12 Things I learned from the 1st year of Motherhood
From the good, the bad, the frivolous, and the ugly, I have learned a LOT in the past 12 months of being a mom. We're coming up quick on our daughter's first birthday (and by quick I mean it's tomorrow) and that has me feeling very *reflect-y* on this past year.
I want to share these particular 12 things with ya'll (we all know there's more like 12 thousand) for two reasons:
1. Hopefully any new Mamas or Papas can learn from my joys + mistakes OR just find some solidarity with me
2. So all of those well-seasoned parents can lovingly say "i told you so" and chuckle to themselves while smiling and shaking their heads (I'm lookin at you, Mom)
And with that introduction, let's begin!
1. Breastfeeding is...uhm...a BEAST...
I'm going to do a full post on this at some point because this is not an easy journey, but this will do for now. Let me preface this by saying that like the Beast in the classic Disney tale, things can be ugly + beautiful, disturbing + peaceful all at once.
I really wanted to breastfeed. SO BAD. But, we didn't have an easy go. No one told me how much it was going to hurt, that sweet baby lips could make me bleed, or that those milk cookies from Target don't really increase your supply (at least that's my experience). No one told me that even if you're pumping like crazy like the lactation nurses tell you to that your supply just might never be enough. At 3 mo. I was still pumping every 2 hours and would only get 3 oz a session (that's combined, people). Should we have invested in a private consultant? Maybe -- I've read a lot of articles now that say sometimes nurses don't catch the tongue tie or various other elements...but we lived 3 different places in the first 3 mo. postpartum and formula was just the easiest. Did I still get the "bonding experience" with my baby? Heck yeah, absolutely. She and I are tight, so no worries there! There's many of positives about a formula fed baby and I'm thankful for that. If the next baby is formula fed, great! I have no shame in that, however, the next time around I do hope to be able to breastfeed cause when they say that formula adds up $$$, they're not kidding.
2. It's going to be a NO from me, sorry Hubs
WARNING: if you're family and don't want to read about intimacy go ahead & skip onto #3.
You're tired. Exhausted. The most sore you've EVER been throughout your whole body. It is really uncomfortable *down there*. Sex drive is low....sometimes for months and with NFP lingering in the air and your hormones everywhere? Yeah, it's going to be a no from me. Sorry babe.
Honesty hour: we waited for a few months, didn't even get to "renew our vows" in that way on our first anniversary.
I think some people will read this and think "I could never" but it's honestly one of the most beautiful parts of marriage and NFP in general: the waiting + learning to love each other in every other possible way.
Once my cycle returned and we had our trusty Marquette Method down, we were back in the swing of things.
To Viva at 3 mo. postpartum: stop apologizing. Lower your expectations a little. He loves you, he's patient and generous with his kindness. Things will get back to normal, so give yourself a little more grace. Also, buy some new lingerie, you'll both be thankful.
3. She won't always be this cuddly
This makes me cry just thinking about it. As I write this she's taking a nap in her room and I can just vividly picture the times where her sweaty, drool-y face was laying on my chest and all I could think was "I really have to pee."
They get big and squirmy and like to stomp on your chest instead of lay on it all too quickly. So, go to the bathroom, set up your water, snacks, your next episode of The Office, and snuggle in tight. It's really going to be one of the things that you wish you could do over and over.
4. He's tired and works hard too
Keeping score isn't going to do anything. Nothing. Zip. Nada. All it does is make him annoyed and then you're annoyed because he's annoyed because you *know* you did something super annoying.
I still struggle with doing this and I'm never proud of it. We both work hard, we're both tired, and keeping tabs on what the other person is or isn't doing will not make this new life-style any easier.
Be vocally thankful, give each other a hug, help extra where you can and move on.
5. My vices are a never-ending now-or-never battle
They say parenting brings out all of your selfishness, personality quirks, etc. This year has made me realize that laziness is a vice that I have to really, and I mean REALLY, fight. Take one minute and pick up the toys, wipe down the highchair, bring in that second bottle cover that's been stuck under the passenger seat for two weeks. It's so tempting to let everything pile up, but if you're anything like me, you will not be able to function if life is messier than it needs to be. Some days this is easier said than done, but that's why it's a constant battle between vice and virtue.
6. "I have the cutest baby in the world" *googley eyes*
I have nothing to say here except that I'm pretty sure we all think this. And that's okay! And it's probably true...I mean have you seen her?! ;)
7. It's okay if she's not wearing that Pinterest/mommy+me outfit, it's also okay to buy it
Ahh. The endless instagram boutiques. The perfect trendy neutral wardrobe. The coordinated outfits. I WANTED IT ALL. Still do. Still don't have a lot of it. I can probably count on one hand the number of outfits we bought her. The rest were gifts or hand-me-downs and that is SUCH a blessing. Does it all look like I imagined? Nope. Can I afford a few specific things that I want for her? Yep, and we should because it's so fun. Unfortunately such a frivolous thing caused me a lot of anxiety at times. So silly, I know, cause at the end of the day they all get covered in almond butter and banana anyway!
8. Comparison is the thief of joy, even for babies
She's going to grow at her own pace. Those milestones will be met in due time and if they're not we'll figure it out. Some babies are running at 8 months (I saw one in real life and it was CRAZY...) and some barely stand up on their own after their first birthday. Never in my life did I think I would be comparing my baby to another like I do to myself (yikes). My husband so gently reminds me that I play with her a lot, feed her healthy meals and love her so well -- I'm doing everything I can do make sure she grows up *perfectly*. All the anxiety/guilt I cast on myself because she didn't meet the milestone at the exact time the fake baby on my BabyCenter app did is absolutely R I D I C U L O U S.
9. Nothing is more important than time spent with her
No episode of The Office will make you laugh more than a goofy baby who likes to toot, and that's a bold statement y'all. No hot cup of coffee can be as comforting as warm baby snuggles. Her squeaky voice that echos when she's talking to herself is literal music to my ears.
There's nothing in this world more important than spending time with her. At the moment I may feel like I'd rather be doing something else, but as I look back, it is so clear that the best times of my life are with her.
10. You don't need to try so hard
Expectations, expectations...tsk tsk. What I give is enough. It's true that some days are much harder than others, and some days I feel like I give 100% but still feel worthless. But the point is, I'm doing my best, and my best looks a little different each day. The Lord will give me whatever grace I need to give anything that's more than I have. That's a beautiful perk of this vocation. He always provides, especially on the days where you feel like you can't.
11. 9-12 mo. is the funnest stage (so far)
I guess you can feel free to disagree but...cmon! They are crawling, trying to stand and falling over, growing all of those hillbilly teeth, getting their own personality...just so many fun things!! My back hurts the most at this stage because of how much she weighs and I'm playing "I'm gonna get you!!" on my hands and knees but hey, the way she "runs" away from me, trips on her hands, face-plants, and laughs it off is priceless!
12. Life won't be easier or harder, just different
I'm sure this will be true for every season in life, but I've come to understand it a bit better over the last 12 months. There's a constant fluctuation between "well this is easier now" and "this has never been so difficult."The newborn sleep deprivation is tiring, but so is picking up after every meal & playtime just to make a *huge* mess again (I think the avocado is stuck on the wall for good).
Making time for daily prayer seems to be a constant struggle, and now I really have to figure out where I can spend time with the Lord peacefully for 30 min. Some days it feels impossible and I think "I really should have taken advantage of the times when she would just lay there & not move."
Everything is easy and everything is hard and it all ends up looking completely different the next month anyway.
Life is going to keep moving, keep changing, easy & hard will have their seasons. But God knows the next step before I'm even there, and trusting that makes all the difference.
Well. Now I'm really emotional and I'm going to shed some tears as I prep her little smash cake for tomorrow *cue tears*.
Please feel free to share any of your learned experiences from your first year as a parent, and if you're not a parent maybe some of your hopes and wishes for the future!