This time last year I was nearing my due date of February 14th, not knowing that I'd have to wait until February 23rd to meet my daughter. All of that build up to Lila's birth seems like yesterday and years ago at the same time. In many ways I'm exactly the same person that I was pre-Lila. But of course motherhood changes you. I'm late more often than I'm early these days. I think more about the future. My thoughts and concerns are less about myself and more about my daughter.
Being a mom is hard! I know it's difficult whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom or a work at home mom. I have friends in all of those situations and we all struggle sometimes. The hardest thing for me about being a working mom is not having enough time to do everything and feeling so pulled in different ways. There are so many thoughts in my head at all times. I want to do it all and sometimes there is not enough time and energy to do that.
Somehow I feel both empowered and inadequate as a mother. Do we all feel that way? I'm proud of so many things I've done for Lila in her first year of life. She is an amazing little girl, and while I can't take credit for all of it, I'm sure the time and love we give her is shaping her into the person she will be. I'm really proud of myself looking back on my first year of motherhood. For someone who'd only changed one diaper and never even held a baby younger than a month old, I've come a long way! I am doing a much better job than I thought I was going to do, but I still feel like I could do more. That stupid mommy guilt has its way of creeping in.
Guilt aside, I have learned so much in the past year!
I've learned perseverance. Breastfeeding did not come easily to us, but we made it work! After struggling with latching issues and extremely long feeding sessions we finally got our rhythm and for 7 months she was mostly breastfed. Nursing was not the blissful bonding experience that many people describe it to be, but I'm really glad we figured it out. I hope to at least nurse for 6 months with the next baby too. If you can make it work, it is so much easier to breastfeed in those early months when they eat so often.
I've learned to trust my gut. It was totally the right decision to wean Lila at 7 months. My gut was telling me that I couldn't continue pumping at work and that Lila would be happier and healthier with formula. It was totally true. Yes, it's best for baby to be breastfed for one year. For us, is was best to wean. I'm so glad I let go of the guilt on this front and went with what was best for us! There are so many conflicting opinions about everything when you are a parent. The best thing I have done is to trust my instincts and do what is best for Lila and for us.
I've learned a lot about sleep. So much about being a new mommy involves sleep. Lack of sleep for the parents and trying to instill good sleep habits for the baby. I've read so many things about baby sleep it's kind of ridiculous. I think the combination of an easy baby, luck and research has contributed to Lila's great sleep habits. Another reason we decided to wean Lila was the hope that formula would fill her belly more and contribute to better sleep. I truly believe that the last 6 months of sleeping 12+ hours a night are doing wonders for Lila's development and temperament. It's a trade off, but one that is working for us!
I've learned that it does indeed go too fast, just like everyone said. I feel like we were just bringing Lila home and now she is communicating with us and bringing home artwork from daycare! It's absolutely amazing to see a newborn grow into a toddler. Every milestone is exciting!
I've learned to appreciate my own mom even more now. My mom and I have a great relationship and pretty much talk everyday. Now that I'm a mom I really realize how fabulous of a mother she was throughout my childhood and to me as an adult. I've learned so much from her. She is also a fabulous grandma and has been so supportive to me as I learn to be a parent. She never judges me! She just supports me and helps me and is there for me. I can only hope I will be like this for Lila even when she is "grown up"!
Finally, I've learned about pure, unconditional love. I love Neil and my parents and brother unconditionally, of course. But I never knew the kind of unending, protective, almost irrational love until I became a mom. Lila is the most important thing in my life and the biggest responsibility and opportunity I've ever had. I'm so so lucky to have her. I'm so thankful to have a healthy, happy child! She makes us laugh and makes us proud every day!
To my Lila... you are the best thing that has ever happened to your daddy and me. We didn't really know what to expect about having a child, but you are far better and sweeter and more beautiful than we ever could have imagined. The highlight of my day is when we are all home together and we turn music on and dance and laugh and just have fun. You have a truly infectious laugh and spirit! I want to freeze time and enjoy the you that you are at this moment but I also can't wait to watch you grow up. I hope you always stay curious, energetic and happy! We love you baby girl.
So yeah... motherhood. It really has been a crazy ride. There are a lot fears and struggles and insecurities but more JOY than I ever thought possible. This year has gone too fast but I'm so excited for what is to come!!!