Year One of Motherhood: I'd Go On Picking You.


The Hardest Year of Marriage
I always remember people saying, "the first year of marriage is the hardest."
I never understood that. 

Marriage came very naturally to Marcus and I. It was just like one day we got to have a really fun sleep over after wanting to have a really fun sleep over for a long time and then we spent the next year living with our best friend and it was just kind of awesome. 

Was it perfect? Did we ever get annoyed or disappointing in each other, I'm sure we did, but overall, I did not share the "first year is the hardest" sentiment. The following 4 years were similar to the first. Yes, some of the newlywed novelty had worn off and there were more annoyance and disappointments, but still I did not find marriage to be something I'd tack in the difficult category. 

Then we had a baby.


The first few weeks were physically..."challenging" just really doesn't encompass it, they were excruciating. My body was traumatized by delivery and I was so exhausted from sleep deprivation, I didn't know how I would ever function again. Marcus was wonderful and seeing him care for me and for our new sweet baby boy was overwhelming. I don't think I've ever felt more loved or loved him more. But time went on and I began to heal and could take care of myself again. He was back at work and while physically things were getting somewhat easier, emotionally they were not so fun. 

I felt a little crazy because I was obsessed with my baby and I was so proud that my body was functioning so well to produce tons of healthy milk that Simon loved, but I was nursing around 20 times a day. Basically all day and all night I had a baby connected to me and I was losing my mind. I accomplished nothing. I was rarely getting ready, we almost never ate at home, I never worked out, I think we went on 2 or mayyyybe 3 dates without Simon in 12 months. Even though Marcus tried to be helpful, I wanted and needed him to do more. I didn't know how he could do more, but I needed him to figure it out, the problem was Simon relied on me for food, comfort, and sleep. He could do none of those things without me. (He was exclusively BF for around 9 months, he didn't take a paci and he hated to be put down, no bouncy or swing we tried worked, we co-slept until he could crawl and he'd only sleep attached to me. Once we moved him to a crib, he still would only nurse to sleep...) And so deep down the emotional side of me felt mad that I didn't have any time to myself. I was mad at Marcus for not sharing equal responsibility. I was mad at my mom for not being one of those really involved grandmas. I was even mad at Simon sometimes for being a high-needs baby. All the while, the logical side of me knew that the way I wanted to raise Simon for his first year, didn't really allow any of those people to do anything much differently.

So, while I'm sure you're hoping I am going tell you all the things YOU can do differently to not experience what I did or what I'll do differently next time around, here's the conclusion I will give you instead. Motherhood is hard. The first year is hard. And...

It all passes.

Your baby turns one. 
They start sleeping through the night or close to it.
They start sleeping in their own bed instead of yours (Simon around 8 months).
They stop needed to nurse so frequently.
They start being able to play in the shower while you take a quick one most days.
They start being able to sit and play with blocks or look through board books while you quickly swipe on some makeup (at least a couple times a week to remind yourself that you can still look pretty if you really want to.)
Serious Cold and Flu season ends and you get brave enough to bring them to the gym kids care so you can be alone for an hour and take a fun work out class--and it feels amazing.
They learn to walk and interact with other kids and so you can sit outside and neighborhood friends will come by and entertain them for a few minutes so you don't have to, and it feels good, even if it's just for 3 minutes. 
They still may not say a word, but they learn to point and make noises that mean something and it's really fun.
They've been cute the whole time, but somehow they get even cuter.
They'll still drive you crazy. Sometimes you'll still feel mad. Sometimes you'll still want more alone time than you get. Sometimes your husband still won't be as helpful as you wish and sometimes you'll still be a little too much of a control freak. But you find ways to connect again, and getting more sleep allows you to reason a little better and be grateful that in that whole year they didn't complain about the fact that you ate out almost every night or that you didn't get ready as often as you once did, and turns out you still really like the person you married.

Motherhood is still hard. It is so hard.

But life gets better. And right when it gets better, something will come up and it will get hard again, but this time you'll have had a little stretch of better and you can do this.

That's the biggest conclusion I've come to after a year of parenting.

You can do this.

And it keeps getting better.

What I Learned The Year I Became a Mother
Simon's Shirt here


Emily S (Em Busy Living) said...

Thank you for such an honest post! (I also love all of your beautiful photos!) While I don't have kids of my own yet, I'm constantly reading things like this so I'm prepared for when they do come.

rachel said...

I read your blog but haven't ever commented. Until now! Because I feel this so much! My son is 13 months, so I think right around the same age as Simon, and the experience you describe is so much like mine. How can it be possible to love something so much while also often wanting to run away? I don't know, but it's real. Anyway, just wanted to say the words that CS Lewis said are the most comforting in the world: me, too.

Natacha Miner said...

I loved reading this, thank you! We're at the no-sleeping-unless-baby-is-attached-to-mom stage right now.... so it's encouraging to get some perspective from someone who has lived that same thing.

Beverly Houpt said...

Oh my GOSH, yeah!! It gets better ...and then new challenges arise, haha. It'll never be easy, but that's what makes it worth it. Right now we're struggling with the concept of "No" and learning to say "please."
I've been wanting to take Gwen to the gym daycare while I'm working out, but Ryan and I can't seem to agree on it. I think it would definitely be worth it to be able to work out while Ryan is at work.

Oh hey, these photos are gorgeous. <3

Sarah Waggoner said...

I feel like we were on the same brain-wave this week, expressing similar thoughts. I love this! And beautiful family! Drooling over all the photos! I'm definitely looking forward to better night sleeps over here. Also, I've been wanting to go to the gym. At what age/stage do they usually start watching little ones?

vivian said...

i love this post! My second is 5 months old and this time around has been so much harder for me, but i know it will get better and a little easier in many ways. Thanks for sharing!

Mickelle said...

wow I share so many of the same sentiments and experiences. My baby is 16 months now..still working on sleeping through the whole night thing. But I had the hardest time adjusting to motherhood. Had a high needs baby as well and I think you said it does pass. Of course there are new challenges, but there is something about a baby constantly crying and you being the only one who can help that can grate the soul no matter how much you love them. Loved the post and the beautiful pictures!

girlygirl said...

I say amen to be everything you wrote. I nursed until my daughter was 2.5 years old. My daughter is exactly how you described your son. I feel ya. I was post partum depression and nursing was demanding.its all hard but yes, worth it. We can do it!!!

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