We’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times: motherhood is a journey unlike any other.
And regardless of what our expectations were prior to becoming moms and what our lives look like now, the first year of motherhood is an incredible ride for us all. From the anxiety and anticipation of their birth to recovery, learning how to care for a newborn, the wild high of finally figuring something out, the intense lows of being knocked back on your ass by the next phase – the first year of motherhood is all-encompassing.
In a new series, our cofounders, Danielle Moss and Alaina Kaczmarski, are opening up on their motherhood experiences. In 2017, both women found themselves expecting their first-borns exactly two months apart. Now, they’ve made it to the other side of the first year and are reflecting on what they’ve learned.
I always heard other moms talk about how difficult motherhood was, but before becoming a mom, there’s just no way to anticipate what it will really be like. I spent years caring for other people’s newborns, infants, and toddlers, so if anyone was going to be a natural, it was me.
I went into parenthood without too many expectations but was determined to have a baby who slept through the night by 3-4-months-old. Naturally, my one plan completely backfired. Oh, how little I knew, but oh, how much I’ve learned.
My delivery was picture-perfect, and the first few weeks of parenthood felt so easy for us. I don’t say that to make other moms feel bad because all of our experiences and journeys are so different, and that’s OK. Most of the next eight months (or so, it’s all a blur) were the opposite of what my friends experienced and what I expected. I’m not sure when the shift took place, and luckily, it’s all a blur now. I never thought I wouldn’t be able to easily take my baby out for a few hours. Car rides were horrible, and I ended up on the side of the road in tears holding a screaming baby more than once. Bedtime was awful – she screamed for one to three hours nightly. There were a few periods where she slept through the night, but that didn’t happen regularly until she was 11 months old. In spite of how difficult it was, loving Margot came so easily to us. She’d fall asleep on me, and all was (mostly) forgotten.
We tried everything. We struggled, we cried, and as her mother, I felt like I had failed. The biggest lesson I’ve learned the past 14 months is that Margot is her own unique little person, and I won’t always have all the answers. I can be a good mom and do my best without always being able to immediately fix or change everything. I can (and always will) stand by her, love her, and support her. It is also a must that we as mothers take care of ourselves. I really struggled to devote time to friends and exercise when I already spent so much time away from Margot during the week due to my work schedule. But I’ve found that when I take better care of myself, I am a much better mom.
Things are so different now. We not only survived, but we thrived and grew together. We went from not being able to take her to lunch to flying across the world to spend a week in Italy together as a family. She’s sweet, happy, smiley, and a much better sleeper. This little girl completely changed my life and heart for the better, and like so many moms will tell you, being her mom is the best thing I’ve ever done.
Words to describe year one of motherhood?
And laughter again.
Excitement! Look what he (or she) just did!
Booooredom. Rolling a ball back and forth in the darkness of an early winter morning. Day. After. Day.
So much change.
So much routine.
Isolation from friends.
So fast. Too fast.
If the first year of motherhood taught me anything, it’s how fleeting time with our little ones is. As the adage goes, the days are long, but the years are short.
The tiny person you start the year with and the toddling toddler with an ever-developing personality you end the year with shows just how much changes in a year. And just how incredible human development is at that young age. This helpless newborn slowly but steadily grows into a participating person in your life and member of your family – making you laugh, playing games, showing interests and dislikes, learning to walk, talk, and do everything that will make them the person they’re going to become. And boy will they become that person fast. Too fast.
But they’re not the only ones changing. The woman I was last year and the woman I am now are wildly different. My priorities have shifted: my relationships have changed, how I choose to spend my time, the things I find joy in – it’s all so different. It’s a lot simpler in many ways (the joy of a morning family walk), and more complex in others (raising a human!).
And it was a tough transition. One you cannot expect or prepare for; one that caught me so off guard, I found myself in tears one afternoon, when my son was probably one month old, mourning the loss and letting go of the woman I was before. It’s an important goodbye to make, and one nobody could have prepared me for. I had to really experience it and feel the shift to recognize that the woman I once was and the path I’m now on are worlds apart.
And then I embraced it – and everything felt so much easier. And more joyful. And what felt like long or even difficult moments became short, little, absorb-every-second-of-this-before-it’s-over memories. My confidence as a mother grew. My relationship with my son felt stronger. And we were able to find our way on this weird journey together. Because let’s be honest – parenting is a weird, tough journey. And no matter how many friends you talk to or how much advice you receive (solicited or unsolicited), you can’t know until you live it.
If I’ve learned anything these 16 months, it’s that we will all experience year one of motherhood (and every year after that) differently. My highs and lows will be so vastly different from yours. We can share our experiences, but it’s a huge disservice to ourselves and our little one to compare them. My baby and my experience with feeding, sleep-training, traveling, play-time, teething, socializing, activities, all of it — it is uniquely ours. So, I’ve learned not to compare and not to ask. I’ve learned to take every bit of unsolicited piece of advice with a hearty grain of salt.
Because it doesn’t matter what worked for them. It, in no way, implies what will work for us. We’re on this journey together, my little one and me. It is uniquely ours.
And it’s going much too fast.