Lessons from my first year of motherhood

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A year ago today, I became a mom. I could go on and on about how mini-me has changed my life and how amazing she is BUT I'll save that for my other blog.

Despite all the warm and fuzzy stuff, this past year has not been without it's challenges and from challenges come lessons. I have learned a lot. There are a lot of things I said I would do, said I wouldn't do, thought I'd be. Before you have a baby, you have this idea of what kind of parent you'll be and, if you're at all like me, you get pretty into detail about what you think this will look like. And then you have the baby and it all goes flying out the window (or at least that's what happened in my case).




Lessons from my first year of motherhood

  1. Sleep training is NOT the devil - this is a VERY controversial topic so I'll try and keep this brief. I said, and with good reason, that I would NEVER let my baby cry. Ever. We got to about 9 months and I was a disaster. Mini-me had gone from our bed, to her crib and was back into our bed. She would only go to sleep with me, breastfeeding, and I literally NEVER got anytime to myself (she was also still refusing a bottle at that point). I was irritable, miserable and lonely. I never got any time with Mr. B or by myself. Something HAD to happen. We agreed to try sleep training. To be VERY clear: she was never left crying inconsolably. She seemed to need a few minutes to whine while she was getting comfortable and then out like a light. She's a great sleeper now and as soon as we got into the pattern, her and I were both significantly more happy. It was a necessary thing for us but it's not for everyone (and some babies don't calm after a few min, in which case, I don't even know what you do!). Be open to different things and hopefully you'll find something that works. Being miserable is NOT a good way to live!

  2. The Wonder Weeks are REAL - I bought this book early on with heavy skepticism. To this day, I'm still not sure if it is scientifically accurate in predicting "fussy" periods or if I just found it convenient to have something to read that justified my stress at any given moment. Either way, I did really like the book and found it helpful. If anything, it helped me feel normal if I ever struggled with behavior, fussiness, lack of sleep etc.

  3. Napping isn't always easy - please tell me I'm not the only one who seriously thought babies napped all the time. Frigging IDIOT. Mini-me has JUST recently (yup, after almost a year) started napping somewhat consistently. I struggled HARD with naps. Some days I actually thought I might pull my hair out because I just wanted 10 minutes by myself to shower or sit and have a coffee. Not all babies are good nappers and it SUCKS when they aren't. You'll also do just about anything to get your baby to sleep. I can't even begin to consider the mileage and gas money spent trying to get mini-me to nap. On a positive note: I've perfected the silent ninja walk which will surely come in handy should I decide to switch careers and become a spy.

  4. There is no worse feeling than accidentally hurting your child - I won't get into the big story (because I'm still scarred for life) but when mini-me was about 6 months old, I zipped up her skin in a vest. It was a big chunk of her skin and she still has a scar. I feel sick even re-typing it. It was an awful accident but I was shaken to the core. She forgave me very quickly but I can't say I was so kind on myself (I still feel a pang of guilt whenever I see that scar and it will haunt me forever). It was an accident. Accidents happen and in hindsight it was pretty minimal but that feeling, the feeling that I had hurt her. Words can't even describe. Moral of the story: be careful, but if you do accidentally hurt your little one, you'll be way more upset with yourself than they ever will be.

  5. You're going intend to do a lot of things that you don't - this may just be me, but I had said I was going to do lots of things and never found the time (yes, despite being off an entire year). I had hoped to cloth diaper. I even bought the start of a collection. And then she arrived along with a lot of gifted disposable diapers. Needless to say, the cloth diapers got sold on kijiji and never saw mini-me's behind. Doesn't mean I'm a crap mom, but once I got used to the disposables I just never started the cloth. Maybe next time. I also intended to make ALL of her baby food. I made a bunch of it, but the convenience of jarred food won the battle more than a few times. Another thing I fully intended on was not allowing mini-me to watch tv. Yeah right. I don't let her watch all day, every day, but sometimes I put on the cartoon channel because I need to sit and have a coffee, or make dinner, or throw in a load of laundry. I am now confident that a few episodes here and there of Bubble Guppies is not going to rot her brain (it's quasi-educational at times and they are kinda cute - ya, I'm rationalizing). Luckily, she said mom, dad and doggy before "bub bub" (yes, that stands for Bubble Guppies, judge away). She survived and it made my life easier. The world didn't end and it doesn't mean I'm a bad parent. It just means, for whatever reason, it didn't happen. No point in crying over it now.

  6. If someone offers to babysit, LET THEM - I was am the worst at this. Mini-me has rarely been cared for outside Mr. B and myself. I can now say I truly should have let other people watch her more often. Not even just to get her used to not having us with her but because I needed time to myself to just be myself in a setting outside of my mom role. Also, because Mr. B and I needed time to be a couple and not just a couple of parents. We could have used more date nights but thankfully, now that mini-me is a better sleeper, we actually get to spend time together in the evenings.

  7. Everyone and their mother (and especially your mother) will offer unsolicited advice - some of it is good, some of it is bad, most of it is just plain unwarranted. People usually have good intentions and are trying to be helpful. It gets annoying. Listen, follow if you like but at the end of the day you have to do what is right for you and for your family. Also, try not to punch people, that is discouraged.

  8. Find some good mom-friends - I was beyond fortunate that my best friend had a baby just over a month before me. I also have a great online group of moms AND a local group I met up with regularly. It sounds excessive, but I couldn't have made it through the year without ALL of them. Sometimes, you really just need someone to tell you that you're not going crazy, or it's okay to want to punch your husband (no matter how sweet), or cry out of pure exhaustion. Mommy friends (the good kind, not the judgmental competitive kind) are KEY to sanity in the first year!!!!!!
  9. You get through it, you just do - obvious for anyone who has been there, but only something you can see in hindsight. There were moments where I literally thought "I'm not sure I can do this" but you do. You just do. Those moments are a vague memory now (until the next one anyways) and like everything else, the moments pass. 



    Bottom-line - I did a lot of things I said I wouldn't, didn't do a lot of things I said I would. I got frustrated, I cried, I let her cry, and some days I really thought and felt like I was a shit mom. None of that actually made me a bad mom. It made me normal. It still makes me normal because it will continue to happen. You do the best you can as much as you can. I'm not the best mom in the world, but I'm doing alright. Some days I feel like a rockstar mom, others I feel like I'm not cut out for this. What I'm realizing is that's the nature of the job.




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    8 comments:

    1. Shaunacey- This is such a great post! The last time I had a newborn was 16 years ago, but I kept nodding yes as I read it. I let my 3 month old fall of the kitchen counter once on accident, and I'm still traumatized by it even though he was fine. Your daughter is so adorable, and the month pictures are a great idea :)

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      1. thank you, we think she's pretty cute!!
        Isn't it the worst feeling ever? Thankfully, they forget much easier than we do!

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    2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! Honest and heartwarming. Your daughter is a beauty! Hope you had a great day together!

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    3. Great post! So honest. Mimi me is adorable! I love her hair.

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      1. thanks Jordan! Isn't her hair crazy? Everyone told us it would fall out and it never has and it's soooo long now!

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    4. This is so true! Especially about the unwarranted advise. I think my mom is the queen of that! :) Mini me is too cute! You are an awesome mom and those mom groups, I would have died without them. No I'm not being dramatic!

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      1. I feel the same way about my mommy groups (and my mom ;)

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