Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What I learned in my first year of parenthood

(Maya at 3m & me)

"The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new" - Rajneesh

I feel like I lived 100 years within that first year of parenthood. It was amazing. Nothing prepares you for it. I wouldn't trade it for the world, and I would relive it over and over again - the good and the bad. When we had our baby - we didn't know how to feed her, how to change her diaper, how to hold her - but we learned - and we learned because we loved her more than anything. There's nothing more exhilarating and terrifying than becoming a parent for the first time.

Here's what I learned in my first year of parenthood:

Respect for mothers
Seriously. We grew the baby inside of us, we gave birth to the baby (have you ever seen the size of a baby's head? Imagine that!!!) all by ourselves, and had to LEARN how to breastfeed, all while being completely exhausted from childbirth. You're bleeding out of your ass for months, you're leaking out of your boobs, and you're more hungry than you were when you were pregnant! Not to mention trying to maneuver around everybody telling us what to do & overwhelmed husbands who is usually still in shock from the whole process! It makes me respect my female ancestors, as well as any mom I see on the road. We have freakin' superpowers, y'all!!!

Mother's Instinct
Mine started to kick in when I was pregnant. It's like all of a sudden you get all these psychic abilities, and suspicious feelings about people (of course, others will claim you are being" crazy and hormonal" but you are totally right about everything!) If you are able to harness this energy, it will serve you really well. From when your baby is feeling hungry, to the exact moment when to do a diaper change...nurturing a natural mother's instinct can improve your confidence as a parent. Sometimes you can develop this skill by just being mindful - stopping everything that you're doing and just listening to the universe, and your baby - especially if they're not talking, they can't tell you what's wrong. A mother and a child were physically attached for 9 months - so don't doubt your mother's instinct for a second!

DO NOT EVER take anyone's advice
People will give you advice to help guide you along, and they all think they know the best - but they really only know what worked for them. Some people can be really adamant and pushy about parenting or baby care styles - but when it comes down to it, it's whatever works - for YOU. You are the mom/dad and nobody can tell you what to do with your child. Not even the grandparents. NOBODY! Sometimes you have to put your foot down and create boundaries to all the unsolicited advice. Don't take the comments personally, shut your ears off, and create boundaries as needed.

Don't micromanage your spouse
This is SO important not only for the sake of your marriage, but for the sake of your husband's transition to fatherhood. We need to encourage fathers to be confident, connected with our babies, and not constantly looking to us for advice. They are going to make mistakes. They are going to feed them the wrong things. They are going to dress them wrong. Just let them be!!! Control your controlling tendencies. They are 9 months behind us in bonding with the baby. You have to be extremely patient with your husband during this time - and this is very hard considering you must be exhausted and sleep deprived!!! And don't let the inlaws step in too much and hinder his bonding time (especially if you're a Whindian couple, this is common)

Get the baby on a routine - NOT a schedule
Get in tune with your baby enough to know what their natural timings are - nap times, feed times, play times. If need be, write everything down. When you become a parent, you're on the baby's schedule - but you can create a flexible routine that matches your baby's rhythms. Children love routine - it is comforting to them, and they also learn from it. Setting up a routine will also help the parent - then you know when you can do things for yourself, like shower, eat, emails, etc. Having a routine actually makes life easier. And you can switch it up - do different styles of play each day, take the baby to restaurants for dinner, etc.

Make parent friends
I can't stress how important this is. I wrote about this in a previous post and making mom friends has really helped me. It is wonderful to talk to another mom, who is also learning how to maneuver around the tricky world of parenthood, share tips and advice (even marriage advice!), funny stories - AND your baby gets to have a play date. There's nothing more isolating than talking to one of your childless friends who is wondering what you're doing all day.

You will develop patience that you never knew you had
Parenting is a job that is constantly evolving and changing, and just experiencing all of this gives you a whole new skill set that you never knew you had - the biggest being patience and flexibility! There will be a dismal time... when the baby won't stop crying (in public!), when the baby vomits all over your hair, when you get poo on your face, when you start crying because you're so tired AND hungry...all of this develops patience that is sent to your brain from some other galaxy. Thank you, aliens, for this extraterrestrial superpower!

Be present in the moment
Kids grow up so fast. One minute they're just a big sleeping blob, the next minute they're crawling, walking - all within a year! It goes by SO FAST. And the next thing you know, they turn into little women/men who don't want a hug!!! So let the laundry pile up, let the dishes pile up, let your house get filthy, and just sit there and enjoy your baby (while she's still a baby - blink and you'll miss it!)

Take care of yourself, too
If you can't take care of yourself, then you can't take care of your baby. Get some sleep while you can. Eat nourishing food. Make an effort for your spouse. I learned this really fast due to my postpartum iron-deficiency where one time I almost fainted while I had Maya on the change table (scary!!!) And you also have to take care of yourself mentally. Get some alone time - pamper yourself. You deserve it. Being a parent is the most demanding job in the world! Your needs don't just disappear once you have a baby. Yes, you have less time. But make YOU a priority too.

Kids don't need a lot
Love them, feed them, and clean them. That's all. Everything else is not required. You don't need endless amounts of money to raise a child. You just need to love them and be emotionally present. It's really that simple.

Parenting, in a nutshell, is "WHATEVER WORKS". So what if you co-sleep. So what if you bottle feed. So what if you use a pacifier. So what if you breastfeed in public. If the baby's happy, if the family's happy - then who cares? WHATEVER WORKS!!!!!

P.S. Congrats to Kate & Wills on a healthy baby boy!

(Img via)



  1. This is really great advice, think you need your own column somewhere!! Especially relevant to me with a 6mo!! Love the part where you said the Dads are mine months behind, felt and related to every word!!

    1. Thanks Grace,
      So happy you can relate...the first year is so overwhelming and exciting, especially with a first baby. Everyday's an adventure!
      Dads are totally 9 months behind, they have to be encouraged so much to tap into that parental instinct. It can be really hard for takes a woman to encourage them gently!

  2. Maya is amazingly cute in that photo. Apologies to His Royal Highness in the picture below, but as a proud parent to two daughters, I gotta say girls rock!

    1. Thanks DH,
      I know, girls totally rock! My dream is to have 4 daughters!!!


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