Wednesday, December 7, 2011
A one year update...for me.
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