Surviving the first three months

My mother kept her diary from when my sister and I were babies. In it she describes what we ate, our first smile, tears and so on.

The first year is peppered with gems like "ate two teaspoons of pawpaw" and "spat up banana".

For the first few weeks after my birth though, frequently, she put down only one word. "Hell."

I think every new parent will understand. The first few weeks are an enormous adjustment period for which no-one is properly prepared no matter how much they thought they were.

The first milestone comes at six weeks, when baby smiles properly for the first time. But it is the three-month mark most new parents wait for anxiously – especially if they have a colicky, difficult baby.

Training grounds

Everyone tells you the first three months are the worst and how you just need to get through it. A friend compared having a baby to going to the army. It's true that having a baby is not unlike basic training – which ironically, also used to last three months.

All your privileges (sleeping in, going shopping, leisurely baths) are taken away and are only slowly reintroduced later on. You have to go without sleep, without proper meals, you are constantly on the run and never know when a night march is coming your way.

I’m sure I’ve done about 25km on any given night, jogging up and down our passage with the crying baby.

You stop worrying about unimportant things like eating breakfast and brushing your teeth and focus exclusively on baby being clean and fed. We’re talking disrupted nights, chaotic days, messy homes, scrambled routines. Not seeing friends or going out.

Being advised
Advice seems to come from all over the place: Give him rooibos tea. Express the foremilk. Give him formula. Don’t give him formula. Feed him all the time. Don’t feed him too much. Etc.etc.etc.

At night, when my husband came home from work, I would announce brightly (with a slightly hysterical edge to my voice) that I had a new plan for the baby for that evening. “A new plan?” he would ask, wearily. “Which of all of the other plans are we not following now?”

Suddenly things are okay
Then somewhere along the line, quietly and without fanfare, things improved. Either I got the hang of this motherhood thing. Or else baby got a little better. It was probably a combination of both. We had started to get used to each other and I was coping much better with the situation.

The house was still a mess and I was still not seeing friends but I was less freaked out about it. We even became used to our strange new night-time routine.

We dim the lights and switch on the stereo, flooding the house with not Mozart or Bach. Nope, when we turn on the sound system in our home these days it’s for the joys of listening to the vacuum cleaner, amped up to maximum volume, pumping it out in surround sound.

It basically sounds like a tonne of gravel is being poured onto the room. But guess what, our baby loves it. He falls asleep almost immediately. No Soothing Sounds For Baby Vol.3 for him, thank you very much. He likes the Hoover Concerto as I have come to call it. 

The magical three-month mark is not only a milestone for baby – but for parents too. We went to dinner to celebrate his three-month "birthday"…and to congratulate ourselves for having made it this far. We had survived basic training for parenthood. Yay!

How did you survive the first three months of your baby’s life?

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