Tomorrow my baby will be ONE.
I know everyone says the first year flies by in the blink of an eye, but I really had no clue just how right they were until I lived it myself. I still distinctly remember the way it felt to be pregnant with her. I remember the nervous / excited energy I felt as I was admitted to the hospital on that Thursday afternoon. I remember seeing her face for the first time and trying to comprehend that she was mine. I remember bringing her home and feeling the reality of motherhood quickly sink in. It’s been a really good year. The hardest year of my life, hands down, but also a really good year.
Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a first-time mom over the past 365 days:
Trust that you will rise to the occasion. The logistics of giving birth (ouch), and learning to breastfeed (ouch again), and not sleeping through the night for an entire year (super ouch) are majorly daunting. There were many times that I could hardly wrap my brain around the tasks at hand, but somehow, some way, I rose to the occasion and continued to do so day after day, night after night. Trust that your body and your instincts will not steer you in the wrong direction.
It’s harder and easier than you could ever imagine. I swear that I am constantly reflecting on this simple statement. I honestly thought that working from home while watching a small baby would be fairly simple (“I’ll just work when the baby sleeps!”), but it turned out to be way trickier than I could have predicted. Briar has never been a consistent sleeper for naps or at night, so finding a good balance between work and motherhood has been my biggest challenge thus far. On the other hand, I thought that it would be a huge production every time I had to leave the house with the baby in tow, but it’s actually pretty easy! She’s a great little traveler and I enjoy having her as my sidekick wherever we go. Needless to say, motherhood is full of surprises at every turn!
Get outside every single day. In those first few weeks (and months!), it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the nonstop care of a newborn and lose track of the outside world. I found that getting fresh air at least once a day, whether it was for a long walk (my favorite) or just a quick stroll to grab coffee, was not only a necessity for my mental health, but it did — and continues to do — wonders for Briar, too. Those walls start to close in on you pretty fast if you stay cooped up inside for too long.
The baby fever doesn’t go away. From the day we brought Briar home the hospital, I’ve had crazy baby fever for more babies! I think the whole experience of growing a baby, having a baby, and then watching that child grow into a little person is so intoxicating that I can’t help but want to do it over and over again! (The sleepless nights, however…not so much.)
Take the classes. John and I took a few different classes offered by our hospital prior to Briar’s arrival and we both loved them. It’s not so much that you’ll remember everything or that you’ll be an inadequate parent if you skip out, but it was nice for us to immerse ourselves in baby culture with other soon-to-be-parents. Plus, on our breaks we ate at the amazing (and amazingly cheap!) cafeteria. Win win ;)
Do what works for YOU. There’s so much societal pressure to be a “perfect” mom and to do everything “right,” but really, what does that even mean?! Since we are all approaching life from a different perspective, it’s impossible for us to follow the same path as individuals, much less as mothers. Follow your own trail and figure out what works best for you and your baby. No comparisons necessary.
Ask for help. Don’t be a hero. Ask for help OFTEN. You need that break, not only so you can recharge your own batteries but so you can be more present and engaged with your baby as well.
It just gets better and better (seriously!). For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had momentary pangs of sadness over the fact that Briar is almost a toddler and no longer my tiny little newborn. But for the most part, I LOVE each new phase even more than the last. When she laughed for the first time, I thought it would never get any better. And then she started crawling! And saying words! And now walking! Watching her morph into a real human with distinct opinions and a strong personality has been a total JOY. I can’t wait to see what’s next!
I am so happy / proud / overwhelmed with love for my Briar Bear. Happy birthday, baby girl!