Reflection on the First Year

Please join us in welcoming Chelsea to Mama Might!

Just over a year ago I left my job to begin my maternity leave.  Waiting for the arrival of my daughter was both exciting and torturous… I have always struggled with patience!  What made the whole experience even more amazing was that I would have a year off to spend time enjoying my new family of 3 (4 with the family pooch).  I had all kinds of plans and ideas about what I would accomplish while I was at home.  The gardens would be beautiful, the house spotless. I would have a chance to do all kinds of crafty projects and cook more nutritious, homemade meals.  I was going to get in shape.  I would indulge in terrible books and bad romantic comedies!

My daughter was born on her due date (punctual like her mama!).  It was the most incredible day of my life.  We felt blessed, happy, relieved and terrified all at once.  We were lucky enough to be working with a fantastic team of midwives so we were able to head home from the hospital a few hours after her birth.  We were all exhausted and despite the first-night-at-home anxiety, we got a much needed night of sleep.  As it turns out, it was really the only “peaceful” night in our house for the next six months.

Our perfect and beautiful daughter fit the textbook definition of colic.  She cried, and she cried, and she cried.  Before she was born we decided that we were not going to give our daughter a pacifier until after breastfeeding was well established.  By day two we were desperately trying to get her to take it, anything to soothe her and stop the crying and screaming.  We went into new parent problem-solving mode.  We had read so many pregnancy and baby books, surely we could figure this out.  We tried swaddling, rocking, shushing, breastfeeding, swinging, cuddling, massage, white noise and chiropractic.  We blamed it on milk supply and gas and acid reflux and  teething. I eliminated caffeine, dairy and chocolate from my diet in case that was the cause.  No matter what we tried we most certainly did not have the happiest baby on the block.  In fact, we spent most of last summer with the windows sealed shut so that neighbours wouldn’t be bothered.  Within a couple of weeks the daytime crying had decreased but evenings remained very difficult.  Without fail the crying would begin at 5pm and carry on until 11pm each day.  While the other new moms that I met had babies who were already sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, my daughter was waking up (at least) once every hour.  I gave up sleeping in bed and decided that camping on the couch was much less frustrating.  I came to accept that exhaustion was the new normal.  I had a more difficult time accepting that I could no longer drink coffee to try to balance myself out!  I remember thinking that my husband and I would never be able to eat dinner together again—who would hold the crying baby?

Thankfully, around 3-4 months things began to improve.  Slowly but surely the tears were replaced by happy baby giggles and gibberish.  We were even able to spend time together as a couple when she would go to bed.  It was still a long time before my daughter slept through the night but she began to wake less frequently.  With each and every milestone we were overwhelmed by a sense of pride.  It was incredible to watch as our daughter developed more and more personality each day.  We were in love from the moment we met her, now we were having fun too.

We recently celebrated our daughter’s first birthday.  My garden is overgrown with weeds, my house is rarely as clean as I would like and my craft room has been turned into a storage area.  I have tried out 5 new recipes (only because I committed to do so for my blog), and read exactly zero new books.  I am proud to say that I did accomplish my health and fitness goals!  I look back and I wonder how my husband and I managed to get through the first six months.  I have no doubt that it was the most difficult (and rewarding) thing that either of us have ever accomplished.  I am so grateful that our friends and family were there for us.  They provided us with words of encouragement, visits, the occasional dinner and oatmeal cookies!  My daughter is now a happy, confident, and determined toddler.  She is also a great sleeper, something that I never could have imagined a year ago!  If you have are the new parents of a “cry baby”, hold on.  I promise you that you are in for more fun than you can imagine!  Be patient, ask for help and give yourself a break from time to time.  Soon you too will be celebrating your child’s first birthday and as difficult as things may seem you will look back on these times and miss them.

ChelseaChelsea Bastien is the mom of a sweet, funny and adventurous toddler.  She is happily married and living in Ottawa, ON.  She is passionate about health and fitness and is currently pursuing a career as a personal trainer.  Follow her blog at www.labfitness.tumblr.com

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