The First Year!

I wrote this a couple months ago when Alex turned one but life has been a little too chaotic to find the time to post it with pictures and stuff, so here it is!

I have a one year old!

It has been such an amazing year!  If I could summarize all that it was the best way to do it would be a silent film with all these little captured memories playing on a projector.  I’ll do my best with some photos, but the sum of all these memories creates something so beautiful its very hard to put it into words.  I’ll try my best.

Becoming a mom has been by far, the very best, most hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  I stand here today, a year later in a body I barely recognize, a face with more wrinkles, yet a fierce strength more intense than I ever knew I had.

The only thing that’s been easy in this journey has been loving her.  Cameras have captured a small fraction of the moments.  You see the two smiling parents in the hospital, holding their love in their arms.  You can see the joy, but you can’t feel the fierce love, the fear, the struggles.  You don’t capture with a lens the pain of a woman who had just had a c-section and had her infant taken away from her while she vomits and shakes alone.  The “referred pain in her shoulders that the narcotics she’s on can’t seem to touch.  You can’t see the worry she feels for the infant that she carried lovingly for 9 months in her womb that is now empty and she has nothing to do but wait.  The joy as the baby is finally placed back in her arms and gets to nurse for the very first time.

So here goes.  My first year as a mom.

That first night in the hospital, beyond exhausted but can’t sleep a wink because I just want to stare at my new beautiful baby because nothing else in the world will ever come close to this moment ever again and I don’t want to miss a single second.  The first diaper change that happened at midnight.   Two new parents struggled in the darkness to figure out what to do.  Just how long does it take 2 new parents to change a poopy diaper?  About 20 minutes.

The next few days, amidst all the visitors I try to get the hang of nursing and end up with bloody and bruised nipples and continue to smile lovingly as everyone else wants to hold my baby.  The craving for a shower when the nurses won’t let me when more and more people keep dropping by and I’m feeling so gross.

The first time I witnessed my baby writhing in pain and couldn’t help her.  The looks on the nurses faces when I l burst into tears while watching them trying to take samples of my baby’s blood and see the bruises on her tiny little hands from all the previous attempts.  My sweet baby red and screaming in pain.  The first of many moments that truly broke my heart.  The tears that won’t stop and the realization that I  would go through the pains of labor every day if it would just to take away this pain for her.

The absolute joy when the doctor tells you that your baby does not have your infection and that you are able to take her home after 5 long days in the hospital.

That first car ride home when Tim and I exchanged glances in disbelief that there was a baby in the car with us.  To know that we were both thinking “What do we do now?”

That first night at home when I slept in 5-10 minute increments while Tim and I took turns putting the pacifier back into the her mouth wondering how we’re ever going to continue this insanity.  The notes we kept in our little notebook recording every feeding, which side of the breast, the length of feeding, the number of wet and dirty diapers.   The feeling of pride when the doctor said he is impressed with my baby’s weight gain.  The frustration and the worry when she screams and screams and nothing will soothe her and I can’t shake the feeling like something isn’t right.  The desperate phone calls to the doctor.  The elimination diets.  The medication and the waiting.

The hours and minutes and seconds both day and night of walking all around the house with a crying baby, wishing someone were there to tell me what to do.  Feeling guilty that I don’t have the “mom” instinct because Ican’t figure out how to calm my own baby.  The advice everyone gave that I tried and the disappointment I felt in myself when it didn’t work.  The guilt I felt over not being happier.  The feeling like I was all alone.  The moments when I cried silently because I realized the days of carefree spontaneity are over, and the guilt I felt over that sadness for such an insignificant thing.

The exhaustion.  The bickering.  Then that first actual real smile that took my breath away.  The quiet moments when she’s nursing and holding my hand.  Those diaper changes at 2 am that go through 3 diapers at once.  The desperation to leave the house alone and have some time to myself that results in just hurryingto the grocery store and then having my milk leak when the cashier can’t check me out fast enough.

That very first run.  How it felt so very awkward and unnatural at first and then after a few minutes I got right back into my groove and it felt soooo good.  The moment when I returned home and stood on the stoop and took a deep breath before going back in.  The relief I felt that I did miss my baby, even after only a couple miles.

When I finally felt like I was starting to get the hang of this parenting thing!  Then I went back to work.  The way I enjoyed going back to work and worried that made me a bad mom.  The way I watched the clock, counting down the hours until 5 pm when I could go home and see her again.  The way I checked the daycare monitors online at least 30 times a day those first few weeks.  The way I worried when she got that first cold.  The way I watched the clock tick away in the middle of the night until morning.  The coffee.  The pain relievers.  The hours spent in the private little lactation room pumping away.  The way I began to dread the night because I knew that I wouldn’t get any sleep.  The long drive home from work when I would blast my music and try not to fall asleep.  The full body pain I started having after months of extreme sleep deprivation.  The fear of making mistakes at work because I couldn’t seem to ever remember what the heck I was working on 5 minutes ago.  The bickering that has more to do with lack of sleep than anything else.

The big, wet, slobbery kisses.  The giggles.  The soft sound of her sweet voice.  The way her face lights up when I walk in the room.  The heaviness in my heart every day when we part.  The way she stroked my hair when she was nursing and I treasured it because it was mine hers alone.  No one else will ever get to experience that with her.

When I got teary eyed packing away all the 3 month clothes.  All the days I brought her to the grocery store in a baby carrier because I just wanted to keep her close.  The sweet way she looks when sleeping.  The soft feel of her skin.  Those first couple teeth popping up that are the most adorable thing ever until the next couple come in.

Her budding personality.  The way she trusts me.

The tired eyes.  The fullest heart.

The quiet grief I felt after losing a friend who was also a father.  The way my heart hurt for him in every moment of joy I had with my baby because he can no longer hold his.  The way I felt happy and so very sad in the exact same moment as I tried to soak up all the joy and love around me and feel the bitter sting of that same joy removed from a friend.

Wishing I could to slow down time.  Suddenly cherishing those wakings every hour during the night because I’m alive and  holding my baby.  The nursing sessions at 1 in the morning when no one else saw the salty tears running down my cheeks, and the few that wet her pajamas.

The smiles and the happy tone of in my voice when I was feeling so sad.

The long drive to the emergency room when she was really sick.  The waiting.  The way she looked so small sitting up in the emergency room bed.  The cute, innocent look on her face that seemed to say “help me feel better momma.  I just want to smile and play.”

The panic in my heart when the fever just won’t come down.  The way that snuggling in my chest seemed to be the only place she could sleep.  The feeling that I would cut off my right arm to make her feel better.  The desperate, silent prayers at all hours of the day and night.  The day that she finally looks up and smiles again.  The first time she chugs down a bottle after almost 24 hours without any liquids.  The way I wanted to jump up and cheer the first time she peed again.

The unplanned days missed from work.  The stress.  The fear.

The way my heart hurt when I let her cry herself to sleep for the first time.  The way I hated myself and all the moments that I “almost” went in there because I couldn’t can’t stand it, only to hear her settle down and talk myself out of it.

The night she finally slept through the night and I snuck into her room 5 times to make sure she was ok.

That hard night the first time I slept away.

The days that everything seems right and there is no place I would rather be than at home with my family just doing nothing.  Watching her discover her world.  Just sitting there quietly and watching her contently picking at toys, trying out different things and looking up at me every few minutes just to make sure I’m still there.

The first time she crawls and never looks back.

The day that she decides she prefers a bottle to my warm breasts and I cried, realizing that those moments ended far too early and without warning.

More pumping.  Time spent fretting about and worrying over my supply.  Tears over spilled milk.

Wondering if she’s eating enough, sleeping enough, napping enough, and pooping enough, but not too much.

Spending vacation days cleaning vomit and doing laundry, disinfecting and sleeping very little.

Feeling guilty because I don’t make my own baby food with organic fruits and vegetables.  Feeling guilty because my own diet could use some serious upgrades. .

Days without exercise, without showers.  Nights without sleep.

The amazing emotion that courses through my heart when she sees me at daycare and walks over to me with a huge grin because she is so happy to see me.

Giving advice to friends with newborns and realizing that this is an unrecognized parenting milestone.  Being able to communicate so much without talking by using facial expressions and hand gestures with Tim.  The high fives because we’ve become a team and the sense of pride we feel when a challenge arises and we look at each other like “We’ve got this!”

Finally starting to realize we eventually want to do this all over again someday.

Food on the floor.  Food on the walls.  Food in her ears and her hair.

Temper tantrums that erupt, just when we were starting to feel like we’ve got things figured out.

Realizing that I actually remain pretty calm in stressful situations these days.

Still feeling like I have no idea what the #@^* I’m doing sometimes.  The deep sighs that say “I just want to have more than 7 minutes to scarf down my dinner.”

Being in “Go” mode from 5:45 am until 8:20 every night and then not having any mental capacity left for anything.

Having to email Tim at work because it’s the best way to communicate important things since you just won’t remember or have the energy for it later.

Finally, taking all of these moments and summing them up brings you more joy than you could have ever expected in life.  I’m sure this next year will bring more challenges and more rewards with our sweet girl.  She really has become this happy little person full of energy.  Its been a great year!!!

Not the most flattering pic post delivery, but its real.

 

This is what it was like most of the time…no make-up, casual, snuggle time!

 

Ah, the days of extremem sleep deprivation and stealing a few minutes of shut eye on a beach.

The little sweetie that made it all worth it!

 

Chicken Pox!!!  Something you never expect your 6 month old to get these days…

A lot changes in a year…

 

And I wouldn’t change a thing!  Thanks for sharing this incredible journey with us!

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