As my baby takes her first steps

My baby turns one in exactly one week !! And I find myself so emotional and nostalgic about the past year, having your first baby is so so intense on both parents. It changes every single aspect of your life – for the better !!

The first year is full of uncertainty and doubt around every corner, especially if it is your first like with us. The sleepless nights (well that is still there), the constant worrying (okay this is also still ongoing), the doubting (ha okay I will stop now), although I experience all these still on a daily basis, what has improved is my baby blues, my stress is a little less, and most importantly, I have had the privilege to see this little baby turn into a little girl, and that in itself, is reward enough for this roller coaster of a first year of parenting.

My sister once told me that for the first two years you just have to keep them alive, and well, entering toddlerhood, I wish she would have told me that it is not all that easy, they fall, they stumble and they just seem to have a death wish with the things that they attempt to do!

Thinking back, when we first brought her home I couldn’t sleep, mostly because I googled everything before I gave birth, and that made me so so paranoid knowing everything that could go wrong (wow was that exhausting).

It all just made me realize how fleeting motherhood is, I mean, a while year has gone by and sometimes it feels like I haven’t done anything this past year, but then I look at that face and I know I have done sooo much and I am so proud of myself!

So have that party, yes your baby wont remember her first birthday, but its important, for the whole family; to celebrate that first year, because lets face it, we survived !

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Moming

Being a first-time mom is INSANE! No, I am not being dramatic, it really is; I read every book you can think of, felt so prepared for this new little bundle, I was a little bit older (27) and I though I am a little more stable in my life and more mature, so therefore; I can handle this and pass with flying colours.

The reality looked like this;

Breastfeeding

What!?

Living on a farm in South Africa, I had no access to pre-natal classes and mom friends, all the farmers in the area told me that “it comes natural” just relax and don’t stress because your milk will go away (I don’t know about you, but being told not to stress because something bad will happen, in fact, makes me stress).

The day my baby girl was born was exciting and overwhelming, I was a mom, and it was the best feeling in the world, latching didn’t happen the first time, but I was told to just keep at it, and it will get easier.

It did not.

I ended up pumping every two hours; slept for an hour, and then fed her, then pumped again, I was beyond exhausted (I also had a c-section), I was adamant that I will only give my baby breast milk because I was told that this is the ONLY way to do it. I pumped for 7 weeks, while trying to get my baby girl to latch every other day. Then I watched a YouTube video on latching, and wham! She latched, and I felt like the best mom in the world, till this day, this was my proudest moment. All went well for about 3 weeks.

Chaos

Because I pumped form the start, my supply was not as much as I would have hoped for, we managed, but I could see that my supply was dwindling, I went to my doctor and she gave me a pill that makes your milk supply increase, this worked so well for us.

Then the unfortunate happened; the area we live in is prone to political unrest, and protesting in our area started, we would go to town, and could not get back home due to people burning tires in the road, this was so scary while having a 3-week-old in the car. This happened a few times, and as a new mom, hormones flying high, this stressed me out so much, I felt like I am supposed to protect my baby and give her the best life possible and I couldn’t, it felt like everything was out of my control.

As luck would have it (even on those pills) 3 days later my milk supply dried up, just like that, over night.

The guilt that followed was unexpected, I felt like I failed my baby and as a mother, this is the most important thing for a mother; being able to feed her baby, so not being able to do that, brought on so many issues and regrets, the reason for my supply drying up is debatable; whether it was the stress, the pumping, or just a combination of all the above, I will never know.

We ended up giving formula, and I was amazed at how much more relaxed I was, and how content my baby girl was.

 

Hormones

I want to write this part with so much respect, because postpartum depression is so serious and so hard, every mom should take this seriously and seek help in any shape or form you see fit, but talk, don’t be ashamed of it, because I can promise you it happens more often than you think, all women just don’t feel confident enough to speak out about their experiences.

Although I never had postpartum depression; I definitely had a case of the baby blues – it took me roughly 2 months to feel like a person again. I did not feel like myself, I was emotional, irrational, paranoid, sad, lonely and misunderstood. The worst part about it is; I live around people that don’t think this is a thing, that don’t really believe in psychology and what it has to offer.

The good thing is, there are people to help, talk to a psychologist and work through this, for you and for your family, don’t suffer in silence with the hope that it will pass.

Sleeping

Okay so by now sleep deprivation is a term you are well familiar with, and you have even googled it a few times, but that is not the sleep I am talking about; I am talking about your baby’s sleep.

The first few weeks are not that bad (sleep wise) newborns tend so sleep when they should (well some babies anyway), but as the weeks go by; your baby now has difficulty falling asleep. For me, this was the biggest challenge, my baby girl only napped for 30 minutes at a time, and woke frequently at night, we even got a sleeping consultant to help.

The problem with sleeping is that your baby can’t do without it, they need it to grow, to recharge and to be able to interact with the world out there, the moment they don’t get this much needed sleep, they become overtired and overstimulated and this is something every single mom out there knows well – hell.

I have tried everything under the sun, baby wearing, rocking, singing, pacifier, swaddling, co-sleeping, own room, sleep training, block out curtains, white noise, no toys in the cot, sleep routine, routine in general, played with awake times, you get the picture, we tried everything you can think of. Some days we though we won, and then at night everything would just start all over again.

The moment you think you got the handle on this, then they are going through a growth spurt of a leap or teething or well, just a bad day.

Now

Figuring everything out and getting to know your baby takes time, and this is not something you want to hear because you need your life to get easier and to go back to normal or just to feel normal as soon as possible. The reality is, it does take time. My baby girl is 6 months old this week, and I am honestly only getting the hang of this now, I am apart of countless mom-groups, have family that help me, am constantly researching, and it still takes time.

But I can honestly say that it does get easier, I feel more like myself now, our baby girl is easier, and I even think that it might be because I am more relaxed, my hands don’t start sweating the moment I hear her cry, I don’t start panicking if she does something new, I don’t freak out over spit up anymore, and I don’t stress as much to take her somewhere.

In short, I think my hormones have finally balanced out.

Don’t laugh – its real! hormones after giving birth is crazy, I cried so much for no real reason, overreacted about everything (my poor husband), and I was just so stressed out everyday all day. This has since improved a lot, I can now take a breath because I know my baby is okay.

This phase in our lives makes me look forward to the next one, because I know what to expect, I know the ugly side of a lot of things now, and know that everyday is not always amazing and sunshine and roses all over the place like a lot of moms would have you think, but in the end, it is more than worth it; the rewards of being a mom are amazing, it takes over every little part of you and gives back so much more.

To all the newbie moms out there – you hang in there! Don’t let people “mom shame” you for doing anything, and it does get easier!

 

Danger ! Entering Toddler Phase

I honestly thought that my baby was a lot of work before, until recently 🤣

My baby girl is approaching 11 months now , and boy is she busy ! And I mean a good busy , she is learning and taking so much in now , she wants to explore everything and plays with everything BUT her toys 🤣 (and by this I mean the dog food, the plugs, the chargers, my cupboards, the remotes, medicine bottles, you name it) it has taken baby proofing to a whole new level !

Today motherhood just got the better of me , I feel exhausted down to my toes, and everything I need to do after she goes to sleep just feels like too much effort.

I just read online “there is no epidural for motherhood” – how true is that ? No matter how hard the day or situation is, you show up, and you give your child the best you can even when its hard. You wake up the next day and somehow just have the energy to do it all again.

But seriously, having a busy baby/toddler is no joke, I spent most my time closing my bathroom doors and hiding something new she found today, but I would not have it any other way and am so grateful that my baby girl is healthy and happy 🙏🏻

How my marriage and baby has made me less selfish

Before I met my husband, I lived alone for 7 years. 7 years of doing what I wanted when I wanted, I made the food only I like, I watched the shows only I like, I went to bed whenever I like, and I came home whenever I wanted too.

Marriage

After I met my husband, we moved in together quite quickly as we were doing the long-distance thing and we just missed each other way too much; so after only 6 months of dating we moved in together, a month later we got engaged, 8 months after that we got married and a short 3 months after that we were expecting our precious baby girl. To say we moved fast is an understatement, we just both knew the moment we met each other, that this was it, we were soulmates and why wait.

This short amount of time together did not give either of us much time to adapt to one phase before moving on to the next, so you can imagine that a lot of fighting went on through all these big changes in our lives. For me, the biggest challenge was not being alone anymore, or well, at all!

It might sound silly, but I literally had to learn to now take my husband into consideration when I did things, and it just was not as easy as it sounds. At first, I really struggled to put myself second, my dad always calls it the “I Problem” – which is exactly what it was, I just did not know how to put my own needs second and depend on someone else to meet them.

This was a huge challenge for my husband and I; we had to both learn to be with someone else, and to take each other into consideration, I had to “let” someone be there for me, and share the decision making (which was not easy). This was such a learning curve for me, and we really had to work hard at it; to change little habits and to basically change the way we have both been living before we met.

Then came the biggest change of all. . .

The Arrival of our Precious Baby Girl

I though marriage was a big change, boy was I wrong, having a baby is so intense and places so much pressure on any relationship, and yourself. Being less selfish for my child however, was not hard at all, in fact it came naturally.

The first six months after she was born I didn’t really have any clothes or shoes that fit me properly (you know that awkward phase where your maternity clothes are too big, and your pre-pregnancy clothes are too small) and it didn’t bother me one bit. I had a messy mom bun (let’s not kid ourselves, I still rock it most days), no makeup and slippers where the only item in my closet that actually fit my still very swollen feet.

It is not like I decided that I will be less selfish when I have a baby, it just well, happened the moment she was born. Becoming a mother changed me, don’t get me wrong, my personality is still in tact (thank goodness) and I still like the things I used to like before I got pregnant, its just, its hard to put into words; it is like you are looking at this tiny perfect human, that grew inside of you, and was apart of you for the better part of a year, yet you never got to meet until now, you loved him/her before you even met, and that little bundle is still apart of you, depends on you for everything. It is the most intense feeling in the world, the most intense love I have ever felt in my life.

This is the definition of true love. This love fills your heart and leaves no room for a shred of selfishness.

“For you are wonderfully and fearfully made” – Psalm 139:14

Days where everything just seems to go wrong

I should rewrite this headline to “weeks where everything seems to go wrong”!

My week in a nutshell

I know I am not alone on this, this week has been the most intense in so many ways and its only Wednesday; we started of with having to make a unplanned trip to Johannesburg (which is 5 hours way by the way) in order to do bio-metrics for our trip to Australia soon, get there, only to hear that they only have an appointment for my husband and not our baby girl, long story short, we sorted it out after much effort!

We then had to stay over because the trip is just to far for our baby, and did another 500 km’s the next morning, got home to find out our water cooler had leaked in Paige’s room and the carpet was damaged, settled and then we heard that my horse’s foal had sadly passed away – this the day before her new owner was supposed to come and fetch the two of them.

All this in a matter of three very long days, and a baby in-between who is out of routine and teething!

One thing I have noticed is that when I am upset, she is upset, how crazy is that? Today I busted into tears while changing her nappy, and she immediately started crying too, I felt so bad that I stopped and so did she, we forget sometimes that our babies’ sense what we are feeling, or if we are stressed or having a bad day, they feed of us when they are this small.

I am exhausted to say the least, you know when one night’s good sleep does not even make you feel better? That is where I am at that point, so I thought I would write about it as this always help to work through issues and just to feel better, you know, put it all out there. Life just sometimes throws these weeks at us just to make sure we still got it – ha ha

Bouncing Back

Apparently, I do, it is amazing how resilient we all are, somehow the sun always manages to come up the next morning and you look at life with a little more positivism.

I always say that it is fine to have a breakdown or to feel down, own it, you are human, and you can’t always be strong, keeping emotions bottled up is so unhealthy for the mind and the soul. The most important thing is to always get up afterwards, brush yourself off and stare life dead in the eye, and smile!

I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many family and friends that are always willing to lend a hand (or an ear) in difficult situations.

My baby girl must know that her mama needs a break today because she is sleeping so well, and giving her mom a well-deserved break to write 😊

Angelique

 

Developing Your “Mom Self”

There is some fundamental shift once you become a mother, all the “me” issues you used to have disappear into thin air, and you see the world differently than before, this effects every part of you being, your thought process, your relationships, your patience, your priorities, your day to day activities, the way you think, basically everything about you changes.

Don’t get me wrong, my personality is still in there, and I am still me, I am just different, I know how weird that sounds, but for me; I am stronger emotionally; when you become a mom, you have to put your emotions aside sometimes, you cannot have a breakdown right now because you have to feed or bath your baby, so you put it away for later, when later comes you are over it ha ha.

There is just this whole new side of you, and that’s what I call – The Mom Self.

This takes some time to master, as with any new role in your life, practice makes perfect, and this one particularly is so overwhelming and takes some time to get used to.

The day my baby was born, everything was chaotic, so many people, doctors, nurses, and the moment is kind of just too big to fully grasp and take it all in, you and your partner don’t really seem to get the time to chat or to get used to the idea because then grandparents and aunts and uncles pitch up to see the new bundle of joy.

I had a C-Section, so the whole process was just such a shock to my system, I read so many things on the procedure and talked to so many moms that went through it, and yet, it was nothing like I thought it would be, it was so scary being awake (that was the worst part for me) and the adrenaline and the excitement is overwhelming (I use this word a lot, because well, there is no other word for it).

That night I was alone at last in the hospital, they took my baby and looked after her during the night for me to rest after the surgery, the next morning at 5 am, they wheeled her in and left her, I remember thinking oh my word, you can’t just leave her here alone with me, what must I do with her?

The feeling I had was pure panic!

What was I supposed to do with her? I read so many books on what to do, and talked to so many new moms, and yet, in that moment, it all disappeared, and the reality was staring me right in the eyes! I was a mom, and I had a baby, a tiny one at that, and was even unsure about how to change her diaper in that moment.

Now, 6 months later, and I am so comfortable with her, don’t get me wrong, I still has days where I am not sure what is going on and second guess myself, but these days are less than they were. The only way to get to this point is time; give yourself time, don’t be so hard on yourself in the beginning or well, ever for that matter, being a mom is a very big change for a woman, and like all changes in life, you need time and patience to master this role and to fully be comfortable in it.

So, take a deep breath and give yourself a break! You will get there!

Angelique

 

Insecurities – We All Have Baggage

I know we all think that we have recovered from our past , and learned from all the things that we went through as children or even in our twenties , and we always swear that we would never transfer those issues into our marriages or onto our children .

The fact of the matter is , that although we don’t necessarily make the same mistakes as our parents did with us , we still tend to take that baggage into parenthood and our relationships with us.

In my experience I have issues left over from my parent’s divorce and my parents in general , and off course I don’t want my child to go through that disappointment and want to be there for my child no matter what is going on with me personally , I want her to know that she is loved at all times, and that she has a person in any situation- me ! 💜

Unfortunately, I tend to now take this too far , I am so sensitive toward other peoples comments about how I am raising my child , it immediately feels like they are attacking me , and judging me as a mother .

I constantly doubt myself because I am trying so hard to be this perfect mother and to do thing differently with her.

Insecurities start to form this way , and we put them on other people subconsciously, we don’t mean to , but we tend to blame other for past issues.

What is amazing is that we have the power to stop this cycle and break it , to start new and love forward !

Here’s to the future , and to being better and learning and growing with every step we take.

Angelique