Reflections on motherhood part 2 – the first year…
I’ve been wanting to post more about my experiences earlier on at 3, 6 and 9 months but see, my baby girl turned one already. Guess I was too busy discovering and learning all these things that I’m about to share with you. Of course, everybody starts with “I can’t believe it’s already been a year”. I remember the day before she came, the birth and every week and month. And luckily I wrote it all down in her book in case I’d forget any detail. Just like my mom did with me and I am still re-reading it. Weekly since pregnancy. My feelings, her first smile, her weight, every milestone, her feeding and sleeping schedule, when did she turn around, her first solid food, etc. Despite being tired and yearning for full nights sleep, despite some very challenging moments and lonely times, it has been the best year. Nellie has been bringing us so much laughter, joy and happiness and has filled our hearts with a new indescribable and unconditional love.
The first year in 10:
1. “TMI=Too much information” In my previous post* I had already shared breastfeeding mom’s munchies and sleep deprivation. My brain felt like the hard drive of a computer; like it is constantly on red saying “disk almost full”. So much new information to remember. I used to always forget something when leaving the house with the stroller (fresh water, fill diapers, bring other clothes etc). In the end just remember they really need your protection and a lot of love and affection.
2. “Forgiven, forgotten, forbidden” You still haven’t forgiven or forgotten those who came empty handed (food-wise not gift-wise) in those first few weeks nor those who asked you the ‘forbidden’ questions (i.e. “So what do you do all day?” etc)
3. “Flying with baby” When you are going on a plane with the baby: passengers look at you as if you’re going to hijack the plane. If your baby cries during the flight you get two kinds of looks: 1. pity – mostly by parents who’ve been through this many times and/or 2. anger – mostly by men. Can’t blame them, I used to do the same. Only after landing when she was quiet after all they ask her name or give me a smile.
4. “The suppository victory” Every new mom dreads her baby’s first illness. But once it happens, you just erase yourself completely and naturally, you only worry and care for your child. Remember how good it felt when your mom took care of you when you were sick. This is where you bless and praise breastfeeding once again. Another epic moment of baby’s first illness is the suppository. Failing the first suppository action feels worse than failing an exam or your driver’s license. I won’t go into details. But here again, overcoming it makes you gain a lot of Mommy-confidence.
5. “Matching outfits” Who needs style advice, Pinterest or fashion magazines for clothing inspirations? Just match your clothes to the baby’s outfit. Or to the colours of your stroller or Babybjorn.
6. “False needs” Society has come up with false needs and new moms are easy targets. I still get angry because of it. Charging way too much money for classes, workshops or accessories that are completely unnecessary at those ages. Or a mobile in stroller – nature is the most beautiful view; let your child look at the skies, the trees and the birds.
7. “The phone” like you once knew it enters another dimension. While you may have enjoyed phone conversations in the past, this is definitely something that stays in the past. You have no time, no hands and no patience for phone calls. You have better things to do. Oh and did you also curse out loud anyone calling you between 6 and 8 pm?
8. “Knowledge is power, ignorance is loss” Being a mom feels like playing chess: you always have to think and prepare for the next step or more. There are no two days the same, everyday is something new. And if you like routine and have trouble with change, here’s another challenge for you: you barely have time to adjust to the current schedule that you already have to adapt the next. But what helped me through all stages was to be and stay informed, to read and learn about what happens physically and emotionally. Unfortunately too many ignorant people will teach you lessons and too many myths are accepted as facts.
9. “Loneliness” It feels like there is a women-mommy code not to talk about the difficulties ahead during the first year until you bring it up retroactively. You’re lonely and alone when you need to talk: your friends without babies assume you have no more right to complain (I used to think like this too) and your friends with kids have no time. Luckily some friends stick around and some new bonds are being made. I don’t feel as lonely as I used to since Nellie is in my life.
10. “The others” The amount of justifying you have to do towards others. How many times have I had to explain “No, my baby doesn’t take a pacifier. She sucks her thumb and it is fine. She self soothes and uses it when she’s tired or hungry. And no it will not ruin her teeth.” AND we can see her face on photos. And so many more examples I force myself not to share. Not to focus on the negative and bad vibes. Just learn your lesson and move on knowing your truth.
During the first few months “colics” and “teething” are the code word for every cry. And we worry. And yes basically it can only be 4 things: tired, hungry/thirsty, pain, diaper. But I believe in Aletha Solter’s approach. Babies need to cry to let their feelings/nerves/frustrations/anxieties/fears out and we must show them that it is okay to feel strong emotions and that crying is the way to express them. Instead of grabbing for a toy for distraction. How about telling your baby “it is OKAY to cry, I am here for you” instead of rocking and jumping while saying “don’t cry don’t cry”. They need to feel it is okay to cry and that we are here to love, hug and protect them. With time you won’t be scared of tears and cries anymore; you will know how to interpret them and sooth calmly. Babies are the reflections of us, if we keep cool they will stay cool too.
Maybe it’s because I gave birth at a more mature age but this first year I spend it all with my baby. She has rearranged my list of priorities. Luckily I feel I’ve had more than enough time for myself, my work and other achievements and occupations; and I feel more available and devoted to spend most of my time with her “cause I don’t wanna miss a thing”. I’m also blessed to have a few precious people around me to help when work gets crazy (show business).This precious time is unique and we can never get it back. If i leave her for more than 2-3 hours i already miss her like crazy.
That first birthday party is not only a celebration of the baby’s 1st year. It’s also a major milestone for us mothers. We deserve a hug, a pat on a back and seeing our babies growing and glowing is the best reward. Like a graduation from Mommycollege. Being thrown into parenthood was like moving to a new country without knowing the language. You just learn it by practicing and speaking it. And you learn that your baby is there to help you and guide you, if you let her, if you connect to her. Maybe she taught me more than i taught her. To let go and trust her. They know best what they need.
Oh and don’t forget to dance a lot… and sing… and laugh…
*Previous post “Reflections on Motherhood part 1 – the first three months…” Read it here