Last night I pulled out my “mommy journal” for the first time since October 19th (apparently). I used to update it all of the time, sometimes weekly and at least monthly for the first several months of Riley’s life. She was developing so quickly in the beginning, she was having milestones almost every week! Everything was so new, I wanted to record it all. She would hold up her head or roll over and I would immediately run to get my journal to record the exciting happenings.
Now I find myself saying things like, “Shoot I really need to update that mommy journal at some point,” which I obviously finally got around to 4 months after I started saying that. Oops.
It’s not for lack of new developments that I haven’t been keeping up with the journal. In last night’s entry I added things like “Riley can now say ‘teddy,’ ‘cat,’ ‘please,’ and ‘fence’.” or “If you ask her where her nose and mouth are or where your nose and mouth are she will point to them correctly.” There are definitely many things that I could fill the pages of the journal with about the things Riley does, what our days are like, and the person that she is becoming.
The reason that I get so behind in updating the mommy journal is that life with Riley, (developing though she still may be) actually seems… normal.
As a first time parent, normalcy seems like some small miracle. In the first however many months of your first baby’s life, you find yourself wondering if your life will ever feel normal again.
First, you feel so incredibly overwhelmed when you try to start your baby registry during pregnancy. You wonder what the heck a “Bumbo” is and why everyone wants to talk to you about breastfeeding. It doesn’t seem like it would be so hard to figure out. But there are lactation consultants, books, videos, and gel pads so… you start to get a little bit nervous.
Everyone’s brother’s girlfriend’s aunt’s cousin wants to give you advice on what to do once the baby arrives, and you’ve gotten at least 2938092 book recommendations and a passionate briefing on every type of method there is out there on how to get your baby on a schedule.
And then there is the day when you (finally) get to take your baby home, and you cannot figure out that blasted car seat! You may or may not have a meltdown, asking your husband how on earth these people who work at the hospital could let you take this child home when you clearly have no idea what on earth you’re doing. Your husband may or may not wonder what the heck he has gotten himself into when he then has a screaming, crying one in the car. And that’s just his wife! His baby is equally upset, and he has no idea what to do.
The next few months are a
little lot a bit of bliss mixed with a little lot a bit chaos. Or sleep deprivation. Same thing. You face the tension between the “type” of mother you thought you would be and the one that you actually are. Your expectations meet reality with one big hormone induced cry fest. One night when your husband is working, you cannot get your baby (or yourself) to stop crying. You hit the bottom of your rope, call your mother, and ask her when she gets off work. She knocks on your door around 7:30pm, you hand her your crying child, throw on a hoodie, grab your keys, and immediately head for the wine section of Kroger.
But then eventually something starts to change. Your baby is waking up less in the middle of the night. Your baby starts to crawl and laugh. Your baby starts sleeping through the night. Your baby becomes a toddler and is walking. Your toddler sleeps for 13 hours straight. Your toddler has a consistent nap time. Your toddler is a little bundle of fun that brings more joy to your day and life than you could have ever imagined possible. Your routines become so established that it is hard to imagine what it is like without them.
Your life feels normal again.
Earlier today a friend of mine announced that she can fit into her pre pregnancy jeans (less than a month after her son was born! Woohoo!) She then was afraid that maybe it seemed inconsiderate to post, since some women struggled with losing the baby weight after their child was born (like me). But I’ll tell you what, she did not need to apologize! I was SO proud of her. And she is worth being proud of.
Truth is, all of us mamas are.
There are going to be days (especially in the beginning) where you just feel surrounded by things that you haven’t done well. You feel like no one (and no thing) is getting your best. We need to celebrate our victories, no matter how big or small they might seem! If you ask me, the beginning months of motherhood should have the freedom to be survival months. Just dote on your child, and sleep sleep, for the love SLEEP whenever you get the chance. Don’t worry about house chores, errands, exercise, or even keeping up with people. Just keep yourself and your child alive. That is it. And then, any single thing that happens on top of that is an extra victory worth celebrating :).
Be proud mama, you’ve done a lot! And I promise you, one day, life will get back to normal.