During that first couple of months with a baby, most parents will tell you that it feels like years. The lack of sleep really does a number on your mental state.
Parenthood has many ups and downs. Being a parent is rewarding but also can be so hard at the same time. During my first year as a new mom, there was a steep learning curve. I don’t doubt there will always be something new to learn when it comes to being a parent. My child will grow and change with each new year but for new parents and soon to be moms, I wanted to share my experiences. Here are 4 things I learned in my first year as a mom. These lessons really helped me and my husband grow as parents.
Don’t compare your baby to others.
Many of my friends had babies a few months before my daughter was born. It was hard not to compare. This is the first thing I learned in my first year as a mom. I think it’s a natural human thing. It may seem harmless, hey, sometimes it can be good to compare to make sure that your baby is developing at a good rate and hitting those developmental milestones. However, for babies under a year, it was not the best thing to do.
In the grand scheme of things, a few months is not a big deal but at this age, the developmental gaps are huge. Also, there are large ranges of what is considered normal. Did you know that the range of babies getting their first tooth is as early as 3 months old to 10 months? These are just physical developments, mental developments also have large normal ranges.
By comparing your babe to another who is a month or so ahead, you will likely see a big difference. In fixating on these differences, you are doing a disservice to your amazing babe. You will miss out on where your child is at in their development. So what if your baby is a little later in pulling themselves up. You will miss the day when they were immobile because once they get going, they want to be moving all the time.
Instead of seeing the amazing progress, your little one is making, you’re focusing on what they are not doing yet. These are firsts that you will never get back. Enjoy each stage that your baby is at. I remember when my baby started holding her head up for long periods of time. It was AMAZING. When she started rolling over, I made claims like she’s going to be an Olympian! Then before I knew it she was pulling herself up. You will only get to enjoy each of these milestones for a short time because the next one is right around the corner, so savor the development they are in.
Be patient with your little one.
I remember at around the 2.5-month mark, wondering why she wasn’t sleeping through the night. She had been sleeping 5-6 hours but never fully through the night. Other babes seemed to have full night’s sleep (see what making comparisons do). If you need help with baby sleep check out my post on The Best Products for Baby Sleep Issues
Then my husband said something that caught me off guard. “She’s only 2 months old. It took her 9 months to even get here, you have to be patient.”
He was right, she was only 2 months old, why was I thinking she should be sleeping like an adult? And these other babes I mentioned before were also months older.
The lack of sleep makes it feel like you’ve had your babe for a lifetime and more. The days seem to blend together and it’s easy to overlook that your little one is still brand new to the world. Even now, at 12 months old, months later, my daughter is able to do so much and I am amazed by how far she’s come. I still forget I can’t reason with her, she doesn’t understand yet because she’s only one.
Be patient with your little one, they are still trying to figure out how to connect their sleep cycles, deal with hunger, and the feeling of a soiled diaper. The only way they know how to communicate these things is by crying. We as adults, we forget how frustrating it can be when we are trying to do something but our bodies don’t do what we command it to do. This is every day in the life of our babes.
Your baby is brand new to the world even though it may feel like a lifetime. You’re doing an amazing job mama! Just as the learning curve for parenthood is steep, the learning curve for living on this side is even steeper for our little babes. Being patient with your little one is the 2nd thing I learned in my first year as a mom. It is something I want to take with me as my daughter gets older and hopefully when I have more children too.
You and your partner are a team.
Now, I know this may sound contradictory but hear me out.
It took me a while and sometimes I still make this mistake but I expect my husband to know everything about our daughter’s schedule, patterns, and abilities as I do. When I am the one who is home with her and she is in my care most of the time, I realized that it was unreasonable for me to expect this of my husband.
I caught myself rolling my eyes or even being short with my husband when he asked me a question about her diet, her nap schedule, her nighttime routine. It not only put a strain on our marriage but I was discouraging my husband and making him feel like he was an inadequate father.
The truth is he was being an amazing father and husband. He still is. I was being unreasonable asking him to know everything I do when I was the one who set the schedule and spends all day every day with her. I mastered her schedule, reading her responses, reactions, patterns, and abilities through trial and error. While I was busy being her mom in my own way, my husband was being the best dad he could be in his own way.
Just as I do not know how to do everything my husband does around the house and for our family, nor does he expect me to unless I want to know. I can’t expect him to know everything I do.
My expectation of my husband being a co-parent was unreasonable and I think expecting our partner to know what we know leaves a heavy burden on them. My husband and I are a team. As a team we communicate, we ask questions, we have different responsibilities and skills that enable us to work together and keep our family/home life running smoothly.
Don’t get me wrong, he is not a part-time parent or as people sometimes label husbands as “babysitters”. He is a full-time parent, through and through. His priority and attention is our daughter and her wellbeing alone. Everything that he does, he does with the best intention for her health and development. He changes diapers, he prepares her food, he feds her and are present for bath times, meal times, and bedtimes.
Savor your time with them.
Savor your time with your little one. Enjoy each moment, because you never know when it will be your last moment. This is a lesson I learned a little too late. I feel like I rushed through so many last moments because I was so excited about the next thing she was going to do. Babies also learn an incredible amount in their first year so they are doing things that are the stepping stones to more complex things they will do later. However, once they learn the next step the first amazing thing she did, will be gone.
I remember when my daughter learned to blow air out of her mouth through closed lips. It sounded like she was beatboxing (you got to start somewhere). Her cheeks would puff out and her lips pushed together. It was the cutest thing. She loved doing it. She only did it for two maybe three short months. I’m sure we have a video but it’s something that I wish I savored more. It’s the little things you will miss.
Even during those hard nights, when she needed a little more cuddles at 3 AM, I miss those too. At the time it was hard but now, she’s such a big girl that she doesn’t need my cuddles anymore (only on the rarest of occasions now).
When I try to hold her, she struggles because she wants to walk, she wants to crawl and explore the next new thing. The moments of cuddles are so short. I miss holding her and her sinking into my arms and chest. I am sure I have a few more cuddles left still but there will come a time when she won’t want them anymore. Take advantage of that first-year mamas, you will not believe how fast the time goes.
Take lots of photos and videos as you will look back on them and love them all. I also recommend getting a photographer. When you’re the one taking the photos, you don’t get to be in many of them with your babe. If you’re in the Vancouver area, I recommend Rina Ryu Photography. It may seem like a luxury but it is one that you will cherish and I felt it was completely worth it.
I know I’ve only been a mama for one year now, almost to the day. However, I hope these 4 things I learned in my first year as a mom will help you love that first year with your babe.
Remember don’t compare your baby to another, even if its another one of your children. All babies are different. Don’t let the comparison game steal the joy of enjoying your baby where they are. Be patient with your little one, they are going through so many changes in that first year. Let them adapt to life on this side at their own pace. Be patient with your husband too. He is learning to be a parent just as you are. Remember being a team doesn’t mean he will know everything you know and visa versa. You are compliments of each other. Where he might fall short you pick up the slack and visa versa. And finally, savor your time with them, each moment of that first year and all the years to come. No year will be the same.