As my daughters first birthday is rapidly approaching, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on her first year in this world, as well as my first year as a parent. It’s true what they say. They really do grow up quickly. And in my brain I understood it. But I didn’t TRULY understand it until now. If you are a parent, you know what I mean.
So here are a few random things that I’ve learned in her first year of life. No rhyme or reason or order. Just thought I would share. But I do hope at the end of it, you will pass this onto another mom, and or add your voice to the conversation. After all, the education I received from other mothers’ has been my biggest source of inspiration, learning and support. I hope where ever you are in your journey, this helps.
* I CAN survive on less sleep than I thought I could, and so can you. I know you don’t believe me now (pregnant moms) but trust me, your body just goes into this other gear you didn’t even think you had. Sleepless mode. Some days it works. Other days use caffeine.
* EVERYBODY asked me the same question: Is she a good sleeper? It must be the universal conversation starter to anyone with a baby. Be prepared.
* If you breastfeed – when your milk supply comes in be prepared to look like Dolly Parton with a boob job gone wrong. Enough said.
* As a mom with a baby – I was a senior citizen magnet. They love babies. Makes them feel good. I can’t tell you how many seniors were brought to tears by seeing me with my baby. Told me how lucky I was. Made me happy and a little sad at the same time.
* Sometimes I just needed a break. Giving my daughter to my husband. Going for a walk alone. Having a shower. Taking the dog out. It was a sanity saver. I couldn’t do it all the time. I tried. But it just doesn’t work.
* The first week of my daughters life, I fell in love with my husband all over again. Then shortly after, with no sleep, him going back to work, things became tougher and tougher. We took our frustrations out on each other. We never did a date night. Still haven’t in almost a year. But if you can, I think it’s worth it.
* Watching movies with babies/children/kids even adults being hurt/abducted/killed was excruciating. Couldn’t watch them without thinking that was someone’s child. Never cried as much as I did this year during TV shows and movies. (New moms do NOT watch ‘Broadchurch.’ Very good series. But tears galore!)
* Babies come with a lot of stuff. We lived in a one bedroom apartment to start, and I shrugged off the notion that (especially in her first year) her stuff would overtake our place. It was a jungle gym in less than a month. They need stuff. Be prepared.
* You are inducted into the world of Motherhood by other moms. All of a sudden you are nodding at other moms with babies. They smile back at you. It’s a secret world where you understand each other without really knowing each other. It’s comforting, especially on harder days.
* Everyone has a piece of advice for you. My girlfriend was given advice from a grandmother who thought her baby was ‘underweight’. Came right over to her and told her to start feeding her rice cereal. If you can, resist the urge to spew profanities at them. All I can say is they usually mean well (*usually).
* I realized, I was very bad at giving gifts to new parents. We had a stampede of people come through our doors in my daughters first six weeks of her life. And everyone brought a gift. We are very thankful and appreciative people thought of us. But I think the best thing to give new parents is either sleepers, onesies, food or diapers (check the size).
* My previous job required me to look very professional. Clothes, makeup, hair. I had to look as though I had just walked out of a salon. This past year, I can probably count on one hand how many times I did my hair and or makeup. Funny thing is, I found real beauty again. I looked natural all the time and it felt good.
* Babies cannot blow their noses. I found this super FRUSTRATING. Little noses. Not much space to get in there. Like I said. Super Frustrating.
* ‘Things’ didn’t matter as much. Shopping, going out to the movies/club/party, or wearing the latest boots/jacket/shirt etc. I stayed home at night more than I ever have. I wore the same clothes again and again. I rediscovered how the material things didn’t bring me the happiness that simply being with my girl did. We could be wearing paper bags, and playing with a box, and she wouldn’t have cared. I learned not to care either. That is a real gift.
* Babies can expel from every orifice in their body. At the SAME TIME. No explanation required.
* It takes a village to raise a child. One of those things you don’t realize is VERY TRUE until you have a child. You need a community of people to help out. My husband was very sick for almost a month this past year, and because of it I have a new appreciation for what single mothers go through. But the support of my community was what helped me through it. Consider yourself lucky if you have a village.
* Starting solid foods is STRESSFUL! Organics vs. non organic. Purees vs. store bought baby food. Times have changed since my mom opened a glass jar of pureed peas.
* Accomplishments in the mom world are so different than the professional world. In my previous full time job, I was constantly on the move. Everyday. Every hour. Always something different. But as a mom, the world slowed down to a snails pace. Time was spent just lying next to my baby singing songs. Or laughing at each other in the mirror. Or tasting toes for the first time. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything in the world.
* If I could have banished sickness, I would have. The first time she got sick, I panicked. Sneezing. Coughing. Stuffy nose. People weighed in. She might have whooping cough. Sounds like maybe phenmonia. Seriously? Like I needed anymore anxiety. I called the pediatrician. The nurse called me back and calmly asked me her symptoms. She then asked me if this was my first child. I said yes. She said the next child, you won’t even notice this. In one year she’s been sick four times. I hear once they hit daycare/school it only gets worse.
* I realized I am a joiner. 8 weeks after my daughter was born I took a Mommy Connections class. I felt understood. I felt validated. I felt like every mother in that class understood what I was going through, because they too were in the trenches with me. That was priceless to me. And on top of it, I still talk to some of these moms. In fact we just exchanged Christmas cards. I look forward to watching their children grow up and looking back in 20 years wondering where the time has gone.
There’s so many more things I could write on this list. It was as if I went to a new parenting class everyday of her life this year. And I don’t think it ever ends. Next up for us: Walking and talking!
So join our conversation! What did you observe in the first year of your child’s life?