Since baby learned to walk these past few weeks, I tried to keep her in one piece and unscathed before my family came to visit for her 1st Birthday. I hold my breath as I watch her walk/run, barely missing the corners of the table, the walls, the couch. She walks like she’s in a drunken stupor, wobbling like her legs are made of jell-o. I was paranoid she’d end up with two black eyes and missing teeth by the time they all arrived.
Luckily none of that happened and everything went well. Until the morning they all left and not even 5 minutes go by does she run face first into the end table, leaving a bruise on her cheek that’s been there for a week. I AM a bad mom!
I can’t believe it’s been a year already. She changed so much after a year. To all new moms to newborns: things change drastically after a year (in other words, IT GETS BETTER). Just be patient, and you’ll see that all that hard work, the sleepless nights, the feedings, all pay off. They become more independent, vocal and expressive. They have personalities. They act like little people instead of these helpless creatures that constantly needed our help having their basketball sized heads propped up by you 24/7 because their toothpick sized necks couldn’t hold it up. She’s the kind of baby that I imagined before I had her. Not really a baby, but more of a toddler.
I think the first 6 months caring for a newborn was the hardest thing I ever did. It took me around 8 weeks to recover from childbirth (horrifying labor stories here and here), fighting infections, fevers, fighting my dependency on pain relievers, getting by with 2-3 hours of sleep a night, soothe a baby that wouldn’t stop crying for weeks, feeling like a breastfeeding failure because I couldn’t get her to latch, feeling guilty for giving her formula because I couldn’t get her to latch, not being able to tell her wants/needs by certain crying cues for months so I lied and pretended I knew so I wouldn’t feel like a failure, and basically feeling like everything I did was wrong. I cried multiple times everyday out of frustration, guilt or panic. If I managed to get her to sleep for the night, rather than feeling it was a success, I’d stay up ALL NIGHT and check on her every hour or so, because why was she sleeping so soundly? Was there something wrong? Is she breathing? Maybe I should poke her….oh there she goes, crying again.
During the past year, all I wanted was 5 minutes of alone time everyday. You never think you’d miss alone time that much until you have a baby. Even when I had someone take care of her so I could run some errands, I still couldn’t unwind or relax. I still thought and worried about her. I am and always will be responsible for her for the rest of my life. There IS NO TIME OFF. You always think, you’re just responsible for them til their 18 then they’re on their own, right? Just because they’re ready to be independent doesn’t stop you from being their parent. It sucks. And you fantasize that when they have kids of their own, they can feel all the pain and stress you did. And thank you for all the hard work of raising them (Haha).
Sometime around the 6 month mark, she hit a major milestone. She began sitting up by herself. Great! I don’t have to hold her up all the time now. My arms got a little less achy, my lower back got some rest, my tendonitis was going away, and she could occupy herself with her toys. Then at the 8 month mark, she began crawling. FANTASTIC! Now she can go exploring and doesn’t need me to carry her around the house as much. Then at the 11 month mark she started walking. THANK GOD! IT’S ABOUT TIME!!! She was getting too heavy to carry around. Now she can run, kick a ball around the room, follow me around the house, walk outside, etc. Then she started talking too. “What’s this? What’s that? Go Up. Get Down. Bubbles! Read Book.” And it goes on and on and on. I couldn’t believe how many words she picked up the past year. She’ll surprise me with a phrase or question every now and then. I’ll be like, “You already read the ‘TRUCKS’ book 5 times, get me another book to read.” And she’ll dig through the shelves and find a new book. She understands me. I’ll say, “It’s time to brush your teeth!” and she opens her mouth and sticks her tongue out. Daddy will say, “Who wants a bath?” And there she goes, running to the bathtub, throwing her toys into the water.
It’s amazing the progress you see happen right before your eyes. Every week something new and exciting happens. Well, to parents, it’s new and exciting. The first birthday celebrates all the hard work you and your baby went through. She is so much easier (not easy, but easier) to take care of than when she was a newborn. I wish I knew back then what I know now. I wouldn’t have tortured myself as much with all the guilt and stress. But it all paid off. I am a little sad she isn’t a tiny little baby either, but I’m more happy that she’s a toddler.
Happy 1st Birthday to my baby girl!