The Truth About the First Year
Reaghan had so much fun at her birthday party! We're so thankful for those who were able to help us celebrate her little life.
I can't believe my baby girl is one. It seems like yesterday that we were settling into a new house and welcoming Reaghan into our family. I want to share just a glimpse into this past year for me, as I have been reflecting on it quite a bit lately.
Nursing. Did I mention nursing was a major struggle for me? I kind of cringe when I say that too because I have heard many more horrific stories than mine in this department. But it's not about comparing, amen? What was hard for me still was hard. You can read more about that here.
She was super sleepy. Well dang, don't I sound like a big complainer?! But guys, this was hard for me because I really wanted that interaction, and it's just not there during the newborn stage. Not only this, but it was near impossible to feed her because she was too ASLEEP! Even rubbing ice all over her naked body wouldn't wake the kid up to eat. This put a pile of stress on my shoulders as a brand new mom, not knowing if she was getting enough milk. It also made 10 minute nursing sessions last an hour or more.
I was lonely. I went from a busy life filled with lots of meaningful conversations to alone in a house with a screaming infant. In one day flat. Literally, I went to a Thanksgiving potluck with a bunch of international students the night I went into labor (no clue I was about to go into labor, by the way) then BAM, the next morning she was here. That was very shocking for me and I watched as my friends participated in fun activities that I had planned to go to but wasn't able to anymore. I felt like I was the kid at home without a date during the school dance all over again. Like time stopped within the walls of our little home while the rest of the world just kept living their wonderful easy lives. To add insult to injury, it was brutally cold and iced over a couple of times, making an already stir crazy mom even more crazy.
Also? People think you get really busy when you have a baby and don't tend to call. Non-mom people: call your new mom friends. They are overwhelmed and lonely and would probably LOVE to have you sit on the coach or vacuum their carpet while they struggled in said hour long nursing session. Of course there were days where visitors would have sent my stress levels over the moon, but sometimes it just makes it better to not be alone.
I felt sort of trapped for many of these days. During those first 3 months especially, we were really trying to train her to sleep and give her a consistent schedule to get used to. That kept us home or out of several activities that I would have loved to have been a part of.
Along with this came lots of guessing. It's incredibly humbling to say the least when you're constantly guessing and never knowing if the decision you're making is "right." Of course, everything during this first year was a guess. In sleeping, eating, facial expressions, noises, developments, etc etc. It just feels like you got thrown in the pool after only listening to lectures about swimming, but never actually trying it for yourself.
I feel like my head somewhat lifted out of the fog about a month ago. I started waking up at normal times again and living an overall more balanced and healthy life. Breastfeeding got better, then my supply tanked during months 7-8, but with perseverance and a lot of prayer, it went back up again and seemed to turn a corner into easy-ville, finally.
Our daughter interacts with us more and more each day! What a huge blessing and joy to be able to make her laugh on a whim, see her smile when we come in to get her after a nap, or when she sees something new for the first time. Her joyful spirit just invades any darkness I'm experiencing throughout my day, and I love that so much about our relationship.
She's constantly on the go, crawling and moving around everywhere. She's not super into harmful things, so our house has been left mostly un-baby-proofed (real confessions) and she has done great. We've been able to use these new skills to start to teach her obedience and safety as well, which gets to the heart of parenting to me. It foreshadows days to come of shaping her conscience and guiding her heart towards the gospel.
Though the sleep training was difficult, the pay off has been better than imagined. Reaghan does sleep well, and who knows if that is her personality or our efforts, or a mixture of both, but whatever the reason -- I'm thankful. She's able to skip a nap on occasion without completely falling apart. She eats on a routine which is a huge relief to me because I don't find myself guessing if she's hungry. There is a rhythm to our days which I deeply thrive on. This in contrast to the first 6 months when her wake time and sleep time seemed to constantly be changing based on her growing needs.
She eats food! I realized when I became a mom that bringing a spoon to my baby's mouth while she opened up wide was something I always imagined doing. It brought me so much joy to watch her chomp down and make memorable faces with each new taste. Around 10 months she ditched the purèes and started wanting to feed herself. What a strange and fun new adventure.
She's growing so much every day. Showing that she understands us, points to things and tries to say the word, waves at strangers. I feel like she just brings people joy everywhere she goes. That is more than my mama heart could ask for.