By TIFFANY HALL
My son recently celebrated his first birthday a few weeks ago. As many first-time parents know, this was an exciting milestone to reach. Not only did it mark the transition from infancy into toddlerhood, it meant that I had survived the trying, triumphant first year of parenthood. Through all of the milestones and missteps, I no longer consider myself an expert of sorts. Here are some lessons for first time mothers I’ve learned from my first year:
- You will be tired most, if not all of the time. I was relieved to get through the newborn stage, which was basically four months of erratic, restless sleep. But even when my son started sleeping through most of the night, I felt myself being tired from working full-time, shuttling him back and forth to daycare, food prepping, doctors’ appointments, etc. And there were no more lazy Sundays to recuperate from it all.
- “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is not realistic. I give props to the moms that have the ability to synchronize their sleep schedule with their baby’s, because newborns don’t have a set sleep schedule. While I was on maternity leave, I couldn’t just make myself sleep on demand. Instead, I used my son’s naptime time to eat, catch up on my TV shows, or just breathe.
- Your body won’t be the same. I gained a smooth fifteen pounds during my pregnancy, and lost it all and then some thanks to breastfeeding and exhaustion. While my post-pregnancy figure was much slimmer, I also had to get used to the stretch marks, newly-engorged breasts, and tummy pouch that fools people into thinking I’m pregnant again.
- You will create a “new normal.” Having a child is one of the biggest life transitions many of us will experience, and with it relationships shift. Priorities change. I missed being able to spend time with my childless friends as often as I used to, and being able to make plans without having to arrange for a babysitter. I went through a grieving process at the loss of my life and identity pre-baby. But over the course of the first year, I learned to accept that my life would never be the same and that it was okay.
- The love for your child is like nothing else you’ve experienced. I’ve been in love and I know what it’s like to be loved. But nothing prepared me for how immensely I love my son. It’s the kind of love that is earth-shattering, almost to the point of being overwhelming. It’s what has helped to propel me through the sleep deprivation, sore nipples, and moments of sheer frustration. For all of the perks of childlessness that I miss, I can’t, nor want to imagine, my life without my son.
Of course, there is so much more to learn, and I still have a lifetime of firsts that lay ahead of me. Yet, I’m thankful for the growth I’ve experienced in this whirlwind first year of mommyhood.
Tiffany Hall is a therapist, writer, and first-time mom learning to balance work, love, and family in Philadelphia. You can find her on Twitter at @tiffilating.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.