One Year!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t reflect on the past year of motherhood on this one-year milestone … Ollie’s first birthday (technically, I think it will be 10:30 p.m. tonight — oh the details you remember when you’re in labor!).

Notables:

  • “Leave your modesty at the door.” That’s what my first (and favorite) nurse in the maternity ward told me that when I was trying to cover the space on my backside the gown wouldn’t. No room for modesty when you’re about to have a child removed from your nethers. And for that matter, it’s safe to leave your modesty at the door in many situations. I totally got over myself that day and every day since.
  • “Don’t be a hero.” I think my favorite little Irish nurse said that, too, when it came to when to administer the pain meds. Again, though, in parenthood and in general life, you CAN’T do it all alone and there’s going to be some pain along the way. Accept help, pop a few asprin (have a glass of wine, meditate, whatever) and move on.
  • I married the right guy. True, I knew this a long time ago, but when your husband is reminding you to practice your labor exercises, teaching YOU how to care for your child because you are in recovery and barely able to get out of your bed, etc., your good decision becomes very clear. People might say, “Hey, he’s the dad and that’s his job,” but I there are a lot of guys out there who don’t even know their kids, let alone take care of them. J did pretty much everything for Ollie those first four days. I felt like a drugged-up blob trying desperately to feed my kid and shoo off nurses from messing with me. And a week later on my 31st b-day, he got me two things I missed dearly during my pregnancy: pizza and beer.
  • Maternity leave rules! You NEED that time to bond with your baby, so it really gets me people don’t take maternity or companies don’t offer it, although I think most by law have to offer three months. I also think it should be paid at 100 percent of your salary at that time, but whatever. Politics aside, I was so happy to have time to bond with Ollie, sing to him, care for him and feed him. I squeezed in a few naps here and there,  watched some really addictive/bad TV, took a gazillion photos of Ollie and spent an unhealthy amount of time on my laptop. It was a great three months.
  • Daycare ain’t that bad. After three months of being a full-time mommy, the thought of leaving my baby with a virtual stranger for 8 hours a day was daunting. I was afraid I couldn’t do it. But we found a really great woman in the neighborhood with two boys of her own and 15 years’ experience caring for children. She had a bunch of references, including one of J’s coworkers. Have not had a single problem in nine months and I feel silly now for even worrying so much. It takes a village, cliche as it sounds. I am happy I can contribute to our family’s income and pursue my career while Ollie gets to play with three little cuties during the day in a safe home. I also have Fridays off (for the most part) and enjoy having Ollie all to myself during those days!
  • Time flies. Every parent I’ve met says this and it starts sounding like a broken record after awhile. But you know what? It’s a cliche for a reason: it’s very true. One year! Sure, a lot has happened in that time, but it also feels like it went by fast. That’s why I take a gazillion pics, run my mommy blog and cherish every moment with Ollie. They grow up so fast. My sitter always says how she blinked and her boys were teenagers. It’s just amazing how fast life goes by, and even more so, I think, when you become a parent.
  • My kid is right on track. There is SO much information out there about when to do this and that and what to feed your baby and how to bathe your baby and what milestones they’re supposed to reach at what age. I’ve learned to listen to one person and one person only: my pediatrician (that and my gut). And, OK, my mother-in-law when she says, “Only until kids are in kindergarten will they all pretty much be on the same page.” In other words, I don’t get all worked up if Ollie isn’t doing certain things at certain times by the book. Total waste of time to obsess over that stuff when you could be enjoying your kid.
  • I am still Erica. I’m not gonna lie, it is taking some doing to keep my game — or reclaim it as it seems sometimes. I spent most of my maternity leave in sweats sans makeup. I haven’t necessarily kept up my funky hairdos. The whole weight loss thing has been a bitch. But I’m working on it. I haven’t “given up”. Superficial stuff aside, I still have the passion I’ve always had about writing, music, culture, art – and OK, pop culture – family, friends, fun, etc. Yellow is still my favorite color. 🙂 I feel very in touch with who I am and what I want to achieve in life, and now that I have a child, I’m a little more sensitive to how my goals affect someone who looks up to me. I have this huge desire to make him proud of me.
  • My marriage has evolved positively. I think any good marriage strengthens, improves and deepens over time. For sure bringing a child into the mix has kicked our marriage into high gear. Suddenly there’s more teamwork, there’s excitement and bonding over Ollie’s milestones and future. There has been a ton of laughter. Seeing your spouse as a parent is also a wonderful experience. You always expect they’ll make a great parent, but only when they demonstrate it does it really sink in. I think J is a really awesome dad.
  • Patience, sweet patience. I have learned how to function on “baby time”, which is a few paces slower than Erica time, and that’s totally OK with me. There are SO few things in life that are worth rushing around to get to. I like that I’ve slowed down and begun taking things a little less seriously. J would argue I’m still pretty intense at times, but he knows it’s a work in progress.
  • Humor. I’ve said it before, parenthood is nothing if not incredibly hilarious. From sneezes to poops, giggles to babbles. The only time parenthood has not been fun was when Ollie had his first fever at 9 months. Other than that, it’s been one laugh and giggle after another. His constant sweet smile has been the impetus behind a million happy moments over the past year.
  • If nothing else, this past year has taught me a lot of humility and given me a huge appreciation for my  parents and parental figures in my life. Something about caring for your own really makes you understand that the power of parenthood compels you to want the very best for your children. Since I’ve had Ollie, I’ve said out loud to my mom that I appreciate all she’s and my dad do for me, all of their sacrifices and advice over the years. I constantly find myself singing songs to Ollie that my mom sang to me when I was little; searching out books and toys I loved as a kid; and wanting to bring  traditions into my home that we had in my childhood home.

Yeah, the past year has been incredible. And I now know why people do this more than once. 🙂

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