So my daughter somehow turned one on Wednesday?! I have mixed feelings about this timeline because part of me wants to say “what in the world happened to that year!?” whereas part of me feels like it was definitely the longest year of my life.
I have a few things I wanted to say and share about my first year as a Mom but before I delve into that I want you all to grab these adorable party hats!
Stella and I wore them all day on her birthday and I plan on making everyone wear them at her party next Sunday.
For the purpose of our party, these are covered in sprinkles but you can call it confetti and no one will be the wiser! :)
They’re easy to whip up and can be decorated in a number of ways or simply left as is, but I share how I made them up below. Click through for instructions!
- Printable pattern (in pink and white) //
- Scissors //
- Festooning //
- Hot glue and gun //
- Elastic or elastic thread or ribbon
1. Print and cut out the template, use a craft knife to slit down the line.
2. I love how simply this festooning made these hats cute, but you can use tissue paper or ribbon or so many other things to dress them up. I cut my festooning in 14″ strips and 1″ bits.
3. Glue the long strips around the bottom of the hat and the little bits to the tip.
4. Add a dab of hot glue to opposite sides of the inside of the hat and press elastic there. I used elastic thread because thats what I had (and its a lot cheaper to go that route) and I like how invisible it is. You could also attach two strands of ribbon and tie them under your chin.
“Uhhh Mom? Whats this on my head??”
Now if you don’t care for Mommy-ranting/glorifying then you can print your hats and go :) but I wanted to talk about my baby for a minute mmk?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I feel both ends of the spectrum when it comes to my baby growing up. I remember being in labor so clearly yet thinking about her 2nd or 3rd month of life feels like an eternity ago.
Either way, I’m certainly emotional about it. I never quite understood this desire mommies had to freeze time until I had one of my own. I absolutely adore the little person she is right now, in fact yesterday I probably said “you are just so fun right now!” probably 20 times because she really truly is amazingly fun right now, but still, when I look at her first little picture or when I see her newborn size clothes I want to cry!
I think it’s partly so scary because I am so aware of how quickly I became 26. High school was somehow 8 years ago but I don’t feel old enough to be able to say that. So I know it will be so fast when Stella will be 8 and then 16 and then 24 and maybe have her own baby and it’s just so infinitely mind blowing!
Becoming a Mom has been such a whirlwind. I think above all I’ve just been insanely curious. Mainly at how there were so many things no one ever told me, things I didn’t expect and things nobody ever bragged about doing. I mean, how does my mom not hold all the things she did for me as a baby over my head every day still?! I know, everyone says you forget how hard it was and I believe that and also I love Stella so much, I’m sure I won’t hold this year of no sleep over her head forever but sometimes I sure think, “Wow, you owe me little girl…”
And in that spirit, I wanted to share what I think the real things are that no one ever tells you about pregnancy, birth and having a newborn. I’ve seen several posts on this subject and they’ve contained really great thoughts, but at this point, we all know other stuff comes out of you during labor and that you’ll love this baby more than you ever thought possible but there are still some tips left out. So here they are, according to me:
1) You will feel like you’ll never feel normal again. I remember the start of every day that first week. I hurt and I was tired. I was so stressed out about holding Stella carefully, and not tripping and SIDS and nursing and I was shocked at my lack of alone time (I swear no matter how asleep Stella was when I left the room, she was crying within 5 minutes of me being gone. It was like she could smell me).
It was like Malissa read my thoughts when one of those first mornings she came in to my room and said, “Shayly said to give it three weeks and then you’ll feel like you again.” Shayly is her sister-in-law and the most recent new mother either one of us was close to.
I said, “Really!?” It was validation. I wasn’t abnormal because I feel so un-normal. No one had ever mentioned this to me before. No one told me I’d be so overwhelmed in pain. Everything hurt. Hurt. No one really explained to me how suddenly I would lose something that I never even really appreciated having, my alone time. Not even the bathroom can get you out of people’s company anymore. Baby doesn’t care that the doctor ordered 5 warm baths a day, she doesn’t care that you need to brush your teeth or pee. She needs you and suddenly you are the only person that can do so many things for another person. Only you. Do you understand that?
I thought so many times, “Will I ever feel normal again?” Nobody ever told me I wouldn’t feel like myself, but I sure didn’t. I thought I might be in pain for ever and that I might never get five minutes alone ever again. So I was so grateful to hear that from Shayly (via Malissa) and you know what? I found that to be right on the money. I was in pain for one week. I felt like me again after three.
2) You will never feel “normal” again. While three weeks was the point when I felt like Machelle again, I was definitely aware that it was a different Machelle, and that I’d never get the original one back.
There is now a human who needs you. All the time. You have a human extension of yourself that cannot be undone. You will never think the same, you will never love the same, you will never be the same. You’re forever changed. At first, you’ll be aware of this. You’ll think “Wow, I used to think and do this and now I can’t/don’t…” but by a year, you won’t think that way anymore. You’ll remember your life before, sure, but your baby will be such a part of you and your life that the difference will seem insignificant and it won’t be in the back of your mind every day like it was at the beginning.
For me, at first I really missed just being able to go shopping alone. I thought “I used to just get in the car and go and now it’s a whole ordeal.” But now, I don’t even want to go to the store without Stella. She’s my buddy. She keeps me company, I get to chat with her and talk about the items on the shelves out loud without sounding like a nut talking to myself. She gets me out of my comfort zone and helps me make friends, and I love that. It’s my normal now and I don’t miss how it was before at all.
3) Prepare for at least a year of no sleep. About a month before Stella came I saw a friend’s post on Instagram about her 9 month old finally sleeping through the night. I never really knew before what the timeline for this milestone was or when most people had it happen so 9 months just stuck with me as the point when your baby sleeps all the way through.
So, when Stella came I thought, “I can do this for 9 months.” However, I foolishly assumed she’d 1) just naturally get better at it on her own without any teaching and 2) that it’d gradually get better, the sleeping stretches would get longer and the waking stretches shorter. All of these things were wrong.
A baby knows how to do nothing. They don’t know how to talk to walk or roll over or smile. They also don’t know how to sleep. They have to be taught and they pick up on bad habits quickly. Start from day one cultivating good sleeping habits. But also, prepare yourself mentally for the reality that even if your baby does sleep long stretches early on, you probably won’t.
While I hope you never have the bad sleeper that I do, it’s still possible. And as it stands now, I have only slept one 7 hour stretch in over a year and a half (pregnancy peeing…). I am so tired. But I can do it! And preparing for more than just a couple months really helped me tackle this battle.
4) There is no “trick”. On the subject of sleeping. Some people have good sleepers. Some people have bad. Some of it is our own faults and some is natural. Whatever the case, there is no one thing that works for every baby. Like all things in the human world, each body and mind is different and so the solution for each is too.
People who have mastered the coveted 8 hour stretch will judgingly tell you “The trick is…” and then proceed to say something you’ve already tried. Trust me, by 8 or 9 months you have tried it all and if there was “a trick” don’t you think we’d all know about it by now and be using “the trick”? Yes, of course we would. The reason why we’re not all keeping our babies up for 11 hours straight or putting them to bed at 6 or giving them warm baths followed by baby massages is because that doesn’t work for every baby. We tried. Valiantly. And it didn’t work.
But this is less about waving a finger at the know-it-all-parents and more about encouraging you sleep-less-baby-parents. If the sleep training your doing perfectly by the book isn’t working, then it’s not going to work. Just because the book said to do it this way exactly, doesn’t mean that you have to. Sure, try it. But if it doesn’t work, if you don’t feel right about it, if your instincts are telling you to do something else then do something else. Tweak it for your baby, your individual, and listen to your heart.
Along this line, it’s also a good idea to take nightly notes on what you did and what the wakings were like because eventually all the nights melt together and you don’t even know what you did or what was working or what changed and why it’s not anymore. So try to keep notes. And don’t stress if you don’t take the notes. You can’t do everything, you can only do what you can.
5) Labor might not suck at all, but the recovery probably will. So yeah, you’ve heard that labor sucks and let’s face it, no one even had to tell you that (hello, something this big is coming out of something this big!!!) But, it also might not suck. Mine didn’t.
My water broke before I had contractions (which contrary to what the movies show is super rare). It wasn’t like the movies though, that too is something different for every person, and I let my husband go to work not really knowing what had happened. Eventually (after cleaning my bathroom cus AH I DIDN’T GET MY DEEP CLEANING DONE!) I casually drove myself to the hospital. They informed me my water did in fact break and I called my husband to come.
I got the epidural, I felt calmly sleepy and happy and then 6 hours later I pushed for an hour and then I had a baby.
I could feel some of the contractions, I got very nauseous from the drugs but it wasn’t at all bad. The pushing took my mind off the pain of contractions and I couldn’t feel any of the other stuff. I didn’t scream or yell or swear or feel angry at anyone at all. I told my husband I loved him after every push and I calmly waited for my baby to come. I wasn’t worried about anything else going on and really there wasn’t anything else going on. There were 2 other people in the room with us, not a crowd.
That being said, they were pretty rough with me because I didn’t know it and the after recovery wasn’t fun. I hurt and I hurt pretty badly for one whole week. So, in summary, labor might not be scary but that doesn’t get you out of all the pain, sorry.
6) There will be times when all you can think is “life is just really hard right now”. As you sigh, your eyes seem to physically sag at the corners and you carry your crying, poopy baby up the stairs in the pajamas you’ve been wearing for two days and catch a whiff of your armpits and wonder “how does my husband still want to sleep next to me at night? Oh yeah. Because he’s sleeping, not awake like me. He sucks.” Sigh.
It’s not that you’re not grateful. At no point have I ever thought “this isn’t worth it” but there’s just no other way to say it, sometimes mom life is just really hard. You feel heavy and sad and lonely. You know eating healthier and working out and going to bed early will help but you also feel too bad for yourself to not have that brownie, you’re way too tired to go to the gym (and also, baby won’t let you) and you cherish your alone time at night way too much to go to bed earlier.
Luckily, these moments are rare. Sometimes they come many times in a day but usually they don’t. Usually you go on a walk and feel crazy lucky that you get to experience the new-ness of a flower with someone and when your baby only wants you, and no one else, that feeling cannot be matched and it overshadows the hard days 10000 to 1.
7) The uncontrollable emotions are real and you will probably experience them. And they suck. I didn’t really believe in all those hormones I heard people talk about. I don’t know why. I think I just thought women were exaggerating because they could because who would question that? But they’re not. Turns out, even if you don’t believe in the hormonal emotions, you’re still subject to them.
There were days during pregnancy were I cried off and on the whole day. I felt so stressed about this crazy thing I had decided to do and I didn’t think I could handle it. Everything overwhelmed me and I felt crazy alone. Those days really really sucked but they couldn’t be stopped. No amount of good attitude could stop them. Uncontrollable floods of emotion that you may not even know you had. I’m sorry. But you’re not alone and it will be okay and you can do it! And it’s ok to cry all day and go for long drives by yourself and end up at Baskin Robbins, soon you won’t be able to, so go right ahead.
8) You cannot have it all. (And no one does, no matter what it may look like on Instagram). My best friend sent me the funniest picture. Its a triangle that said “pick two”, at one tip there’s “a clean house”, one tip “happy children” and the other is “your sanity”. Its funny because it is so true. You just cannot have it all all the time. And guess what? If you can’t, no one else can either.
The fact is, you don’t see behind the scenes. You don’t know what kind of night your other mommy friends had, or what they look like most days or what kind of help they get from husbands, friends, babysitters, church members or family. You can’t see their sad moments, but I can guarantee you they have them. You see the posts of them with all their friends but are those the majority of their days? No. You don’t know how they feel, you don’t know how much money they have, you don’t know how helpful their husbands are and you don’t see what pills they’re taking. Don’t assume the worst but also don’t assume the best and make yourself feel bad. Because they’re not superhuman and I promise you they don’t have it all. And I’m sorry that you can’t either, but you can’t, so stop setting the bar so high that you can’t love yourself and you miss the happy, fleeting moments with your babies.
9) You can never, ever do the right thing according to everyone else. Guess what? Someone hates the decision you just made.
People hate seeing the messy babies with dirty clothes and their hair uncombed but did you know they also hate the opposite? Yup, I’ve been completely shocked at the level of pure distaste people have for Stella’s cute clothes and of course, her headbands. They don’t want to see her unkempt, but they certainly don’t want to see her cute either. Idk. I can’t figure it. The reality is, people assume cute clothes are expensive (I promise hers’ aren’t) and they think a bow is arbitrary and some think its downright mean (it’s been called a tourniquet). They don’t care that it literally makes their life no different at all, they love wasting their energy on hating your parenting decisions.
The one I’ve been most shocked about? Healthiness. It’s been my goal to keep sugar and processed foods away from Stella, at least in these early years. I’m not trying to be mean. I’m not denying her happiness, she doesn’t even know it exists! I’m trying desperately to give her a better hope of conquering food and weight than I have. I don’t want her to feel the addiction and the sadness and the sluggishness and I especially don’t want her to have to battle serious diseases because of it. All of that is ok, right? Nope. Someone hates you for it. Most people, actually, hate you for it. Sorry, your baby’s physical well being is not a priority for anyone else and instead of accepting that they don’t have to care, they do and they think your mean and stupid.
All you can do is say “She’s my baby and you don’t have to deal with the consequences.” At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. You’re the one with your baby most and you’re the mom. You suffered all of the above mentioned things, not them, so don’t let it bother you or change you; stick to your goals, morals and beliefs as long as you know its for the betterment of your baby and just smile when they tell your baby they feel bad for them because of the mom they have. Your baby isn’t going to believe them, she’s going to love you more than anyone on the planet, you are her life. And in reality, they don’t mean it, they just feel judged about the decisions they made as a parent too.
Whew! That was out of the AJR ordinary wasn’t it? Idk..I just wanted to vent about these things that I think are important and beautiful and scary and real. Motherhood is different for everyone and these things have been the most shocking for me. So there it is. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest. Above all, trust your heart and hold your babies when you can, they grow up so fast!
When did my baby get so insightful? I always knew you’d be an amazing mom and you are. Everything you are doing for Stella and yourself makes me extremely happy and proud of the woman you are.
I love this post. I find it so refreshing. My little girl just turned one a month ago and I can totally relate to everything you just said. Thank you for taking to time to write it down and share it.