Get ready for it. The first year of motherhood will surely catch you by surprise, teach you more than you ever wanted to know, and leave you completely turned around. It’s also one of the most amazing years of your life. Mandy reminisces…
In the wake of the holiday season and upcoming New Year, I stopped to reflect on all that 2010 has brought – swollen ankles, the joy of motherhood, the confidence-shaking reality of raising a newborn, and the increased difficulty that comes with being a stay-at-home mother and business owner. Priorities have shifted, there is so much more to be thankful for, and so much more to discover along this parental journey.
Looking back over the past year, it’s hard to remember the carefree life I so easily led. Nothing was too hard or out of reach. Life has certainly changed in twelve months, and as trying as it is to be a new mom, it is also incredibly empowering. Spiderman’s Uncle Ben once remarked, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and such is life as a mother. We are responsible for helping mold our little ones as our parents did for us – but some things, I’m finding, you just have to learn by yourself…
So here are 20 things I never knew and the 10 things I am grateful for:
- A grudge match can evolve from the simple discussion of circumcision or no circumcision. I basically had to go all Rumplestiltskin and barter my life away in order to find a happy medium with my husband on the subject.
- There is no such thing as a schedule for an infant. There may be more regularity than not, but as soon as you believe the lie of scheduling your child, they will literally poop all over your dream and remind you there is no Santa either.
- I thought I loved my husband. Then I had a child. Now I cannot find words to describe the love that rushes forth when I see him tenderly teaching the baby, showing all the patience in the world. Then he will make a fart sound and I find myself sighing at his ability to de-cheese a situation.
- That poop, pee and breasts would dominate all of my social conversations, despite efforts otherwise. Regardless of my audience, I find my words slowly skewing to describe areas of life that are normally off-topic, much to the dismay of half of my friends. It’s not shock-and-awe that I’m trying to accomplish, but apparently my social skills have completely watered down within six months.
- It is okay to need help. My name is not Superwoman.
- Ignoring the sleep books and occasionally cuddling with my monkey while feeling his little body rise and fall on my shoulder is awesome. More awesome? That he’s not whining.
- Sleep is like the One Ring in the Tolkein Fellowship series. Precious does not even begin to describe it. It rules all. Everyone wants it. You will lose your mind and do anything in order to obtain it. It will be a constant struggle that wears you down. It is a long-winded quest to return to it… and occasionally you will have hallucinations featuring Hobbit-sized people.
- Blowing raspberries is a wonderful advancement. Blowing raspberries while eating prunes is a step backwards. See #12.
- You can lose the genitals of your child. Believe me, I wish I were kidding. I made the catastrophic mistake of laughing at my friend when she described the horror of her pediatrician announcing that her daughter’s vaginal wall had fused back together. Though fairly common, it was no less embarrassing. Flash forward a month when I discovered that my son’s dingus had an adhesion and needed to be separated and slathered again with petroleum jelly. Yes, that’s right, I almost lost the circumcision I had lobbied for.
- People will be very annoyed if you do not discover the sex of your child and let them be privy to the information. We decided not to find out whether our bundle was male or female, instead utilizing the gender-neutral “Sprout” pre-birth. This torked people to no-end, with classics like, “How selfish to not know, now I can’t give you a gender-specific present.” Ahh, priorities.
- The immediate fear and confidence that would inhabit my soul. Once my son was born, I have never felt so strongly about certain things, while simultaneously scared that my conviction was completely off base. Life is all about balance and motherhood is a crash course in training for it.
- Carrots stain everything. Ditto for prunes.
- Anything can be rectified by an infant’s laugh. Every time I feel a little down in the dumps, I plop my son on my tummy and do a sit up. For some reason, this produces an endless supply of giggles which never fails to renew my spirits.
- The most annoying words pre-birth: “Just you wait.” The most annoying words post-birth “Just you wait.”
- Motherhood is like a big sorority. You think you know what you’re getting into when you rush happily, then you go through Hell Week and are horrendously hazed. However, after you emerge from that experience, you find yourself initiated into a group of supportive and wonderful women who have endured the same. It is a silent understanding.
- I could have been a waitress. I can balance a baby, dinner, items of laundry and a phone without breaking a sweat.
- Time moves faster than I expected. Already six months in, I’m wondering where that squirmy, squished old man face went – replaced by this smiling cherub who can move on his own. Soon he’ll be cutting the lawn, my husband promises.
- The epidural doesn’t always work. In that case, it would have been good to have taken Lamaze.
- Jason Mraz said it best, “And it takes no time to fall in love, but it takes you years to know what love is… and it takes some fears to make you trust, it takes those tears to make it rust, it takes the dust to have it polished. Ah (la la la la la la) life is wonderful.”
- Saying you have “a high pain tolerance” prior to labor is just asking for God’s gentle vengeance. It also makes mothers that have come before laugh directly into your face.
- My husband and his endless patience and unyielding support.
- The miracle blanket – aka the baby straight jacket.
- Our amazing pediatrician and staff for putting up with my many initial freak-outs.
- Whoever invented video monitors. I love you.
- Oxyclean for getting most of the prunes and carrots out of things.
- Our mothers – for as much as we act like we know it all, they know more.
- The NICU nurses for walking us through a potentially terrifying time.
- My fantastic OBGYN for ensuring the end of “Knocked Up” did not repeat itself in my delivery room.
- The Jumperoo – or as I call it, the 20-minute sanity saver.
- Our little monkey, Joseph, who brightens every day, even in the darkest thundershowers.