This week my baby turns one and boy has it been a year! I've learned so much about babies, obviously, but also myself and life. So, I thought I'd share a few of those things.
Everything gets harder and easier at the same time.
For the first month, I was just overwhelmed with trying to keep a tiny human alive. I was constantly worried about whether he was getting enough milk, even though I could see he was gaining weight very well. By month two, I relaxed more in that regard. However, as babies grow and reach new milestones, you get better at some things, but new challenges are constantly thrown at you, so it's always harder and easier at the same time.
Newborns are weird.
When my son was born and first laid on my chest, he was littler than I expected, I was almost scared to touch him, but at the same time just wanted to immediately hug and protect him. I even asked if I could kiss him. The funny thing is when you send baby pictures to folks, they tell you how beautiful your baby is, but newborns look like aliens or tiny grandpas. I guess grandpas are cute, but hopefully you catch my drift. His toes were so tiny his big toenail looked like triangles, but as he grew, thankfully it was just a matter of needing space on his toe for his toenail to fully reveal it self. I laughed so hard the day I realized this.
Also, they make weird sounds. For two months, I swear my son sounded like a pterodactyl when he slept.
And they have more hormonal skin that tween going through puberty. They're skin peels, they get baby acne, and our son even got cradle crap...I mean cap...which just looks nasty--like, yellow crusty dandruff. Yuck.
Newborn smell is the best smell in the world.
Their poos are crazy.
Breastfed poo is crazy and runny, and O.M.G. sometimes just insanely massive. Apparently if their poo is green it's okay. Sometimes it's what they ate, sometimes it may mean they're not getting enough hind milk (the fatty milk in breast milk). Breastfed poo is also bright yellow. And through the cloth diaper channels, I had heard transitional poo, when they start solids, is peanut butter-y in texture, but no one told me how MASSIVE and STINKY those poos can be. Breastmilk poo smelled sweet sometimes like yams or sweet potatoes. And nowadays sometimes my son's poo smells like a horse's dirty stall!
Baby toes are the cutest.
I just can't get enough of the baby toes. They are too stinking cute.
Babies learn so fast and are so smart.
I'm amazed at how my son copies everything we do, what he picks up, and sometimes without us even intentionally teach him. For example, I haven't spent much time teaching him how to use utensils, but recently I just laid them out for him and he started using them--not always super effectively, but he was eating just like us. And whenever he'd hit a new milestone, one minute he'll barely grasp it, and the next day he just takes off like he has been doing it the whole time.
Perhaps what has impressed me the most with my son is his emotional intelligence. He's aware when grown-ups around him are having arguments and he goes quiet. I was also really impressed when I realized he is fearless, but not reckless. When he first started crawling, we'd let him crawl on the bed and we'd make sure he didn't go near the edge, but then I noticed when he purposefully crawled to the edge, he'd look over and stop. He seemed to know that he'd fall off, and I didn't expect babies to have that awareness and perception.
Babies are freaking strong.
One minute my son is sweetly caressing my head, and the next he's ripping off my face. His grip is so tight sometimes when we're play tug-of-war with him or trying to take something out of his hands, it's an actual battle.
Babies are different and the same in many ways.
All babies grow in different ways and at their own pace, but they also do things that are uncannily similar. For example, the way they laugh, the sounds they start to make first, the way they do certain things. It just amazes me that all babies everywhere seem to have a special baby code. None of them are exactly the same. Still, sometimes the similarities are amusing.
They don't smile for about the first month.
I didn't know this and thought my son was born with Resting French Face. I was relieved when he started smiling and has been such a smiley baby ever since.
They love cheerios.
Once you give them cheerios, it's over. My son can eat cheerios practically nonstop. Our dog also eats cheerios, so they eat them together. The funniest thing though is when my son started eating Cheerios like the dog. He just goes face down on the table and eats them without using his hands. It's hilarious.
Pandemics keep babies healthy.
Since we went into lockdown the day after we got home from the hospital, our baby and our lives have been in quarantine ever since. My friend was telling me that her son was practically sick the entire winter just passing germs back and forth at day care, but our son didn't even have his first low grade fever until last night (we think teething related). On the one hand, it's been nice to not have that stress, because when they're so little you just feel helpless and hope you're doing everything they need to feel better. On the other hand, I do oft wonder if he's building enough of an immunity system. But, we've been taking him to the gardens and I try to let him play with dirt and such when we're out...as long as he doesn't eat it!
They're always teething!
Once they start teething, it seems like they never stop. At least that's how it has been for us. For a few months our son just had one tooth, but all of a sudden he started popping them out, a few at a time. When you think about it though, they grow I think 26 in 24 months, so it makes sense. Also, when they're three or four months and start drooling a lot, apparently that's them beginning to teeth, even if they don't pop a tooth until six months.
Watching babies eat is super cute.
Pretty much everything about babies is cute, and watching them eat and shove food in their faces is one of them. I'm also impressed how smart with food my son is. He often will shove such large amounts I worry he'll choke, but he knows his limits and is careful. He spits things out if there's too much or something that he simply cannot gum. See? Smart babies.
Your motherly instincts are often correct.
Even though a lot of times I feel like I still don't know what I'm doing, I have found that motherly instincts are real and we should lean into the more and trust them.
Gender Equality starts in the home.
And it starts right away for babies. Living with a man, even a "modern" man, showed me how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality. Bringing a baby into the equation though, drove home that reality even more. I find it infuriating and frustrating. And it can often make being a mother (in a heterosexual relationship) feel extremely lonely. However, because of this, I'm even more driven to raise my son differently.
This first year with baby has been the most amazing year, despite the pandemic, and despite the many challenges. I've never loved another human so much, and found so much joy each day, even when I'm exhausted and overwhelmed. I'm actually grateful for the pandemic, because it has allowed me the time to really get to know my baby and figure things out. Most importantly, it has allowed me to be there for my baby in this most crucial time. More and more I think about how we MUST change our culture to make space for parents to do their most important jobs--raise the next generation. Hopefully, the pandemic has forced companies to consider lasting and positive changes in our work culture.
What are your favorite things about baby's first year, or things that may have surprised you?