My heart breaks for this sad, tired new mom on Reddit who has a six-week-old baby and is begging someone to tell her that it gets better. Just a few weeks ago I was in her shoes, and I was convinced that terrible, six-week-old baby period would go on forever and nothing would ever change. Luckily, it does.
“Please please tell me it gets better,” she wrote. “He refuses to eat any large amount at a time unless it’s in a bottle, so he asks to eat all the time. My nipples are killing me. I’m lucky if I get to sleep more than 2 hours at a time at night. At the sixth week we were expecting extra fussiness, but it’s not letting up at all. If this is going to be what having a kid is like perminantly….I don’t know how we’re going to survive.”
No one really tells you how bad that particular period is going to be. My infant is almost three months old, so it wasn’t very long ago for me, and I keenly remember it being easily the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Babies have tiny stomachs that empty quickly, so you’re lucky to get a 90 minute break between feedings. The U.N. does not condone what newborns do to new parents, but there’s nothing that can be done about it so you just sit there hallucinating weird flashing patterns on the walls and cry because everybody gets to sleep but you. Your entire life is just 4 a.m. Internet shopping for things that remind you of your old life–I bought more fabric than I will ever have time to sew again–and desperately Googling “how to get a newborn to sleep longer,” which is no help at all.
Newborns are tough, but I think the six-week period might be the worst of it. That’s when you run out of whatever mixture of adrenaline and optimism kept you running until that point, and you’ve lost all the physical and emotional fortitude to deal with your life It really seems like this phase might last forever, but it doesn’t. Your 10-year-old will not wake you up every 90 minutes. It gets better, and hopefully it gets better very soon.
Honestly, I don’t remember when it got better, but it did. Now that six-week-old period seems like it was a year away, even though it was probably more like a month ago. My daughter is not sleeping through the night yet, but the chunks she sleeps in are big enough now that this could continue indefinitely and we’d both still be able to hold down jobs and not go insane. In contrast to a month ago, everything now is awesome. (It’s like how I keep looking at my ankles and thinking “My, how cute and dainty my ankles are!” They’re just my normal ankles, but after looking down at my pregnant tree trunk feet, they seem downright Cinderella-esque by comparison.)
Also, and this is going to sound really sappy, the baby is about to get much cuter. Generally between six and eight weeks babies develop a real “social smile” and start responding to their environment more, and that really does make the fact that you don’t have time to shower a little more bearable.
Most of us have been there, and we know it really does get better. What would you tell a new mom with a six-week-old baby?