We’re creeping up on Luke’s 1st birthday. Wednesday will mark his first trip around the sun and I’m finding myself misty-eyed at the prospect. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always felt that I wanted “kids” over “babies.” And I know how much fun is in store once this kid is up to speed and able to partake in more adventuresome activities. Still, as he’s moving away from babyhood, I’ve been reflecting so much on our early days together and my sweet boy’s first months in this world. Kat, your last post also got me thinking a lot about the great input we got from other parents as we were embarking upon this journey, some of which I wouldn’t have made it through this year without.
When you’re expecting, people ask you a lot of inappropriate questions…but they give you a lot of advice too. It’s best if you learn quickly to discern which advice sounds right for you, and what advice to take with a nod of the head before moving on your merry way. For instance, when a well-meaning but highly-inappropriate coworker told me that global warming was causing a rise in cleft palettes in babies so I should wear or sew a cross on my underpants for the remainder of my pregnancy, I smiled and went about my business. Still, for all the strange advice, there were some great gems that I thought I’d put out there for any moms-to-be who might be in our midst.
It’s all a phase. I’m sure I’ve heard this more than once, but one of the three Sara(h)’s from my knitting group is the mother of two. She has kids so amazing you’d absolutely want to clone them and she reminded me shortly before Luke was born to not stress about milestones, tantrums and the like. As a fellow loss mom, Sara has great perspective on what parenthood is all about and she reminded me that loving your baby is way more than half the battle when it comes to raising them well.
He won’t go to college with a pacifier. We were still in the hospital when a pediatrician put a pacifier in Luke’s mouth. I was horrified, it went against everything I had read in the books and I was convinced he was going to be needing a binky until he was 5. The dr looked at us and said, he won’t go to college with a pacifier mom, don’t worry. And, it resinated pretty well. Little did I know, Luke would shun all sleeping aids including the pacifier, but the sentiment has carried over when I worried that he wasn’t on a napping ‘schedule’ and other equal nonsense.
Choose your lullaby during your pregnancy. The week before I left on maternity leave, one of my team members at work asked me if I had chosen my lullaby. She told me about sitting in the hospital looking at her baby with no idea what do say or do. She said she wished she’d though about it ahead of time. That night on my way home from work, I came up with three songs I could sing decently and remembered the words too. I started singing them while we were in the hospital. We still sing two of them…and I honestly can’t remember what the third was.
Treat it like a new job. A friend of ours was transitioning to become a stay-at-home mom when her second child was born just two weeks before Luke. She told us she intended to treat it like starting a new job and to give herself 90 days to get adjusted. This seemed like great sense to me and starting a new job was in fact something I had done before unlike parenting. When we weren’t sure of ourselves when Luke first came home, I took comfort knowing that I was just starting my new job too.
You can make it through a year of breastfeeding on sheer will and determination. Kat, talking to you, you gave me permission to not like breastfeeding. To find it hard and uncomfortable and frustrating, but to do it anyway. Once I put aside that I “should” feel some bond with my baby when he was in fact fussing, fighting and generally flailing any time we nursed, it was must easier for me to just get down to business. Thanks to you we made it, while supplementing, up to a year when I wasn’t sure we’d make it a month.
Vacation with an infant is just a change of scenery. My super-together, unflappable older sister gave me this advice. And, it came to my mind when I was on the beautiful shores of Hawaii, wide awake at 3 am because time changes mean nothing to a toddler. Heather helped set my expectations for parenting on many levels and I’m very grateful for that. She also juggles her two boys and answers my incessant texts about whether Luke’s latest activities are normal.
Take more video. Shortly before I returned to work after maternity leave, we spent a few days with our college friend Hope, her husband Josh and their daughter Harper. Hope was holding Luke and trying to remember if Harper was ever that small when she encouraged to take as much video as we could. Even now, I look back at the early videos of Luke just starting to hold up his head or making the little coos that sound like a tiny dinosaur and I’m so glad I get to see it forever. I know I’m going to be thankful that we have taken those words to heart.
Don’t rush him. I think I hear this from my mom once a week (love you mom). And she’s right. Time passes quickly and Luke is going to grow up fast enough on his own. He’s hitting milestones at a rapid pace and already the sweet little newborn who was happy to spend the day snoozing on my chest can’t be bothered to even slow down for a pre-bedtime snuggle. Boyhood will come fast enough and babyhood is brief.
I’m looking forward to this week and taking time to mark this first year together and our first year as a family. I’m breathing in extra deep every time Luke gives me a hug because his baby smell is wearing off…but I’m loving that he smells a little like fresh air and dirt. Just as I always imagined my little boy would.