That being said, 4 years of college, 6 years of teaching, 4.5 years of marriage..........nothing compares to the learning curve I experienced this year! Navigating the first year of motherhood was by far the most challenging thing I have experienced! whew. getting to the one year mark was kind of like getting a breath of fresh air. Everything seems so much easier now! NOT that I
have mastered motherhood or that there aren't PLENTY of challenges to navigate in the next, oh, 20+ years, but for me, I feel like I can at least peek at them after making it thru year #1.
Here is my run-down of year #1...................
I've learned that I can:
survive childbirth, still function after 4 hours of sleep (for a limited time), type one-handed, cook with someone wrapped around my leg, *count anything as exercise*, lug around 27 lbs quite easily, have more fun than I thought possible staying home, ask my hubby to takeover when needed, accept a favor when offered, be never too busy to stop and play, be heartbroken over an abused or neglected child in a whole new way, multi-task more than I thought possible, work a 12-hour work day [every day], and love my job more than I ever dreamed!
Best advice I was given:
1} the many friends who introduced me to Babywise. I wish I could shout from the rooftops how wonderful it is to have a baby on a schedule!! This has single-handedly been the best. resource. ever. in navigating the first year. Graham has such a good disposition and while I would LIKE to say he just takes after his mother :), I know the secret (he is on a beautiful schedule and THRIVES on his routine). But to the many who have said, "I tried that and it didn't work...." let me share a secret: sometimes you have to work really, really, really, hard. Some friends told me their babies "fell into a easy routine", Graham decided that wasn't the way for him. He prefered to go about it the hard way. So we had to work really, really, really, hard. So, while it may have been nice the other way, I am thankful. Because I can tell other moms who might struggle with this. I've been there. You can do it!
2} "parenting is not a competitive sport". (Parenting Mag) I love this! Everywhere I go, I can find moms that are more creative than me, smarter than me, thriftier than me, the list could go on....and on.... I must stay focused on doing what is best for me & my family and not worry about those "jones'!"
3} What you want your children to do in public, you must train them to do in private. (the Hiltons & Ormistons) My best example so far is that I have places in my house that Graham is not allowed to touch/get into. While it would be easiest to kid-proof everything, I want to train him at home that there are things that are off-limits sometimes, and I am hoping as he gets older, that will sink in. :) We will also try to apply as he gets older to training him at home to sit through worship times, or grocery trips, sharing, etc....
1} of course, seeing his face for the first time! I can remember it like it was yesterday!
2} first smiles
3}GETTING TO THE 12-HOUR SLEEP!!! (happened at 15 weeks for us)
4} seeing him express joy in something
6} when he started voluntarily snuggling
7}belly laughs [the best baby thing ever!!]
8} seeing him giggle & giggle with his daddy
9} doing family activities. I love hanging out and going to do things with the 3 of us!
no schedule at 2 weeks, or 4 weeks.....5 weeks we had a glimmer of hope and it finally came together! He had cried a LOT of the time those first few weeks, as soon as we were able to hit a solid schedule, he stopped crying. It was wonderful. :) Another thing I learned about the schedule is that it fluctuates a LOT throughout that first year! Every 1-2 months you might be adapting a different routine, but the concept stays the same, so as long as you stick to it, it's not too bad!
Food! For some reason, food has been the single. most. stressing. thing. of our year.
It was not my plan to stop nursing at 6 months, no way.... I was settled in for the year! But God had a different plan in mind and I had to come to accept that doing the best thing for my baby meant that he was getting adequate nutrition. And whether that was from me or from formula, it was okay. He was still a happy, healthy child and.........well, it was OKAY!
I also had a lot of stress as he began to eat solids on how much to give him, if he was getting enough, or too much........well, obviously he has never been under-nourished at any point of his life. :)
The thing I miss from pre-motherhood:
Running. yes, probably sounds weird, but I really do miss it. And yes, I do have a jogging stroller. have you tried to run pushing a 10 lb. stroller? with a 20+lb. baby in it? yeah, that's why I no longer run.
craziest thing to navigate:
lack of communication. most of the first year you are left to guess what the issue is! As a first-time mom, it sometimes would take a couple of DAYS to figure out OH, he's....teething or growing or needs an extra feeding or whatever it may be. It gets SO much easier as they start to be able to communicate their needs!
Moment of truth: I used to think people who used baby sign language were just showing off. yeah, gasp. Getting to the moment where Graham learned a few signs and was actually COMMUNICATING in a tangible way. Well, let's just say, I am now a believer.
cloth diapers no longer terrify me. In fact, I love them!
pre-child - I could sleep thru a hurricane and Andrew would wake at the sound of one raindrop. Now, he can sleep thru G crying out! And I pop awake up at the slightest little peep.
viewing my work at home as my "job". Since we both worked the first 4 years of our marriage, we got pretty used to sharing the tasks and workload at home. This year, I had to re-adjust my thinking to viewing our whole home as my primary responsibility. Not that Andrew doesn't help out, but it did take a while for me refocus my thinking on doing whatever I could to free him from "his chores".
Funniest daddy moment:
You know how it takes 20 minutes (at least) to get everything together to actually leave the house? One day, Andrew announced he was going to Home Depot. I said, "take Graham with you". He slung him over his shoulder, and out the door they went. I was a little in shock. He didn't have a diaper bag. a spit-cloth. a passy. a toy. shoes. the other 101 essentials. gasp, gasp, gasp. Well, guess what? They came home just fine and had the BEST time! Gotta love it daddy-style. :)
[my advice to] Take time for:
Reading God's word. It can be VERY difficult to be consistent (and give yourself lots of grace!), but this is the one thing that will bring complete peace to your soul. (I didn't say your DAY, but your soul) :)
Time alone with my hubby (and after 7pm when they're in bed, don't always count!). Even though I still find it hard to leave Graham and miss him when we leave him, it's still important to make those times away. This is not only good for you as a couple, but I think it's a good learning experience for baby too.
Take some mom time each week. It's usually not a massage or anything fancy (I wish!), in fact, it's usually grocery shopping or other errands, but one of the best things that Andrew does each week is give me an hour or two out of the house by myself. I highly recommend this to all moms as I find it very refreshing.
Andrew & I checking on our sweet baby sleeping each night before we go to bed.
Bringing him in our bed on weekend mornings for a little family snuggling.
To new moms, I would suggest:
Prov. 3:5 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Ask lots of questions & advice!
No matter what you do, your baby will survive and everything will be ok. :)
Thanks to anyone who managed through this long [pictureless] post! It's mostly for my sake, so I don't forget "the good ole' days"!
Thanks to all those who took my phone calls and emails. (I am sure there will be more in the future!)