Okay, so Tupac’s lyrics aren’t really about babies, but yes, in the first year all you see is changes.
My motherhood blog series abruptly ended at the end of the first three months. My apologies to all loyal readers. I had good intentions of writing sequences close to each other, also as a way to remember E in each stage of the game. It seems impossible, but you really do forget those nuances of each month and stage, even though those nuances seem to dominate your life while they last.
Also, there’s sleep deprivation and the challenge of having a little person taking up brain space at all times.
E is now fourteen months, and quickly leaving babyhood behind. As I sit down to reflect on her babyhood, here are some points of interest which stick out, despite the sleep deprivation and short-term memory loss.
You’re probably noticing that your little person is becoming a lot of fun. In fact, it seems as though your baby has always been this fun and part of you might even wonder at the love you had for the floppy, sleepy newborn who seems such a different person than this baby that smiles at you, laughs at you, and generally seems to think you make the sun rise. It also probably helps that you’re sleeping better. At the end of this stage, your baby may even be able to sit and play with toys (heaven, since the kid can’t crawl around yet) and you’re tempted to think ‘nothing can be better than a six month old baby.’ Especially when they discover their toes. Oh, those curly feet and bendable legs! Is there anything better? Well, the next stage is really great too.
My tip for this stage: don’t get too stuck on milestones. There’s a part of me who wants to GI Jane Estella if I feel like she’s lagging behind in an area of development: tummy time, creeping, crawling, walking, etc. I’ve worked hard to just relax and enjoy. There is something to noticing your child’s development and interacting with them, enjoying their phase and encouraging the next, but if you tend to be a perfectionistic worrier like me, stop googling and reading and asking other mothers nonstop questions and just enjoy the current phase. Your baby, unless something is amiss, will get to the next phase soon enough, even though their current phase seems to last f o r e v e r.
One last thing. Controversial of course, but I will mention that a game-changer for us is that we did sleep training. Two horrible nights around five months. It was one of the best things we’ve ever done. Estella was happier. We were happier. Our family was happier. She’s been a good sleeper ever since, and I don’t think it hurt our bond in the least. If anything, I would say the bond improved.
Fun. Fun. Fun. Enjoy every minute. Your sitter will become a creeper. Your creeper a crawler. Your crawler a stander. And for some of you, your stander a walker. There are teeth things that happen at this stage of the game. I think E’s pretty tough, so we didn’t have horrible nights or anything. And for E, this is when the fun words and noises started coming. So much interaction! So much joy! So much curiosity!
My tip: invite a child over a few months older than your own baby and supervise him or her at play (probably with the help of his own mother or father). See what toys seems interesting, what off-limits things are tempting, and some possible dangers for a child a bit older than your own. It’s a good peek into what’s to come. It also helps if the child’s temperament is a bit like your own child’s. Ie. Estella has a boy cousin who is veeeeeery laid back. He’s pretty content to sit in one area and play. Estella is a curious one, always on the move. She has an older friend, Lisa, who is a bit like her and a few months older. It’s been so interesting to watch Lisa in our house and imagine Estella in a few months doing the same things.
You’ve made it through the first year! Sure, go ahead and throw the baby a party, but throw yourselves one too! All of your long nights and anxious days have paid off! Your baby has survived and you have too!
We kept our party small: family and one small friend (and her parents) were invited. We stashed most of the toys away for later, and for a few weeks E was happy to play with a balloon the neighbours gave her. I’ll be slowly pulling the toys and clothes out throughout the year. We were careful to schedule the party around her nap time, so guests were gone in enough time to get her quiet and relaxed and take a much-needed nap.
My tip: love on yourselves. I wrote Frans a card congratulating him on his first year as a father (his love language is words), and treated myself to a day of bike riding and coffee and shopping while E was at the creche.
By the milestone of 12 months, you realise that things are passing by quite faster than you thought possible, and you’re surprised by the amount of love that’s still growing for this little person entrusted to you. I asked my own mom about that love. You love your little newborn, your little cooer, crawler, one year old, and the love seems to grow along with the child. “When does it stop?” I asked my mom. She smiled knowingly. “Never.”