I have tried to sit down and write this post for about five months but every time that I would look at the computer screen my mind would race. How could I encompass all that is the first year of motherhood in one post?
The need to write it was so strong, though. I felt as if a piece of me wasn't complete until I did. Towards the end of my first year with Olivia, I knew a lot of people who were having babies. Some were close to me, others were just acquaintances. I really wanted to tell those new mothers that they would be alright. And when my sister-in-law had her baby eleven months after I had given birth to Olivia, I kept telling myself write something. Write something. Write SOMETHING.
But I couldn't. Not yet. They say you should wait until you are further removed from a situation before you should write about it. Maybe I just needed time. But here it is:
The first year is magical. And exhausting. Liberating. Frightening. It has so many highs. And, well, sometimes it is really, really shitty. But mostly, there is a peacefulness in loving another tiny human so much. That baby will reach into your soul and allow it experience things that you never thought possible.
Our first year was rough. (I say "our" because my husband was on this roller coaster as much as I was, although, at times, I felt very alone.) In that year, I started a new job, we moved to a new house, and my husband's family sold their business which meant that he essentially started a new job as well. Olivia didn't start sleeping through the night until she was ten months old so that in itself was exhausting.
We were beyond drained. And so out of our element: My husband and I were selfish before we had Olivia. And I don't mean that in a bad way - I think everyone should take time before they have kids to be really, really selfish. But, basically, we would both come and go as we pleased. I would go to CrossFit or the gym, not needing to check in with him. I would plan weekends away with friends. He would sign up for two summer lacrosse leagues and go to happy hours when he saw fit. When he traveled for work, it wasn't a big deal - I got some "me" time. And we rarely fought. At least not about anything that couldn't be resolved within an hour.
And then came baby responsibilities. And sleep deprivation. And we fought more than we had ever fought before. (I know it sounds crazy, but I wish we had fought more before so we knew how to fight.) And things were said. And while were were both doing more than we thought we could handle, we both felt like the other should be doing more. Rich took on grocery shopping and bottle washing and Babies R Us errands in addition to everything he was doing before. I was breastfeeding all. the. time. Or pumping. It felt like my body wasn't my own. And so we got resentful.
And we also had a baby. A baby who cried and pooped and spit up more times than I count. A baby who after a diaper change, a feeding, and a lot of rocking was still crying so we both just sat on the bed cried and then called dad and begged him to come home from work. A baby who refused a pacifier from her mom so the only way to soothe her was to feed her which meant no real clothes for mama. Or time to make dinner. Or time to even eat.
And there were days when I wanted to throw in the towel. I literally thought I am such a shitty mom. This does not come naturally to me. I can't do this. I CAN'T.
But then she would cuddle up against my neck. And then she smiled. And then she started cooing. And I thought I am going to die. My heart is literally going to explode out of my chest. Every damn time.
And at three months, I told my husband how much easier things were.
And at six months, I thought this motherhood thing wasn't that bad.
At nine months, I remember thinking and telling everyone I possibly could that nine months is wonderful. She is seriously the most amazing baby ever!
And then a year came and I almost felt like an expert. Almost.
So the reason I am writing this is for those that are in that season of their life. For those that are pregnant and terrified of what is to come. For those very new moms who are still sore from child birth and only sleeping in two hour increments. For those that are a few months in and don't think they will ever feel normal again.
Some will tell you to enjoy every moment. That time moves so fast. I am here to tell you that that is bullshit. When you have a blowout diaper on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere, you don't have to enjoy that moment. And, actually, take a moment to feel really, really sorry for yourself. But I want you to know that inside of you is an incredible strength. So after you have those hard moments and you take a few seconds to feel awful and cry a little bit, call on everything you have, rally, and keep going. Get it done, mama. You will be amazed at what you can do.
In the beginning, it will feel like a triumph to wash your hair. And then you will figure out how to run an errand between feedings. And then you may even have a day when you are able to get a workout in AND cook dinner. And then you will figure out all the logistics of going back to work. Or you will have to deal with the emotions of putting your career on hold. And you will begin to have phone calls with friends again. And then dinner dates. And you may even be able to leave your baby with someone else for an entire night so you can go on a work trip. Or attend a wedding. Or just get a night away with your husband.
And pretty soon, you will be amazed at all you can do. All that you are doing.
And you won't always get it right but know that you are doing enough. Don't beat yourself up when you forget to bring in a birthday treat for her class because you just spent months planning an epic birthday party at home. Don't worry about the ridiculous outfit she is wearing today because dad dressed her. He tried right? Don't get upset when you spend time planning and cooking a beautiful baby-led weaning meal only to have her feed it to the dog. She just wasn't feeling broccoli that day, ok?
You can do this. You will survive. You are an amazing mom. It doesn't necessarily get easier but you get better. You will get more sleep. You will feel more confident. And you will become even more amazing than you already are.