Monday, February 11, 2013

motherhood: reflection on the first year

Now that we've entered our 2nd year of parenting, I thought I'd take time and reflect upon our first year as a family of 3.
Obviously, I am not an expert by any-stretch-of-the-imagination.
Any tips or tricks I mention, work for us.
Every mama, daddy and baby are unique.
Disclaimer over.

    Levi is 1!
That's a huge milestone!
He has had all his "first" holidays. This Valentine's Day will be his second! So crazy!
He is able to walk.
He still prefers crawling, but will walk short distances between things (maxing at about 8 steps).
He is really, really trying to talk.
He has learned several words: dada, mama dog, cat, duck, no, yes, hi, hey, clock (his new favorite), Jo Jo (one of his friends)
He has 4 teeth
He is fully weaned. Now eats fully like a toddler, and has sippy cups of whole cow's milk.

So, I've learned this past year that truly...the way a baby is fed is nobodies business.
Mothers need support.
Support and encouragement to try breastfeeding.
Support if supplementation is needed.
Support if breastfeeding just doesn't work.
All mom's want their babies to be healthy.
And the way to achieve that looks different for each mama and child.
I tried the full spectrum of feeding with Levi.
Nursing, supplementing, pumping, all formula, etc.
I tried.
Levi grew.
I felt so much guilt that I couldn't exclusively breastfeed.
And when people would innocently ask about nursing, it would often crush me. 
(hormones, anyone?)
I have a great little support system who I could turn to and talk about feeding issues, but when people whom I didn't have a strong relationship would give their "advice", it would often be hurtful.
So yeah.... as long as babies are fed and healthy...fine by me.
I will sure give breastfeeding my all if we have another baby, and I have learned a lot along the way with Levi.

With solids?
It worked great for Levi, and I recommend it as long as you are comfortable with it and your child has an interest.

I've done several posts on cloth diapering.
You can check them out here and here.
In a nutshell....we love it.
It's work. It's not always the most convenient. But it sure saves a lot of money, and his fluffy booty is adorable.
We will definitely cloth diaper any more babies we raise.

I still feel very blessed to be able to work part-time.
It has been a great balance for us.
God has provided for us financially, both through my teaching job and my Etsy shop.
Being home more with Levi and able to bless our home has been fantastic.
I wish I could be a 100% stay-at-home mom, but it just wouldn't work for us right now.
So I am truly thankful at how the Lord has provided for us. The perfect job and with more time home with my little man.'s what we personally couldn't have done without the first year. In no particular order.
1. Wubbanub. Levi loves, loves, loves his. Can't speak highly enough of them.
2. Breast pump. We had a very personal relationship this past year. I'm happy to say we've decided to break up for awhile : )
3. Baby gates. We have a wild man.
4. Toys. Any and every toy. This boy loves to play.
5. Cloth diapers. See above.
6. Diaper sprayer...again...see above.
7. Ergo carrier. Hands down the best carrier. Perfect for those times that he needed to be held, but I needed my hands.
8. Sound machine. 
9. Baby book. This has been worth it's weight in gold. It holds many details of his first year that I wouldn't be able to remember on my own.
10. Boppy. This was great during nursing as well as while he learned to sit up.

- Keep the romance with your husband. Your roles have forever changed, but your marriage is forever and by far the greatest gift you can give your child. Keep dating. Keep surprising.
- Know that each season will pass. I thought not sleeping would be forever. Nope. 3 months into it all and sleeping was back to relatively normal. And you know what? A teeny tiny piece of me misses being up with that tiny snuggly newborn. So try not to focus on the negatives of the season, but the little blessings that will soon be missed.
- Take lots and lots of videos. Photos are fantastic, but don't capture the little baby's noises and gestures. Those little videos on my phone of Levi as a newborn are so so precious to me. His little sneezes and spazzy movements are so adorable.
- Don't buy too many baby clothes. They really, really do grow fast.
- Don't give into Mama guilt. So what if you give your child formula, had a c-section, work full time, don't make your own baby food, have non-organic baby sheets, and you haven't lost your baby weight. Your child is loved. You've done everything you can for them, and that is definitely enough.
- Pray. Pray for your child. Pray for yourself. Pray for your husband. Pray for anyone who will influence your child. Pray for their future. Pray for wisdom. Pray.
- Get your finances as stable as possible before baby comes. Because there will always be new, unexpected expenses.
- Get support. From your mom, mother-in-law, best friend, neighbor, whomever. You'll need as much wisdom as you can.
- Take care of yourself.  Go to Starbucks. Alone. Take a nice long shower. Let Daddy have some bonding time with his child, while you take care of you. A happy, calm, Mommy is by far the best Mommy a kid can have.

So yes. I am "that mom" that cries at everything.
I always thought "those moms" were ridiculous.
I cry rocking him to sleep...knowing he won't be this little forever.
I cry packing away his clothes that don't fit.
I cry looking at old photos of him.
I cry packing away bottles and "baby items" he no longer needs.
I am scared for my family for when he graduates high school.
I will be a blubbery mess that entire year.
You have all been warned.

Motherhood is such an extreme personal exercise.
You're pushed to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion. All while recovering from childbirth and attempting a whole new season of life.
You learn so much about yourself and your spouse.
You learn a lot about your family.
You learn a lot about your faith.
It is the biggest blessing and the greatest challenge I have ever encountered.
And it's only begun.

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