One year later

My baby just turned 1 year old.
However, this post is not really about her. She’s amazing, and I am so proud of her every day.  With her birthday floating by, I find myself looking inwards to what I have overcome with this pregnancy, birth, and the first year.
It’s probably evident by now that I am not one of those mom’s who spent her life wishing to have a baby, and then rushing to have another. I have no desire to re-live the pain, exhaustion, and borderline depression that came with pregnancy and caring for a baby. It didn’t really make me happy. While I didn’t have a preconceived notion of what child rearing would be, it wasn’t that. Maybe I shouldn’t say child rearing, but child carrying. It was, quite literally, the pregnancy and carrying the child that made me miserable with back pain. Pain that started at 12 weeks pregnant, and that continued until now. A whole year and a half later. I feel weak. Weakened by this experience that is motherhood. Something I thought I could pull-off effortlessly. It simply wasn’t the case. So here I am, on my child’s first birthday, checking in with myself. I know that I love my baby to death and wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world, but I also have no desire to do it again. I don’t romanticize the experience, seeing it through Rose coloured glasses. Nope, not this girl. I feel humbled by it. Weakened. Vulnerable. It’s not the empowering 1 year birthday story one might expect to read. I’m just being honest. I survived this year. I survived a traumatic birth and, lack of sleep, and excruciating back pain when my baby didn’t want to be put down. I’m sore. I’m tender. Perhaps one day I’ll look back on this time and forget all the pain I’ve felt, but this 1 year birthday is not it.

Things I Didn’t Do Before Having A Baby

Parenthood has been interesting. As this human grew inside of me and then proceeded to grow outside of me, I began to take on new characteristics myself. Some of them mundane, some hilarious, and some down right disgusting!
Here are a few things I’ve noticed (perhaps you can relate?!):

– Leaving the house with baby is a production. It’s no longer throwing on some shoes and running out the door. It’s also Murphy’s law that an impromptu diaper change will need to happen once everyone is dressed and ready to head out.

– Every time I leave the house without baby (read: rarely), I’ve developed a rocking motion while standing still. Oh, also, I sing and talk to myself now. Every. Time.

– I pee with the door open. I never did this before, but it became necessary with baby crawling around. The other day, however, she was at daycare and I realized I left the door open anyway. My dog just stared at me. I swear he was judging me.

– When I go to the mall (read: rarely), I find myself shopping for baby things more than myself. I think I’m just procrastinating, because, let’s be honest, my child doesn’t need any more clothes!

– I dance, jiggle, crawl on my hands and knees, and make more faces than ever before.

– I’ll just put this out there: diaper sniff test…

– I’m always distracted and often repeat myself

– When I go into cupboards or fridge doors, I shut them really quickly so little wandering hands don’t start unpacking everything. Even when she’s not around.

– That being said, everything needs to be on a higher shelf. Think it’s high enough? She’ll grow and stretch and inevitably reach it.

– I’m always distracted and often repeat myself…Oh, wait…

Self

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This has been a difficult year for me. Since being pregnant and being a new mother, I’ve struggled to balance my need for independence with the total dependence of a new baby. Some days it is very clear to me how fleeting this experience is, but most days I am filled with doubt, self-analyzing, and insecurities.
You see, being a mother has not been a lifelong goal for me. I don’t think I ever fully comprehended how all-encompassing it would be. I definitely thought I would easily birth this child and then swiftly get on with ‘my’ life (baby in toe, of course). It simply wasn’t that easy. And I struggled with this new reality.
I struggled because all of a sudden ‘my’ life had new meaning and priorities. Sometimes ‘my’ days were spent engrossed in changing quite literally 15 diapers per day. I’ve spent hours sitting, nursing my baby, every 2 hours for the first 5 months. I would spend most days in an utter daze due to lack of sleep, or I would be rocking my crying baby while crying myself, in sheer exhaustion. In those moments, it seemed like I would be in babyhood forever. I really did wonder why I chose this for myself.
Now my baby is 10 months old, and I am beginning to see through the fog. We have found a great daycare that she will start part-time. I am finally seeing myself as a separate identity from my child…and this scares me.
She is weaning from me, physically and figuratively. While she still wants me, she no longer needs me every second of the day. It means this very intense, intimate, attached year is coming to an end and we both have an opportunity to find ourselves. She will have a whole life at daycare that I won’t even see. I will have some time to build my career ( whatever that looks like).
My life is forever changed, but truly for the better. I’ve struggled with my identity, and still do, as I evaluate and re-evaluate my self-worth. My identity is neither tied to my career nor my motherhood alone, but strikes some impossible balance where I find myself.
As I write this now, I have my precious baby cradled in my bosom for a nap. I’ve finally come to cherish these moments where we are as close as humanly possible. I’m aware of how quickly life changes and am trying to absorb every second.