We made it! Our sweet little Violet is one year old and we can say we made it through the first year of parenting. It has been more challenging, tear-inducing, sleepless and wonderful than we ever could have imagined and we are so so grateful for our amazing little one but I firmly believe that honesty is the most important thing when we talk about being a parent so here we are. In the age of social media it’s incredibly easy to feel like you are the failure if your life doesn’t look like a beautiful instagram feed and the curse of comparison is a tragic symptom of being an over-tired, sometimes frazzled new parent.
Over the past year, I’ve spent so many nights Googling symptoms, behaviors, and quirks, so sure she had some incurable ailment that would take her away from us and spent many many nights worried that other moms weren’t feeling what I was feeling. In my attempts to alleviate my fears, I searched for list-alls that shed light on what moms ahead of me knew that I didn’t. Wisdom that only a veteran mom could share because motherhood in the first year is lonely, terrifying and joyful all in the same breath. So now it’s my turn to share and it’s my hope that somewhere a new parent is reading this, snuggling their newborn babe who just won’t sleep anywhere but their arms and that person no longer feels alone. I’m here for you. I was you and I still am today. I hope you find this post on a dark day when you can’t remember the last time you showered and all the breast pump pieces or bottles are dirty. I hope you read this and know that I’m with you and you will get there. I promise.
Your Birth Story Matters but It’s Not Everything
Violet entered this world in a shit storm of chaos and the only word I have to describe it is traumatic. I’m grateful that I avoided an emergency C-Section and it very well could have ended worse but that does not invalidate my experience. Her first 48 hours of life were filled with IV’s, medications, and worry that something would be wrong. That our puffy, bruised new love wouldn’t come home with us or that there would be lasting effects of her birth that would impact her long term. But it didn’t. Even if it had, we’ve learned over the past year that we can do hard things. We can take on challenges and put one foot in front of the other until we get to where we want to be, or at least moving in the right direction. If your little one came into the world in ways that still leaves you bruised, mentally or physically, know that it’s okay to not be okay for a while but it’s important to talk to others about how you’re feeling in order to heal. Remember that no matter where you are right now, you made it through.
It’s Okay to Not Have a Routine
We are two working parents with conflicting schedules who still want to maintain some sense of autonomy. We travel, have hobbies, work long hours and try to get to the gym when we can. That means we rely heavily on other caregivers for our babe. Daycare, grandmas and aunties all play a role in loving on our girl and help to ensure that we can sneak in a workout or take the evening meeting. Because of this, sometimes bedtime is later than usual. Sometimes we skip bath time or she falls asleep in our arms because we were gone all day and missed her. Will this make her a resilient little lady? I like to think so. Moral of the story, do what you can and don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help.
Co-Sleeping is Not the End of the World
I told myself my child would never sleep in my bed. Sometimes she does because it’s the only way she will sleep. Sometimes it’s because we missed her and want her close. Sometimes it’s because it’s the weekend and sleepovers are fun. Whatever your reasons are, know that you are the parent and you call the shots. If you’re co-sleeping and don’t want to be, look into resources that can help you. But don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong by snuggling that babe close. They’re little for such a short amount of time and I’m choosing not to regret these precious, sleepy moments with her.
You Have to Keep Taking Care of You
Let me be clear. This does not mean rushing to lose the baby weight, fitting into your pre-baby clothes or crushing your soul trying to look like you have it all together. I will forever advocate for a healthy lifestyle but I know all too well that it’s hard and sometimes what you value and how you behave do not always align. So focus on a few things you can do to help take care of your well being. Move your body, fast or slow, at home or in the gym, and know that it’s a gift to yourself to get that time. Drink lots of water. I’ve spent 365 days mainlining coffee but my hair, skin, and organs thank me for the 100+ ounces of water I consume daily. Eat your vegetables. Let your body know that yes, those pregnancy cravings did a number on your taste buds but hostess snack cakes cannot be the new normal 6 days a week and lastly, remove the guilt. I spent the first 10 months of Violet’s life feeling guilty for not working out, for not working out hard enough when I did, for food choices I did or didn’t make and for not being closer to my goals. It wasn’t until I shifted my routine, found something new that worked for me, and stopped applying a skewed sense of worth to everything, that I started to feel more like me.
Your Relationship Will Change & That’s a Good Thing
If you are a parent you know what I mean. Touch overload is a real thing and when you have a baby clawing at you all day long, it’s easy to feel burnt out and have nothing left at the end of the day when it’s just you and your partner. You will argue about who changed more diapers and why you deserve a break. You’ll be short tempered and crave time by yourself. But you will also have a best friend who eagerly sends photos of your baby back and forth, trying to top the cuteness. You will become people who discuss poop color, texture and frequency without batting an eye. You will find so much joy in your little human doing basic skills and discuss how sure you both are that she’s smarter than any other baby around. You will commiserate during teething and lean on each other when she’s sick and neither of you can sleep. You will love them completely and want to punch them in the face and that’s totally and completely normal. Communicate. Ask for help. Be honest and remember that your baby came into the life you had already built together.