When they wheeled me out of the delivery room, and into the recovery room, I was holding my little bundle of life. It was the first time since she had been born that I had gotten to absorb all of her beautiful wonder. Due to the chaos of my labor and cesarean surgery, I had been too shaken up and nervous to hold her right away. It’s a topic I don’t talk about much. A little out of shame, but mostly because it’s a debilitating regret.
I had not handled the day very well, and I was drowning in severe pain. I just didn’t have the energy to hold the little human I had carried around with me for nine months. I watched on as the doctors handled her and as my husband cradled her. I felt defeated and not worthy of being this little person’s mom. My heart broke as I felt undeserving. My confidence was shattered, my strength gone. I could not handle birthing her. I felt weak, both physically and mentally. Mothers, I thought, were not weak.
Fast forward a full year and that woman I was then is not the woman I am now. I have grown so much, both physically and mentally. I’m not saying I could power through another delivery like a warrior because realistically, I know, I am no super hero when it comes to pain. But that doesn’t mean I am not strong, and that defiantly does not make me any less of a mother.
My daughter has taught me so many wonderful things. Things that have given me courage and strength. Things that have allowed me to be the best mother to her that I can possibly be. Things that have allowed me to grow and to continue growing.
Here’s what I have learned my first year as a mother:
Nothing Goes As Planned
You would think that by the ripe age of thirty, most people would have figured that out by now. Nope, not me, but don’t worry. I’ve got it now. From pregnancy, to delivery, to newborn stage – all the way up until forever. Nothing will ever go the way you hope it does. I’ve learned to plan for the worst, and not in a negative – “nothing goes right” way, but in a, “well, at least I brought extra underwear” kind of way. Especially when you have kids, it’s less stressful when you are fully prepared for a natural disaster.
You’re Probably Not Going to Bounce Back
If you do, you are a Goddess, and I want a picture of you on my wall, because “Damn, girl!” This could fit in the “nothing goes as planned,” category. I told myself that I was going to start working out as soon as my doctor gave me the “Go get ’em Tiger.” Right! What I got was a full year (no joke) of pain, discomfort, frustration, and slow crawl towards getting my groove back. And it’s still not all there. It’s more like currently recharging.
Newborns Are NOT Easy
Whatever you do, don’t listen to what Karen says. The Newborn Stage is not the easiest stage. At least not when you are a new mother. It’s hard as hell. Your whole life has just been switched upside down, your world now revolves around a tiny person, and you don’t sleep. You’re exhausted! The baby’s crying, you’re crying, the dog’s crying… At least when they become a toddler, you have a full year to grow accustomed to the sleep deprivation and you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of your hair. Yea toddlers are hard, but so are newborns!
Your Fears Change
Before kids I was afraid of heights, sharks, moths, and dying. Now, I will hang over a cliff to rescue my child from falling into shark infested waters, all while moths fly in and out of my mouth. I’m still afraid of dying though, but not in “I’ll never exist, what’s after death,” kind of way, but because I am scared that my child will grow up without a mother. I’m also afraid of baby snatchers, fast cars, loud trucks, and dropping my kid off at daycare. Your fears will revolve around the health and safety of your child. Your old fears become obsolete and your new fears become almost intolerable.
It Goes By Too Fast
My pregnancy lasted fifteen years, but the second my little girl was born, we warp sped in the Delorean to 2019, and here we are. Trapped in the future of walking, tantrums, and independence. Now, instead of browsing twitter when I hide in the bathroom, I’m drowning in the tears of yester-year as I scroll through old photos and videos. Where did my baby go? One minute, you’re staring at a perfectly wrapped baby burrito, the next minute your negotiating with a raging-babbling toddler to close the refrigerator door. It’s a wild ride, so hang on, and take a lot of pictures.
You Won’t Sleep
Whether it’s because you were magically gifted with a shitty sleeper, or because you can’t remember if you turned the stove off, locked the door, payed the light bill, or suddenly remembered that the leftovers are currently going on day 19, you won’t sleep. Like ever! Like never! Like, just snort 5 scoops of ground coffee because it’s going to be a long day. (That’s a joke, don’t do it. Just drink the coffee.) The tired you felt as a kid, a college student, or the ignorant adult that’s never been woken up by a child – tired, is nothing compared to how tired you will be as a parent. Especially your first year. After a full year, sleeping in until seven will become a luxury.
You’ll Lose Yourself A Little
Becoming a parent is an out of this world experience. You’re not going to be the same person you were before you had kids. You’re just not. Your pre-kid lifestyle is gone, your priorities change, and you will lose a big chunk of time for yourself. As a matter of fact, that time will be very hard to find. But, you become a person that you never thought you could ever be. You become a new you, an even better you, and it is the sweetest thing.
You’re Going To Get It Wrong
I have not met a perfect parent yet, so I walked away from perfection. Instead, I’m just focusing on being the mom my daughter needs me to be. It took me getting it wrong a thousand times to understand that I am never going to get it right. Parenting is a never ending learning process. You don’t graduate from parenthood, you just gain experience. And then you have another kid who is nothing like your first kid and you pretty much start from the beginning. It’s challenging and rewarding all at the same time.
Mom Guilt Is Real
You’re always going to feel guilty. We want to do what’s right for our babies. After all, we are their mom’s. Isn’t that our jobs. Whether we stay home or work, clean or play, sleep in or stay up, self care or spend time with our kids. We convince ourselves that we are doing the right things, but there will always be that voice in the back of our head telling us that we are not. It’s never ending, and honestly, it’s probably never going to go away. My best route is do what I feel in my heart is right.
I have learned so many things as a mother. I am sure I will learn so many more things as the years go on. This first year has been the best year yet. I can not wait to see how my daughter and I both grow in the years to come. Most importantly, I’m learning to give myself a little slack. Parenthood is the greatest, messiest journey you will ever go on. You may be slightly crazier than you were a year ago, but at least you got adorable, little – havoc wrecking dinosaurs out of it.
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