The first year of motherhood is so special. I have learned an incredible amount about myself and parenting. If you have multiple kids you might be thinking I am naive and really have no clue. But I think every stage of parenting, regardless of the amount of kids you have, is a learning curve. Each year and milestone shares it’s own unique qualities.
From the moment we brought our daughter home and she pooped on the floor within the first five minutes, I just knew we would have our hands full. But our hearts are even fuller.
I am sharing 10 lessons and truths I have learned during my first year of motherhood.
You can’t fully prepare for labor & delivery
It doesn’t matter how many books you read, classes you take, or videos you watch. You can never fully prepare for the labor and delivery experience. This is partly because every experience is different, but also because you just don’t know how it feels until you go through it.
It’s good to mentally prepare for it to be hard, but don’t psyche yourself out too much. I definitely worried way too much about the pain. It’s a short blip of a memory compared to the joy you feel afterwards.
There is a fourth trimester
I swear hardly anyone talks about the fourth trimester or postpartum period. To me, this was so much worse than pregnancy, labor or delivery. I have talked about my postpartum experience before, but it was pretty rough. Mainly because I just had no idea what was coming.
You try to prepare and learn as much about pregnancy and labor as you can, but you tend to forget about the postpartum stage. I knew their would be some soreness and healing taking place, but I didn’t prepare for the emotions, cracked nipples, hair loss, hunger or extreme exhaustion. It is not all sunshine and rainbows once baby comes, but it does get better!
Motherhood doesn’t come naturally
Some women might have given birth and her supermom powers automatically took over. But, I don’t think that is the case for most of us. Or at least for me. This mom thing has been complete trial and error. The motherly instincts don’t necessarily come the second your baby is placed in your arms. My instincts have developed, and still continue to develop over time. So, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not a mom genius quite yet.
Your love for your baby grows
I had this misconception that I would be overcome with SO much love and joy that I wouldn’t be able to contain my tears.
I didn’t cry with joy. I was so elated to have my daughter, but the love grows every single day. See, when my baby was first born, I didn’t really know her. She was kind of like a stranger in a way. But as time goes by and I learn more about her, I love her that much more.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t cry happy tears when you first have your baby. It is okay for your love to grow with her.
You can run on little to no sleep
Yes, I have talked about this before and so has every other mom on the planet. But, it is so true. I always thought working night shift as nurse was the most tired I would ever be. Nope.
Having a newborn challenges your ability to function without sleep. And let me tell ya, I was very challenged. But this gets better too!
Don’t obsess over eat, play, sleep
Before having my daughter I read so many books, blogs and articles on Babywise, and the eat, play, sleep method. Yes, this is a very solid method and I do believe it sets up good habits for your baby.
But guys, I struggled so much with this in the beginning. After stressing myself out the point I would cry in the shower every night, I decided to just let her do her thing. Let her sleep when she wants, eat when she wants and play when she wants.
The freeing feeling that came when I let go of the expectations I put on myself and my daughter in terms of this routine was amazing. You aren’t a bad mom and you don’t have a bad baby if you can’t get this routine down. Some babies just march to the beat of their own drum.
Don’t obsess over schedules
This goes with the point made above. Don’t put high expectations on getting your baby on a set schedule. Schedules are amazing, but they aren’t for everyone, including babies.
If you read my post about our mom and baby routine, you know that my daughter just doesn’t nap, eat or do anything at the same exact times everyday. I think some babies thrive off of schedules, but mine doesn’t need them. I spent so much time stressing over this when it really isn’t a big deal!
Your baby doesn’t need a ton of things
By things, I mean toys, gadgets or products. Out of all of the millions of things we got from our shower, we used probably 5 to 10 of them on a regular basis. They don’t need 3 swings, 5 play mats and 52 blankets. You can check out my video on 0-3 month essentials here if you need some ideas.
Your relationship will change
Many things change after having a baby and your relationship with your significant other is one of them. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad change. You are learning how to be parents with your best friend, and that can be a very fun and exciting experience. But it is also filled with exhaustion, worry and limited time for each other.
In my post, How to Keep Your Marriage Strong After Baby, I talk about the steps my husband and I take to make it work. Because it does take work to be a parent and to be a spouse.
Time is a thief
In just three short weeks I will have officially graduated from my first year of motherhood. It’s like a broken record on repeat when you hear people say “you just wait…time goes by so fast”. You crack a smile and think “I’ve been up since 3AM with a crying infant so, no, time isn’t moving very fast right now”.
But I am officially one of those broken records because time really does move SO FAST. Appreciate every moment with your newborn baby because you will wake up the next morning and she will be one. And I imagine it is the same for every year.
Perhaps my biggest lesson of all is to live in the moment and really soak in every second I have with her. The days are hard, but they are beautiful.
What did you learn during your first year of motherhood?