The Shortest Year

The Shortest Year

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It seems like those first few months with a new baby just fly by.  When you’re in it, sleep deprived and lacking the essentials of a hot shower or a full meal, the days feel so long.  Before you know it, you are 3 months in, then 6, and then a year.

A year of crying (you and the baby), breastfeeding, major milestones, baby smiles, giggles, and learning about each other.

I remember when my babies turned a year.  It feels bittersweet. On one hand you are more than grateful to reach the end of the first year, because it is hard. On the other hand, it’s almost as if you are grieving the loss of your child’s infancy.  I remember talking with another first time mother.  We were verbalizing the struggles we were having.  The first couple of months can feel so foggy when you have a new baby.  You may not even remember much of it, which makes it even harder when looking back on the first year.  We spend so much time focusing on trying to be the perfect parent that we lose track of what’s really important; enjoying the milestones as they are happening and building memories. 

The first upset I experience as a postpartum mom around my baby’s milestones happens within a week or so of delivery. I’ve been relishing in the “new baby smell” phenomenon. There’s something so comforting and centering about breathing her in. The first time I gave her a bath, the smell was gone, as if she were no longer a newborn. In hindsight, it seems obvious that would happen, but in the moment and for days afterward I’m shocked and devastated at a loss that I’m not ready for. It’s an all-too-real reminder that no matter how I want to stop time, to take it all in, these days are going to slip through my fingers.

These little moments of simultaneous celebration and grief continue. She sits up for the first time. Within just a week, she takes her first steps at 9 months, says her first word, and cuts her first two teeth. She makes her first baby sign to ask for Momma’s milk. She’s looking less and less babyish, toddling around and exploring/inspecting the world around her with voracious curiosity.

Fast forward. Baby turns a year old in just a week. I’m in the kitchen prepping a bowl of instant Ramen (judge away), and as I pop the package open full of delicious crushed bits, it flies all over the counter and floor. Rolling my eyes at myself, I salvage what I can, add water, and open the microwave door…which bumps the bowl and causes water and salvaged Ramen to pour all over the stovetop and floor. I dissolve into tears. My husband says, “This isn’t about the Ramen, is it?”

He’s right. It’s about the fact that my babe turns a year old in just a few days. That it’s already been a year since I delivered her. That I still need to go see a pelvic floor therapist so I can quit peeing my pants randomly. That we’ve only just gotten to a good place with nursing in the past couple of months, and so much more. This milestone is bigger to me than I realized, and I’ve learned that it’s OK to feel how I feel at any given moment- whether I’m elated and through the roof or feel so sad that I just want to freeze this moment forever. ~ Miranda, first time mother

I can’t tell you not to be sad during this time.  It can feel like your baby whipped through these last few months but take a few minutes to sit down and reflect on some of the amazing things you and your baby have experienced together.  If you don’t have one already, start a journal just to reflect on some of the milestones.  Remember how you felt when you saw your baby smile at you, or the look of surprise on his face when he rolled over for the first time.  Think about how you felt throughout the first year.  What were your favorite moments?  What were some not so favorite moments?

Now that you have reached the end of the first year, it’s time to consider some of the surprising new discoveries you and your baby will be making together.  Toddlers are incredible little humans, you will revel in the discoveries she makes every day, and you will love seeing the world through her eyes.  Enjoy each stage when you can, it goes quicker than you can imagine.