Tuesday, May 6, 2014

7 Surprising Realizations After Being a Mom for 1 Year

May 6, 2013. 

I remember this time, a year ago, being both anxious and excited...stressed, and at peace. I felt more conflicted than usual, which is saying a lot as a Gemini. When LG was born, and I couldn't hold her for 16 hours, I still felt pregnant...and as though my hard work in labor for 22 hours didn't bring me the reward of holding my baby, like I'd hoped and expected...which leads me to my FIRST of SEVEN realizations, since becoming a mom. The past year, I've learned a lot. Here are some highlights.


The first lesson I learned, within the first minutes of becoming a mother, was that things don't go as planned. My natural birth lasted about 12 hours, my epidural birth lasted about 10, and the vaginal delivery never happened. The dreaded, feared, and self-judged c-section, under emergent circumstances, occurred at 9:05 that night. Going skin-to-skin and holding my baby immediately after birth, didn't happen. Relying on my partner to give the first feeding and diaper changes, did.

Just a good smell of that fresh baby scent, and a gentle kiss. Then, they took her away. My heart broke into a million pieces.

I want to be the kind of mom who goes with the flow, more so than I want to be the kind of mom who sticks to a strict plan. Plans change. Plans fall through. That used to be the kind of thing that really bothered me. When I try to emulate the ease and flow of water...gently making it's way around whatever rock//burden//obstacle is in the way, rather than obstinately arguing with the roadblock...that is the kind of mother I want to be. That is the kind of mother I feel God is calling me to be, with the life lessons He gave me during Lilah Grace's birth.


My biggest fear with having a baby so soon after getting married, was of course, financial. I think most parents are worried about having enough, and being able to provide enough. I've heard it said many times, if somebody waits to have enough money to have kids, it'll never happen. That's true. Even with insurance, we will be making payments on Lilah's NICU bill for the next 5 years. She had a febrile seizure last January, and we will be making payments on that hospital bill for the next 4 years. Without a doubt, medical expenses are astronomical, and that's an entirely different conversation all together. 

But I look at these payments the same way I look at our mortgage, or other bills. It comes off the top, it's the first thing that gets paid, it just is what it is. Of course, the little girl can EAT! And food is expensive! And diapers, and childcare for the days I work. But these don't cross my mind regularly; it's just an accepted way of life now. Again, I've learned to "go with the flow" and just flow around the obstacles. We have less money, but we aren't starving! We live in a perfectly sized house for our little family, and it's filled to the brim with love. Before having Lilah Grace, I had much more freedom with how I spent my money. I believe we will feel more liberated as we get older, more settled, and progress further in our careers. Until then, we enjoy the simple things, and acknowledge that the most important moments truly are priceless. We stay home most nights, take walks, and get a lot of free meals with our nearby family :) 


I admit, I totally miss sleeping in. It's happened once in the past year. ONCE. My parents watched Lilah Grace over night, and I didn't have to get her first thing in the morning. She is an early riser, and it took her over 6 months to sleep through the night. I used to work 5 days a week before her arrival, so I'm used to waking up early, but I really loved those weekends when I could wake up to my own biological clock, rather than my iPhone alarm, or even the sweet babbles of my precious angel. I wouldn't TRADE it for the world, but I miss that kind of a morning. What nobody warns you about, as new parents, is SURE you can get a babysitter for a fun night out, complete with drinks, but the night isn't the tough part! That next morning, you're on again. Shift starts back up at 6:30, in our case. And Baby doesn't know if you have a pounding headache, and frankly, Baby doesn't care. 


I've managed to give myself permission to sleep maybe four times, ever, while LG has napped. This is the only time I can get anything done throughout the day! And I feel like her little coos could start up at ANY minute after we hit 1 hour of snooze time. Which means, even as I'm writing this blog, I'm typing a million words per minute, wondering if the washer will buzz before she wakes up, so I can at least change the laundry before we start the afternoon together. Who knows. But I set little goals for myself during her naps, and knock them out, with incredible diligence, because when she's awake, I'm focused on HER, and I let her pace set my pace. 

When she sleeps, I'm a hustla, baaaaaby.


I hope I can look back in 5 years, and repeat that mantra. I hope my whole life, I'm growing spiritually. I think that's the point of existence. The more I think about age, the less I think it matters. I think Life Experiences age us. It can be for better or worse, depending on who we want to be. I think having a soulful partnership (read: NOT necessarily a marriage) teaches us about Life and helps us grow. I think having a painful break up expands our potential to love, and helps us grow. I think experiencing death ultimately reminds us that Life on this realm is not eternal, and reminds us to appreciate those that matter most to us, and to let them know. Education certainly adds wisdom to our lives. I think travel opens the mind to new cultures, religions, ideas. Point being, I think it's entirely possible for a 50 year old to stand next to a 20 year old, and depending on their life experiences, the younger could have more wisdom. That's not to say I think that's the norm...I think most people with age have more wisdom, because they have time on their side. Age gives us an edge, because it gives us the time to have those experiences, but if we're not SEEKING experiences, we're wasting our time. 

I digress. Lilah Grace has offered me an entirely new experience in this Life. She hit the "refresh" button for me, and has given me fresh eyes, seeing the world in a new way...absolutely full of wonder.


((THANK GOD for the village))

The old phrase is true. When I looked around the room for her first birthday, I was choked up, hearing our family singing "The Weight" and feeling the love that each person in our tribe has for LG. It's not like I have to ask or encourage anybody to love her; they all love her helplessly, and individually. Each person in her life has their own unique relationship with her, and that has very little to do with me.  

I RELY on my tribe. George helps out a lot. A couple nights a week, he'll put LG down for the night. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, he takes her to the nanny. And he works his butt off every day, to help provide a life for our little family. Both our sets of parents AND grandparents give a lot of their time, money, and love, and we are richly blessed as a result. When Papa G goes out of town for work, I still stay at my folks' place. Both my mom and his mom pick LG up from the nanny regularly. The phrase "it takes a village" helps take the load off my shoulders. I'm not doing this alone; we are all doing this together.  The satisfying feeling of celebrating occasions, and loving this little angel, with my tribe is much more rewarding than any feeling of self sufficiency. 


Sometimes I'll feel like I've entertained LG for hours during the stretch from dinner to bath//bed. But it's only been 30 minutes. And then, I realize that an entire month has flown by, and what do you know, now I have a 1 year old little tot. Where's my newborn baby?!

The advice I heard most often a year ago, was "it goes by so fast, enjoy every moment." I'm grateful for that advice. This time has already flown by, and I think if there's one thing I've done well, it's been being present, and not taking a day with LG for granted. Cumulatively, I'm certain I've spent hours just staring at her little mouth, milia-covered nose, and those dimples-for-knuckles. My five senses are completely enamored with her. Staring, listening, SMELLING, feeling, and even tasting...nibbling those sweet chunky thighs. She puts me in a complete sensory overload.

I know I won't get this time back. I love each and every day I've had with our little girl, and look forward to the many milestones and Life Lessons that are ahead of us.

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, SWEETHEART. Our lives are so much richer with you here. We love you so much. I loved you from the time I was a little girl and played dolls, pretending I had a baby...and I will love you forever. Love never dies.


"Goodnight my angel, now it's time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be

Someday your child may cry, and if you sing this lullaby,
Then in your heart there will always be a part of me...
Someday we'll all be gone,
But lullabies go on and on,
They never die,
That's how you and I will be..."
-Billy Joel

Our little human rights baby.

Little LG celebrating Mama's birthday, last Memorial Day! Her first dip in a pool!

Papa G made sure LG listened to a few albums in their entirety, immediately after she was born...
Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys,
OK Computer by Radiohead
The White Album by the Beatles
Pitter Patter.

The first of HUNDREDS of strolls!

I love you, Lilah Grace! 

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