The parenthood journey

What a difference a year makes.  What a huge difference two years make!  Being the sap that I am (and the mother that I am), this week I am reflecting on these things because my child turns 2 on Sunday.  Seriously?  Wasn’t she just a tiny newborn?  Now she’s a feisty, talkative toddler with her own agenda.  But, then again, she sleeps through the night.

My newborn baby girl getting ready to head home from the hospital.

Two years ago today, I was anxiously waiting for her arrival.  I wasn’t sure when it was going to be or really what I was in for.  I was a day away from finding out that I’d be induced on Oct. 1 at 6 a.m.  As you’re realizing that I just told you her birthday is Sunday, which is Oct. 2, that might give you an idea of the hard work it took to get her here.  However, I daresay that was the easy part.

The next week was the hardest of my life.  Nobody really tells you that.  Well, they try.  And they tell you that you don’t know what you’re in for.  And you (or at least I) would get irritated by that.  Of course I knew what I was in for and how hard it would be.  But, I didn’t.  Nobody and nothing can prepare you for motherhood and those first couple of weeks.  That, of course, makes you a bit irked when you realize that everyone who was so annoying was also so right.  It’s part of the cycle, I think.

Lexiana’s first week was hard.  She was jaundiced, so we were going daily for blood work.  I was breastfeeding, but she was still screaming like she was starving.  We supplemented with some formula.  By the end of the week, thanks to some great help from her pediatrician and our hospital’s lactation consultant, we realized she wasn’t sucking right and not getting much milk.  So, I started exclusively pumping, which brought challenges all its own.  It was a difficult time.

Looking back on it now, just about two years later, I can smile.  And I also find myself getting a bit teary.  I’m almost nostalgic about it.  It was so hard at the time.  We had so little sleep.  She was so not happy.  I had a few other complications from the delivery itself.  I remember sitting upright in a chair in the hospital waiting room as we waited for her blood work and falling asleep.

The thing is I didn’t know all that I was in for.  I didn’t know how hard it would be.  I didn’t know truly how exhausting it would be.  But, I also didn’t know truly how rewarding it would be.  I didn’t know how much fun it would be.  I didn’t know how much love I would feel.  I didn’t know how beautiful she would be.  I didn’t know how much I’d really love being a mom.

My hairdresser asked me in the very early days, “Isn’t it great being a mom?”  I agreed with her, though, inside I disagreed.  It was hard work.  It was exhausting.  I was miserable.  But, now I do completely agree with her.  You have to sort of get out of the fray before you can appreciate some of it.  Of course, you trade one fray for the next.

My little girl at her first birthday party last year.

And then I think about Lexiana a year ago.  She’d done her milestones of learning to roll over, sit up, crawl and stand.  She’d starting babbling and talking a bit.  She was definitely laughing and smiling.  She had just a few teeth.  She had her first cake on her birthday.  She wasn’t happy about getting messy with the icing.  Even then her personality of having things clean and orderly was coming through.

I remember last birthday that I felt much more sad than I do at this one.  Partly, I think my hormones were still adjusting from winding down with pumping.  (I’m very proud to say she had my milk until just past her first birthday!)  And partly, I realized that I was losing my baby.  She was turning into a toddler.

Somehow this birthday, though I’m still nostalgic, I’m not quite as weepy.  I think it’s because this year has been so great.  Lexiana started walking right after her birthday.  Now she is running around fully solid on her feet.  And she started talking — a lot.  I have quite the verbal kiddo.  She was literally talking in sentences by 21 months.  And holy cow!  It’s been so fun!  Just to hear what goes on inside her head.  She’s so funny.  She makes me laugh.  She has a great imagination.  Last night she turned a cardboard box into a boat. She pulled her stuffed unicorn in with her and informed me that he was driving the boat.  She’s also very big into pretending to feed us imaginary food or give us imaginary items like flowers and money.  At dinner, she pretended to take a “holler” and put it in her mouth so she could talk loudly.  She sang the “ABC Song” in a silly voice with her daddy at bed time.

My big girl a couple of weeks ago on a walk through a local garden so I could take her picture.

My kiddo is just that — a kiddo.  She’s not a baby any more.  Of course I miss the baby days, but I’m really enjoying these toddler days.  When I think about how far she’s come in this past year and all she’s learned, I can’t help but look forward to what the next year of her life will hold for us.  I’m excited to see how she’ll grow and change. I’m excited to see even more of her personality emerging.

I know it will bring challenges with it.  This past year had challenges, too.  We are working through her wanting to be and have more independence while also helping her manage things that she just really can’t do on her own.  I’m working on remembering to always be patient.  Love is patient.  We are also continuing to work on potty training.  And that requires a lot of patience.  We’re starting our transition from the crib to a big girl bed.  My child isn’t so fond of change, so that will definitely bring more challenges.

But, there’s something that happens with moms.  I’ve always heard that moms forget the pain of labor and delivery after a while so that they’ll do it again.  And that’s true enough.  If you’d have asked me right after she was born whether we’d have had more kids, I’d have laughed at you.  I might have punched you.  (Hey, I was sleep deprived, overwhelmed and hormonal!)  If you ask me now, I’d tell you maybe.  It’s at least a possibility perhaps.

However, we not only forget the pain, but I think we also have a way to sort of gloss over the hard stuff.   Yes, I remember the challenges of her newborn days.  I remember the challenges of her at six months, nine months, a year and beyond.  They are not gone from my mind, but I remember more the good times.  I remember the first smile, the first giggle, the first bites of food, the first words, the first steps, the first hug back — all of the stuff that makes the hard work of parenting worth it.  And so it will be when we get through our current challenges.  I’ll remember them, but they’ll be overshadowed by all the good stuff.

And that’s what makes this parenthood journey worth it.  That’s part of what keeps me going from one day to the next.  I’m looking forward to this next year with my child.  I’m looking forward to seeing the girl that she’s becoming.  I’m looking forward to the lessons I’ll learn.  In a way, I’m even looking forward to the challenges because that means she’s growing and learning, just like she should be.

In the meantime, this week I’ll organize my house, wrap her birthday gifts and make a reminder to pick up her cake on Saturday so we can celebrate the beautiful girl that she is today.  I don’t want to miss a minute!

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