My First Year of Motherhood

A year ago I was battling fatigue from delivering a baby and barely sleeping in the hospital. I had no idea what was coming in the hours, days, months, or years that were ahead of me.

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One year later, I still don’t know what’s ahead of me…

If you know me in a real life, you know that I wasn’t sure I was mother-material. I think I still felt that way while in the hospital after giving birth. My mom laughs and says that I was in denial of impending motherhood up until we got to the hospital. Maybe that’s true…

It was so surreal those first couple of weeks–to think that the little human being crying on the outside was the little bump that used to be in my inside was just weird. I, like every mother, had huge learning curves–I had never changed a diaper before, had no clue what cry meant what, and no real idea how to entertain a baby.

My first few months of motherhood were hard, perhaps a little harder than normal. My husband was living in Indiana with his new job and would come home on some weekends, so I was a pseudo-single mom, working full time and caring for two dogs and a house. It was a definite crash course in handling anything and everything, and getting used to whatever would come my way. Need to go to the bathroom but baby is awake? Just strategically place her where you can still see her, but not close to the grossness that is the toilet. Starving and want to fix dinner, but the baby isn’t going to sleep? That’s what a carrier is for.

Moms = Expert Multi-Taskers  Article on deadline and baby won't sleep in her crib? Figure it out.

Moms = Expert Multi-Taskers Article on deadline and baby won’t sleep in her crib? Figure it out.

I struggled to breast feed–I wasn’t making much milk and Aubrey was a lazy nurser. Those first weeks of lactation consultant meetings and the first pediatrician we went to make me feel like a horrible mother. All I wanted to do was provide nourishment for our baby girl, and I wasn’t able to do that as well. Through exclusively pumping, I made it to the end of May, when I dried up under stress. I had enough milk frozen that she still got a couple ounces of breast milk with her formula for a couple more months, then she went strictly to formula…and I was OK with that. I had learned that it was OK, that everyone is different, and to be proud that I had tried.

I’ve learned how to balance life–perhaps not very well yet, but I’m still working on it. Being a full-time working mom, plus having a freelancing business and caring for other animals is exhausting. There are many late nights, and some early mornings, so I can get work done while A sleeps. I haven’t gotten back to a normal routine with the dogs, but there are other factors with that. As Aubrey gets older, I’m excited to incorporate more of my life with her so she can start to learn and do some things on her own.

I'm hoping A learns by doing--so she goes to the barn with me most of the time.

I’m hoping A learns by doing–so she goes to the barn with me most of the time.

For my first Mother’s Day, I listed some things that I had already learned in my few short months as a mother, including:

  1. Just like with my dogs, seeing her at the end of the day makes my day. Now that she’s smiling, to see her eyes light up when she sees me fills my heart with so much joy.
  2. If you think you’re too selfish to become a parent, think again. I thought I was, but all of that is thrown out the door when that little one enters your life. You will eat last (even my dogs and horses eat before I do), only get to shower if you can quickly squeeze one in, and their clothing needs come before yours. And, surprisingly, I’m OK with that.
  3. I now have a different perspective on that family eating out with a crying child, or the mother who looks frazzled while dealing with a child at the grocery. Before you gripe about how they’re child misbehave, or how dare they “ruin” your dinner out, take a moment to wonder if maybe they’re out to eat because they just want to get out of the house, or maybe that mother is a single mom doing it on her own. Have a little more patience and maybe offer to help, or compliment.
  4. Just a simple compliment can go a long way for an exhausted mom. Even if you’re not someone into kids, just asking your friend how they’re doing, or offering to meet for lunch (with or without offspring) means the world to them. A simple text to say hello and to check on them goes a long way, more than you’d ever know.

A friend once asked me, “What surprises you the most about being a mom?” Here was my answer:

  • It surprises me how much I give of myself to her. I used to think that I was a very selfish person, hence why I didn’t want to have any kids. While it sucks to miss out on a lot of things, I know it’s for her, and that lessens the sting.
  • It surprises me how much I’ve changed in my thoughts of things. When I’d hear babies crying or toddlers acting up at restaurants I’d chime in, “Ding! Beat the kid!” (inside joke from a comedian) But now I’m like, “Oh that poor momma…”
  • It surprises me how lonely you feel as a mother. It’s hard to believe that you can feel that way when you’re constantly clung to, cried for, and pushed, but you do, especially if a lot of your close friends don’t have children. (And definitely when you move…but that’s a whole other blog post.)
  • It surprises me how I am actually starting to plan in the future…for her. I always hated those questions in job interviews, “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?” because I could honestly say I have no clue…I didn’t plan in the future, except for a few months down the road. But now, I’m seeing A riding ponies, playing sports, etc.
  • It surprises me how scared I am that I might make a mistake that will affect her in some way down the road. Am I reading enough to her? Is she eating the right things to grow and develop physically and mentally? Is she on the right track? I’m almost paranoid and find myself comparing A and ourselves to others, and I never used to do that (and I know it’s a scary cycle to do).

While A has definitely grown and evolved through the year, so have I. I’ve grown to accept that I am a mother, and I’m OK with that, and proud to be her momma. I’m just going to do the best that I can with what I know, and try my best to relish every moment. But I also want to make sure that I get back to finding myself again, and remind myself that I’m not just a mother, but a professional, a horsewoman, a dog trainer, an award-winning journalist, and a fit woman.

But, I’m still a mom. And she’s still my daughter. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Dear Aubrey – 1 Year

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Dear Aubrey,

I never thought we’d get to this moment–celebrating your first birthday. And, then again, it feels like the year has gone by so quickly. One year ago we were waiting for your arrival, whether your momma was ready or not!

And just like your birth day (which was 8 days early), you have definitely done things your way this past year. You already have such a sense of self and want to do things your way in your time.

Your first birthday smash cake!

Your first birthday smash cake!

In this last month as a “baby” (though you’ll always be our Baby Girl), you’ve grown more proficient in your crawling, finally crawling more on your hands and knees than army crawling. You’re walking everywhere with everyone–you’ll grab our fingers and start walking, whether we were ready or not. You’re pulling yourself up on everything (including your crib), can get on your riding toys by yourself, and get off.

You’re eating three meals a day, plus a snack after your afternoon naps. You easily transitioned off the bottle to drinking your milk in your sippy cup. Yep, you’re transitioning off the formula onto all milk just fine. Your favorite foods include blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, red and green bell peppers, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, broccoli, and black beans. You love foods with seasoning (like Mexican or Italian). You don’t like us trying to feed you, so we’re going to start trying to teach you to feed yourself things like applesauce (your favorite) and tomato soup.

Your naps haven’t been as consistent as in the past, but you’re still doing two naps a day (most days). You still have trouble sleeping through the night, and we don’t know if it’s because of teething, or what.

Fun times with daddy: Playing "boat" with a box from your Christmas presents.

Fun times with daddy: Playing “boat” with a box from your Christmas presents.

Speaking of teething, you now have two teeth! I didn’t think you’d ever have any teeth pop up, but they finally have.

No major holidays in January, you just spent the month playing with all your toys, reading tons of books (the ones with peekaboo flaps are your favorite), playing with the dogs, and following us everywhere in the house.

Everyday you go through your book baskets, find the books we've read, and then read them to yourself.

Everyday you go through your book baskets, find the books we’ve read, and then read them to yourself.

I’ll write a separate post about our entire year together, but it’s definitely been one full of many lessons, mostly sleepless nights, lots of smiles, a few tears, lots of laughs, and one remarkable little girl. You’ve definitely filled our lives with so much joy.

Sometimes the best presents are the ones we didn’t know we wanted…and I’m sure happy that I got you.

Giving Lark a kiss before we turn her out for the day. I hope you become a horsewoman like your momma.

Giving Lark a kiss before we turn her out for the day. I hope you become a horsewoman like your momma.

11 Months
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1 Month

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Hitting the Pavement: 4 Mile Training Run

Earlier I posted about getting back to healthy, getting back to me. Well, there’s no better way to do that than to dive right into half marathon training! And that’s exactly what I did this weekend.

The weekend forecast was awesome, perfect for the first outdoor run of 2016–40s in the morning, 50s during the day. I had a full plate for my Saturday, so I couldn’t relish the 50s, but I did relish it being 38 degrees at 10 am (which was the earliest I could get out). I drove to the gym for a warmup on the elliptical and then hit the walking/running trail that was behind the building. Hamilton County (Indiana) has been working to add more and more trails for walkers, bikers, and runners. This particular trail was called the Midland Trace, and it runs through all of Westfield. It was my first time running on it, and I have to say I got a little lost at one point because there was no signage to point me in the direction of where to go once we hit a busy street. So I just ran along the road on the sidewalk for a while before turning back around to head back to the gym. Next time I’m hoping to be a little more prepared.

I started off the run nice and easy, and it wasn’t until I hit the spot that I “lost” the trail that I realized I was phoning in the run. That might not be so bad, but I really wanted to see how I’d feel during those 4 miles, after not running much this fall/winter (minus the treadmill runs on my lunch break).

After the second mile, I had to shed my pullover. I had a few issues during that third mile, and that really reflected in my split time. I really kicked it into gear for the final mile, wanting to push myself to finish with a 10 minute/mile pace.

4 Mile training run splits

What really kicked me into gear was running by the local Bible college. They had a sign that just seemed perfect for the start of training season. I stopped and took a photo because, c’mon, who wouldn’t think this was God talking to them during their time of seeking inspiration?

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When I returned to the gym, I did a quarter mile cool down on the elliptical, followed by some nice, long stretches. I decided it was definitely nicer to run from the gym than from my house because my cool down was still about me–I could take my time to properly cool down and properly stretch, gather my thoughts and reflect on that run. If I were at home, I’d rush inside to stretch a little bit, rush in the shower, and be dressed in no time to get back to being a mom. This forced me to continue thinking about me and thinking about my health.

When I returned home, I was starting to feel under the weather (a cold has crept up on me), and so was Baby A&W. We’re not sure if it’s teething or she’s just not feeling good, but after I showered and dressed, I gathered up my little girl for a snuggle session in the recliner so she could sleep some and momma could relax.

Poor Baby A&W

Poor Baby A&W, snuggled up with her blankie and her momma.

In my pre-momma training days, long run days were either spent recovering while binge-watching Mad Men, or going out and training the dogs in agility for an hour followed by log walks, etc. Now, it seems like I might be spending those days cuddled up with my little girl. And I think I’m OK with that.