1. There will be a lot of tears. The baby is going to ugly cry sometimes, and so will you. Newborns cry. It is kind of like their job. Sometimes your baby will have gas, be constipated, be teething, have a fever, or a hundred other reasons. The car seat does not feel right, the sun is in their eyes, the blanket is not right, the bottle is not warm enough, you heated it up too much, the bath water is too warm, or not warm enough.... I think you get the picture.
Sometimes really all you can do is cry too. There were definitely days when I had no reason why he was crying. He was fed, he was dry, he was warm, and yet he was insisting on crying. Everything in you will probably want to run, but as a responsible parent that is not an option. So you just keep walking, rocking, swaying, humming, praying and when all that fails cry too. You will both survive what seems like the most miserable day of your life and he will not hold those 20 minutes of crying against you. Also in full disclosure, my little guy spent the first 4 months of his life dealing with LOTS of gas issues and also started teething at 3 months. So in some ways, I think we might have experienced some extra tears.
2. It is survival of the fittest. Parenting is seriously no joke. This little human being relies on you for every single thing about their existence but they have absolutely no way to communicate any of their needs. What could possibly be hard about that situation? It seems like everyone and their cousin has an opinion about how children should be raised, fed, and treated. You can be having the most casual conversation with a stranger and you mention something about your child and almost instantly you can see them start twitching because suddenly they have an opinion. Our Little Man started his first year really scrawny. He was a long string bean of baby with absolutely no fat on him. I honestly could not get through a store without someone telling me how small he was and how they would "fatten" him up. His doctor was not worried in the slightest, she knew that he was a tall baby and assured us he was the picture of healthy growing baby. I do not know what it is about parenting that everyone thinks they are experts but my opinion is simply "You do you". I raise my son in the best way I can. However I do not think that I could walk into my friend's house and raise her kids the same way. So you raise your kids, I'll raise mine and let's just high five that we are keeping them alive.
3. Being a mom is the most selfless job you can ever have. I had heard this before and I didn't give it much thought. I assumed that I was a fairly maternal and care-giving type personality so being a Mom would not be a stretch. Nope. It was still a stretch. I am someone who has always appreciated her personal space and her personal time. Having a baby that you are exclusively nursing does not allow for a lot of personal time or space. You are fully on their schedule. So you may not always shower, sleep or eat when you really want to. It is easy to get annoyed that when the baby is young no matter what is wrong it seems you are the only one that can fix it. I started to remind myself though, that it was really an honor. What an amazing honor and special thing that for this little human, I was "It" for him. From the minute he was born, he knew I was his person. They say newborns recognize their mom's scent and voice instantly. So while there may be days you wish you weren't "it", what an awesome thing. You are one of the few people your child will love unconditionally his whole life.
4. You are Mom so that means you are the Boss. It took me a while to learn this. When it comes to this human being, you make the rules. When he was first born, I was so nervous at the hospital I did not even dress him until the 2nd day because I was not sure if I was "allowed". When people would hold him, I would practically be shaking with anxiety because I did not like the way they would let his head wobble, or how they would handle him. Not that it was the end of the world, but I never thought I should speak up. Then it finally started to register with me when we were at the doctor's office. He was getting some immunizations, and before he received them I asked the nurse if it would be okay if they did not put band aids on him. The nurse gave me a nice smile and responded " You are Mom, you make the rules". Then it slowly started to sink in, I'm the boss. If I am not comfortable with a situation, I am allowed to say so. In full disclosure, my husband also makes the rules and I usually run everything past him because he is pretty good about reigning in my over-reactive Mom side. It was an empowering lesson for me and allowed me to relax.
5. You still get to be you after you have a baby. I was so afraid that I would never get dressed, take showers, paint my nails or have any kind of life. People joke all the time about Mom's never getting out of their yoga pants and going days without showers. They reference hobbies that have fallen by the wayside and as someone who is a hobby addict I worried. Newsflash- you are still you! You might have some jiggly skin in new places but you will have interests.
Do you spend as much time do those hobbies? Probably not. When you do have the time, you will be focused and you will appreciate it so much more. I used to worry that I would never run in races or work out after having a baby. Ironically, I came back stronger than before. Don't get me wrong, it took work but it is something I love. I think that is just the factor, you hold onto what you love. There are certain things that will fade away but that is just life. You may fall asleep alot more while reading, but at least you still had a few moments to read. My nails are still painted, I still go shopping and I still are very dedicated to Dancing with the Stars.
The last thing I learned in this freshman year of motherhood is how awesome this man is
This may seem like an odd picture but it makes my heart so happy because wherever China Man is, my Little Man wants to be too. He just adores his Dad. Like I said before, parenthood is survival of the fittest and the best key to survival is having a great partner. Literally everything he does is based around taking care of his family and he never complains about any parenting task. He would probably keep Little Man beside him like this all the time if he could.
So those are my big yet very basic lessons from my first year of motherhood.