Monday, February 21, 2011

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First Annual Thoughts on Motherhood

A month ago I decided I wanted to do a post on my thoughts on my first year of motherhood. I jotted things down every time I thought of something so my thoughts are a little scattered. Motherhood has been the craziest, scariest, happiest, and most thrilling roller coaster ride of my life. There are downs (lots and lots of them) but the ups are so magnificent you realize you will gladly experience the downs of sleepless nights in exchange for the ups hearing mama come out of that sweet baby mouth. Without further ado, here are the First Annual Thoughts on Motherhood:

  • I hate to sound egotistical but I think this past year has been harder for me than it has been for Cati. She went from a crying blob of a baby to an active form of a little person. I did everything for her and suffered so much that I don't think I will be able to forgot how much certain periods of time with her hurt. She's lucky in that she won't remember any of the cries or the bumps or the mistakes. 
  • I wish I could get a snapshot of how she saw her life this past year in a "Look Who's Talking" sort of way. I know she's happy because she is a happy baby. I know it was good for her because she has grown and developed beautifully. It would still be fun to see the world through her eyes, though.
  • The worry is probably the worst part about the first year of motherhood. I have never had so much self doubt and internal debate. I've never felt so un-confident and have never taken so many things personally.
  • While Cati was becoming a whole new person I had to learn how to incorporate this new role into my person. I was used to being independent, coming and going when I wanted, sleeping in, etc. Once Cati was born her needs had to be met before my own and it's been a struggle to balance out the nurturing mother role with the "I'm still me" role. 
  • Motherhood is the best work out. The jumping and bouncing and dancing I've had to do to keep Cati entertained have been enough to leave me panting and sore.
  • Motherhood is kind of like those Cirque du Soleil contortionists. I had to learn how to do some many things while carrying a baby. Using the bathroom and all that entails while holding a crying baby tops my list.
  • Room temperature food is my best friend. There are still plenty of meals I don't get to eat hot because it's at the precise moment where food is set in front of me that Cati chooses to have a meltdown. I can't stand to hear Cati cry so I will pick her up and entertain her until someone else can grab hold of her so I can eat. You know who else is my best friend? The need to savor food in quick bites. I love food but sometimes I can't enjoy it for as long as I'd like so I've gotten used to eating quickly and savoring as much as I can in a short amount of time.
  • Who needs an alarm clock when your baby wakes up at the same time every day?
  • Cati started sleeping through the night at 7 months. I haven't slept through the night since I was pregnant. Even though she sleeps all the way through I still wake up when I hear her making noises. 
  • Motherhood has made me really appreciate ALL mothers out there. Every time I see a mother struggling with her child I wish I could give her a cupcake and congratulate her on doing an awesome job despite the frustration. 
  • Motherhood can be so divisive. I shudder at the thought of the one woman who told me I needed to get Cati on the breast because she wasn't going to bond with me as long as I gave her a bottle. I shudder to think about my friends who have encountered women who told them they "should have held out longer" instead of getting a c-section. Why can't we just support one another and call it a day?
  • I still have trouble seeing how Cati came into the world as a birth. I know I gave birth to her but it's so weird to think that layers upon layers of me had to be cut in order for her to come out; this was medicine doing the work and not nature (why did my body fail?). This only applies to me and how I've struggled to process Cati's birth so please don't take this to mean that I don't think c-sections are real births.
  • Motherhood can be so isolating. Regardless of the help and people around you, there are still some things that only you can do and only you feel.
  • I love that Cati was able to have breast milk for as long as she did but I hated pumping. The Pump and I had a great relationship but I do not want to renew it next time around. I have already stated multiple times that I will tape the baby's face to my breast if that's what it takes to get it on the breast. Just kidding. Kind of. 
  • Now I see why people keep having kids. When Cati was an infant I told Alex I thought she was going to be an only child. I hated the first three months of life with her. I started to really enjoy and like motherhood after that and at about six months I started to love it. Cati has become such a fun baby over time that it's helped ease the pain of those first few months. Plus, she doesn't stop growing! She's so delicious right now that I wish I could freeze time and keep her this small. 
  • However, I only want one more child. Silly me wanted three before I had kids. Of course, I wanted three! I had no clue what it was like to have one! I feel sufficiently traumatized from Cati's first few months to know that I can only go through that one more time. Alex likes to say that our next child will be so easy going that I will want a third, but I like to think I am very firm on this. 
  • The simple truth is this: I have no idea what I'm doing. Forget the books I read and all the advice from older moms, my daughter is an individual and she doesn't follow the rules. I have to make them up as I go along and I pray that I'm doing a good job. I think that's the key to motherhood: don't give the advice of others too much weight and listen to your gut because only you know your child.
  • I've been a mother for a year now and I still feel like I'm playing make-believe. Alex and I are just pretending to be parents and Cati is pretending to be a baby that is our child. I can't believe this is really my life. 
  • I've learned to be content with having only one room in the house completely cleaned at a time. The minute I clean one room, Cati goes to another and litters it with her books and toys.
  • Who needs toys? On many occasions Cati has chosen to play with things like the remote control and my make-up back over her toys; 85% of the time Cati chooses these household items over her toys.
  • But with those toys, make sure there is an "off" button before buying. Cati's Mickey airplane has no off button that I can find and hearing a Mickey remix at 8am because Cati is in a -push-that-button-over-and-over-again phase is not always the best way to start the day.
  • There will be no shortage of opinions and judgments from random women. I wish there was a mute button in those instances.
  • Yes my daughter looks like my husband. Yes she looks like his mother. Please, please, please don't say that my daughter is really my mother-in-law's daughter and I just carried her. Not funny then, not funny now, not funny ever.
  • I knew Cati would change a lot during the first year but I didn't expect her to look like a completely different baby. I know I shouldn't but sometimes I look at her newborn photos and wonder how I could have considered her so cute when she's so much cuter now. Love is so blind!
  • Speaking of cuteness, babies are lucky they are cute because I don't know how they would survive some of the things they do if it weren't for their cuteness factor. "Oh gross! You spat up on me. But wait! Look at that smile you just gave me! Awww!" That doesn't work with an adult.
  • I would love to shove the "nap while they nap" words down the throat of the person who originated them. Am I the only one that found it nearly impossible to do this in the first few months? Is it because I had to do a lot on my own so nap time was really catch-up-on-everything-else time? 
  • There are moments where I really hate Alex (how can he sleep through the cries?!) and there are moments where I really love him (hide-and-seek are best with him). Motherhood has simultaneously made me appreciate and expect more of him. It has also showed me that I need to be very specific and vocal with my wants and needs.
  • I never knew baby clothes could be so cute and addictive. I love to shop for Cati and sometimes I wish I could magnify her clothes so it can fit me. Downside? I would rather shop for her than myself so while Cati is always stylish and put together I'm almost always a mess. I need to learn to invest a little bit more in myself.
  • Thank God there are no allergies in the family because I sucked with the 3-day rule.
  • One of the biggest issues has been understanding that while Cati is my daughter she is also very important to others whether it be because she is the first granddaughter or first niece. Her firsts are firsts for everyone too.
  • I'm so sensitive as a mother. I cry so easily that I'm afraid my tear ducts are broken. Part of what makes me emotional is lamenting bringing such a wonderful little human into a world that contains people capable of causing such devastating harm.
  • Motherhood means trusting yourself, trusting the instincts of your baby, and letting go. You have to trust that you know best, trust that your baby knows what it does or doesn't want, and let go of that need to control every little thing.
  • The farther away from being pregnant and giving birth I am, the more confident and comfortable I feel as a woman. I created life, carried and sustained it, and, once out of me, have nurtured it. It's hard work, empowering, and utterly amazing.  
  • No matter how much alone time I have spent with Cati there are still days where I'm scared of it being just the two of us.
  • Are you sure this baby isn't on loan?
  • I'm still amazed the hospital let me bring this perfect creature home. They never saw any credentials. Didn't they know I had no experience?
  • I didn't think I'd survive and I did. I didn't think Cati would and she did. The reality is I am a lot stronger than I thought and Cati isn't as fragile as I assumed her to be.
  • Never has the saying "the days are long but the years are short" been so true.
  • They say it take nine months to gain the weight and nine months to lose it. I think a more accurate statement is "it takes nine months to grow a baby and nine months to rediscover yourself after the baby is born." Granted, my nine months after coincided with the end of my breastfeeding journey, but it was at this time that I started feeling more like myself and more like a person that is more than just "Cati's mom."
  • Which leads to daily proclamations of "Oh my God, I'm somebody's mother" and when I'm feeling particularly jolly "I'm somebody's baby momma" and "I got a baby daddy!"
  • I was not one of those women who was instantly in love with motherhood and that's ok. I loved my daughter from the beginning and it was that love that kept me moving but I didn't start to truly and enjoy motherhood until much later.
  • There is nothing wrong with walking away from a crying baby when you need a minute or two to compose yourself so you don't lose your temper. 
  • You know you're a mom...when you've been pooped, spat, peed, thrown up, and drooled on. When you put more pressure on yourself to be the "right" type of mom when all that matters is being the "best" kind to your specific child. When you feel guilty over not breast feeding, making baby food, etc. When you worry 24/7 about every single little thing, even things you can't control. When taking a shower seems like a huge accomplishment. When you have 10 pictures of almost the same thing and then proceed to show every one of them to anyone willing to see them. When poop becomes a normal topic of conversation. When you can pick boogies without flinching. When you try foods you never liked all for the sake of knowing what foods you were giving your baby. When you would rather spend money on the baby even though you desperately need new bras, clothes, hair cut, highlights, etc. When you look at your child and see yourself in him or her and realize that you have played a huge role in helping him or her develop into a little human being. When you are finally willing to give your life for another person. When you love someone at first sight without knowing what kind of person he or she will be. When you love someone unconditionally even if he or she doesn't let you sleep and does all sorts of bodily functions on you. Most importantly, you know you're a mom when a little person out there calls out "mama" and means you.
Now it's your turn: how did you know you were a mother?

    1 comment:

    *Jen* said...

    Great, great post.
    I had a hard time during the first 6 months of motherhood too.