My beautiful baby girl turned one this week (27th July 2020). I can’t quite believe how quickly the time has flown by! The past week has been a jumble of mixed emotions: sadness at her first year coming to an end, pure joy at how much she is flourishing and utter astonishment at the growing love I feel for her with every passing day.
Honestly, being a Mummy, thus far, has been the most challenging but rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Her wide inquisitive eyes fill me with so much love and I feel like I’m constantly on the brink of bursting with emotion. Those little curly locks that spring on her head as she pulls on them while feeding melt my heart. Her little dimpled smile when we catch each other’s eyes mid feed and her gentle exhalation of one long, simple and happy sigh, fill me with overwhelming affection.
All of that being said, the first year of being a Mummy has been one of the most challenging years of my life. With every single month that has passed I have developed and gained so much! One year of motherhood has completely changed my world in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Even if it is just with more white hairs!
So, how do I best mark this one year anniversary of the most painful, traumatic yet exhilarating moment of my life? Write about it of course…
Twelve months of being a mummy
So, here’s my month by month outline of the highs and lows to the first year of being a Mummy and how this has changed my world for the better. Hopefully if you’re a Mummy coming to the end of your first year too, you will read this with a knowing smile. If you’re due to have your first baby… good luck! This may help! All jokes aside – it is worth it! Look out for future posts where I will be going through each month in more detail to outline what to expect, key tips from our own failures and successes and other bits of golden nuggets which may help you along the way.
Month 1) The birth and aftermath
No one ever told me the realities of this first month and aftermath of the birth itself. I’d been to all the classes, spoken to loads of mums and picked their brains on what to expect. I felt prepared. Boy was I wrong! Obviously, everyone’s birth story is completely unique to them and everyone will have a totally different experience. I’m a planner. I love lists. Order. Control… I’m a teacher after all. Needless to say, regardless of my hours of hypnobirthing preparation, my extensive birthing plan and detailed list of what to have at home for our new arrival, things did not pan out the way I’d imagined.
Did it all go exactly as I’d planned? Hell no. But, one thing I would say is this book on hypnobirthing massively helped me get in the right frame of mind to deal with whatever was thrown at me. In fact I was the one breathing through the pain, while calming my own mum and husband down and telling them it was all going to be fine! Definitely a worthy purchase.
Lesson learnt: Expect the unexpected with the birth and aftermath. Hypnobirthing definitely helped, but not in the way I thought it would! The first year of being a Mummy is about adaptability, patience and going with the flow. Plan to fail and don’t beat yourself up for it.
Month 2) Sleep deprived zombie
So, the first month is done… surely things must get a little better? A whirlwind of tummy time, sensory play, breastfeeding, combi-feeding, bottle feeding, dummy / no dummy, colours of poo, amount of wee, reflux, colic, germs are everywhere, weight gain, health visitors, internet searches, regretting internet searches… the list is endless. And all of this whilst living as a sleep deprived zombie! The best book I read was ‘The book you wish your parents had read’. It helped me massively knowing what I wanted to aim for before the sleep deprived zombie state took over my logical brain.
The sleep deprived zombie state lasts a while – in fact I’m pretty much still there after a year of being a Mummy. My advice? Do your research before baby is born and sleep! Sleep now as much as you can.
Lesson learnt: Do any reading and the majority of the decision making (that can be made) before baby’s arrival. Also, sleep! Sleep as much as possible before baby comes! Honestly, the first year of being a Mummy is exhausting!
Month 3) Survival mode
By month three, I was much more confident and deep in the world of baby classes, sensory play and tummy time! Survival mode had kicked in and the first year of being a Mummy was starting to fall in to place. Meeting other mums, having a slightly less fragile baby and more of a routine in place was starting to pay off.
Playgroups were my lifeline and gave the day a lovely purpose between the monotony of naps, feeding and burping. Just seeing other adults was a win!
As it stands now, with the dreaded Covid19, many of these wonderful play groups have been closed or are reverting to online classes. How do you overcome this? Well, we’ve created our very own sensory area at home! From mirror fun, bubble play, textured surfaces, bright lights and music, there is so much fun to be had at home. Here are all the things I purchased to bring the play home to us: textured play mat, activity play mat, mirror, bubble play, bright lights, music, instruments, tummy time water mat.
Lesson learnt: Get out and about as soon as you’re ready. It’ll do you and baby the world of good. Survival mode will kick in and you’ll start to grow in confidence.
Month 4) I’ve got this!
I now had the confidence that I knew what I was doing. The first year of being a Mummy has taught me the importance of planning! Planning for every eventuality. Spare clothes. Extra spare clothes. Winter hat. Summer hat. Sun cream. Umbrella. Nappies. Extra nappies. Wipes. Get yourself a good notebook and write everything down! Lists are your friend! The ups of being a parent are amazing! You’ll feel exhilarated, filled with love and high on endorphins! Embrace these moments… take your time to appreciate every second of euphoria with your little ones. Every moment is so fleeting so live in every moment.
Lesson learnt: Document your journey. The first year of being a mummy will fly by and although you think you’ll never forget, the zombie state will mean you become just a little forgetful. Get yourself a nice memory book like this to cherish those special memories.
Month 5) I don’t have this!
After a momentary glimpse of what I thought was a routine and the new normal – teething struck. Poor little one now crippled with pain from the demon incisor silently hacking its way through my babies pink gums. The process of teething taught me one very important thing in the first year of being a Mummy. I don’t have this! No matter what routine I had in place – once those teeth crept through all bets were off. Some things did help, Sophie teething toy, teething toy set, Ashton Parsons, teething necklace. But be prepared for your little angel to become… well… not such an angel during this time.
Lesson learnt: This phase may last a while, but remember it is all a phase and will eventually pass. Don’t get caught up in the emotion of seeing your little one in pain. Think… it’ll pass. It is something that all babies go through and will get through the other side.
Month 6) Starting to wean!
This was one of the most exciting times in the End-Rich household! Alex loves cooking and he’s not too bad at it either! We started experimenting with different equipment and recipes for our little one and here are some of our favourites so far:
Lesson learnt: Don’t expect your little one to be a big eater straight away. The first few months are more for experimenting with textures and tastes. Most of the food you so lovingly prepared will end up on the floor. That doesn’t mean your little one doesn’t deserve the best introduction to food though with some beautifully prepared meals.
Month 7) Sleep regression - what!?
Revert back to month 2 – sleep deprived zombie state! Sleep regression is something that no one can prepare you for and despite all our attempts to get our little one on track with her sleeping, it is still a struggle today. What can I say? Some babies will reach this milestone at different points and although sleep training is an option followed by many, it couldn’t work for us. Some of the things we did find helpful though included: The Gro Company Owl, White noise machine, The Gro Company Sleeping Bag (make sure you purchase the correct tog for the temperature of little one’s room).
Lesson Learnt: Don’t compare your baby to others. Some mums will say their little one is sleeping through the night perfectly, whilst others are struggling to get more than 2 hours at a time. Don’t stress.
Month 8) Making movements!
This may happen at different points depending on your little ones. For us, 8 months was the point we started seeing the most progress with our little lady. She started shuffling around on her bum, pulling herself in the crawling position and even making movements to stand by holding on to our fingers. What a little legend. We had an array of different items to help her on her way, here are a few of our favourites: foam mats, activity jumper.
Lesson learnt: tummy time is key! Get your baby on their tummies as often as they allow. It’s the best way to strengthen their muscles and get them in the position to start making movements.
Month 9) Baby signing
We had started our little one on baby signing classes from around 3 months and it was at just over 9 months that we had our first sign! The sign for milkies! The sweetest thing I’ve ever seen as she nestled her head in to me and made the sign she’d grown to love. The classes are brilliant, but this book helped us too! Baby signing book
Lesson learnt: Baby signing works! Was sceptical at first, but has been fantastic being able to communicate with little one in a way that she understands and can communicate back with.
Month 10) Cheeky missy
After our first baby sign, communicating with our little one became so exciting! Her huge personality started coming through… she would cheekily wink at us, playfully stick her tongue out, nuzzle in to our chest when shy, high five us, giggle at things she found funny, laughed hysterically if we pulled faces and started to make all sorts of sounds! “dadadada” and “mamamama” were the first… along with “cat”, “duck” and “come”. Along with making sounds and attempting to communicate with us, the first year of being a Mummy gave me the opportunity to sit with our little one and read with her. Talk about the books, look at the pictures and make up stories of our own. Some of our little one’s favourites are The Julia Donaldson Collection, Tales From Acorn Wood. This is a beautiful time and one to be cherished.
Lesson learnt: talk to your baby about everything and read as much as possible. It may seem like they don’t fully understand what’s happening, but trust me, their little minds are working hard and collecting the information they need for later.
Month 11) Many falls
Around 11 months was when our little one started to make real attempts at standing and navigating her way from one end of the sofa to the other. With that came plenty of falls! Be prepared for some tears, but also some fantastic eureka moments as your little one finds their feet!
This part of parenthood can be particularly trying emotionally, as it can be difficult to see them hurt themselves, but also because you can NEVER leave them alone to pop off and run a quick errand in the next room. Your baby won’t just lay on her playmat anymore – instead he or she will roll, move, scoot, shuffle… find a way to find the most dangerous part of the room you’ve left them in. Our little one loves trying to eat our phone chargers. I’m always ‘shocked’ by this! ;D
Lesson learnt: Baby proof your home – particularly their play area! We used these foam mats and found them invaluable for the inevitable tumbles coming their way.
Month 12) Separation anxiety
At 12 months old, our little one knows exactly who is who and where we all are. Separation anxiety is real! Not just for your little one who is learning about object impermanence and that unfortunately mummy and daddy may have to nip out once in a while, but also for mums and dads too! Honestly, I have separation anxiety about leaving her. A day at work will involve me video calling my mum / dad (whoever is looking after her at home) at least twice, quick visits home (because obviously Athena NEEDS her mummy). This is totally normal and something many new mums and dads struggle with! Even the thought of sending her to nursery at 2 fills me with dread.
Lesson learnt: Talk openly about how you’re feeling with your partner, friends and employers when you do go back to work. Postpartum maternal separation anxiety is a real thing and they may be able to put things in place to help you ease back to work.
Cherish every moment...
Writing about the last 12 months of being a Mummy to my beautiful Athena has left me with one main thought going forward. Cherish every moment you have with your little one. The time will fly by you and before you know it you have a toddler rather than a tiny baby anymore.
Subscribe, comment and share for more posts where I will be going through each month in more detail to outline what to expect, key tips from our own failures and successes and other bits of golden nuggets which may help you in your first year of motherhood. Not only with the trials and tribulations of the first year as a Mummy, but with some easy and cheap family recipes and some information on investing for your family’s future. The end goal at End-Rich? To end rich in health, happiness and wealth.