There are a few moments in the first year of motherhood that really stick out. I call these “game changers.” They mark watershed events in the parenting journey, moments after which nothing is ever the same. Kind of like when you first logged into Facebook, or first squeezed what your momma gave you into a pair of Spanx. Gamechangers. As my twin boys turn 1, I am looking back on what those moments were for me.
PASSING A YAWN TO THEM
I know it seems simple, but that’s when it hit me: These babies are real people. We were breathing the same air now – after months of sharing the same blood, nutrients, and day-to-day experiences – and sharing the same yawns, too.
SMILING ON PURPOSE
It’s a big one for a lot of moms and dads – the coveted first smile! My boys gave lots of smiles early on, and they were usually accompanied with a fragrant “hello!!” But something behind the smile – the “I know you!” or “hey, that’s a silly face!” or “do it again!” – is a real heart melter. They don’t just need you; they want you!
NO MORE PUMPING
What at first provided my boys with the good stuff soon came to represent another thing on my to-do list I wasn’t accomplishing. The two hours between pumping seemed like seconds, and I spent so much time on my recliner feeling like Bessie the Cow that I hardly had any energy to actually nurse. Once I decided to ditch the pump, I had more time and appreciation for breastfeeding my boys. I learned to love it again.
WEARING REAL CLOTHES AGAIN
I’ll never forget that first zip . . . zip . . . suck in . . . button. Forget what size the pants were, they were on. And fastened. I was on my way!
With our pediatrician’s suggestion, we began feeding the boys baby food at four months. Their little smiling faces were so happy to be covered in a pear-zucchini-beef-sweet potato-banana glaze, and I would think “Gah, they look like such big boys.” (And then quickly, “Please don’t wipe your face! Oh no, OK well now just don’t rub it all in your hair! Um, OK well looks like its bath time!”) Soon their pincher-grasping was applauded like it was their college graduation, and their little hands helping me hold the spoon used to shovel the cottage cheese into their mouths (mostly) was certainly worthy of countless videos, photos, and play-by-play emails to friends and family. Few moments have ever given me such pride in my babies, or made my heart ache at how fast they were growing up.
UMBRELLA STROLLERS/DOUBLE SEATER GROCERY CARTS
I’d like to take a moment to toast the inventor of these gamechanging contraptions – whoever she is. The umbrella stroller changed what used to be a cumbersome, sweaty, anxiety-inducing chore into something I could do with one hand while holding a baby. Hardly any sweat at all! So long, 20-feet-turn radius of old bulky double stroller, and hello whizzing around the mall, zoo, and park with ease. And those magical double seater grocery carts allowed me to finally take both of the boys out on my own and have enough room in the carseat-less cart to stock up on all of the things I needed. Being outdoors more, seeing the world and people around them, and getting their hands on everything made for some happy boys, which in turn, made for a happy momma.
There is something about Christmas, steeped in tradition and love, that cemented the bonds of our new little family like nothing before. We were the parents now, doing for our children all of the things our parents did for us to make Christmas such a wonderful time of year. We kept old and made new traditions, we made late night secret trips to Toys ‘R’ Us, we spent the whole day in our PJs covered in wrapping paper and joy. It made me fall even more in love with my new family.
MOVING OUT OF THEIR ROOM
This was a big day. I coslept with my boys for 6 months – as long as I was nursing. I wouldn’t trade those sleepless nights for the world. It was me and them, figuring out this whole new gig together. When they had the hang of sleeping through the night (ish), it was time for me to go back to my own room . . . to my sweet, understanding, sheet-stealing husband. And late night TV! I had some “me” time again, some time where no one needed anything from me. It was a blessing.
If you would have told me when I first had the boys that I should take a trip, I would have rolled my eyes and told you something along the lines of “There’s no way I could do that; I mean who would be able to .” Fill in the blank with just about any aspect of the boys’ day. In addition to feeling like no one could possibly make a bottle like I could, I honestly didn’t think that I had a weekend away in me. That old me – the one who was carefree, silly, lighthearted, and could walk in high heels, felt long gone. Well let me tell you, it only took about 20 minutes in Las Vegas with some amazing college girlfriends to prove me wrong. She was back – this time with even better luck at slot machines! I also realized that I have a very capable husband and family around me that can and want to help.
Yep. That postpartum depression and anxiety got me good. With the help of a doctor who really listened and medication, I was able to hit the reset button. I emerged a better mom, partner, and person once I was able to slow down, take a look at how I could delegate more, lower my super high expectations for myself, and just breathe. Moms, if you are finding your load too much to bear – even if you have all the help in the world and love your sweet babies more than anything – talk to someone. Take care of yourself. It can be a real gamechanger.
So moms, what were your gamechangers in that crazy first year?