Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A one year update...for me.

typical morning

There's been an awful lot of baby talk around these parts for the past year, and almost two years if you count the 10 months I was pregnant. Babies and more babies, monthly updates, milestones, all of it.  Although I try to keep a good balance between baby talk and all of my other content, this is a blog about my life...and that little guy up there is pretty much it. It's been so fun to document all of it, and I'm already enjoying looking back over the past couple of years and feeling even more grateful for this space. I'll be sharing Henry's one year update soon, but I wanted to talk a little bit about this past year and what it's meant for me, too.

It's interesting to think back on my birthing experience. I went into it with these expectations of wanting to have a natural birth, and although I did end up having one (at least until my emergency c-section), it was still a total departure from what I had envisioned.  I think that could be the theme of my first year of motherhood: "a total departure from what I had envisioned." Most of the time better, some of the time worse, I don't think I could have prepared for it any more than I had...you just have to take it as it comes. And most of all that goes for my birthing experience. I've talked about it before, but I had this idea in my head of how I wanted it to go. And in reality, it was the farthest thing from that. I never got upset about having a c-section though, and like I wrote about in my birth story, I feel very strongly that my experience was just as beautiful than if I would have delivered the way I had originally hoped. A birth is a birth, no matter what way it happens. 

Emotionally the past year has been up and down, as expected.  I remember the first month after I had Henry- I felt sad from time to time, but nothing over-powering. Most of all I found myself feeling distressed over various things- I wasn't doing a good job as a Mom, I felt unsure of myself, or that time was going by so quickly. When H. was only four days old I remember crying to Hank that he would never, ever be this age again, and tomorrow when he was five days old I would have lost another day. It's bizarre to think that I was thinking of all of that time as lost- what a strange mindset I was in. That mood lasted a week or so and then either my hormones regulated or I just started feeling better, but overall my mood evened out and I didn't find myself crying at the drop of a hat. I've had a bit of a background in dealing with depression, and because of that I was almost expecting to deal with full-blown post-partum depression after having Henry- in a way I felt like I was waiting for it. I kept questioning the sad feelings I had, wondering if they were more than just hormones. It never came though, and I'm still a little surprised, but also very grateful.

I think one of the most difficult parts of being a new Mom is not feeling like yourself. You have a new role to fill, a new job to learn, and all the while you're trying to accept this new version of you. Through this experience I've discovered a new respect and awe for myself, my body, and what its accomplished, but there were also days in the beginning where I felt totally down on myself. Post-birth I dealt with all sorts of things from hair loss, horrible acne, dry scalp, and really just an overall change in my normally well-behaved skin and hair. Luckily the thinning I experienced at my temples stopped fairly quickly and now that I've weaned Henry my skin is getting clear again, my scalp is back to normal, and my hair has grown back. It's so odd and pretty ironic that I experienced all of these weird side effects post-pregnancy, but I had the easiest, most smooth sailing pregnancy ever. Of course! ;)

On the Henry front, we were lucky to have what people call an "easy" baby (which inevitably means that our next little one will be the opposite, right?), although I can't really gauge easy or hard because Henry is all I know. He still isn't much of a crier, sleeps very well, and always has. So we were lucky in that department. But there were still those nights when Henry wouldn't sleep, when he would cry for hours on end and we didn't know what to do. I remember feeling like I wasn't doing anything right, snapping at Hank, and feeling kind of...helpless.

Sad moods and hard night aside though, this past year has been filled with more joy than I could ever convey in a blog post. I feel like I am doing exactly what I should be doing, and I feel confident in myself as a mother. I've never, ever been happier. Becoming a Mom is the coolest thing that's ever happened to me, but it took a long time to feel like I was doing it right. Just when you think you have the hang of it, something changes- either your routine, sleeping, baby starts teething, whatever. It's a life long learning process, I'm figuring out. And now, almost a year later I can say I'm feeling pretty good.

If I've learned anything over the past year, it would have something to do with being flexible and realizing that I am not perfect. Not that I ever thought I was, but somewhere in this head of mine I had unrealistic expectations about what it meant to be a Mom. I learned that I'll probably end up doing things I said I'd never do, and probably never do some of the things I was so adamant about.  Having a baby does change you; it changes every single thing in your life. From the relationship with your partner to your friendships, every aspect of life shifts into something new. But most of all, over the past twelve months I've grown up a lot, and also grown into myself. I know who I want to be and the kind of Mom and wife I want to be too. I realize that everything I do has a direct effect on Henry, and the kind of person he becomes is hugely based on what he learns from Hank and me. It's comforting, scary, but most of all incredibly exciting. Sometimes I take a step back and look at Henry and think "WE MADE THAT?!" It's unreal. It's been an amazing year, and I'm so excited to see what's next.


I also wanted to thank you all for reading along with me on this journey- from my pregnancy all the way up until now...when I step back and take a look at how neat that is, I'm reminded again of how thankful I am for all of your thoughtful comments, emails and tweets. I appreciate each and every one of you!

p.s. I'm working on a post about weaning Henry- he's fully weaned now and I'm feeling great about it.  I'm hoping to share some thoughts about that next week! xo

26 comments:

  1. Sometimes we do things that we soddenly swear never to do but that is life and by the looks of it, you got a pretty good handled on things. Good job! I just hope that when the time comes for me to experience the wonderful thing called becoming a mother (and wife), I can look back at your experiences and refelect upon them. That would make things a lot easier than having to go through them alone. Thank you Danielle for sharing your wonderful life with us, you are an inspiration. Not just to me but to all your readers.

    Love,
    Mary

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  2. My daughter is 2.5 months old. I totally resonate with your paragraph about not feeling like yourself. Being at home and not putting myself together everyday is kind of rough. Up until the day she was born, I was putting myself together and going to work. Now some days I never change out of sweats or don't even brush my hair. I feel like a big part of my identity is gone or at least on hold for a while.

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  3. I'm not a momma, but I absolutely love reading all the baby updates on friends blogs. It's so cool to read and watch the developments and how fast they grow. Oh my! What a very exciting year you have had. <3

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  4. sweet post, makes me excited to be a mother (someday...) xo

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  5. all of your mommy posts have made me only look forward to the months ahead that i have with my baby boy!
    Smoking Crayolas Blogspot

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  6. lovely post :) congratulations on this first year of mamadom! you're doing an amazing job.

    here's to the next year! xo

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  7. This is such a lovely post! You are so lucky to have such a gorgeous baby and lovely husband, and it is so inspiring to see you be a mom wholeheartedly and also keep your own identity as a human!

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  8. I definitly relate to much of your post! My birth experience was very different from my expectations, and I've come to terms with that. I am also in the hair loss phase right now (my daughter will be 5 months old next week) which is really scary. I keep wondering if it will ever stop falling out :(

    I was defenitly expecting post-partum depression. Because of family history, my Ob-gyn AND doula both asked my husband to be extra sweet and carefull with me. It never came. So weird!! I wonder sometimes whether it will creep up on me when I ween my daughter...

    Being prepared was really important to me but I have had so many unexpected situations come up and how many times have we realized that making decisions ahead of time is fine but it's ok to change too, especially when baby comes along and confronts you to new things. We have come to the conclusion that what really matters is that families find whatever works best for them and do it :)

    I really love reading your blog because it is so positive! I love keeping that kind of attitude on life and it's nice to see (or read about!) others who like to live like that too. Congratulations on your beautiful family! Enjoy every single day!! :)

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  9. What a great post. I'm glad that you are at the place in life that you have always imagined.

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  11. This was wicked sweet. I like what you said about your birthing experience - I hate it when women try to make each other feel inferior for not having the "perfect" birthing experience. Either way the kid came out, so everyone wins! Anyway, beautiful sentiments and I wish you guys the best of luck. <3

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  12. I was chatting with a woman at the dog park yesterday who just had a baby; literally the first words out of her mouth about it were, "when the baby arrived, everything I thought about parenting flew out the window."

    Enjoyed reading this piece and have enjoyed watching your journey over the past two years.

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  13. I had a vbac 2 months ago, if that is what you want it is totally possible!

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  14. You wrote that so beautifully! I'm so happy that becoming a mom was so empowering and fulfilling for you. I feel the same way but my little guy is only 4 months so I'm still very much in the 'still figuring it out' stage. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  15. I don't have children, but reading about your experience through pregnancy and through Henry's life has been so fun for me. I used to be a nanny, so I always have that craving to be around babies and you've helped to fill that void for me just by writing about your own. On one hand when I read about your experiences with Henry I can get the baby-fever in me out so I don't bug my husband as much about wanting one (poor guy). On the other hand it kind of eases my fears about eventually having one of my own.

    You seem like an amazing mother from what we can see on the other side of your blog and Henry is such an adorable baby.

    Congrats on making it a year with your sanity in tact, I hope when I have kids I can say I did the same ;)

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  16. WOW Danielle, such an awesome post. I'm so glad you took the time to allow yourself to focus on YOU this past year, and to share all of it with us. So inspiring and SO fun! Wow. I've loved watching your life change on this blog. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  17. I found your blog as a new mama hoping to find some solace in the words of other mamas who were experiencing the same thing. I think there is a tendency for women to paint this perfect picture of motherhood and ignore the nitty gritty to deny anyone believing they are a "bad" mother or doing something "wrong". I apprecitate that you are sharing your world with us and I am personally grateful for the solace it provides.

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  18. Yay sticky grams!
    <3 Megan
    Meggle@email.arizona.edu

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  19. Reading this on my baby girl's 1st birthday brings back all those emotions - such a strange and beautiful time, postpartum. Love the post!

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  20. this was so very lovely to read... and at the perfect time too. the mr and i are expecting our first in just a few weeks and i wonder what our lives are going to look like once she's here. this very honest look into a new moms life is very much appreciated!

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  21. Thanks for sharing your life. Its been a real treat to read. Its one of the highlights of my day! And your little Henry is just THE MOST adorable thing :o)

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  22. This was such a great read! Honestly you always have been and always will be a huge inspiration to me; be it in how you deal with negative things, how you live your life, or how much love you radiate when you talk about your family! It's beautiful, really. <33

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  23. God, you are so beautiful.
    Just love you and your heart to pieces.

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  24. I love reading this from your perspective of having a one year old now. My little guy is four months old. I had such an easy pregnancy and a pretty easy labor too. Everything went exactly as I hoped. But bringing the baby home rocked my world. And it's still rocking my world. I too expected to have full-blown post-partum depression. I don't think I have but I've definitely been sad, even profoundly sad, on many occasions. And I've snapped at my husband and I've felt like a failure. But I'm doing it. I'm being a mom. And I know the hard times will pass and there will be other hard times. And the good times will always overshadow the hard times.

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  25. Thank you for sharing this. I don't have kids yet, and my husband wants to start soon, but deep down I'm petrified of getting depression after because I have a long past with severe depression. I have conquered it and maintain it now, so the idea of throwing that off balance scares me. It's so comforting to know that just because you struggled with depression doesn't mean you will have post-partum depression. Thank you for that hope. : )

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