Wednesday, February 18, 2009

10 Things I've Learned in My First Year of Motherhood

My little boy turned one last week. While there were some tears on both parts (mine because I am in denial that my baby is growing up and his because he apparently does not like large groups of people singing to him while having a fiery, baseball-shaped cake thrust upon him), we survived the b-day, for the most part. More on that to come soon. But even though I sound as though I'm all right with this new stage of toddler hood (yikes!), really I'm not. Somehow my swaddlin' loving, never sleeping, always nursing, toothless newborn has grown into a four-teeth biting, practically weaned, destruction causing, semi-sleeping (he's dropping a nap), walking, talking (ball & hi) toddler. When and how did that happen?

As I reflect on the last year of my life, I feel it necessary to depart some of the wisdom I have gleaned from being a new mom. So, I've nicely compiled these pearls of wisdom into a nice little list for your viewing pleasure (I like lists). Here it is: the 10 things I've learned in my first year of motherhood.

10. Contrary to what the La Leche League book claims (or, as I like to call them, the Nursing Nazis) the night nursery nurses at the hospital are NOT part of some conspiracy to feed your baby formula, thus thwarting all your plans to successfully and exclusively nurse your baby. So, it is completely unnecessary to call said nurses at 2 in the morning and demand them to bring your perfectly sleeping (not secretly-being-fed-formula-through-a-bottle) baby to your room so that you can once again attempt the feeding of your child. No, it is perfectly all right to let the baby sleep (trust me, he'll awaken when he's hungry) and it is even better to enjoy a nice night's rest yourself.

9. Sleep is an essential part of my life. If I get no sleep I turn into a crazy lady who simultaneously cries and screams at her husband, who can barely string two coherent thoughts together and who can't cook, clean or function in any other shape or form as a normal person rightfully should. Since sleep is such an essential part of my life, a newborn's schedule didn't exactly mesh well with mine. Next time, I'm hiring a wet nurse and/or requesting a baby who is born sleeping through the night. That's possible, right?

8. Though sleep seemed an important aspect of my life, apparently personal hygiene fell way down on the list of importance. Showering, doing my hair, putting on makeup and dressing stylishly somehow lost their place in my daily ritual. I swore I would never leave the house looking like this or that I would never be one of those moms who actually wore that, but hey--when it came right down to it, I always chose sleep. Should I shower or nap? Nap. Should I do my hair or nap? Nap. Should I shave my legs or nap? Nap. (Too bad one year is a loooooooooong time not to shave one's legs).

7. Given the choice, I would gladly choose labor & delivery over those first 6 weeks of nursing--any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The engorgement, the soreness, the thirst, the pain, the constant three hours of being on demand. It's no walk in the park, people. And labor and delivery? Short, sweet and all accomplished while hopped up on an epidural. What's not to like?

6. I am a sleep Nazi (as all my family can attest). My child will have his naps, will go to bed early and will have a dark, quiet place to sleep. Clearly, I've highlighted how important sleep is to me; thus, I find it just as important for my child. It is true, as Dr. Weissbluth attests, a well-rested child is a happy child (and a well-rested mommy is a happy mommy). If you haven't read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Do it. It's my sleep bible.

5. Though a sleep Nazi, I have learned to relax in other departments, sort of. Before Will, food was not permitted in the carpeted areas of my house. However, currently on the carpeted-floor of this room there are 12 Cheerios, 7 Goldfishes and 4 raisins. But my child is entertained (so that I can blog, right?)

4. Being a mom is hands-down the hardest job I've ever had. And I've had some seriously wretched jobs. My sophomore year of college: a campus pizza delivery girl who had to deliver pizzas in a golf cart that would not steer (I got stuck countless times and would have to beg strangers to help me get my cart unstuck all the while wearing a Tomasito's Pizza Hat and a grease-stained shirt. Pretty sight). My first two years teaching: a class full of 15-year-old boys (only two girls) who didn't like me much plus it was seventh period. A lethal combination. Or, of course, there was the semester I had to teach health to 8th graders. As in sex-ed health. Yikes. And then there was my job as an orthodontist assistant: putting braces on teenagers after NO training--losing brackets down those poor defenseless teens' throats, all pretending like it never happened and just continuing on with the brace procedure. Now that was good times. Hard to believe, but yes, being a mom is harder than all those jobs combined. To know that I am solely responsible for the care and keep of this child. To know that I can never quit this job, never set it aside. To know that if I mess this up, then my child will spend years in therapy, detailing how his mother drove him mad.

3. Being a mom is hands-down the best job I've ever had. Who would trade playing patty-cake in bed every morning? Who would pass up tickling Will until he is in a fit of giggles? And how could throwing a ball back and forth ever get boring? And have you ever chased Will while he's crawling? Let me tell you, it's a must. Believe you me, I have the best job in the world hanging out with this guy. I love being a mom.

2. I could have never survived the first year if it hadn't been for a stellar father/husband. Josh is in full Dad mode the second he walks in that door. He'd do anything for that kid--he is seriously in love with this little boy. And how it makes my heart happy to see those two wrestling and giggling and playing.

1. Most of all I've learned that I never knew how much love one could have for such a tiny being. Every night as I put Will to sleep I tell him, "Oh, I love you soooooo much--you'll never know how much until you have a child of your own." And every night I say a little prayer of thanks for this miracle, this little boy who waited for so long to come to us, this little boy who changed my world so wholly and completely.


Cookie, Jason, and Olivia said...

I too felt so sad when Olivia turned one. But this stage of life has its ups. I love #7. They should give you drugs when you leave the hospital thats when you really need them. I always say I can have a baby any day, its the 2 weeks of recovery I'm not sure I want to ever do again. But like you, I love being a mom more than anything so I guess those 2 weeks of hell are worth it.

Jon and Michelle said...

I can't believe Will is ONE... wow it went by so fast. I remember seeing him in Spokane when he was six months and thinking he was so big and cute and now Nixon is six months.. it blows my mind. They grow up so fast. I love being a mom too though, but reading your list makes me glad I didn't breast feed... sorry! I had that formula fed child sleep in the nursery all I could so I could get some sleep before heading home to a new life with a newborn!! And for that I am grateful... We miss you guys and wish Will and Nixon could play together. June will be here in no time though. Lots of love!

jess said...

Happy birthday baby Will!! Love the list - and it reminded me of all kinds of things I'd conveniently forgotten that will become my life again in a few weeks... agggh!! But it is all worth it in the end! So glad you have your little miracle. You are such a great mom!

Lindsey said...

I loved this post! Thanks for sharing.

tida6 said...

Bravo Jess, you explained motherhood perfectly. You are so cute. I love reading about your adventures.
You are beautiful, sweet, funny, and a fantastic mother.
I so agree with you on the sleep. It's a must:)

Megan said...

My favorite Jessy posts contain some laughter and some tears- you got both this time. love ya girl and love little Will!

The Jimmy Harry Family said...

I enjoyed your pearls of wisdom. I have watched 2 kids pass the ripe ol age of 1. Now I have a Carson who is going to be one in 4 months. AHHH. I blinked too many times and now all that time is gone. What's even more tuff is when you realize your oldest will be 8 in 2 years. And the most difficult realization is that I'm now old enough to have kids this age. AHHH!

I can't believe that it was about a year ago that we reconnected and that Will, who was such a cute baby has turned into a cute 1 year old. You have done a great job! You should be very proud of yourself. He is adorable!

Krista said...

Wow, I can not believe that your little boy is one! survived one of the hardest and best I hear. I must say thank you for the "10 thing learned" It is encouraging to me at 7 weeks to hang in there. I agree, Being a mom is the hardest, but the best thing I have ever done. I wouldn't trade it for anything and I love Evelyn more than anything in the world. Nothing could match that love! So are you ready for the next one?:)

Emily Christensen said...

You made me laugh and cry. I love reading what you write.

The Pyper Fam said...

I can't belive how fast this year has gone!!! Where did it go? I loved your list, thanks for sharing your wisdom! :) I was totally going to call you on Saturday to congratulate you for surviving the first year and of course, to wish Will a happy birthday, but the day came and went, and I totally spaced it! And I couldn't agree more with you about labor being SO easy compared to the first month of the childs life, that is what I dread when I think about having another one!!! :) You are such a good mommy, Will sure is one lucky guy!

Rosie Moncrief said...

Huh, I will have to make a copy of this because I'm sure it will come in handy when I have kids someday.... Happy late Birthday Will!!

Jeff and Erika Mitchell said...

Wow, I can't believe it has been a year. You definitely made it through the hardest. You should write for a newspaper or write a book. I love reading your posts.