|Photo credit: Robin Skievaski Photography|
Some things that I have learned in my first year of Motherhood:
Anxiety is real
I knew about anxiety and that I had it well before having a baby. (My story here.) BUT, anxiety became real in my every day life after having a baby, unlike it ever was before. Everyone talks about postpartum depression, but no one really talks about postpartum anxiety. I was prepared for depression. In fact, I had experienced a little pregnancy depression so I was on high alert for postpartum depression. It never hit though, instead, anxiety crept in and took over my life. I was so anxious that I struggled to leave the house for the first five months. Anxiety is SO REAL, and can be extremely debilitating.
Women friendships are huge
I feel so lucky to have given birth in my hometown. I had the support of childhood girlfriends, college girlfriends, and newer girlfriends from the last few years. The women in my life have been incredible and have shown me just how important it is to support each other. From meals, to long conversations, to rocking my screaming baby, to late night texting, to helping me get out of the house, to inviting me over for wine, I appreciate all of my women friendships 10x more now. I honestly could not have survived this first year without them.
Support is important
Yeah yeah, this one is a given, BUT REALLY, support from friends and family was/is so important. I was horrible at asking for help in the beginning, but I am getting better at it. What I am learning is that people want to help, it makes them feel good to help. So why not let them? They say it takes a village to raise a child and that is so true. I am happy to have our friends be such a big part of Hazel's and our life.
"Me" time is necessary
I'm not going to lie, I loooove "me" time. This was something that I worried about before having Hazel. The older I get, the more happy I am to do things by myself. In fact, it brings me joy and gives me energy to spend time on my own without other people. After having Hazel, my life was ruled by a baby hanging off of me that needed me 24/7. I quickly realized that in order to stay sane I would need to make time for me. It started slowly with 10 minutes here, then 30 minutes there, then an hour, a few hours, finally a whole day at daycare. I felt and still feel guilty about putting Hazel in daycare since she doesn't need to be there, but I am a better person for it. It allows me the much needed "me" time (even if I am just doing laundry and running errands) to regenerate energy, and it allows her time to be social and play with other kids. So really, "me" time is a win win situation for both Hazel and me.
This one is huge, whoa baby! I've known Andy since I was 13, and while we have both changed a lot through the years, I figured I knew everything about him. Not true though, I had no idea how he would be with a baby, but he has exceeded my expectations! I am learning just how great of a father he is. I love to hear him tell Hazel stories in different voices and rock her to sleep, I love that he airplane's her food to her mouth and plays with her toys. When I see Andy caring for Hazel and loving her it makes my heart grow for him in ways that I didn't think possible. Now more than ever, he is my partner and best friend. We are in this together and we are figuring out how to be good parents and how to support and love each other through it.
Flexibility is key
Soo...I thought I was a pretty flexible person before having a baby, but I am discovering that is not so true after all. I am learning that I had a lot of expectations in my head about how having a baby would be. Then, things didn't go as planned (ahem, breastfeeding) and I fought the flow of things to the point of stressing myself out. So, now I am learning to go with the flow and be more flexible. Things will not always go as planned and in that case I just need to accept the change and move on or make adjustments. This is a work in progress. :)
Love is a learned thing
Being on facebook often, I see people announce the birth of their child by saying that they are already "so in love". This was not the case for me. Yes, I loved my baby, but I was not "in love" with her. In fact, I was not even attached to her. I had no problem handing her over to someone else for minutes or even hours. I also never worried about her until more recently. It was a huge concern to me that I was not "in love" with my daughter, but I learned that over time love grows. Despite the crying, the long nights, the frustration, I slowly began to love my daughter more and more. At about the 6-month mark I was happily (and finally) in love with my child. And that love just keeps on growing as our relationship as mother and daughter grows. I feel like our attachment is healthy and real, it just needed time.
Change is real
This is also a work in progress. Having a baby was the LARGEST life change that I have ever experienced. It was more of a change than I think I was ready for, but ready or not it happened. In a very naive way I figured life would go back to normal after Hazel was born. I figured my body would go back to normal, my social life would go back to normal, and I would just haul this little baby along in my normal life. NOPE, wrong. My body will never be the same again. While I have lost most of the baby weight, I am softer than before. This is a change that takes some getting used to. :) And as for social life, well that is constantly changing. When Hazel was a tiny baby we had about 1-2 hour increments to be social before she broke down and all hell let lose. As she gets older we have more time to be social, but now we work around nap and bed times. Going to restaurants is becoming difficult because she likes to throw food and make a huge mess. So I am learning that life with a baby (now toddler) is just constantly changing. As soon as we develop a routine it is changed because of teething or crawling or this or that. Bottom line, having a child means CONSTANT change.
All of these things I have learned and will continue to learn as I grow in Motherhood. But really, what a gift it is to be a mother!