion.
I was a fool to believe it in the first place. Then, of course, I thought there was something wrong with me because I thought everyone else was skipping around with their six week olds laughing their well rested asses off in their clean houses, with their pressed clothes, blow-dried hair and freshly painted faces. Of course they weren’t. God forbid I’d miss an opportunity to beat myself up though!
I don’t remember exactly when the fog lifted and I started to feel a bit more confident that maybe I wasn’t so bad at this mothering lark but it definitely wasn’t week 6+1. I think one day I went, oh yeah, it’s been easier for a while now. It would have been great if loads of people hadn’t given me this huge expectation that things would suddenly become easier overnight but hey, I shouldn’t have been taken in in the first place! It wouldn’t be the first big pregnancy/labour/birth/new baby porkie I’d heard anyway – or the last.
Everyone’s fog lifts at a different time. It’s unpredictable like the weather, I suppose. Maybe some people do have it all together when their baby is six weeks old (fair play to them) but I wouldn’t book a holiday based on a six week forecast anyway. 🙂