Having a baby is just as bad as getting divorced... or worse

Aug 13, 2015 at 11:41 a.m. ET
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Having a baby is hard — you'd think this is something all new parents could agree on. But in our Pinterest-y, Facebook-y world where every parent seems like they're having a great time, this new study is a shocker: Researchers discovered that the first two years of your child's life may be the hardest thing you ever experience.

Harder even than divorce. Death of a spouse. Or unemployment.

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In the study published in the journal Demography, researchers Rachel Margolis and Mikko Myrskylä followed 2016 Germans, who were childless when the study began, through the first two years of their first child's life. The new parents were asked to rate their happiness on a scale of 0 to 10 and provide feedback on how satisfied they were with their new lives.

You can probably guess what happened next. Most couples said they were happier in the year leading up to baby, probably because of the fun of pregnancy and buying baby stuff. Of the participants, 30 percent maintained their happiness levels after baby, while 60 percent said happiness decreased during the first and second years after giving birth. On average, new parents had a "severe" 1.4-unit drop in happiness — experiencing more emotional stress compared to unemployment, divorce and even the death of a partner.

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And new parents everywhere said: Tell us something we don't know.

You can just call every parent who has ever had a baby an "unofficial researcher." From the day they send you home from the hospital with a new little person you're supposed to somehow keep alive for the next 18 years, you know this job isn't going to be easy. Here are just a few examples of how shit hits the fan in those first two years:

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  1. The poopsplosions — a minimum of once a day, if you're lucky
  2. The high-pitched crying on the baby monitor within one minute of you drifting off to sleep
  3. The hours spent anxiously watching your baby on the monitor when you can't get to sleep
  4. The chapped nipples (and they said breastfeeding was easy)
  5. The irrational and emotional fights with your partner over who bought milk last
  6. The baby-proofing that costs more than your hospital stay
  7. The late-night googling to string together a collection of unexplainable and random symptoms that ultimately point to a cranky baby
  8. The exhaustion
  9. The exhaustion
  10. The exhaustion (did anyone say it was going to be this tiring?)
  11. The falling asleep in public
  12. The fussy baby
  13. The toddler tantrums
  14. The picky eater
  15. The exhaustion

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