My daughter Harper’s first birthday is coming up this month and I’m in my feelings about it. On one hand, I’m eternally grateful she made it to a year completely healthy and happy. But I’m also trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I made it to a year in this new role. I’ve been a whole mom for 365 days. It’s my greatest honor and I didn’t want this moment to pass me by without reflecting on the first year as a first time mom.
If you’re new here, Harper was born in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals were still scary places to be, vaccines were not yet approved and family gatherings were sparse. D and I soldiered up throughout 2020 to manage our joy and our fears as new parents. I look back at it all now and feel immense gratitude for being able to say we made it. We, as in our family of three, our marriage and our individual sanity. Here are some of my thoughts about this incredible experience.
Related: New Mom Lessons from the First 6 Months
There’s no amount of research you can do to prepare for this and, despite that, everything will be okay.
Trust me, I read every book, saved every Pin, hired a doula and took courses online. Sis still wasn’t completely ready. But Harper still made it to a year.
Breastfeeding is incredibly difficult and simultaneously fulfilling.
No one warned me about how physically painful breastfeeding is. I didn’t enjoy it at all but once I was finished, I was unexpectedly emotional. It became something Harper no longer needed me for which made me realize just how fulfilling it actually was.
You will always figure it out.
Shit will happen. Harper got a cold and we freaked out, lugging her to and from the pediatrician’s office three times. I’m sure they were sick of us but we were new to this and were simply trying to figure it out. That’s how this whole process seems to go, daily. There will be crazy and unexpected moments, situations or days but in the end, you always figure it out.
Take pictures with the baby, no matter how you look.
I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again–get in the photos with your baby. Year one is a journey of change and growth for you too. Document yourself as much as you document them.
Being a mom made me better at all of my roles.
I didn’t anticipate how much being a mom would change the way I occupy my other roles—it made me better. I became a better partner because I want Harper’s first example of true love to be her parents which requires each of us giving the other our best. I became a better worker because I know she’s watching and I know every business decision I make can have an impact on my family’s well-being. She made me a better friend by teaching me the importance of patience and empathy. I’m better because of her.
Never forget yourself or your partner.
It’s easy to become consumed by motherhood—these kids are so cute so can you blame us?? But I always remembered my husband. Our love is what manifested Harper and it’s our love that’s going to nurture her and cultivate our family’s dynamic. Whether it’s just kissing him and thanking him for being an amazing partner or encouraging him to take some time alone to golf, I’ve always remembered this family started and will end with our love.
It’s okay to serve yourself first.
I always watched my mom put herself last and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that so as to not empty my well. There are things I do first like getting myself dressed first in the morning before dressing Harper. Or preparing my lunch with Harper’s instead of making hers then shoving a protein bar down my throat and calling it a meal. Doing this is just as much for me as it is for Harper. I want her to see her mom put her mask on before everyone else’s. I want to change the narrative that, as women—especially moms, we have to come last. We do not. And I will demonstrate that to her for as long as I’m her mom.
Whether you’re a first time mom whose little one already hit the 12-month milestone or you have an infant that’s approaching it like Harper, I hope this post encourages you to reflect too. We have these big parties for the kids when they turn one but these are celebrations for you too. Spend some time reflecting on the first year as a first time mom.
Your baby made it to 1 because of the effort you and your partner or you and your village put in. If no one else sees it, I do. Here’s to the first year of carrying the sweetest title.