I Honestly Thought My Baby Hated Me

by Alexis Barad-Cutler

When I became a new mom, I was completely unprepared for the giant crash of postpartum hormones. My emergency c-section didn't help matters much. The recovery from that alone took a major toll on my body and my emotions. So when my newborn ended up being colicky and overall difficult (on top of all the sleepless nights), I was sure he was plotting my demise. In fact, there were more than a few times that I thought my baby hated me but, really, this new mom just needed a break (OK, maybe a really big break and some major support, but you get the idea).

Looking back, the problem wasn't so much my baby, or his so-called "nefarious feelings" towards me. It was that I was not well equipped at the time to handle him or, on the most basic level, my own feelings about being his mother. It took a little time, but I sought out help from my doctor who diagnosed me with postpartum depression (PPD). Once we identified the problem, I found an excellent psychiatrist and enlisted the support of friends, family, and caregivers to help me through what would have otherwise been a long and painful process. There's really something to be said about figuring out (and early on) what was really happening.

Within several weeks of treatment, everything changed. I realized that my baby didn't hate me and he wasn't trying to kill me and he definitely wasn't trying to drive me clinically insane. In fact, he was actually a really cool little dude and maybe, just maybe, he wanted to keep me around after all.

When He Refused To Sleep More Than 30 Minute Stretches (Day Or Night)

My first-born seemed to have an internal alarm that went off somewhere around the 25 or 30 minute mark of sleep. Day or night, no matter how dark the room was, how comatose a state I had been able to get him into before putting him down (which I admit, was rare), or how quiet we were able to keep the house, something would jolt him awake no later than half an hour into his sleep. It was horrible.

While my friends complained of babies who were "so boring" and how all their babies did was sleep, mine was always awake. I was pretty sure this was part of my son's plan to slowly break me down: death by literal sleep deprivation.

When He Fought His Way Out Of The The Most Tightly Wrapped Swaddles In The Universe

Courtesy of Alexis Barad-Cutler

Plenty of friends, and sleep experts who I had read about extensively online, extolled the merits of a super tight swaddle to help your baby sleep. So my husband and I bought every possible swaddle that existed at the time, and experimented with the tightest swaddles a person could do to a baby without causing any damage. Every time we thought we for sure "had it this time," we would watch the baby monitor in shock as our son would expertly Houdini his way out of every swaddle, deftly untying knots with just his tiny pink tongue to assist him.

I could just imagine him thinking to himself, "She thinks she is so smart. Well, I'll show her. And now I'm going to stay awake for five hours straight just to teach her a lesson about trying to constrain The Baby."

When He Peed On My Face The Second Time In A Row During Our Middle-Of-The-Night Diaper Change

Courtesy of Alexis Barad-Cutler

This was just plain cruel. There I was, already covered in dried milk from my leaky boobs, in a state beyond what most normal people could even attempt to try to understand as "tired" and changing my son's diaper for the second time during that particular wake-up slash feeding session. And for the second time in that 45 minute span, my baby peed right in my face, onto my shirt, and also over his own head and all over the bedspread on which I was changing him. The whole time he remained expressionless, totally without remorse. Like a sociopath.

I began to cry.

When He Was The Only Baby At Mom Group Who Didn't Stop Crying

It was my first time meeting everyone at the new mom group a friend of mine had been telling me about for months. I wanted so badly to make some local mom friends and meet the wonderful women I had heard so much about. I packed up my baby in our stroller, along with every possible baby accessory I might need for the long, 30 minute walk with my ticking time bomb of a baby. The baby, surprisingly, seemed happy for once. Maybe somehow he knew we were off to meet some new folks, and this whole time all he had wanted was a little break from me. You know, new blood and all that.

However, as soon as I removed him from his cozy spot in his stroller, he started to scream and basically didn't stop the entire time we were there. I felt like my baby had suddenly remembered that he hated me more than he enjoyed the idea of making new baby friends and had decided to ruin my first attempt at having fun in weeks.

When He Was The Only Baby At Mom Group Who Refused To Wear A Cute Halloween Costume

Even though my baby screamed through most every mom group meet up we ever went to, I still persisted and went almost every week (because I would have simply walked into a river with stones in my pockets without those mamas).

On Halloween, all of the moms showed up with their kids in adorable costumes. I had planned on dressing my baby in a pumpkin costume, but during the six times I had attempted to put it on him beforehand to take some pictures at home, he had started crying hysterically. Either he hated orange, or he hated me. I think it was the latter.

When The Only Times He Was Happy Seemed To Be When I Was Suffering The Most

Courtesy of Alexis Barad-Cutler

In order to calm my baby down, a number of things had to be occurring and often in concert with one another or all at once: He had to be moving, he had to be carried, he had to be bounced, and he had to be nursing or sucking a pacifier that I was pressing into his mouth with my finger (the pressing was key). He was at his most peaceful state when I had him in a carrier strapped to my chest while I was bouncing him while holding the pacifier to his mouth.

So this meant that I couldn't sit down (because he would wake up if he happened to fall asleep, or he would scream) and I couldn't stand still, and I certainly could not do anything that required the use of both of my hands. This child wanted his mama to put in work and anything less than the extra mile would not cut it. He was a cruel, cruel oppressor.

When He Saved His Blowouts For The Exact Moment When We Had Left The House

Courtesy of Alexis Barad-Cutler

One of the cruel jokes of motherhood is that babies have a tendency to do the grossest things at the most inopportune times. It is almost as if they time them to happen at the exact moment that you might be the most unprepared. This especially happens with regard to blowouts. My baby would frequently have a blowout diaper that would soak through his onesie, his sweater, his snowsuit, and his baby blankets. And, of course, it would often occur when we were already outside and far away from our building or any public bathroom that felt clean enough to use into which I could wheel my enormous stroller (because, Brooklyn).

If you had told me at the time that all babies do this, I would have said that you sit on a throne of lies Because back then, I was convinced that my baby did it for one simple reason: Spite. Ugly, ugly, spite. I felt like my baby was very much aware of my germ phobia and was using it to hurt me.

When He Would Only Nurse For Little Increments And Then Pause To Scream In Protest As If My Milk Were Poison

Courtesy of Alexis Barad-Cutler

As a breastfeeding mother, it is easy to feel like you were put here for one reason and one reason only: to feed your baby with your breasts. And when your baby rejects your breasts, well, it can kind of bring on an existential crisis of sorts. "What am I, if not two Grade-A super organic walking milk jugs?" My son would nurse for a few minutes, and then scream in protest while pushing himself away from me, like I was the worst tasting thing he'd tried on the buffet line. "Ew! Yuck! The Italian pasta salad is terrible! Don't even go there!"

It is possible that something else was going on at the time that we didn't know about. Maybe he had an intolerance to some food I had been eating that I didn't know about. I didn't look into food allergies (yes, awesome mom right here), so I don't know. Eventually, he became a great nurser, but back at that point: I thought he hated everything about me, including the way my milk tasted.

Needless to say, my self esteem was through the roof back then (I joke, I kid).