The first year is over now. My baby, the littlest, has graduated from infancy and is a healthy and curious one-year-old. It was little over two weeks ago that I realized that her birthday was coming. First birthdays have always been a huge celebration for our family yet this first birthday has been underrated and without much planning. It’s not that I don’t care about my baby as much as the others. It’s quite the opposite:
Her first birthday was this dark cloud looming in the distance; I could see it and I knew I should be excited but all I felt was impending doom…
This phase of my life is over.
I made the decision to be done having children biologically while I was pregnant with my youngest . It was a very easy decision to make. It was so easy, in fact, that much of the conversation during my labor was spent talking about whether or not we should just do the tubal ligation then and there since I would already have an epidural. In the end I decided that I didn’t want to be away from my baby at all so I would wait. My youngest was born in May and my tubal ligation was done in October. Going into the tubal ligation, I had to take a pregnancy test. When it came back negative I wasn’t surprised (I had made sure my husband and I abstained for more than the recommended three weeks prior to surgery…there was no way I was getting pregnant again!). I was relieved.
I did, however, go through a mourning process right after the surgery. It wasn’t that I wanted to be pregnant again, no that wasn’t it at all. It was the knowledge that this was permanent (as permanent as something like that can be, there’s always a first time for everything, right?) and that our family was complete. It felt right. I was at peace. There was no turning back. I was then and am now more than okay with that.
Now that she’s one, now that the reality of this baby and growing family stage is over, I’m finding it difficult to let everything go. I have bins upon bins of boy baby clothes from my son’s first year that I can’t seem to bring myself to let go of. He was born in 2008. There are memories, especially with his clothes, that I can’t seem to tear myself away from. I have bins full of bottles and pumping accessories that need to have a better home, after all, my baby has been using a sippy cup for the past month. We don’t need bottles any more. We have an entire section of our basement that could be cleared out if I could just let it go. I don’t want to though. It feels like in letting these items – the clothes, bottles, the hundreds of unused pacifiers, receiving blankets, burp cloths – go I am finally saying good bye to this phase of my life.
I love my older children; I wouldn’t trade them for anything or for any baby for that matter. But it’s my own realization that my role as a mother becomes… how should I say it? Lessened once baby is weaned and more independent. The parenting goal my husband and I have for our children is to raise them to love the Lord and become independent, fully capable adults. Now that this first year is over and we’re beginning to teach our children how the world works, albeit it’s a very gentle process in the beginning with a toddler, this next phase of parenting is something that both my husband and I can do. Nursing my baby during the first year? Yeah, only I can do that. Knowing each distinctive cry because I spend all hours of the day with my baby? Yeah, that’s also something only I can do. As often as I may complain to friends and family about being needed all of the time by my children, there is something very natural,comforting and special about being THE ONE. I know I’ll always be their mother: the one who comforts and fixes any kind of body problem from hunger to scraped knees, there’s just something very different about that first year. The dependency that you feel and the understanding that your baby needs you and only you makes the interrupted-sleep nights, messy-house-and-breakfast-cereal-for-dinner meals so worth it. Being a mother is definitely the best job I could ever have.
These are the things I will miss the most. These are the things I’m saying good bye to…
…announcing that I’m expecting.
…feeling that first kick from inside of me and knowing that it’s a feeling only the baby inside me and I will ever have.
…the bond and comradery you feel when you see your doctor or midwife monthly, then bi-weekly, and then weekly.
…the anticipation of the delivery: Am I in labor? Is it just Braxton Hicks?
…looking into my sweet baby’s eyes for the first time and noticing that my voice has a calming effect on her.
…the first time my baby latches onto my breast.
…that first meal after delivery. There’s something about doing the hard work to get baby on this side of the womb that suddenly makes a cheeseburger from Five Guys taste ten times better.
…along with the first meal after delivery, that first glass of Reisling after delivery. What sweet relief after nine long dry months.
…the excitement of introducing my baby to the world on Facebook, Instagram, designing a birth announcement to send the old fashioned way to our friends and family.
…coming home with the newest member of our family and watching my other children love on their newest sibling.
…nursing round the clock and binge watching Netflix.
…having that amazing newborn baby smell at my disposal. Now I’ll have to go and smell someone else’s baby. Yeah, I’ll be the creeper woman in line at Target saying, “Please, can I smell your baby? I promise I’m not sick.”
…sleepy afternoon naps with a newborn snuggled up on my chest.
…the middle of the night feedings; when I stumble out from my bed and make it into the nursery, lift baby up out of the crib and settle into the gliding chair that I have used with all three of my children.
…falling asleep during those middle of the night feedings with my newborn attached to my breast.
…nighttime cluster feeding. (Although, I’m not really that sad to say good bye to that one!)
…late night chats with my girlfriends who were also up nursing their little ones.
…that first smile that is most definitely on purpose and not gas. That toothless grin gets me. Every time.
…watching baby discover the world around them.
…the fascination and wonderment of overhead lights and ceiling fans. There’s nothing cuter than watching your newborn coo and smile at his friend the ceiling fan.
…hearing that first coo when you know it’s you whom your child is cooing to.
…watching my husband fawn and love on his newborns.
…the simple times when a cry could be remedied with a cuddle, diaper change or some mommy’s milk.
…the smell of spit-up.
…needing to sun my white clothes because they’re stained with spit-up.
…the morning nap – a necessity that doesn’t affect life when you only have one child but after you have another baby and also have older children at home you soon realize that life for a stay-at-home-mom happens in the morning. Afternoon is a sacred time in motherhood: nap time.
…a good reason to excuse myself at awkward family events. “Oh, sorry! Can’t chat about your upcoming colonoscopy, Great Aunt Anna. I have to excuse myself so I can nurse the baby.”
…seeing my baby discover that she can move and has control over her hands and feet. Who needs toys when you need toes?
…having a little companion wherever I needed to go and one that couldn’t talk back to me.
…hearing that first belly laugh from my baby and realizing that he’s laughing at the most uninteresting thing. Suddenly that normal, everyday occurrence brings joy to my face because I can see the joy overflowing from my child.
…the sweet innocence that a baby has.
…celebrating all of the firsts: first solid food, first time sitting in the grocery cart, first time rolling over, first road trip, first time sitting up independently, etc.
…open-mouth baby kisses. It is the best signs of affection in the world.
I’ve been pregnant three times in the last six and a half years; this stage of life is comfortable for me. I know how to do this now and of course, now that I’m confident I must say good bye to this pregnancy and infancy stage of my life.
So onto the next stage…toddlers, tantrums and the beginner’s school for Mom’s Taxi Service.
As the creator of the lifestyle blog and book, Me Before Mom, Bert supports millennial moms facing the challenges and changes of motherhood. Me Before Mom is an online community that offers support through real life stories, encouraging advice, and answers to questions about how a woman maintains herself during this self-sacrificial time of parenthood. Stories from Bert Anderson have helped women across the globe through the Huffington Post, Today’s Parent, and on the Harry show. Whether weathering the first year of motherhood or walking through the later stages of motherhood, Bert has helped many continue to find herself while still in the throes of motherhood. Purchase your copy of Me Before Mom: Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First today!