Eleven Months! Eleven months of tears, laughter, exhaustion, memories, and love.
In honor of my daughter turning eleven months on the second and the last leg of babyhood (next month she’s officially a toddler) I have devised a list of eleven things I have learned to appreciate thus far. Here we go:
11. My husband!
He will be upset that I am writing this, but I need to give him a major shout out! When we met nearly five years ago, I almost instantly knew this was the man I was going to marry. He was everything I have ever wanted in a husband, partner in crime, and best friend. He is the person I talk to the most. I cannot fall asleep at night without him knowing I love him and hearing those words back. They have become my lullaby as I drift off. He is the person who always has my back and calls me out when I am being difficult. He is also responsible for editing my blogs so that I sound semi-grammatically correct. He loves his family and constantly sacrifices so much to make sure we are taken care of. We appreciate him and nothing he does goes unnoticed. Without him, these past months and future months would be unimaginable.
Overrated! I have slowly become accustomed to 4-5 hours of sleep. I know I need more, but that is all I can get some nights. I never really knew what tired was until now. My whole body is constantly sore and my brain/emotions need to be turned off and reset. After I had my daughter, my mom said that the only chance I’d get to sleep from here on out is when I am dead. I believe her.
The first few weeks were rough. Sometimes I would go days without showering. It was not a pretty sight—or smell. Now, every shower feels like a drive-through spa day. I feel like those commercials where the water is just glistening and flowing over everybody from a waterfall in a secluded tropical paradise. Less than five minutes—in and out. Efficient and fast is the name of the game. Anything more is pure luxury! The ability to glam up is a treat and definitely boosts my self-esteem.
8. Hot Meals
A thing of the past. My husband can sit down and enjoy a meal immediately and our daughter will leave him alone. The minute I sit down, she starts wanting attention and trying to get my food. I feel like the mother in a Christmas Story. Poor thing never got a hot meal. We have eaten in shifts at times so one person can distract her while the other eats in a somewhat peaceful setting. I no longer can eat a piping hot meal, it’s too hot now. Everything needs to be lukewarm or easy to eat one handed. Even going out to restaurants requires a team effort keeping toys and food on the table.
7. Date Nights
These have become rare unless you become inventive. Date nights do not necessarily require a babysitter, getting dressed up, fancy meal, and spending money. Date nights have become cooking a meal together, opening a bottle of wine or a glass of beer, and watching a movie or playing a game. These help us reconnect and have some fun. Granted, we do go out from time to time, but we are normally too tired, and our place just seems way more relaxing. We try and do these special nights as often as possible, like when we both feel we haven’t focused on the other person in a while, or after a long, stressful week at work. When the rest of your world is chaos, the simplest pleasures mean the most.
Time stands still for no one. Blink and you miss something. I remember a year ago, I could not wait for our daughter to arrive. I was done being pregnant. Now, what I wouldn’t give to go back to that time and hold her sweet little squishy newborn face next to mine. Soak in all the cuddles I could get. I love the new adventures we have every day, but it needs to SLOW DOWN. I have not caught up. There are also not enough hours in the day. There just aren’t.
This is a must! It has helped keep our sanity at an even keel. She has her designated nap and bedtimes. This helps tremendously in planning our day or late nights. Since she’s so predictable, it is ok to push the bed time here or there—as long as the next few days are back on track. Our daughter doesn’t like her schedule getting messed with too often and seems to prefer knowing when she is supposed to be going to bed, playing, or eating. Start right away. The longer your baby adheres to a schedule, the easier it is on you.
This is the first time I am really opening up about this, but it has taught me a lot. I loved it. Every difficult minute. I would not personally describe it as a transcendently beautiful experience, but I can see why some mothers do. It is a full-time job, though: making sure I drink water all day to keep my supply up, pumping at work and before bed so I have bottles for her to drink at daycare and at home, feeding her wherever I can even if it isn’t convenient for others…I still cover up and try to be as discreet as possible, but you gotta do what you gotta do. It was hard in the beginning because I felt like I was “on call” for whenever she was hungry or needed comfort. I was a meal ticket and a pacifier. I felt used on so many levels. However, it made me a stronger woman and mother. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and plan on doing it again. The bond my daughter and I have developed through feeding is amazing. Don’t get me wrong: I am not anti-formula. Every mother must do what she feels she needs to do for her baby’s well-being. We had to supplement early on before we got our daughter’s lip ties corrected because she couldn’t latch properly and was in danger of becoming underweight. Thank God formula is available. But for us, breastfeeding has worked out beautifully. Now, on to weaning…wish us luck!
3. Don’t Stress – To Much
I am naturally a little high-strung (according to my husband) so if something changes at the last minute or any factors are left to chance, I lose it. I don’t like surprises, unless they involve flowers or theatre tickets. But our baby has taught us to not stress about things we cannot control or fret over past mistakes or transgressions. I worry about the present and what I can control now. The loss of more sleep and getting worked up are not worth it. Just relax, and everything will (usually) work out. My husband has taught me this and keeps me calm. He handles stress and worry WAY better than I do. Do what you can, and everything else will fall into place. You may need to pick up some pieces here and there to complete the puzzle, but it will all work out
Family first. Always! We are a unique set up that is slowly becoming the norm. My parents live in New England and my husband’s parents are right around the corner. We do not have the “support” system that many of our friends and coworkers have. It is hard to explain that we cannot call a sibling, aunt, uncle, or our parents all the time. We try and utilize calling his parents when we really need a night out alone. We take our daughter everywhere with us, and she is such a good traveler that she makes it easy. We are very insistent about always having her around as much as possible. There is always enough time during the day for family.
This really is all you need. The minute you look at your child for the first time, you are filled with emotions that are indescribable. All of your dreams and hopes are embodied in this warm little creature swaddled in a blanket and sleeping in your arms. Immediately your needs become secondary, and it is all about her. You vow at that moment to do everything for her, even if it kills you. Somedays, it feels as if you come close. I already love my husband to death, but I love her more every day. My love for her grows exponentially. It’s immeasurable, beyond understanding or biological reasoning. When I look at her, I feel the pulse of love moving through my whole body with infinite, inexhaustible energy, lighter than air and faster than light. Bottle it and you could power the world until the end of time…who needs sleep when you have that?