Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thoughts On My First Year of Parenthood

Before we got pregnant and had Abigail, I spent years wanting and yearning for a child. We put off trying to get pregnant time and again, finding some excuse as to why we weren't ready...but I was always ready in that way that a woman knows she wants to be a mother. When we finally decided that we were, in fact, "ready", my body decided that it didn't want to be pregnant, and so we started our journey through countless medications, ultrasounds, procedures, accupuncture needles, and the like. Then we got pregnant, and our daughter was born, and I realized shortly after her birth that I knew absolutely nothing about being a parent. I was so fixated on getting pregnant that I hadn't thought much about what parenting an infant would be like. Before having a child, I would hear veteran parents joke about how they were perfect parents until they actually had kids, and I'd laugh but I never really got it. You see, before you have a child, you really are the "perfect" parent. Or at least I thought I was.

This year I've done SO many things that I swore I would never do. I was never going to let our child watch tv, or give her formula, or feed her fast food (or junk of any kind, really). I was going to love breastfeeding and do it as long as possible. I was never going to raise my voice or get frustrated, never going to let her cry. But this year has taught me so much too. It's taught me what true unconditional love is. I could never have imagined what this kind of love felt like before having Abigail. I've never known love like this in my life, and it honestly takes my breath away. I've learned what, and who, is important to me. I've learned that it's ok to not be "perfect" all the time. I've learned that it's important to take care of myself, and if that means that my daughter watches ten minutes of tv so that I can use the bathroom in peace then so be it. I've learned that our families are even more important than I ever realized before. My relationship with my sister in particular became so much stronger this past year - I honestly would not have gotten through the hard times without her. I've learned that breastfeeding isn't the magical experience that I dreamed it would be, but that I'm lucky to be doing it anyway. We're on the way to being done, and I can't be happier about that, but for nearly twelve months I've nourished our baby with my own milk and that's something I am incredibly proud of. I've learned that I can be an extremely judgmental person, and that it's not a good quality to have. I have thin skin and hate being judged myself, so why is it fair for me to judge others? It's something to work on, for sure. I learned that post-partum depression is NO joke. The things my body went through to have a child were nothing compared to the havoc pregnancy and childbirth wreaked on my emotional state. I've learned that having a child changes the dynamics of a marriage. I didn't think it would...who was I kidding? Thankfully we have a strong bond and we made it through, but not without some hard times. 

I've heard people say that having a child doesn't have to change your whole life...but isn't that the point?? Having Abigail DID change my whole life, in the very best possible way. I can't even remember life without her now. Some days are hard and long, but most are filled with snuggles and smiles and so much love. She makes my heart happy. Staying home and raising her gives me an enormous sense of purpose. This past year has been fast and crazy and full of highs and lows, but it's been absolutely amazing. My only hope is that we get to do it all over again soon!

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