parent opinion

'The truth is, I didn't love the baby phase. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.'

I remember feeling a sense of unease when people would ask me if I wanted to have babies. 

And because I got married at age 24 and didn't have a baby until I was 31, I got asked this question many, many times over those seven years. Often by random strangers or my mother-in-law, who was very keen for grandkids.

I always had a notion I would one day be a mother and have a family, but babies? Well, it sounds harsh, but I wasn’t that fussed.

My ever-optimistic and family-oriented husband couldn’t wait to 'pop a few babies out'. In fact, when we met, he said he wanted five. But I felt all kinds of anxiety around even just one of the smallest of humans. 

Don’t babies cry a lot? Will we get zero sleep? Would I ever be able to leave the house again?

Got questions about childbirth? Our video is here to answer them. Post continues below.


Video by Mamamia.

I never felt 'ready' to have a baby or desperate to become a mum to one, but I still knew I wanted a family, so we started trying to conceive after my 30th birthday party and within a few months I fell pregnant. 

But even during pregnancy with my first son, deep feelings of uncertainty would rise up in my throat at all hours. I panicked about how having a baby would change our lives and would feel confusion and feign excitement when friends and family would tell me that they couldn’t wait to meet my baby.

I wanted to meet my little person too, but I felt highly apprehensive about caring for someone so delicate and needy. I busied myself with the whole nesting process and there were moments I would see a loving mother and sweet baby moment on a TV commercial and become emotional. I wondered... will this be me?

I had an emergency c-section with Toby in September 2010. I remember when they placed his tiny form on my chest for the first time, all I could say in my drug-induced haze was, "Oh, it’s a baby!"

That fierce mother-love I had heard about and hoped for did come surging forth a few days after he was born, but it was accompanied by so many other emotions, including fear, shock and overwhelm.

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The cute little outfits, toys and booties gifted to us were lovely, but they were not enough to assuage the guilt I felt about not enjoying being a new mum. It felt as if I didn’t love my beautiful baby 'enough'.

I looked at the mums in the park or at the shops with their older kids and I felt jealous. I wanted what they had, and I tried so hard not to roll my eyes when women of a certain age told me to 'treasure every moment'.

It makes me feel sad now, but I would wish it away - night after sleepless night and day after boring, lonely day. I would constantly think about how after this 'growth spurt' or that milestone, it will 'get better'.

Listen: Kelly McCarren gives her realistic views on birth and parenting on This Glorious Mess. Post continues below.


The mundanity of feeling so stuck at home, the feelings of anxiety every time crying started in a public place, the sleep deprivation. The worry any time they got sick and couldn't tell me what was wrong.

The sweaty, awkward and uncomfortable moments of breastfeeding in public. The constant backache from carrying them in a sling. The long car journeys that involved hours of screaming.

There were, of course, moments during those early years of motherhood with both my sweet boys where I thought I might explode with love.

The feeling of connection I had during a peaceful, sleepy breastfeed would take me by surprise.

A sweet smile meant just for me, or a chubby little fist curling around my own.

Except I also remember the reality of the baby period for both boys and how hard I found it all.

My youngest son Leo started school this year and honestly, I’m relieved.

I love the freedom that comes with having older kids and I love seeing how my babies have turned into people with thoughts and personalities all of their own.

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I still get cuddles and love (and sometimes a whole lot of attitude) but I also get more sleep and less feelings of anxiety. I talk to them and laugh with them and they can tell me why they are sad or angry instead of just wailing.

My heart bursts with pride when my eldest Toby wins an award or does well at school or uses his beautiful manners with other adults. I get all emotional when my youngest Leo tells me he loves me and we dance together in the kitchen to a tune we both like.

I love the rare moments when the boys play well together, and I see their relationship blossoming.

I also love being able to go out for dinner as a family and not having to cart an enormous bag or pram every time I leave the house. Then there's family movie nights, picnics, holidays and catch ups with friends - all so much easier when the kids can play and talk and we don't to rush home for naps or nappies.

There are some lovely things about life with a baby and looking back at my boys' baby photos always makes me wish I could cuddle them again when they were so perfectly squishable. But for me and I believe for many other women, parenting older kids is more fun and I don't feel ashamed to admit it.

We might tell people we are having 'a baby', but really, we are having a toddler, a pre-schooler, a tween, a teen and an adult too.

I adore and love my family to the moon and back but I have come to terms with the fact I am a better and more relaxed mum once my babies have grown up a little and in my (unpopular?) opinion, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Did you enjoy the baby phase? Do you miss it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Parenting Writer. For her weekly articles and to see photos of her outfits and kids, follow her on Instagram and  TikTok.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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