Today is Boogie's first birthday. While he is climbing around the living room (walking! already!), pulling things off the shelves and unfolding laundry for me, I can't help but be mystified as to how we got here. A year? Really? It just doesn't seem that long ago that he was this little bitty bundle of a thing.
I was a mean mama and scheduled his 12 month check up for his actual birthday. This morning we went and crawled around the exam room for a while.
He has always been a happy baby. I don't know if he is naturally happier than average or if we are just fantastic parents who meet all of his needs. I suspect its at least party a natural disposition but I like to believe it is at least partly my doing.
A year ago, I was terrified that he would never learn to latch. The first week of his life was arduous, as I suspect it is for all new parents. My husband and I were completely overtaken by a 7lb 9oz creature that seemed to be under the mistaken belief that we knew what to do with him. I clearly remember the sloppy lists and lists of notes on feeding times and duration, diaper changes, etc. I also remember throwing it in the trash and deciding that I would be a lot happier if I didn't have to look at a list of the times he failed to latch. I also remember throwing a nipple shield at the night table and deciding firmly that he would latch when he got hungry enough. And he did. Pretty quickly, in fact.
As it turned out, we did know what to do. We just had to put the books down and listen to our intuition. I know it took longer for my husband to hear his than it did for me to hear mine. But that's fairly normal, I suspect. After all, I was home with him and learned his cries sooner.
So here's a few things I wish I had known before I became a mama.
1) Don't let anyone convince you to send your newborn to the nursery for the night. You won't sleep better. You just had a baby! Is he okay? Is he hungry? Is he crying? What if they give him formula, even though you ask them not to? What if he gets a paci, even though you ask them not to? My son had a lovely sign on his bassinet asking that he not be given formula, pacis, or anything else without our permission. He came back from the nursery twice with a paci shoved in his mouth. No wonder he wouldn't latch! I wish I felt 100% sure they didn't give him any formula. I do feel 100% sure that his needs were not adequately met there, as they would have been with me in our room. If they didn't bother to read and obey our sign, why would they respect anything it said? I probably wouldn't have laid there wondering if he was okay if he had been 2 feet away, either. Oh, and then the bill came. Turns out the nursery isn't a free service provided out of love.
2) Babies don't come with schedules and they don't really care about the one you thought up for them, either. The fact is that you just cannot schedule a newborn. I would venture to say that you cannot really schedule a baby at all for several months at least. Boogie took to a sleep schedule at about 7 months and I don't think he would have gone for it even a few days earlier. He's never been one to nurse on a schedule and he only just now wants his solid food meals on one. The best thing I could do for Boogie was to meet his needs when he needed them. And I look back now and feel confident that I have not taught him to eat when he isn't hungry or to eat more than he wants, nor have I made him wait to eat because it wasn't "time". And this is a good thing!
3) You just do not know your capacity for love until you have a baby. You can love your spouse, your parents, even your adorable puppy. But you really just can't fathom how overwhelming the love you will have for your child is until you meet him (or her) and feel it for yourself. Which bring me to...
4) There is nothing cooler than when your baby says "mama" and means you. I remember when he started saying "baba" and my dad said he thought he was talking about me. I remember realizing that baba meant, actually, my boobs (or maybe the milk in them? Still not sure but he still says baba when he wants milk) Then one day he started saying "ma ma ma" and it seemed random. Until he pulled himself up to standing at the baby gate and called a string of "ma ma ma ma" and reached for me. My heart almost exploded. He loves me! He really loves me!
5) It really truly does not matter if his outfit matches. What matters is that after he nurses in our bed in the morning on Saturday, Daddy takes him downstairs and I sleep for a while longer. So what if I come down at a cool 8:45a and he's wearing the shirt from one outfit with the pants from another? Or still in his pajama shirt and pants that don't match? Or no socks? Or nothing at all? He's happier naked anyway.