I just can’t help but say it, I CANNOT believe this weekend we will have a one year old. Everyone always said time goes by too fast with your baby. And that the days are long but the months are short, and gosh they could not have been more right. Today I wanted to share some of the things I learned, went through, and just all about my experience throughout the first year as a new mom and the first year with our Audrina.
Writing this post for any new mom, mom to be, family, or woman thinking about starting one. I never knew what to expect with a baby. I always knew I wanted my own kids but as someone who was never really around babies much, I had no idea what I was doing half the time. Little did I know how much my life would change for the better. The love I have for Audrina is such a different kind of love. This love hurts, it warms my heart, it makes me cry, and it puts a smile on my face, all at the same time. And I cannot imagine or even remember what life was like before her.
Lets back it up to the beginning. Back when blogging was a bit easier because of maternity leave and long naps I did write a post on Life so Far with a Newborn featuring the first five weeks home from the hospital. Which now are a complete blur, so I enjoy looking back on that post and photos.
Photo: Melissa Barrick Photography
Back then I broke the baby update down to; Sleep, Feeding, and Play highlights and well throughout the whole first year with a baby, that’s pretty much what your life revolves around. Throughout the post is also her 12 months in pictures along with a few of my favs.
We are incredibly lucky that Audrina was a good sleeper since day 1. When first home from the hospital I would set my alarm every 2-2.5 hours to wake and feed her throughout the day and even at night for the first few weeks. We also considered using services such as a sleepify calculator and a meditative sounds app to potentially help us sort out our sleep schedule. Luckily though we seem to have managed fine in those early weeks, by ourselves. Once she gained back her birth weight I pushed the night feedings to 3-4 hours.
Then around 2 months our doctor advised us to try seeing if she would sleep through the night. I would put her to bed around 8:00 p.m. and then woke her for a dream feed around 10:00 p.m. but then she would usually sleep until wake up time between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m.
Now this was by no means perfect. There were nights she randomly woke up crying and Tom or I would go and soothe her by swaying. I’m lucky in that she never picked up with wanting to eat in the middle of the night again though. Anytime she woke we could usually get her back to sleep with swaying or the pacifier (these are the ONLY pacifiers she would take and were a complete game changer, thanks so much to a friends who recommended them). We also kept her in a bassinet by our bed throughout the night until 7 months, then thankfully had an easy transition to the crib. She always napped in the crib so I think that helped.
In the beginning I read A LOT on the Taking Cara Babies blog to understand babies sleep patterns, there was so much I didn’t know. One thing I would advice any new parent is paying attention to their ‘wake windows’ throughout the day. Once they stop just falling asleep after a feeding and are ready for some playtime it’s hard to understand their sleep cues. We always tried to follow a schedule within ‘wake windows’ for her age, which was usually one 2-3 hours of awake time, then down for a nap. Oh, and while you are it, it might be a prudent option to invest in a good mattress for yourselves too. I heard Sleep Education can give you better clarity on what to invest in. You are going to sacrifice your sleep for the next few months. So, while you get that little time to nap, why not make complete use of it with a good mattress? And while a mattress like the one mentioned does go a long way, sometimes it just might not be enough to put you to sleep. You as a parent deserve adequate sleep as well. I have heard a lot about different kinds of CBD oil UK (and US), which can be put to use to induce a good night’s sleep, especially if your baby is a good sleeper like mine was!
It’s not perfect though, she skipped naps, slept 20 minutes some, or it took 20+ minutes of swaying and some crying to get her to sleep. Some days were exhausting just trying to get her the sleep she needed. Not to mention wondering why she was crying; hunger, teething, over tired, belly ache, the possibilities are endless. But you forget about those moments, they are temporary. I also did a ‘dream feed’ until she was 10 months, which after returning to work was exhausting, but I did love her falling asleep on me every night.
Now as a 1 year old Audrina sleeps about 11-11.5 hours a night and takes one nap a day. She very easily could take two naps, a morning and afternoon, but we realized the afternoon nap was a struggle to get her down for if she slept in the morning. So now we keep her entertained and awake until 12:30-1:00 p.m. then she usually takes a long afternoon nap. We still use the pacifier for sleep and when she’s tired during play. I try to take it out as much as possible to encourage her to talk. I know we’ll eventually need to drop it, but until then, doing what works for us. She also still sleeps with a sound machine and in a sleep sack (we transited through probably 4 different sleep sacks throughout the first year, more on that later).
One thing I learned after becoming a mom is everyone will ask you these two questions; did you get an epidural (hell yes I did) and are you breastfeeding. I don’t know what it is, but every women needs to know the answer to these two. Well what I have learned is everyones story is different. An epidural and breastfeeding have worked for me and my baby and lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean it may be the same for you.
I have been able to nurse and pump throughout the whole first year. And honestly I don’t know when I’ll choose to stop breastfeeding. Audrina may naturally stop or I may choose to, I’m not sure right now. I plan to feed her cows milk or an alternative, but since currently being quarantined, I really don’t know what the next month, week, or day has in store for us.
I do feel so good to know I made it a year though because breastfeeding has been the biggest commitment I’ve ever made to anything. In the beginning Audrina was nursing about 8-9 times a day and those feedings naturally dropped as she started staying awake longer. She now nurses about 5 times a day and has a breakfast, lunch, and dinner of solid foods.
But let me be really with you. Breastfeeding is something that was important for me to do with my daughter but is it HARDDDD. It is A LOT of sitting around and the feeling of always needing to be there on demand for your baby doesn’t go away, even as they can go longer and longer in between feeds.
Pumping was by far my least favorite part. Carrying parts to and from work, the washing and cleaning of them, and then the actual pumping time itself. I feel fortunate my schedule allowed me to pump during my planning and at lunch. But lunch with my spectra was not exactly what I wanted to be doing everyday. I just kept thinking about how I was providing food for my baby and all the benefits she would get from it.
I would not have made it through one year of breastfeeding if it wasn’t for the support of my husband and mom. When I was 8 months pregnant Tom went to a breastfeeding class with me. I suggest this to any new mom, it was offered at our local hospital and we both learned so much. You literally feel in the dark about it all until you actually have to do it and then so much of it will come naturally, I promise. My husband also cleaned pump parts daily and on days that I was crying because it was just A LOT he almost treated me like one of his football players and gave me words of encouragement. One day he told me how proud he was of what I had been doing for Audrina and how amazing it was, I broke down it tears. And my mom nursed myself and sisters, so she was always giving me advice. She even went to a breastfeeding support group with me, again at the local hospital and I also suggest for new moms. And while visiting the whole first month she helped with the cooking, cleaning, and everything else I couldn’t do because so much of my time was spent nursing.
I think what surprised me the most throughout the first year with a baby is how much playtime changes. In the beginning it’s all cute when they can follow an object with their eyes, kick, or use their hands. Then all of a sudden they are flipping books, using blocks, clapping, singing, creeping, crawling. You literally CAN NOT keep up. Once you think you have an area contained for them or a toy they love, IT. ALL. CHANGES. But this was honestly the funnest part of being a mom, seeing how much they change and getting them to hit that next milestone.
Audrina loves to play with blocks and books and walk around in her walker. She loves to pull everything out of its place, creep, and crawl around the house and touch everything she is not supposed to, hehe. She also just started taking a few steps all on her own so I know full on walking around is in the near future. To say she is obsessed with Baby Shark is an understatement and recently just got into watching some other baby shows on TV (these are a lifesaver at dinner time). Audrina loves to sing, clap, copy you, and has just started to say a few words and do a few signs. She says ‘hi’, ‘mama’, ‘dada’ and ‘dog’ and will give me the sign for ‘milk’ and ‘more’. It’s honestly so amazing what you can teach them.
Now there are SO many highs of having a baby but there were definitely times that were challenging.
We feel so lucky that Audrina is a happy and healthy girl but it still felt like every time we visited the doctor there was something we needed to look into further. In the beginning at one week old she had Thrush, which is a common yeast infection of the mouth from milk. We had to give her some medicine in order for it to go away. Then she developed a little birth bump on her head. We had an ultrasound on it and it turned out to be nothing of concern and went away on its own. She was also ALWAYS spitting up after nursing, even hours after. The doctor said she had reflux and would most likely grow out of it by 1 year which she has, but my gosh at the end of the day EVERYTHING used to be covered in milk, I would go through countless burp clothes, it was on me, in my hair, on the couch, floor, etc. So needless to say Audrina gaining weight has always been a bit difficult with reflux. She is our tiny little peanut but is following her own growth curve.
At her 1 month appointment our doctor was also worried about a flat spot on the back of her head. We had her evaluated at a cranial technologies and they did suggest a helmet, but for several reasons we decided not to go with one for her. We continued with trying to prop her on her good side during naps and did physical therapy for some exercises. And now I can barely notice it.
We started introducing solids around 5 months, first with purees then finger foods when she was able to grasp them. I love using black beans, avocado, banana, and rice cereal because it requires no cooking. I then got into making her food based on what we were eating but slightly different, either without salt, spices, or cooked so it was soft. When I had her try eggs and yogurt a week later she developed some eczema on her face. I stopped feeding her eggs and dairy, but the eczema kept coming back. Since I am nursing I too had to remove diary and eggs to see if she was getting some of the proteins she was intolerant to through my milk. To this day I’m not sure what caused the outbreak because I have gone back to eating dairy and eggs and she is doing fine with it. We are hoping to get her allergy tested at her first year appointment to have an answer and hoping it’s something she has or will grow out of.
Well this post was far longer than I was expecting, but just like any mom I guess we can go on and on about our kids, right. I just really wanted to share this so anyone can relate or feel comfortable asking questions. Gosh I am always texting my two best mom friends and my own mom countless questions every week because I feel like you never really know what you’re doing as a new parent. Just trying to take it one day at a time.
Photo: Melissa Barrick Photography
As we get ready to celebrate this lively little girl being with us for a year this Saturday I can’t help but look back through at old pictures/videos and keep saying the time does go by too fast. They are always changing and I just can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next Audrina. <3
Questions of the Day:
What Baby Posts would you like to see more of?
If you’re a parent, what do you remember about the first year?
Give me your toddler survival tips!