Lessons Learned in the First Year of Motherhood :: Coping, Adjusting, and Accepting

As my first year of motherhood is about to wrap up, I find myself reflecting on the most beautiful and productive year I’ve ever had. It was hard, it was eye-opening, and it was renewing. I have and still do kick myself for being so mentally ill-prepared. I neglected the fact that I was about to embark on the hardest thing I will ever do:: raise a child. They say {whoever ‘they’ are} that every journey is different, and I have never believed that more. Hopefully, my reflection can give new and soon-to-be mothers a light at the end of the tunnel or simply another perspective on new motherhood.

Although I don’t encourage going into parenthood with only one eye open, it seemed to somehow work out for me as it does for everyone. If this ends up being the only piece you have time to read because finding an artist to paint mountains in the nursery is more important {guilty} then so be it. Ultimately, I have have found more of myself. When my son arrived, it were as if he held some additional pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is his mother and everyday he gave me a piece. It is strange that it took being pushed over the figurative ledge after having a child to find myself. The first year of my baby’s life was exactly that :: my learning how to cope, adjust, and simply accept.

Coping with the Baby Blues

They are real as real can be! They ‘warn’ you during the discharge process and in your discharge papers, but I didn’t listen. I wanted to be home with my baby and eat my mom’s food. About 2 days later, it hit me like a piano that fell from the sky. You know, the scene where the Road Runner lures Wiley Coyote to a spot and a piano falls on him? Like that. Just like every human, I have felt sadness before so I assumed it would be like that. Nope. For me, it was an unexplainable wave of sadness happening every day at 5pm. At first I refused to accept it. I pushed it further back and tried to ignore it. I was so naïve and stupid in thinking it only happened to mothers in ‘bad situations’ with ‘unwanted babies’.

My new favorite pastime is making fun of my husband, but he amazed me as a partner and deserves lots of credit during this time. He was the one who remembered the paragraph about the baby blues in the discharge papers and he encouraged me to talk to him whether it made sense or not. Just saying it out loud to someone helped me cope with it.

Adjusting Cleaning and Sleeping Schedules

This one is so obvious that I chuckle at the fact that I can’t believe this was something I had to learn. I have always been a night owl. Pre-baby, no problem. I could sleep at 1am and wake up at 6am. I would open my windows and a deer would come eating berries out of my hand and the birds tied my hair up with a ribbon every morning. Not really, but I was a really good morning person. So I thought, This is going to be great! I barely need sleep anyway. I will clean and do whateeeveerrr while the baby sleeps. Needless to say, that has changed.

My biggest adjustment were my habits. I had to be real with myself here. I wasn’t going to spend hours cleaning anymore. It was spurts of ten minutes or thirty if I was lucky. I packed him in the carrier or he hung off my hip as I loaded laundry or mopped {highly suggest switching to non-toxic cleaning products}. Trashy reality show watching and online shopping time had to be effectively used because I had to close my eyes by 10pm at the latest.

Accepting that Life has Changed Forever

You would expect someone who anticipated her baby’s arrival for six months that this was known {my baby was full-term, I just didn’t know I was pregnant for awhile; that’s how poorly prepared I was}. What I wasn’t prepared for was the elective change. I knew my lifestyle was going to be different, but I didn’t think who I am would change. Surely, I was going to be a fabulous mom because DUH, I’m a fabulous person {cue hair blowing in the wind softly}. At first I questioned myself a lot. I was afraid I was losing who I was. Why did I NOT find joy in steaming my clothes or remember to re-up on my fave pair of strip lashes? WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME????

I had to accept that all that was still inside will eventually come back-or maybe not. I still had a long time to be fabulous but only a small amount of time to sit in the dark kissing his sweet face as he painfully pulled nutrients from my ducts. I have my whole life to fold laundry and clean countertops, but only a finite number of times I could smell stinky infant feet {uhh…why are they so stinky even though I wash them all the time???} or received slobbery baby kisses.

At the end of this year one, I proudly say I have found more of my ‘muchness’. In Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter tells Alice, You’ve lost your muchness and I was terrified to lose that. I was afraid my identity and my ambition was at stake. As time grew on, my explosive need to create a life for him the best I can fueled my ‘muchness’. Being a ‘great’ mother didn’t mean I had to let go of my professional life and continuing being ambitious didn’t mean I was being selfish. This new life challenged me and demanded me to be almost completely different. I no longer had the liberty to care about impressing my father or being the ‘cool kid’ that everyone wanted at their parties. I stopped caring about feeling bad that I didn’t answer a text right away. He matters so much that nothing else mattered and going through this very hard first year, I learned to unapologetically accept my new role of being a mom and being me. 

The one thing that I can tell you {that I believe to be universal in regards to motherhood} is that life only gets better from here. 


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