One Year of Parenthood


One year ago today, after 25 hours of labor, and 10 months of pregnancy, I had a little boy. This little boy went from being a helpless little swaddled bundle of joy to a mobile and demanding toddler of joy.

Here is a sample of what I've learned this past year.

Pregnancy is the easy part. No really, anything that happened from vomiting everyday for 4-5 months to waddling around like the worlds heaviest bowling ball was resting on my pelvis was easy in comparison to now. Why? Because the Baby Buckshot was safe in my belly and not out in the world where he is only attracted to the most dangerous thing in the room. Why yes, BB, thank you for reminding me that I forgot to cover one electrical outlet in the entire house.

Babies sleep less over time. First day in the hospital, BB slept a lot. So much so that the hubs and I wondered if we had won the baby lottery. Until the second day, when he cried all night. And then the first week, when he didn't know when to sleep and when to stay awake. Then, just when we got any kind of nap and bedtime rhythm down, sleep regressions and teething hit and it was back to square one. Over. And. Over. But it is try, try again.

I am softer than I thought. Not just in the pudgey postpartum belly way, but in the, "Now, I have all the feels so when I watch a sappy movie or read a touching quote, tears" way. Something my husband, who had never really seen me cry before, is having to adjust to. There was a line in Love Actually, "Joni Mitchell is the woman who taught your cold English wife how to feel." Baby Buckshot is my Joni Mitchell.

Nothing bonds women like motherhood. I was never a girl's girl. Most of my friends were men, I had a hard time keeping long lasting friendships with women until motherhood. Suddenly, all the female friends of my past have re-emerged and there's an instant support group. Old friends, new friends, all friends. If you have a kid, I'm likely going to be your friend.  I'm going to guess this has to do with the fact that nothing, and I mean nothing, has taught me not to judge other people's lives like a little human being who has obviously been put into my life to see everyone else's perspective. No judgement here, other mamas. Just another mom trying to do her best with what she has.
Moms fight. Over everything. Did I also mention that nothing riles up other women against each other like motherhood? I wrote about it briefly here but I have to say it again. Nothing seems to hit a woman to her core like commenting on how she's opting to feed her infant child. Breastfeeding, formula, nursing in public, adding cereal to a bottle. Oh. My. Drama. Llama.

Poop can travel far. This is one of the early, most poignant lessons. A lifetime of only seeing excrement go into a toilet bowl did not prepare me for the ability of a tiny human to blow poop straight across a changing table, past a lamp and directly onto a wall. More than once.

The greatest expression of our love is also the greatest challenge to our marriage. My idealistic prenatal self thought that parenthood would be this amazing bonding experience where my husband and I would feel magically connected. And most of time, this is true. We have learned the ability to collaboratively take care of BB, even when upset with each other. We just seem to get upset with each other much more often. The first year of parenthood rivals the time we spent planning our wedding in terms of conflict and only now am I hearing that this is very common for first time parents. For those just starting, it takes about a year and it all works out.

Breastfeeding. There is no skill I have ever learned that is as emotionally charged as breastfeeding. And succeeding to this point give me this deep sense of accomplishment, for doing something my body was made to do. It's weird how something that was so stressful and painful in the beginning gives me sad pause when I think about it ending.

Everything is fleeting. For someone like me, who is a constant planner, learning to let go and deal with one short term problem at a time was a learning process. Solutions for some baby problems were absolutely necessary one minute and totally obsolete the next. Turns out, life seems to move slow but the moments just fly by.

My mother really, really, really loves me. It took becoming a mother in my 30s to realize the depth of my mother's love for me. It has spanned my lifetime, it has included my husband and now her grandchild. Until I loved my own baby, I had no idea the depth of a mother's love. Afterall, who goes from changing a person's diaper 30 something years ago to changing that person's child's diaper three decades later? Only a woman in love.

Happy birthday, Baby Buckshot. I love you to infinity and back.

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