The struggle is real….but it’s not forever

Being a parent is one of the most amazing things in the world but it’s not all sh1ts and giggles. There are plenty of sh1ts and giggles but there are also days when you struggle not to put your kids on gumtree.

When we first brought Ethan home, we were excited. I thought it would be a lot easier than it actually was. I knew that there would be night feeds, which I wanted to do, but wasn’t expecting some of them to last for 2 hours. Though saying that, Mrs B definitely got the worst of it with Ethan because I went back to work full time when he was just 4 weeks old. She got so little sleep one night when I was on night shift, I came home & sent her to bed… she looked worse than me! Those kind of nights always seemed to happen when I was on night shift, so we nicknamed them “mockery night.” We both struggled massively with lack of sleep in the early days. Mrs B got so tired that one night she had full on conversation with the clothes horse thinking it was Ethan.

For me, the worst days with Ethan were the days when we had to take him out of the house, especially if it was around feeding time. He used to scream the place down, as if we were feeding him poison. He absolutely hated his bottle! He was just about getting the minimum amount of milk & getting that into him was a struggle. People would stare at us and give the occasional sound of sympathy. I am not sure if that was sympathy for us or for Ethan.

But Ethan was nothing compared to what was about to happen when “Pukey Lukey” arrived. He loved his bottle but also loved to puke it everywhere. Reflux is a b1tch. Things were so bad I went to Boots one Christmas day, with a 2-year-old Ethan, to buy new bottles, new teats, gripe water & anything else that I thought might help. If he wasn’t being sick, he was screaming. I remember one night having to put him in the car to see if he would stop crying, but of course he didn’t. It was 16th / 17th December just after midnight. I know the date cause Star Wars: The Force Awakens had just been released & Antrim cinema had a midnight showing. I was so tempted to go watch it & leave Luke in the car. Of course I didn’t actually do it, but I have never been so close to leaving any of my kids in the car alone. Mrs B & I were so frustrated that we started taking it out on each other. She even went to bed one night & pulled the covers over her ears, leaving me to deal with him on my own. This pissed me off so much I slammed a door, just as he was dosing off, which started him crying again. We got annoyed with each other very easily during the first 3 months of Luke’s arrival, which wasn’t good, but eventually we realised we weren’t annoyed at each other but were just tired & were struggling with a refluxy baby. Luke didn’t sleep through the night until he was about one and a half. Even though his reflux settled once he was on spoon feeds, he still woke up at all hours of the night. He still wakes up some nights but they are getting less and less. Now that I have said this, he will probably up every night for the next week.

I didn’t really enjoy the first 3 months with either of my boys, but I wouldn’t change them for the world. I would, however take the reflux out of the equation. Anyone who has had a baby with reflux and survived should be awarded a parenting Victoria Cross. The only good thing about my reflux baby experience is that I got through it & so can other parents, because it doesn’t last forever.

We still get days when one or both are playing up or just being little sh1ts. Days where we feel like failures, don’t know what we are doing, or when you can’t even get a poo in peace. Despite all the mum propaganda, dads get as much peace in the bathroom as mum’s do… none!

The key to overcoming the dark days is to stick with it but that’s not really a choice, it’s an expectation. So you just need to knuckle down, grit your teeth & hold on because everyday, good or bad, always comes to an end. Don’t get frustrated and use your support network, whoever that may be; partner, family, friends or professionals. Try to get a child free hour or 2 every now and again. A child free trip to a supermarket is scientifically proven to have the same calming effect as a day at the spa. If someone offers to babysit make sure you bite their arm off.

Even during the bad days, there will be a moment when you look at your child, realise that they are your world & you know everything will be OK. For the other times there is always my best friend, coffee.

Its OK to struggle, just don’t beat yourself up because we all struggle.

Everyday won’t be hard, the good days will always outweigh the bad days.

Having kids is a gift, sometimes we just want to return them to the shop.

Bearded with boys

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