I can’t believe that my first child will be one year old in a few short weeks. In a sense it feels like the year has gone incredibly slow, but then looking back on things, it has gone extremely fast. I guess the saying is true, “The days are long, but the years are short”. It’s amazing to me that my husband and I have been able to keep a living human alive for 365 days. While I’m not an expert, I have learned a few things over the year to pass on to those of you who are preparing to enter parenthood, just starting the journey, or in the thick of the first year. I like to think of the following as a survival guide/things to consider when dealing with the first year of parenthood.
- Have a support network: I was fortunate enough to have three of my good friends have babies
the same year as me, two of them within the same month. We all went through things together, could ask each other questions, or just vent when we were having a bad day. If you aren’t as lucky as me, make sure to find a network, whether it’s attending an ICMB playgroup, a mommy-and-me event at your local hospital, or the different Facebook groups that are around in this digital world. A network of people allows you to not feel alone when going through the rough days and is there to celebrate with you for the milestones.
- Remember to laugh: Some days are better than others, but at the end of the day, remember to laugh. Laugh with your partner, laugh with your baby, laugh at the current situation that you have found yourself in; whatever it is, make sure to laugh. I remember when our daughter was 7-8 months old and my husband was giving her a bath in the tub. I hear him say, “Ahhhh, she is pooping!” I rush in with a plastic sack and immediately
start scooping the poop out of the bathtub. Afterward, my husband and I couldn’t stop laughing at what had become of our lives, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Enjoy the little moments: Even when you are up at 2 a.m. with a teething baby, try to enjoy the cuddles and the rocking in your arms. The lack of sleep often means that your little one needed you, which is a good feeling. I’m not sure why that need has to come at the price of sleep, but I digress. The need for you won’t be there long, so try to savor each and every moment.
- Trust your gut: Mommy’s gut is usually right. Is baby not acting like his or herself? Trust your gut and get them check out. If you are still feeling like the answer given wasn’t right, keep asking or exploring until you feel you have the right answers. Remember you are the expert on your child and know when something isn’t normal for them.
- Stay positive and remember how lucky you are to have a baby—even during the hard times: I have several friends that have struggled with infertility, and my heart often breaks for them. I’m lucky enough to have this beautiful child and was chosen to be her mom. Even though the days sometimes are hard, exhausting, and chaotic, there are so many other women out there that would trade with me in a heartbeat. Try to remember how fortunate you are to be a mom when so many others are praying for the opportunity each day.
- Listen to advice with an open mind, but do what works for you: Everyone means well when they give advice or give suggestions on things. They are just trying to help, but remember there are many different ways to do things. You have to do what works for you, your child, and your family.
Take time for you and your partner: It’s easy to lose yourself and your relationship when a child enters the picture. Your life easily starts to revolve around keeping the child alive and happy, but try not to forget who you were before the child came along. Take time to go do things for yourself that you enjoyed doing before you were a mom. Go shopping without your baby, enjoy a pedicure with friends, or even go and get your haircut! It’s amazing how rejuvenated you can feel after a little time to yourself. The same can be said for your relationship with your partner. Don’t forget that you were a team and in love before the baby came along. Get a babysitter and go out for a date!
- Try not to compare your baby to others: This is easier said than done. Babies do things at different times. There is a large span of “normal” for when they start to crawl, pull up on things, walk, talk, etc. Some babies are early walkers but late talkers, and vice versa. and that’s okay. They will do things when they are ready, but as always trust your mommy gut, and if you think something isn’t right get things checked out.