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My daughter is one year old. I cannot believe that a year has gone by since the day of her birth! Thinking back to her birth doesn’t fill me with great memories, besides having my wonderful daughter of course. Anyway, the last year has been full of ups and downs.
Life is like that isn’t it! Gives with one hand and takes away with another. This is my experience of my first year as a parent.
My first year as a parent
I’m going to talk about a number of the highs and lows that I’ve found in the past year. Obviously I’m thrilled to be blessed with my beautiful daughter.
We suffered from infertility for 7 years beforehand and we had fertility treatment to conceive Daisy. This made me even more aware of how lucky we are to have a healthy (ish) baby daughter!
Oh, the tiredness!
Let me just get this out of the way.. I’m always tired! Every parent to a small baby is. Whether you are juggling home life, working, parenting and everything else or you can dedicate your entire day to baby you’ll be tired. Fact. You WILL have nights that your little one keeps you awake for hours.
There are nights where my daughter wakes up more than 10 times. For no apparent reason. Being small is a little scary at times I’m sure.
The first few months of tiredness were the worst really. Daisy suffers from reflux, and FPIES, among other things. This means that there were so many nights where she would wake up projectile vomiting. Once her movement alarm was activated and I woke with a start thinking that she had died.
She was unable to breathe and it was utterly terrifying. This was my single worst moment as a parent I think. Well, if you ignore us almost both dying on her first day on earth!
So much tiredness!
At times I was so tired that I actually hallucinated. I once fell asleep sitting on the toilet (I was only having a wee!). Another time I fell asleep leaning against my daughter’s cot. It happens. It isn’t unusual in any way to be this tired. Guess what though… things have got better!
We have a great bedtime routine and my daughter sleeps through most nights now. There are still random wake ups, and wake ups with a poop in the night.
However, we get lots of nights to relax as a couple. We also get lots of time to sleep. I don’t use this time of course. How else would I write posts like this (drafted at 10pm on a Monday!) or get any cleaning done.
I’ve done some really stupid things when tired. That time I cooked dinner without the oven going on was one of them. At times I’ve found the tiredness and mental fog really frustrating. This is possible made worse given I have fibromyalgia too.
I do try and laugh though. Although the time I walked down the 48 stairs with Daisy, and her pram, only to find I had no shoes on, was a pretty low point!
Sometimes you just have to laugh! Life can be a bit rubbish at times. It might be something so tiny that finally ruins your day. Or it might be something huge. Nothing is insignificant when you’re exhausted!
My first thoughts about the birth
This was a big part of my first year as a parent of course! I had an emergency c-section for my daughter to be born. The days leading up to her birth were filled with worry about her survival. Then during the birth itself there were worries about my own survival.
Looking back now I feel that most of the sadness surrounding the birth has gone. I’m grateful that we are both here and this is good enough for me!
My lovely husband has been affected by watching me in theatre and then being asked to leave with our daughter while they worked on me. However, we are alive…
The NHS is quite amazing really at times. I don’t think it does you well to dwell too much, however, there are moments I think back and feel emotional. Just moments though!
The physical recover was hard
Recovering physically from the birth was harder than recovering emotionally really. I had a c-section so there was the pain from that and then I had some work afterwards to help me.
This meant that I had a painful chest among other things and it took me months to get back on track. I overdid it in those first few months.
I lifted my daughter’s pram up and down the stairs to our flat (48 of them!). Also I worked down our allotment a lot. With our next baby (if we have one) I’ll be sure to rest more.
I felt like I was invincible after having a beautiful daughter and I made a few mistakes along the way. I’m 11 months in now and able to return back to exercise finally, I’m seeing a physio and I’m doing well.
We have tried to settle into a routine
Really this changes month to month. At the moment we have a fantastic routine. There have been other times that I have thought we’d got it nailed too.
However, as the weeks go on and my daughter changes so does the routine. Nap times and durations changes. Bottles change. The amount of milk she requires changes.
We have more meal times to consider. Basically just as we get it together, or feel like we have, it changes again! I try to just take each day as it comes really. I never put too much pressure on our family life. If we are having a stressful day so be it. Work can wait. Housework can wait (mostly).
We have had a change in priorities
Just as life has changed so have our priorities. I don’t have much time to socialise with friends at the moment. The few close friends that we have seem to be understanding of this.
There have been a few comments about not seeing us much but I know that isn’t a dig. It is just our friends way of letting us know that they are still there.
We are getting better at making time for ourselves and others now. My lovely Mum looks after my daughter a few times a month. This gives us a nice break and means we have time for the other important people in our lives too.
It it absolutely fine to have a change in priorities. Having a baby is a life changing experience. People who have had babies before will usually remember this.
People who haven’t may not. However, if they are true friends they’ll still be there when you get back to having more time and energy! I just don’t have the mental energy much to care now when someone is easily offended by a flippant comment someone has made. Life is too short – am I right?! It feels it sometimes anyway.
Having to deal with a poorly baby
This is a horrible time for any parent. In my first year as a parent my daughter has been ill numerous times. When she was just a few weeks old she was admitted to hospital.
This was a scary time but it also got her help for what I knew were health problems. As well as the choking incident I mention above Daisy has suffered from allergies and reflux.
At times it has felt like a minefield cooking for my daughter, feeding her, giving her medication or just being with her. However, we have worked hard to ensure that she is well cared for and she is doing really well now. Sometimes you just have to accept that your child isn’t 100% healthy and then you can focus your energies on helping, instead of feeling sad.
Knowing that others struggle too
For me I found that I felt overwhelmed a lot during my first year as a parent. That feeling of caring for a tiny person is really overwhelming. It brings an intense rush of love when you hold your child for the first time. This never dies and just grows stronger and stronger.
What has helped me cope with the challenges of having a poorly child is knowing that I am not alone. I joined a few Facebook groups related to weaning a baby with CMPA.
These made it clear that the problems I was facing were normal. Once I knew this I felt much better about my abilities as a parent. I know that I am doing the best that I can for my daughter. This makes me feel pride, happiness and I just have this overwhelming feeling that I'm doing really well.
I've learned to be kinder to others
I'm known for being blunt. My friends know that I am brutally honest. I will 'tell it like it is'. Often I don't sugarcoat it. Now I'm trying to sugarcoat things more. Yes it is fine to share your opinion on others in life but sometimes it isn't necessary.
I've disassociated with people that make me feel negative about myself. I'm trying to surround myself, particularly online, with positive people.
This makes me feel more positive, happier and leads to greater motivation to succeed in my work. This in turn leads to me feeling happier and more positive again. It is a big positive circle for me and I'm really enjoying being more helpful, kinder and doing random acts of kindness too.
I haven't changed completely
I'm still blunt, when needed, and if someone truly wants an honest opinion I'll give it. Often people say that they want an honest opinion but they don't. At these times I sugarcoat my own opinion a little.
I don't lie but I might not express all of my opinion if I know it will hurt someone else.
I've learned to be kinder to others because I've been emotionally fragile for part of my first year as a parent. The hormones from having a baby can be intense. Couple this with almost dying and then my own Father passing away and the months haven't been the kindest.
The overwhelming happiness
Sometimes now my lovely husband will ask me why I am smiling. It might be something huge, like my daughter learning to stand unaided, or it might be something disgusting, like the time she pooped on my hand.
Whatever it is that is making me smile it is usually coupled with gratefulness. I feel really grateful. I almost died last year. My daughter almost died. We are here, we are alive. We are fortunate.
There are so many people that suffer different outcomes to ours. I know people struggling to start a family, those dealing with illness and those who have lost a child.
I'm really aware of how lucky we are to have our daughter. She took so many years to arrive that the happiness I feel is just so overwhelming at times. I've had moments where I can't believe that I have a daughter. Even now I feel like I could pinch myself.
It is ok to have a break from my daughter
When my daughter was about two months ago I just needed a break. This seems to be earlier than a lot of friends would let someone have their child for a few hours. I don't care.
I was exhausted, I had lots of admin to catch up on and I just needed a break. My daughter used to cry relentlessly. I thought this was normal.
However, when I returned to collect her after a few hours my own Mum, who has had four children, was relieved to see me.
Allowing people to look after my daughter for the day gave them a different perspective on how much she really cried. Or what I actually meant when I said projectile vomit.
This was another experience that helped me realise that was unwell, and a little different to what you'd expect from a healthy baby. My daughter never had that time during the early months of sleeping constantly.
Sleep lasted for maybe 20-30 minutes, occasionally an hour. Daisy was in agony constantly and it was awful. However it did get better! Just as other people said it would!
My husband is my rock
I already knew this really, as we've had our share of ups and downs. However, in the days and weeks after my daughter's birth this was confirmed.
My husband is a truly wonderful Father and has been since day one. When I came out of theatre there they were, my family, waiting for me. It was the most amazing moment of my life!
Seeing my husband holding our beautiful daughter was so special.
While I recovered from my c-section Thomas was incredible. He rarely moaned, despite being exhausted too. In our first year as a parent he has changed considerably and I don't just mean the beard that he has grown! He is kind, caring, giving and considerate. He pulls his weight at home.
I see him sitting with our daughter for hours. When she used to cry throughout the night he would research new products and remedies online. He was the one who pushed at hospital for our daughter to receive an ultrasound and treatment for her medical problems.
He's great and I don't always say that! I'm a lucky woman. He's lucky too - I'm sure he knows it! After all I do most of the cooking.. he's got to be nice!
We have survived!
We've managed to get through the first year with Daisy without a divorce. We've also not argued over who is the most tired - I'll take that as a win for us!
The first year as a parent has been really hard. My husband works 12 hour shifts so he needs sleep. I work full-time too so I also need sleep.
We've had to be kind to one another. We've had to be considerate. Yes we've had days with both been miserable sods but we've still been miserable together. Our relationship is stronger than ever now.
So, my first year as a parent... Summed up in one sentence
Tiring, worrying, filled with sick and poop but amazing, incredible and happy!