Wednesday, February 27, 2019

(almost)1 year mama update

Paul turns 1 on Friday (!!!). A couple of friends/fellow bloggers (Amber and Anne) posted about their first year of being a mom. I thought it was very interesting to read about their experience as it's so different from person to person so I decided to answer the same questions about my experience, with some Paul pictures sprinkled in.

Was being a parent how I thought it would be or not?

It's hard to know what being a parent is going to be like. I knew I'd love being a mom but you can't imagine how big that love for your child will be!

I was definitely wrong about some things. The biggest thing I was wrong about was thinking I would get bored on maternity leave. I loved my time at home with Paul and never really felt bored (I rarely feel bored in general, though). I was lucky to get 19 weeks with him (my company gives 16 weeks and I took 3 extra weeks) but I would have loved more time at home with him - I think ideally 6-9 months. That's not realistic in this country or my industry, though.

Parenting has definitely had it challenges, especially related to sleep, but overall it pretty much met my expectations. I watched a lot of friends and family members have babies so I think I had a pretty realistic expectation of how having a baby would change our lives. We had many years to travel and do whatever we wanted so I think I was ready to be a bit more 'tied down.' Having a baby has also taught me how to say no. I was a chronic over-committer before Paul was born. Now I say yes to much less and I only say yes to things I truly want to do (or have to do). I like our quieter life, though. I get so little time with Paul during the week so I am very good about protecting my time with him on week nights/weekends.

What was one thing you thought you knew but ended up having to research more?

Pumping! I thought pumping would be something I'd do once I got back to work. Little did I know I would end up exclusively pumping. I belonged to a facebook group for exclusively pumping moms which was very helpful, though. I learned a lot from that group of women!

What would you tell your pre/early pregnant self that you know now?

I'd tell her not to ignore extreme pain. I had pain from my blood clot for about a week before it was properly addressed. I should have known that pain that made it difficult to walk was not normal. Luckily the blood clot was detected at my prenatal appointment but I probably should have gone in sooner. But I didn't want to be that woman who was over reacting to something. Lesson learned.

I'd also tell her that all the pain and challenges of the pregnancy are worth it in the end. I had a pretty brutal pregnancy between RA flares, managing gestational diabetes and my blood clot. But our beautiful, healthy baby boy were worth all those challenges. My difficult pregnancy was an early lesson in the sacrificial love of a parent.

Do you want another baby?

Yes, although the thought of going through another pregnancy isn't super appealing as I'll need to start daily blood thinner injections the day after I get a positive pregnancy test. Ay yi yi. I'm more anxious about the pregnancy than having another C-section, honestly. But we really want to give Paul a sibling. And I want to go through the experience of having a baby with the perspective of how fast it goes. Everyone tells you it goes fast but until you experience it yourself, you can't understand how quickly a baby goes from being super cuddly to being too busy to cuddle with mom!! We will DEFINITELY be done after 2, though.

How does your body feel postpartum now at one year out?

Honestly, not awesome. It's been harder to bounce back and feel like myself than I thought it would. I thought the baby weight would come off much more easily, but it hasn't. I don't really like how I look and feel but I'm working on losing a little bit more weight before we start trying for another baby. I am trying to be kind to myself as my body has been through a lot in the past two years but I miss feeling fit and thin.

It has felt great to get back into exercise, though. I'm just so ready for warmer weather to arrive so I can go for daily walks/runs outside! We have sooo much snow and it's so dang cold that after-work walks/runs are just not possible.

What do you wish you had known in the early days?

That Paul would grow at his own pace. It was really hard to have a baby that struggled to gain weight. He still struggles to gain weight but he's been on his 4th percentile growth curve for quite awhile now so his weight gain (or lack thereof) hasn't been concerning since around 4 months. But in those early days, we had so many doctor appointments and weight checks. It was so stressful.

What are you plans for weaning from breast milk/transitioning to milk?

We are still working our way through the tail end of my frozen breast milk. Daycare is going to start to mix organic whole milk with my breast milk to ease the transition to whole milk. Hopefully he'll transition well to whole milk! It's going to be interesting/tricky to wean him off bottles, though. Right now I give him a bottle of breast milk while I am getting ready in the morning. It's really nice to be able to just hand him a bottle while I finish getting ready. He lays on his boppy and that's the only time of day that we let him watch tv (he watches whatever is on PBS kids). That's going to change when bottles are a thing of the past! That said I can't wait to be done washing bottles!

How is being back at work?

I thought I'd give an update on being back at work now that I've been back for a little over 7 months. I'm much happier back at work than I was in the early months. Honestly, July through December were pretty rough. I knew I had to give myself time to adjust to being back to work but I didn't think it would take THAT long to find my groove. It didn't help that I came back to a new boss and a reorganization at work. All through that difficult stretch I told myself that I needed to give it more time and that hopefully by the time Paul turned 1, I would feel much better about being a working mom. It's still hard to be a working mom but it's way less hard than it was in those early months, especially when Paul was waking 3-5 times a night thanks to those pesky, painful ear infections.

I still think a 6 month maternity leave would be optimal but I kind of doubt I can swing that. So if/when we have another child, I'll try to tack on some PTO to extend my maternity leave to 20 weeks or something like that. And at least if I struggle when I return to work after having a 2nd baby, I'll know that it's probably a temporary feeling.

How has having a baby impacted your marriage?

Having a baby definitely adds some stress to a relationship as you are both so tired, but Phil has been a trooper and has done as much as he can to bring the balance of work to 50/50 (for example we took turns getting up during the night with Paul when I returned to work, he's picked up chores like grocery shopping, and he sprays almost all of the poopy diapers). One lesson I had to learn early on is that we don't need to compete over who does more or who is more tired. That's a lesson I had to learn over and over again.

We haven't been on many dates since Paul was born. It's expensive to hire a babysitter and Paul sleeps for most of the time that the babysitter is there so it doesn't feel like the best use of money. But I don't want to miss out on time with him during the day since we see so little of him during the week. I do see a lot of Phil as Paul goes to bed around 6:30 so we get lots of couch time from 6:30-9pm. But we definitely need to work on going on dates more regularly, which is why I added the goal of quarterly dates to my 19 in 2019 list.


So there you have it! There have been challenges in the first year but overall I'd say it's been a wonderful year. Let me know if you have any other questions about being a new parent!


Carolina John said...

The entire first year, really the first 18 months, are so challenging. It's different for everyone, I'm really glad you were able to share your insight. I discovered some people aren't comfortable even holding newborns! Who knew? In my experience, after the baby hits about 18 months they get more mobile and expressive, and I had a much easier time dealing with my kids then.

Marlys said...

Every pregnancy is so different, but your first one had so many challenges! I hope that doesn't happen the second time around. I think they do get easier each time, as you kind of know what to expect.
Being a working mother is a major experience, and I was fortunate to be a stay at home Mom for most of my babies, although working from home was the normal for the last three. My boss, your dad, was pretty lenient I must admit!
And I agree, one sure learns fast what sacrificial love is when you have a child, but the rewards are great!
I'm so excited to celebrate Paul's first birthday, and to see some family members we don't get to see very often!

Amber said...

Loved reading this post! It definitely seems like you are much much happier with work now so I am glad you stuck things out there and now you know for #2.

I honestly feel the same way a bit with dates. Olivia goes to bed at 7 and we have from 7-9ish together every night. Some nights we do our own thing but at least 2-3 nights a week we either watch a show together or play yahtzee, so that does feel like quality time to me and I don't really feel the need for actual date nights too regularly. That said, I think we are going to try and get out for one this weekend just because we want to go try some of the new things on the menu at a local brewery!

Stephany said...

I am in shock that Paul is turning one at the end of this week. WHAT HAPPENED. How did a year fly by so fast?! That is so crazy.

I loved reading this post, and I am so glad to hear that working motherhood is feeling much better than it did in the beginning. I know it was a super tough transition, but thanks for being honest about it because I feel like most people don't really get into the nitty-gritty of how hard it can be.

Gracie said...

I'm glad to hear that the work situation is improving; I am sure that being away from Paul was very stressful. But you handled it well, especially since you were probably still exhausted from your pregnancy. You had a really rough time, and probably needed several months to recover - and then that's harder when you're a new mom and aren't getting a lot of sleep.

Charbelle said...

Oh my goodness, he was so teeny tiny!!!! That picture where his little sleeper just swallows him is still one of my favorites!!! You had a crazy challenging pregnancy and seeing your words that it was all worth it, wow, that is truly the best evidence that children are special. What you went through was beyond the normal challenges so that is a huge statement! I adore his smiley face!!! I'm glad that work has adjusted, I always thought I would have a hard time leaving if I had ever had a biological child. Then the first 6 months are so tough with lack of sleep it would be ideal to have that long of maternity leave. Our country just doesn't care, on so many levels and maternity leave being just another example. It is unreal how much faster time goes when there are little people involved in life! Loved this post!!!

Jeanie said...

Doesn't it seem like yesterday? I loved this post -- a really good overview of a first year. And I adored each and every photo of you and your little Paul. Here's hoping the next year is a good one -- and look forward to that big birthday celebration party!

katielookingforward said...

I love reading posts like these, so thank you for sharing! I think once the weather warms up your activity level will change and your body will follow along. How exciting to think about that fact that #2 is already on the radar as a potential!

San said...

This was so interesting to read. As I am now fairly certain that I won't ever experience the joys and tribulations of motherhood, I still love to hear how others experience this life changing event ;)

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Super interesting post! It's amazing how fast a year goes - and it probably felt even faster for you. I hope that a second pregnancy won't be as rough as your first, as I know how much you disliked being pregnant. Paul is such a cutie!!! He seems like the happiest baby :-)