Baby K is a one year old. Where did the time go? When we look back at when she was born, it does not seem that long ago and yet it has been a year. She started as a little baby where we could just pick her up and go anywhere. Now, she is crawling and curious about the world around her. If you have a baby or about to have one, I am so excited to share with you the motherhood lessons I have learned during this past year.
With parenthood, there are ups and downs. Statements such as there is no more sleep, just naps came really true in the beginning, but it gets better. You will also be amazed on how your body adjusts, just take it one day at a time.
Before we continue, please know that this blog post is part of Baby K’s first birthday series. Here are the other posts:
2. 9 Motherhood Lessons: My First Year (this post)
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Here are 9 lessons I learned during my first year as a mother:
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1. Your birthing experience is unique
I wanted to start with this lesson because it is the first thing we will all experience before being a mother with an actual baby in our arms.
You will hear stories about other people’s birth experience whether it was natural, with epidural, or c-section. Whether you welcome their stories or not, mothers love to share their birthing experience. It is a phenomenal thing that happens when the baby was in you for so long and suddenly you go through this and voila, they put the baby in your arms.
What I have learned is that everyone’s birthing experience is different, even with the same hospital or even if you are related. The way my mom described how she gave birth to me and my siblings were not the same way I had Baby K.
I have heard awful stories of the pain and tearing, but at the end of the day, trust that your body is made for this. I did end up with an epidural as it was a full 24 hours since my contractions started until I was admitted to the hospital. I was exhausted but I have an amazing husband who was a good support and family who were on standby if I needed them.
Surround yourself with people who are there to support you no matter what your birth experience will be like. We will not know until the time comes (of course you can always pray for the best situation and trust your doctors / midwives). This is one of the motherhood lessons I will remember for my next child too.
For me, breastfeeding is an interesting process. I had colostrum (liquid gold) at the beginning and Baby K was able to latch on pretty quickly. I know not every woman is able to have that and I am very grateful that I was able to.
However, it seemed that I did not have enough as she was constantly eating and being fussy. She would not sleep for long and would wake up hungry again.
If you are a first time parent, you will know that it drains you (literally) physically and also emotionally.
I tried eating different foods to increase my milk supply (I really tried) and pump milk, but it increased only a little.
We decided to top up with formula, first with the samples we received and then later on with formula powder we bought at the store.
It was such a good decision for us as M can feed her with the formula while I rest, especially at night. He also loved the bonding time he has with her while she takes the bottle from him. It was a win-win situation.
Don’t be afraid to give formula to your baby (if they are not allergic to any of the ingredients). It does not make you a bad parent as long as your baby is fed, healthy, and happy.
3. Many advice will be given to you
Once people find out that you are pregnant, it opens a floodgate of opinions and advice. This comes from your family members, friends, and even people you just met. Whether you welcome them or not, it seems that they are just excited for you and want to share what they think is best for you.
The best advice I heard that I will share with you is that you take the advice graciously and then only use what you find helpful and useful for you. What works for them might not work for you.
You will continue to get advice about parenting and what you should do for a long time. People mean well and we just need to keep that in mind.
I find that if the advice is useful, I will apply it. If I do not remember it, I can always ask them again on what to do in certain situations. Do what is best for you and your child.
4. Try not to compare with others
This is a big one. Comparison and jealousy can really break you.
I am at the stage where my friends and coworkers are all having babies. We would share stories about our babies and how they are doing at that current stage. If we have any questions, we would ask each other for opinions and tips. It can be a very supportive community.
However, with this type of sharing, it can be very easy to compare the babies with their developmental stages. From who crawl first or who says mama first, we have to be careful not to compare our babies. You will feel sad or disappointed if your baby is crawling yet or is only learning how to sit up long after other babies.
Every baby is different. As long as your baby is growing and healthy, that is all that matters.
5. Accept help and take a break
If your have family members or friends who can help you to watch the baby while you nap or when you take a shower, accept the help. You do not need to do everything yourself. It would be also really helpful if someone can cook the meals for you so that you can focus on the baby.
We are really blessed to have our parents here to help if we need them to. The mothers would cook meals for me and M so that we could focus on taking care of the baby. Also, I did not have to worry about what to feed M after he returns from work.
Similarly to what I mentioned earlier with the breastfeeding, I was able to take a break and rest while M fed Baby K. It gave me some time to myself and I feel slightly more refreshed after resting.
When I am home with the baby by myself, it can feel really tiring but these breaks are so necessary. So, don’t forget to take a break when you can. Rest is so important for you to be able to be the best mother you can be.
6. This is your new normal
One thing that I learned in the childbirth classes is that this is our new normal. Our lives are never the same after the baby is born, so what we need to do is to adapt and figure out what ‘normal’ is like.
What I found is that having a baby makes you adapt and learn new things. Bedtimes are no longer the same time and you might not have the same amount of energy to clean the house as you did before.
However, going to bed exhausted but so happy that your baby smiled at you after a feeding session is amazing. Or, feeling successful that you avoided a poop explosion in your hands. Waking up and realizing that your baby slept through the night. Those are amazing feelings and is part of your new normal.
We as parents are more flexible, patient, and loving than we might think before. It is the love for your child that helps you keep going despite hard times in the new normal. Also, when they smile, all the troubles seem to melt away.
7. Take care of your emotional and mental well being
Please note that I am not a medical professional. If you need to speak to someone, please contact your local health care provider that you trust.
Having a new baby can be emotionally and mentally exhausting as well. Not only you need to recover physically from having this baby, your hormones can be all over the place.
I sometimes still struggle with this. When I stay at home for too long or it is a hard day, I struggle. My thoughts go running like wild of things that I can do better for my baby and my family. I worry about protecting my child and not being the best mother that I can be to her.
But, you know what helps?
It helps when I go for a walk during the day. I feel more refreshed if I can take a shower without hearing the baby cry while my husband watches her. If he takes her out or watches her at home while I go out, I feel better. As I am typing this post, M is taking Baby K to the stores nearby our house.
It is so important if you can take some time alone and also have someone to share with the feelings that you have.
Feelings can be overwhelming as a new mother, but do not dismiss it as just hormones. Take how you feel into consideration and take care of your well being. One of the great motherhood lessons: We can be better parents to our children when we feel our best.
8. You do not need to know everything
As mothers, it is very easy to get frustrated when we do not know what our babies want. They would get fussy and cry and we would ask them what they want. But they are babies, so they do not know how to tell you what is bothering them.
A great thing is that we have a lot of resources in our finger tips. We can search for information online or look at forums. I like to drop into baby forums such as Baby Center on my phone and check what questions parents have at this stage of the baby’s life. Also, it feels great to know that others are experiencing the same sleep regression or teething that my baby is going through.
You can also ask your friends and family members who have young kids what they did when so and so was this age. Be brave to ask questions because we are all new to this motherhood and having babies of our own.
9. It is tiring but is so worth it
Last but not least, motherhood is tiring.
The last nights and early mornings, and the constant nursing on top of everything else you need to do, is tiring.
But, it is worth it.
For me, I can be so tired but when she is eating well (and developing a little belly), strong enough to pull herself up, laughing at her own baby talk jokes, and so satisfied after a feeding session, it makes me so happy.
She is growing and experiencing growing pains. She gets fussy, but I know that as long as I try my best to be her mother and it is worth it in the end.
Thanks for reading my motherhood lessons post. To see more of Baby K’s birthday series, please check these posts below (I will try to update them as I write more):
2. 9 Motherhood Lessons: My First Year (this post)
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