Top 10 Things I Learned my First Year of Parenthood
1) You cannot fathom or prepare yourself for how much you will love your baby.
I knew I loved my baby while I was pregnant, but it wasn’t until he was born, out of the womb, that I began to get a glimpse of how enormous my love was for him. I will also say, I didn’t realize how much I loved my baby when he was born either. In fact, there wasn’t a crazy huge bond with him until I took him home and got to know him a little better. From there the bond and connection has gotten stronger everyday. Now it's a love I truly cannot wrap my head around but it's amazing... and absolutely terrifying.
2) How people have more than one child is a straight miracle.
Between the constant (and I mean constant) nursing of a newborn, changing of a newborn’s diapers, soothing a newborn when they cry (which can be quite a bit), how on earth could you take care of another human at the same time as having a new born?! I have no idea, but people do it all the time. And to the parents who have twins or triplet, do you have 5 nannies? How are you still alive? You are the real MVP.
3) People’s opinions of your parenting really do impact you.
Even though you hear “every child is different”, people still feel their way and their ideas of parenting are the "right" way. And my goodness, there are a lot of opinions out there!! And even though you will try to remind yourself that you are the parent, you know what’s best, their opinions will still creep into your mind and make you question if you really are doing it right.
3.5) There is no one size fits all for parenting.
Your child may not fit the “ideal” child you read about in the parenting books. I’ve learned it’s actually ok not to have a strict schedule or sleep train IF it doesn’t work for you. Bottom line, your child needs to know they are loved and accepted. The rest comes down to what works best for your family.
4) The best way to get through those early months of motherhood is by having a perspective of gratitude.
When you aren’t sleeping at all, constantly worrying about the little creature you brought home, and basically revolving your whole life around feeding them, it’s exhausting. It’s easy to lose yourself. But to be able to have the perspective of gratitude really does help. When your child wakes you up 7 times a night, to be able to think “that’s 7 more times I get to cuddle and love on my baby” instead of "UGH not again" will make all the difference in the world (obviously no one is perfect in this, it's just something to shoot for).
5) A productive day now looks very different.
Those first few months are a whole lot of sitting, feeding, napping (when you can), and definitely not getting a whole lot done. From the minute your child is born, you will never go back to being able to do whatever you want whenever you want (until they get older, that is). So even though dishes are up to the ceiling, there are 23 loads of laundry to do, sometimes a “productive day” might just mean that you survived. You were productive today because you kept you and the little human alive. And honestly, that IS productive.
5.5) Speaking of messes..
Going off of that- once you have a baby that walks and is super curious, don’t even bother trying to keep your house clean. I’m accepting this will be my life for the next few years.
6) A women’s body is seriously incredible.
To grow a human life is absolutely insane. I can’t even wrap my mind around it. At one point there is no life, then boom, there is, and these cells form into a human that grows inside of you. And then it grows outside of you. Just pure craziness. Then there comes the whole birthing part. How a baby still comes out the way it does (aka the vagina) I will never understand. But the fact that our bodies know how to do it is so amazing. And for women who have c-sections, the fact that their body heals like it does (because that is no minor cut!!), is truly miraculous. Then there comes the whole nursing thing. Our boobs make food for a baby!!!!! What!? And on top of all of that, the way a women loves her child, sacrifices her sleep, holds a 25 pound baby on her waist while she does other things.. really, the female body is so so amazing and STRONG.
7) Your “fun” looks different. A lot different.
There has been a couple times this year I tried to go out and have fun like I did pre-baby. And let’s just say, I failed. For one, why would I want to stay up all night to have to wake up early in the morning anyway? Being hung over is no longer an option. Also, I’m way too tired to stay up late and be out and about. Our new fun looks more like having friends over around 3pm and then staying for dinner and then going to sleep. I never thought I would be okay with that, but I totally am.
7.5) This can make it hard to maintain old friendships
Some people won’t be super cool with the fact that you are no longer “fun” in their eyes. The truth about parenthood is that more than ever, you will find out who your true friends are and who is around for the long haul.
8) Your family is your lifeline.
It really does take a village. And if you have a village willing to help out, let them. It is my main source of sanity. My family allows me to take breaks, go out and see friends or see a movie, or they even help out when my husband is not around and I just feel overwhelmed. Side note: we also have yet to buy our child any clothes because family provides so much of that.. and that’s not something we take for granted! Thanks fam!
9) You learn a lot about yourself.
Through this last year, I have learned more about myself than the rest of my life combined. I’ve realized what really matters to me, what my priorities are, and what I want for my life and my family. I’ve learned that I am strong when things are hard and when sleep deprivation is real. I’ve also learned that I am very weak when I feel alone, and tend to keep that bottled up inside. I’ve learned to take care of myself and make myself a priority, because I’m a better mom when I do. Everyday of parenting is a journey not just in nurturing and growing a child but nurturing and growing us, too.
9.5) You learn a lot about your spouse.
Believe it or not, having a kid actually does add some new stressors to a marriage. It definitely adds joy, too, don’t get me wrong. But when two people are chronically sleep deprived, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Alone time goes out the window. Everything is just different. But its also beautiful, and hard, and messy, and lovely all at the same time. At the end of the day your spouse will become more important to you then ever during that first year.
10) It really does fly by.
I experience grief every single day as I watch my baby grow into a little boy. And my heart aches as I think about him turning into a kid, teenager and then a man. This first year feels like a blink of an eye, and unfortunately I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. I also wouldn’t trade this first year for anything. Even in my mistakes, I wouldn’t change what I’ve done because I’ve had the best year of my life getting to watch this little boy, who holds my whole heart, grow into the most incredible human. Time flying by is my constant reminder to never take for granted what I have, and to be present in every moment, even the hard ones.