Today I'm wishing my friend Jenn happy first momma-versary. She's here to tell us about her first year as a mom and her little doll Claire!
Last year at this time I was doing something I had not ever done before; getting ready to unexpectantly have my first baby over a month early. To celebrate my daughter Claire’s first birthday (and my first momma-versary), I am again doing something I have not ever done before...writing a post for my friend Jac’s blog. Thanks Jac, for the challenge:)
My daughter Claire was only a little over 3 pounds when she was born by an emergency c-section on Valentine’s Day - 5 weeks early. Even at 5 weeks early, she should have been bigger than she was, so she spent the first few weeks of her life in the NICU at Grand River Hospital. She is now an active and happy 16 pound one year old!! She sleeps through the night, eats a wide variety of food, loves her pet dog and cannot get enough of bathtime!
In the last year I have kind of settled into and developed my own “mama-style”. I am a very realistic and practical mom. I know my baby will get sick sometimes but I still let her put toys in her mouth and crawl on the floor. I know she needs to make a huge mess in order to learn to feed herself. I know she has to cry when she is teething. I am okay with all of this. I know she she sometimes test my patience, but I also know the smallest smile or moment of snuggle time can erase a bad day. I am also very non-judgemental when it comes to parenting. You need to do what works for you, whether it be disposable or cloth diapers....breastfeeding, pumping, or formula feeding....whatever. You do what you need to do to make yourself and your baby happy. Do not judge other mommies and hope they will not judge you in return. Period.
When I think about my baby turning 1, I also congratulate myself and my husband for surviving the first year! Being a preemie mom was a challenge and brought with it it’s own set of hurdles, such as pumping, learning the language of the NICU, and even trying to find clothes to fit my 3 pound baby! I think one of my biggest hurdles in the past year, other than preemie issues, was learning to trust my own instincts. Being a first time mom is hard, and you do not know when something is really wrong; when to take your baby to the doctor, when to let her cry herself to sleep, if she has eaten enough, or if she is warm. Learning to trust your own developing “mommy instincts” is hard, but it comes with time and you build your mommy confidence with every good decision you make.
I have been truly fortunate to have many “best” moments during the first year of Claire’s life. Some of these moments have been very emotional. The day I was able to bring her home from the NICU was one of the happiest days of my life. The first time she smiled my heart melted and the first time I saw her smile up at her dad, my heart melted again. Hearing her say Mama and Dada was music to my ears, as was her first giggle. Some of these moments have also been quite practical, such as the first time I left my house alone with my baby daughter (to get a zucchini from the grocery store), or the first time she slept through the night (bless you Lord!).
Out of these moments, both good and bad, you learn many lessons. Accept help when it is offered. If your mom wants to clean your house, say okay. If your best friend wants to fill your freezer with homemade goodies, thank her. If your mother-in-law offers to do your laundry, let her. It is the help from others that allows you to retain a small part of your sanity during the first few weeks after birth. Find a friend or a group with whom you can relate. Get involved with a Y, or Early Years Centre, or something. This helps immensely when you need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to bounce an idea off of, or a friend with whom you can enjoy stroller walks in the park. My friend Jill and I both had preemies and met in the NICU and we now touch base, if not get together everyday. You will have great days, but you will have tough days too....and with a friend you can embrace all days together! “Expect the unexpected”. Be flexible, and be able to change your schedule daily of needed. I quickly learned to let the heap of laundry grow and not feel stressed; that dinner at 8pm was still dinner, and that bathtime could happen again in the morning if Claire’s diaper dictated that way:)
Despite our best efforts to keep Claire’s first birthday low-key, we are having many celebrations for her. Her daddy and I will enjoy seeing her mash her face into a giant cupcake on the actual day of her birthday. Then, her grandparents from BC are coming for a birthday visit, and her other grandparents are celebrating with her the following weekend. Finally, we are having a special little party for her baby friends, on her “should have been birthday”, my original due date in March.
In the next year, I am looking forward to watching Claire grow, and develop, and learn new things. I look forward to watching her make new friends at daycare, and teaching her how to walk and use the potty. I look forward to seeing her discover her world and master new challenges.
Happy 1st “parent-versary” to my fabulous husband who is an amazing daddy. And Happy 1st Birthday to my special valentine, Claire Nicole. We love you more than anything, our little kangaroo!! XO
Happy Birthday Claire!! You are absolutly amazing!