The first year of a baby's life is very intense, the sleepless night, the first milestones, first foods and first teeth! From a newborn to a toddler and suddenly you're celebrating the first birthday, for your little one, but also for your first year of parenting.
Your concept of it completely changes when you become a parent. The days can seem insanely long and yet, come bedtime you wonder where it’s gone. Close your eyes and 365 days seem to have gone by in a blink.
I’m not exaggerating either - it really does go by THAT fast and those snuggly baby days don’t last for very long at all. I can’t actually remember the time I looked at Jude and saw a baby rather than a toddler. Everybody tells you, and somehow you can't quite believe it until it happens.
Treasure every moment too - even the tough ones where you can’t put your baby down for a second, for there will come a time when you will miss those days...and it won’t be that long away.
IT'S A PHASE.
The good, the bad, the ugly. All of it. Not sleeping? It will be a phase. Not eating? Another phase. In the first year, your baby and their needs change so fast; you can honestly think you have it in hand one moment and the next you might find yourself wondering if someone has stolen your baby in the night and replaced it with an imposter. But everything passes.
ONE HOT MAMA.
It has to be said that I have never felt more body confident than in pregnancy and in the weeks following the birth when I felt a bit like I must have some sort of superhero powers to bring an actual person into the world. Ultimately though you HAVE grown another human and that doesn’t always come without a price... but it is definitely worth the trade-off and there will always be Wonderbras and Spanx for the wobbly or saggy bits...and wonder products to disguise what’s happened to your skin and barnet postpartum.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Self-care? What is that? I haven’t really been great at this since having a baby. Some days I have survived off only biscuits (I won't tell you how many) and lukewarm tea. I’ve since learnt that sleep deprivation will do this to you. It makes you crave sugar and weakens your resolve...a vicious circle.
My wardrobe also seems to be having a continual identity crisis, while Jude’s looks immaculate. I have been to the hairdresser a grand total of twice in the last year and some days my hair will be lucky if it get’s a brush through it never mind a wash.
This is something that I intend to put right in the next year though - I am a much better parent when I have enjoyed a little time to myself - and it will be especially important as I move away from my crucial support networks shortly after Jude’s first birthday. Waaah!
DON’T LOOK BACK IN ANGER
I have never argued and bickered with Mr W as much as I have since Jude came along. It’s generally over really ridiculous things and for a multitude of reasons - tiredness being at the top of the list. What’s important is not to let this fester and keeping a sense of humour and perspective is essential. It's a bloody good job we can both laugh as much as we argue.
Every man and his dog will have advice for you. They are naturally just trying to help, but it can get terribly conflicted at times so you absolutely need to go with your own instinct. You will wing it like you wouldn’t believe and second guess yourself all of the time. You will make mistakes and have regrets but learn to let them go. There's too much joy to be had to carry those with you.
You will laugh at your pre-parent self too and all the things you said you would/ would not do...not letting the baby sleep in my bed out of desperation? Check; Not using Moana to parent my child? Check...the list goes on.
CRYING OVER SPILT MILK
Whether you breastfeed or bottlefeed, there will be some sort of criticism or stigma attached, so you wholeheartedly have to stand by the decision you make. Sometimes it may partially be made for you, but there is a wealth of support out there should you choose to access it.
I wish I had asked for more of that support with breastfeeding instead of choosing to express. How I managed to do that for 6 months is beyond me, but what I can tell you is that when that liquid gold gets spilt...there WILL be tears!
STUFF & NONSENSE
For tiny people, they generate a lot of stuff. Fact. Partly down to the inevitability that you will end up buying things you - and they - don’t need (do yourself a favour and avoid internet shopping during night feeds - it’s a recipe for disaster) but also because they just do somehow need a lot of seemingly nonsensical paraphernalia. I still don’t entirely know how.
What I do know is that travelling light is definitely a thing of the past as you will feel like a packhorse donkey trekking through the airport. That said - it may just be worth it for the Fast Track queues.
I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES
Not a day goes by where I don’t look at Jude and think: “I made that,” an actual walking, talking whole other person - well toddling and babbling at least. I have obviously felt pride before but nothing on this level and as cliched as it is, I am continually astounded by the little person we have made and all the things he can do.
I didn’t think it could even be possible to feel love like this when my I clapped my eyes on his tiny frame, but as he grows so does my heart. I'm pretty sure it might possibly burst one day.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Well, it took a village to get Jude here in the first place... but what they say really is true. I absolutely couldn’t do this Mama lark without my village, from the unending support and cheering on from Mr W, to a tiny interaction on the ‘gram and everything in between... and if you are reading this, you are part of that too - so thank you. You have helped to make this first year more special than you will ever know.
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