Things I’ve Learned in the First Year

August 19, 2010 at 10:34 am (Announcements, Attitudes, Mommy-isms) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

That’s right.  Elijah turned a year old at the beginning of this month.  It’s hard to believe.  Nathaniel and I have been so blessed by this little gift from the Lord.  I feel as though I have grown up faster in the past year than in any other year of my life so far!  And we have been delighted to watch Elijah grow up to become an energetic little boy who is about to take off running (once he figures out walking for more than 5 or 10 steps at a time).

I really have learned a TON in this past year.  Some lessons have been delightful and funny.  Others have been very difficult and perspective-changing.  All in all, I am beginning to see how God uses little people to make us adults more like Christ.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Parenting is a lot harder than I thought!
  • Babies need lots of attention.  And lots of love.
  • My mood affects my son.  If I have a bad attitude, his behavior will reflect it.
  • Likewise, if I am inconsistent in training him, his behavior will reflect it.
  • When friends (seasoned mothers) tell you to cherish every moment with a newborn, because the time will fly by, they’re absolutely right.
  • Resting is a major responsibility of a woman who has just had a baby.
  • Maternal illness does seem to affect the bonding experience with baby.  😦  Especially when the mother’s illness prevents her from holding her baby comfortably, or from even changing his diaper.
  • God doesn’t give us babies for us—as though they exist to fulfill us emotionally or to complete our checklist “What I need to do and/or have to be a godly woman”.  God gives us babies to love and train in His ways, and to show us that we need much more training in His ways as well.  He gives us children so that we will be made more like Jesus.  And so that we can train them to love and be like Jesus.
  • Most baby toys are overrated.  A nine month old will be very happy with paper, an empty raisin can, and a joyful mama.
  • Cloth diapering is so much fun!  Really!  It is!
  • Making sure your baby takes regular naps is very important.  When I wasn’t diligent to provide structure and consistent nap times, Elijah wasn’t getting the sleep he needed and it affected him.
  • Nursing a baby for the entire first year really is a hard milestone to reach.  I wanted to give up so many times!  A supportive husband makes a big difference!
  • Once you hit the one-year mark and are still nursing and your pre-toddler becomes less and less interested and you can see that your nursing relationship may not last much longer…you wonder why you ever thought of giving up early.
  • But once your one-year-old gets sick for the first time and you get to nurse him almost twice as much as usual that day, you think that maybe we can make it to two years… (OK, so I learned that this week, not technically within the first year…can we call that a bonus lesson?)
  • Making your own baby food is not that big of a deal.
  • Getting outside each day is so so important.  The sun, the rain, the heat, the cold…all gifts from God in His time.  All to be enjoyed and shared with a baby.  (Going out in severe weather not recommended.)
  • There is much more involved in training and caring for a young infant than getting them to sleep through the night.  Seriously.  Try to avoid having the tunnel vision that I did.
  • If you didn’t have any “motherly instincts” before having a baby, you may not have too many of them once baby arrives.  SPEND TIME WITH BABIES BEFORE YOURS COMES ALONG!!!  I had almost no baby experience at all.  Praise the Lord we’ve survived!
  • To Train Up a Child is a very good book.  One I think I will be reading often over the next 20 years or so.
  • Kisses from a baby are about the sweetest things ever.
  • Infant potty training works.  It goes really well until you have a pre-toddler.  Then it all goes down the drain.  (At least we’re at an impasse right now…)  Puns intended.
  • Laziness and motherhood do not go together.  Don’t even try it.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding as a form of birth control does not work for everyone.  Not even for a month.
  • My husband is an amazing man.  I knew this already, but I get to see it in so many more ways now that he is a papa—and husband to a scatter-brained mama.
  • Natural childbirth is hard but good.  Wouldn’t do it any other way, as the Lord allows.
  • Vaccinating in the first year wasn’t necessary for Elijah.  No vaccines yet.  No sickness yet (until a stomach bug this week…then again, it may have been that I mixed asparagus in with his re-fried beans…).  I’m going to guess that breastfeeding is better than any vaccine.  (We may consider some vaccines in the future.  But we are very happy to have held off for the first year.)
  • When the doctor expresses concern over something, don’t panic.  Especially if the area of concern is something you lived through (very small baby according to weight gain charts, heart murmur, etc).  Ask questions.  Ask lots of questions.  And don’t worry—trust the Lord.  Most tests come back negative.  And many doctors who know you have insurance don’t hesitate to recommend testing any little deviance from “normal” or “average”.  Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t a liability issue.  Just ask lots of questions.
  • It would be nice to have had a good understanding of health insurance and/or cost of procedures and services before having a baby.
  • Elijah is a little boy.  He is all-boy.  He loves things on wheels, throwing things, banging things, rough housing with his Papa, making noises, army crawling, climbing, chasing…but he is still a baby, still needs to be held and nursed and soothed when he’s hurt.  I love the mix of independence and dependence.  So sweet.
  • Elijah was fully capable of understanding and disregarding our basic instruction “No” by 8 months old.  And he has been testing us to see if we really mean it ever since.  😉  Babies are clever.
  • Having someone (a sister-in-law, perhaps) to stay with you and help you around the house during the first week or two after giving birth is absolutely invaluable!  And especially while you are waiting for the drugs to kick in to bring your auto-immune disease under control so that you can actually function.
  • Rice cereal may not be the best first food for baby.  Elijah apparently could have used something with a lot more calories!
  • Boppy pillows are great.
  • You don’t need a crib or a changing table.  A pack-n-play that you got for $40 at a garage sale (thank You, Lord!) will do just fine—and it can be moved easily.
  • Hand-me-downs and second-hand are the way to go for baby clothes.  Of course, when you’re given new clothes, that is perfectly acceptable, too.
  • Elijah was 7 lbs. 9 oz. when he was born.  He is 18 lbs. 9 oz. at one year.  Not all babies triple their birth weight by one year.  And just because they don’t doesn’t mean they are unhealthy.  Guidelines are only suggested norms.  They do not take into account that every baby is different.  My little guy is little, but he is very healthy.  Looking at his parents, we shouldn’t expect him to be big!
  • I am way more disciplined and diligent now that I have a baby.  I wish I had been this productive before he came along!  Imagine what I could have accomplished!
  • I have no idea how working moms manage.  No idea.
  • I’ve had many moments where I feel as though I really love my son for the first time.  It just grows…
  • It’s difficult to accept a debilitating illness as a blessing from the Lord.  Especially when it seems to taint what is supposed to be one of the most incredible moments of your life.  But God is calling me to trust Him.  I know I did not have the right attitude when we found out I had gestational pemphigoid.  And I honestly don’t know that I ever really had the right attitude.  I of course pray that it will not return in future pregnancies (though that is likely to happen), but I can see now that the Lord had a purpose in it, and He may still be seeking to accomplish that purpose with the same tool in the future.  And I will desperately need His grace, His word, His love, His Spirit to endure whatever trials may come and to entrust myself to the faithful Creator in doing what is right–indeed He does all things well!

Any other young moms out there?  What has the Lord been teaching you?

*Any opinions shared on medical issues (vaccines, testing, etc) are not intended to tell you what you ought to do.  They are simply my own musings over my own experience (as is most of this list).  Use your best judgment to care for your own baby.

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New Life, New Experiences

January 26, 2009 at 11:27 am (A Slice of Life, Articles, Attitudes) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

42-16297736People like to say that having a baby will change your life.  I believe it-because I haven’t had the baby yet and it’s already changed my life!  To enlighten you, I’ll just list some of the things that I can’t do now that I’m pregnant (13 weeks pregnant, to be precise):

  • I can’t drink anything with caffeine in it (they say a little caffeine won’t hurt, but a little is all I could ever handle in the first place, so I cut it out).  No coffee drinks, no Dr. Pepper…
  • I can’t run-I’d gotten up to running 10 miles a week when I got pregnant, and I could have kept up with that if morning sickness didn’t hit so hard…
  • I can’t enjoy food like I used to-anything could make me hurl!
  • I can’t do sit ups-I still don’t completely understand this one.
  • I can’t quickly pick up a three year old and lift him up over my head-I tried this on Sunday…pulled some delicate muscles or ligaments in my tummy.
  • I can’t walk into my kitchen without bracing myself for the awful smell of last night’s dinner, which can make me gag.  I’ve been using Vitamin C drops or throat lozenges to taste and smell something other than the old food odors my overly-sensitive nose now picks up on.
  • I can’t make it through the day without getting about 12 hours of sleep at night and 1-2 hours of nap time.  I’m exhausted!
  • I can’t get nearly as much done as I used to-because of less waking hours, all-day “morning” sickness, and lack of energy.
  • I already can’t fit into half of my clothes!

Sounds like fun doesn’t it?  Actually, I’m having a blast.  What I’ve listed above is only half the story.  And it fades in comparison with the joy and excitement that God is knitting together a little baby inside me!  Those things I listed are all things I can’t do, but this article is really about my new experiences with a new life inside, remember?  Here are some of the beautiful things I’ve gotten to do and learn as a result of God’s gift:

  • I’ve gotten to watch from the outside as my body totally rearranges to accommodate my child-God is transforming me into a baby factory!  It really is amazing.  Some new hormones take over and prepare me for carrying and nurturing our baby, as well as for breast feeding when the baby arrives!  I’ve not gained any weight yet, but I sure have grown-my waist is disappearing and my belly has gotten 3 inches bigger already!  I marvel at the fact that for the first time in my life, I’m excited to see my waistline grow!
  • I’ve gotten to see what’s taking place on the inside, too.  Ultrasound technology is pretty cool-we got to see our baby at 8 weeks, and even see its little heart beating!  For my 12 week check up we got another ultrasound, and the baby has grown to be about four times bigger than it was a month ago!
  • I’ve started to swim with a neighbor friend at a local gym.  This has been a fun, new kind of exercise for me-and it’s supposed to be great for my body and the baby!  Plus, my neighbor is pregnant, too, so we’ve gotten to know each other a lot better because of our common situation.
  • I’m learning patience and trust in the Lord because of the “gift” of morning sickness.  Feeling run over and queasy all day every day isn’t my goal in life.  But God has been good to give me precious time in fellowship with Him.  I’m learning to accept the “inconveniences” of pregnancy as gifts from His hand to develop my character-my all-wise Father knows I need it!  And I can rejoice that the very fact that I’ve been sick is an indicator that I have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Getting away from poor eating habits has been a blessing.  Despite feeling sick, I know I’m healthier than before because I’ve made changes in my diet to make sure that my baby is getting good nutrition and not a bunch of junk.
  • I’ve been richly blessed by family members and other godly women who are pouring out on me a wealth of wisdom and love, sharing their stories and how their children were worth every bit of discomfort during pregnancy!  I’m starting to fully experience Titus 2, with older women encouraging me to love my husband and my baby.
  • Having less clothes to choose from in my closet has actually made it easier to pick out something to wear!
  • Our world considers me a Mommy-to-be, with some tissue growing inside that will eventually (if allowed to be born) become a baby.  But the truth is so much more beautiful than that.  Nathaniel has pointed out to me that I’m a Mommy already-I’m already working hard to care for our baby.  And we know from God’s word that our heavenly Father already knows the days that are ordained for our child, that He Himself is forming and nurturing our baby inside of me!  All of the little details of appearance and personality have already been decided and are fully known by our God.  Far from “tissue” or merely a “fetus”, this child inside of me is a new being-a person made in the image of God, whom He loves very much.  🙂

It’s sobering to think of the new responsibilities that come with parenting.  I know we’ll need God’s grace every step of the way!  But it’s a joy to know that we are parents now, taking care of this little one as best we can until we can finally hold our baby in our arms for the first time!  So I guess this season of life is training ground for the years of in-person (hmm…or more literally, out of person!) parenting to come!

We praise God for this gift of new life!

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