Ah, motherhood. We are all so excited when pregnant, and especially if it is a first pregnancy, it is all the more romantic. We say that we will be this kind of mother, have this kind of child, and we will feed them, play with them and sleep train them in these ways. Then, we give birth and reality hits. Baby does not quite fit the image we had of him/her in utero.
We may also not fit that Mom image we had of ourselves previously, and find out that sometimes it is necessary to ‘wing it’ as a parent, or if you prefer, ‘learn as you go along.’ There are lots of surprises on the way to come, but none more so than in the first year with baby. So, what exactly does happen in that first year? What do we need to be aware of, both good and bad?
The most important thing is to have a realistic view of motherhood, and know that it will have its ups and downs for sure. You and your baby will have fun times, tired times, cranky times, and sick and healthy times too. Don’t worry about it. Life is too short to be stressed, and you are a Mom now, so you are want to enjoy the precious time with your little one. Stay upbeat, take it one day at a time, and now settle in with either a cup of coffee or tea, and have a look at a snapshot of Baby’s First Year.
9 Surprises Feeding Issues
What this means is that some babies take to feeding, whether breast or formula, easily with no issues, but for many Moms and babies, no matter which way they choose to feed their little ones, there will be blips on the road to nourishment.
If you are breastfeeding, make sure to consult a lactation consultant for help on latching and other technical issues if you are having problems, as well as to check on your breast health regularly. You can also attend breastfeeding support groups, in person or online, where Moms talk and help one another, and nurses and lactation consultants are often present (in person).
If you are formula feeding and having difficulties, make sure that baby is not having an allergic reaction to the brand you are using, and don’t be afraid to ask your pediatrician and Mom friends about what brands they used to feed their babies. Knowledge is power in both instances.
8 Baby Cries for Hours on End
This could be due to colic, an allergic reaction to something in Mom’s breast milk or formula, or due to other discomforts such as constipation or a virus. Sometimes babies also just need to be held , and are soothed by being close to Mom, though some babies don’t enjoy this as much as others.
Moms learn very quickly to become detectives in the first year to see what could be ailing their little one, and usually find solutions. It is not always what they thought it was. The important thing is to do processes of elimination of what has and has not worked, and experiment with different things.
Again, ask fellow Moms for what helped them calm their babies. Also try out different baby slings or carriers, so baby is close to you while you do things.
Sleepless Nights Or Nap Difficulty
This is toughie for Moms and quite common. There are some babies that sleep through the night from a young age and have no problems with naps. Some are great at napping, and some are great at sleeping the night, but hate napping.
And then there are the kids that take A LONG TIME to develop a predictable nap schedule, as well as sleeping through the night. My little guy fell into the last category. He had trouble with self-soothing, which means comforting himself to fall asleep on his own, so nap time and overnight in his crib were hard for him and me.
After lots of trial and error, I finally found what worked for both of us. Be patient. There are lots of great books on helping baby to sleep out there, like “The Sleep Whisperer,” and many other techniques to slowly show Mom how to soothe baby and so baby gradually learns to self-soothe. You can find great online resources that help with this.
7 Baby Plays While Mom Works
Kids will do everything right on schedule and give Mom lots of time for herself, housework, or other things. NOT! There are so many jokes that Mom friends of mine used to make about how we hated the “rest when the baby sleeps” saying. That is the only time a Mom can get other things done, like housework, cooking, laundry, oh yes, A LOT of laundry.
We all know that when little ones are up, you need to watch them, particularly when they start crawling. Lots of adjustment is required to watch baby and get some things done, but there are days when dinner will have to be leftovers from the freezer or takeout, and that is more than alright Mom. You are a caretaker on duty 24/7 when you become a parent. It’s important to let the other things go, within reason, for your own sanity sometimes.
6 Coming and Going
The first time I took my son outside for a walk in the spring, (he was a winter baby who did not go out much that cold winter), he cried the whole ten minutes we walked around the neighborhood! I was crying harder than him though. I missed being out so much. How could he be miserable being outside in the beautiful fresh air when he’d been cooped up for months?
Babies need time to adjust to things like temperature change, seasonal change, eating, and nap schedule changes. As long as Mom goes easy on herself that she is doing the best she can, baby will calm down and both will begin to enjoy doing more things together.
After that, Moms usually get the opposite problem. Baby is so happy being outside that he/she cries and does not want to come in. Both will learn what to do in time.
5 Hates Cars or Stores
Ah, the vision of the cute newborn baby dosing in his carrier or the in the shopping cart cooing adorably, while Mom calmly shops for groceries without a care in the world. It could happen in theory, but as with everything else, once baby is in the picture, predictability goes out the window.
Some days will be simple and baby will sleep, other outings will not be easy at all. Baby will have gas, be hungry, tired or cranky, and the shopping trip will be less than ideal for both of you. The same thing goes for car trips, though there are some babies that fall asleep in a car ride. Others though, do not like the experience at all.
Regardless, Mom will learn to never leave home without snacks, a change of clothes, toys for baby (depending on age), pacifiers, (yes several), milk of course, blankets and your baby sling.
4 Your Baby Consumes You
Ah yes. It’s quite hard to think about how much your entire world will change the second baby comes into it. It will be ALL you talk about for the first little while. Everything a baby does is unique to that Mom’s baby and her Mom experience.
This is so much so, that she will be absorbed into that routine, and everything will become evidence of super baby intelligence: i.e. look she smiled (baby is gassy), look how strong she is when she moves her little arms (regular baby movements), oh, she’s even cute when she drools.
All Moms go through this phase at the beginning when they are bonding with babies. Their smell is amazing, their babbling, their everything. Well, maybe not the diapers, but no one is perfect. Still as a Mom you are kind of blindsided to everything else in that first year watching them develop from “sleeping so adorably” to “running around the house” like a champion.
3 You Meet Amazing New Friends
You may always have friends from school, work, or if you’re lucky, from your childhood, but the Mom friends a new Mom makes are invaluable. These women and you share the next leg of your lives, being mothers and caretakers of a whole new generation. Most of us are so lucky to meet some incredible women who often become our closest friends, as we share the journey we are on raising our children.
These are people you do not think you will meet at first, particularly in the first few sleep-deprived months of parenthood. But these women become your saving grace, your go-to people for advice, laughter, support, and a kind ear. You will often become the same thing to them.
Babies introduce us to this unique experience. Many Moms swear by their parent friends, and over the years, the bond often moves beyond parenting and into our topics and subjects of interest that both women share.
2 You See Everything Differently
Some Moms who watched violent TV shows, saw horror movies, or went on scary amusement park rides, may now see things in a totally different light, like from the perspective of a parent who is worried how these things will affect their baby now, and definitively even more in the future.
We watch the news in a different way, and are concerned about world issues often in a more intense way too. What kind of world will we be leaving to our children? This is where a lot of forethought goes into making positive changes for a lot of parents.
This could also be the boost many Moms need to live healthier lives, take care of the planet, and even affect many in a spiritual way, thinking what kind of moral/religious belief system do they want to pass down to their children.
Were you once a night owl and now are an early bird, or maybe it is vice versa? Babies have a way of totally changing something like your sleep patterns, and at the beginning, it is not fun for most Moms. Their sleep rhythms and circadian systems are not mature yet, so they cannot sleep straight for more than three or four hour stretches, though they sleep A LOT at the beginning cumulatively.
Even once they start to go longer, some of them are little roosters and some are owls. It’s kind of like us. We are all either early to bed folks or late nocturnal creatures. Whichever works for baby is what they will gravitate to, and when they are little and need us for absolutely everything, Mom does not have a choice but to embrace their sleep style, at least temporarily.
Eventually, one of two things happen. Mom adjusts and has a new sleep schedule too, or Mom and baby meet halfway.
However you look at it, that vision of the first year is often drastically different from what we as Moms expected. But it’s alright. It’s often better, and after we get used to the way baby has remade us, we are pretty darn happy with our new parenting life.