Little Deer’s first birthday is next week (oh my goodness!) and as we get closer and closer to the big day, I can’t help but think about what a year it’s been. Though turning one is a big milestone for LD, it’s also a huge one for me. I have made it through my first year of being a mom. That is truly no easy feat!
I would say hands-down this past year has been the hardest in my entire life. And when I say it’s been the hardest, I don’t mean it’s been a bad year, not by any means. I just mean it’s been challenging. I’ve stretched farther than I’ve ever stretched before. Learned more about caring for an infant than I ever thought possible. Lost many nights of sleep. Yet through it all, I’ve grown stronger.
In the beginning it felt like I didn’t know how to swim, yet I was thrown overboard anyway, straight into the waters of new motherhood. Though at times it felt like I was barely treading water (and let’s be honest, sinking) I made it, and I survived. Breastfeeding troubles, physical therapy, problems with postpartum healing, food intolerances, being a single mom for six months, difficulties with sleep, baby blues… it’s been pretty tough. But somehow, almost simultaneously, it’s been awesome too.
Getting to see Little Deer roll over for the first time, smile, laugh – I can remember those moments perfectly. That instant when I carried her into the living room and she saw her daddy again for the first time in six months. When the three of us went to the zoo for the first time together. When I lay on the floor and she crawls all over me and I open my eyes to find her close-up little face pressed against mine, smiling. Tickling her tummy until she’s screeching with laughter. Cracking up at her first little tantrums… There have been so many wonderful, funny, and amazing moments this past year. Way too many to count.
I also remember the one moment, almost one year ago, that started it all. I was eating lunch out at a restaurant with my dad. At one point I set my sandwich down and put my hand on my stomach to feel a contraction. It felt a little different than contractions I had in the past. I remember being hopeful that it was the start of labor, that it would be the contraction that would set it all in motion. And indeed it was.
That next morning when Little Deer was first born, I remember looking at her sweet face and seeing both Mr. Deer and me instantly. I was actually hoping she’d be a spitting-image of him, and was surprised to see so much of myself. Not having any siblings, it was (and still is) surprising to look at her sweet face and see my eyes looking back at me. My eyes are about all she got from me though; everything about her face is Mr. Deer’s (which I love).
I’ve been watching videos lately that I took of her when she was just a couple of months old. She had much less hair and chubbier cheeks back then. Seeing her in those videos makes me realize that Little Deer is barely still a baby. She’s quickly becoming a vibrant, spunky, and fun-loving little girl. She’s crawling, throwing, yelling, laughing and smiling. She even just took her first steps a few days ago. Soon, she’ll be toddling about. I can barely believe it. How has a year already gone by?
Though she’s getting bigger and bigger, I know she still needs me. I am her mama after all. But she can get food, water, snuggles, and playtime from others now too. She will even contently play with a toy by herself for a bit. She’s growing up. Now that she’s always so busy and on-the-go, there’s hardly any time for mama snuggles. Nursing before bed is my last real snuggly time with her, and I’m doing all that I can to cherish it.
This year of motherhood has definitely taken me by surprise. I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be, or how completely awesome it would be to watch Little Deer grow up. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be returning to work. Or that we would move a few states away. Or even that I would change my entire diet so that I could nurse her. Change seems to be the name of the game with motherhood though. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it all, something new pops up.
I’ve come to expect the unexpected, to embrace the inevitable change. Now that this first year is almost done, I think I’m finally feeling a bit more confident and a little less anxious. When she cries it’s no longer a scramble to figure out what she needs; I usually know. And if I don’t, I know she’ll be okay while I work to figure it out. I relish our periods of good sleep because I know that eventually something will come along (teething, milestones, etc.) and she’ll be waking up again. I’ve learned that being stressed about her sleep, how much she eats, or her development doesn’t help anything. I’m better off taking a breath and rolling with it.
I know that having a year of motherhood under my belt does not make me an expert parent. Far from it! The toddler years are quickly approaching (of which I know little about) and there is still much learning to come, new challenges to face. Even so, I want to remember all of the difficulties we’ve overcome already. I want to continue to learn as a parent, and stay confident in my ability to be Little Deer’s mama. And I want to soak up this time as a family of three. One day we will hopefully have more children, but right now, LD is our one and only. I want to treasure this one-on-one time with her while I still can.
I wouldn’t trade this past year for anything. It has been such a wild and new adventure. As much as I want to hold on to LD’s babyhood, I am so excited for the future. To see LD walk, talk, and blossom into the little girl I’m starting to see glimpses of these past few months. It will all be so much fun. And probably a little messy too, but isn’t that just how life is? I can’t wait.
My Little Deer – you are the biggest blessing I have ever received. I still, to this day, look at you and cannot believe that you’re here. That God allows us to be your parents. Your daddy and I love you more than you could ever know. Thank you for being such a sweet, wild, and funny baby girl. This first year of being your mama has been a blast. I can’t wait to see what the coming years hold. I love love love you!
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How was your first year of parenthood? What are you looking forward to with your little ones in the coming years?