What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

I had mixed feelings about my newborn

By Jeremy

I had mixed feelings about my newborn

A piece of advice I would offer my friends who are about to embark on parenthood, and well, all parents really, is to not feel guilty if you have particular thoughts when your baby is born that don’t ‘fit the textbook’. Being a dad is awesome, but it’s not awesome every minute of every day. It’s actually frickin’ hard and frustrating and hugely tiring a lot of the time.

I’ve always thought I was a really patient person with a soft temperament, and I do still feel that way, but I also – whilst I would never condone it – understand how people with different temperaments or aggressive natures could get really frustrated and do something they would really regret when their baby won’t settle.

There were a couple of occasions when I was holding our son in those first couple of weeks where he was screaming and screaming and I could feel myself getting really frustrated. Really agitated. And I was having all these mixed feelings. In one instance, as I lay him down to give myself a break I thought to myself, “Far out, I threw him down far too aggressively then. I need to control my anger and frustration far more gently.” He was just a baby. He couldn’t control his neck. He didn’t understand why he was crying. He couldn’t’ communicate.

You have to remind yourself that no matter what your temperament is, you are capable of having thoughts or encountering situations like that and it’s really scary.

I am 100% confident that I would never, ever do anything to harm our son because I believe that’s truly abhorrent. However, from what I’ve gone through – from not understanding how someone could shake their baby to having lived those first few months with a newborn – I can see how someone might accidentally crescendo in that direction.

I was really shaken after that occasion with him. I shared with my wife what had happened and told her how I had an awful day where I probably spoke louder to our son than I should have and that I had this real frustration towards him. She actually opened up and said that she had felt similar things. She said she had similar thoughts and that she felt really guilty about having them. Similarly she would never do anything to hurt our son, but when you’re sleep deprived and exhausted your mind can lead you to think things you wouldn’t normally.

I warned one of my mates before he and his wife had a baby that he needed to be careful of his thoughts and how to handle them. He laughed it off and said, “as if I’m ever going to shake my baby!” Then two or three months after his baby was born he called me and said, “Mate, I get what you mean now.”

I guess the most important thing to take away from all of this is to just be conscious of it. Be conscious of your thoughts and don’t feel guilty about sharing them if you experience them.

Posted in:  Baby 0-4 weeks  A new reality  Crying settling sleeping  Your needs  Dads