Oct 17, 2013

What I Learned During the First Year As A First-Time Mom

Bit of a wordy title today, huh? I was going to do a post about things I didn't want to forget. But
for two reasons I chose not to do this: 1) I love everything about her. There's so many great things about this age, and I can't list everything. 2) We have had a bad couple of weeks, and I'm not a fan of remembering the bad weeks right now.

But I have learned a lot since having her a year ago. Of course I am only a first time mom, so there is still a lot that I'm still learning. But I have definitely learned a lot during these last twelve months:

#1: The sleeplessness doesn't last forever. Addie started sleeping through the night at about 4-5 months give or take. However, the worry will last forever.

#2: Dressing a newborn is harder than it looks, especially when they aren't able to control their neck yet. You probably aren't going to break your kid but you will probably think you will. As the kid gets older, it doesn't really get easier because now they will make every attempt to get away from you while you try to just get them ready for the day. It's pretty much an endless fight. Sometimes you just have to shove the shirt over their head and move on.

#3: Breastfeeding is hard. I tried and was only successful with exclusively breastfeeding for two months before I had to go to exclusively pumping and quickly after that we had to start supplementing (however that only last a month before we had to go just to formula). I applaud anyone who doesn't exclusively breastfeed, but I don't judge those who don't. I was afraid of being judged for going to formula. Does it matter as long as your kid getting fed, happy and healthy? It really doesn't. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for choosing formula. And don't let anyone push you to do something you don't want to do either way.

#4: Wonder weeks is totally a real thing. Whenever Addie was/is extra cranky, extra moody, extra clingy, and not so into napping, it is usually lined up with a wonder week. It's not just about physical growth spurts as kids grow. There is also mental developments going on, which can will definitely knock everything out of whack.

#5: Babies will do things in their own time. You can't rush them into anything. They will smile, laugh, roll, and crawl when they are good and ready. Addie reminded me of that over and over again. I was worried about her not crawling then just before she was 11 months, she started just like that. All because of my shoelace.

#6: Go with your gut. Before I had Addie I was so afraid that I wouldn't have any motherly instincts. I was afraid that I wouldn't know what to do. I was just afraid that I would be a bad mom who wouldn't know how to take care of her child. Even after taking classes, I never really felt reassured about what I was doing. But after actually having her I realize that I did know what to do (it did take a little time to gain confidence however). Those instincts kicked in and I have never regretted asking a question regarding Addison. And those instincts have been right - I was right about Addison not getting enough to eat from breastfeeding in the beginning and I was right about getting Addison birth mole that everyone else though was a birth mark checked out.

#7: You can get down and crawl around and try to find everything that your kid will get into, so you can baby proof before she actually starts crawling, but somehow she will find at least a dozen things you didn't get. Addie's favorite thing to do now is pull out all my exercise DVDs and stare at Jillian Michaels on the cover (don't worry the DVD shelf is anchored to the wall). Plus cords, shoelaces, picture frames, board games, the PS3 player, 3-pound weight...

#8: Just when you figure out her routine, she will completely change it on you. You won't see it coming. One day things will be how they have been always been, then suddenly everything is different. They only thing that will be the same is the kid (although the personality might be vastly different), she will still need to eat and still need to sleep but otherwise completely different.

#9: The house can be messy. The dishes can be stacked up. The clothes all dirty, waiting to be washed. Nothing can be done around the house. It all can wait. Taking time to play, read, watch a movie, or whatever with your kid should always take priority.

#10: Take time to take care of yourself. If you have postpartum depression then don't be embarrassed, get help. If you just need to get away then do it. Don't be ashamed to take a five second breather. I won't lie, there was at least one day when Addison was younger that I had to put her in her crib so she was safe but walk away before I lost my mind. Sometimes I had to call Rob, sobbing myself, and other times I just had to take a couple minutes while she screamed and took some deep breaths before I went back. I have always heard that you can't take care of your family unless you take care of yourself. It's totally true. I still struggle with this sometimes - asking for Rob to give me a break to get some separation, to have some me time. It's kind of like when you need to put on the air mask thing on a plane, you have to put one on yourself before you put one on your kid. It's a little selfish, but at the end of the day, you have to be in order to be the best mother [and wife] you can be.

I have learned a lot in this year. I have learned a lot about myself, about being a mom, even about being a wife. But I don't want to overload you. Being a mom is hard. It's exhausting. It's never-ending. You should definitely never go into it lightly. But it is all worth it. Even though it's been a year, it still throws me off sometimes when I realize that I am a mom. For the good, the bad, and the ugly. Through all the tears and the laughter. I have this little girl who is dependent on me. This little girl who is all mine (well, and Rob's technically).

I have learned a lot over the last year, and I am still constantly learning. Addie is teaching me things all the time. I'm learning about being a mom all the time. It's a never-ending process.

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