With the celebration of Eli’s birthday 10 days ago, I am officially finished with my rookie year of parenting. Though there were ups and downs, overall, it was an incredible year. I found that I enjoy motherhood as much as I always hoped/wanted to, and that many parts of it came naturally. Other parts were more of a struggle, but every moment of difficulty and strife was more than worth it and more than made up for in love and snuggles and happiness.
All that said, as I look back on Eli’s first year, there are a number of things that we did that with hindsight I can say I’ll do differently with our next child. There is also a laundry list of things I’ll do the same, but I think it would be disingenuous to say I didn’t do anything “wrong” this year. Everyone came out happy and healthy, but since life is all about learning, these are 9 things I’ll do differently with our next (hypothetical, future) baby.
1 of 10
Read on to see what I'll do differently next time...
1. Transition to a crib earlier 2 of 10
I think there's a good chance I'll use the Rock n Play with another child, but I will not wait until 6 months to transition out of it, unless there's a legitimate reason (please God, no more reflux). Waiting until 6 months was a major mistake and we paid for it in the way of crib training no fewer than 5 times before abandoning the crib in favor of the floor bed.
2. Introduce non-Soothie pacifiers early 3 of 10
I know pacifiers in general are kind of controversial, especially for breastfeeding mothers, but Eli took to them immediately and because I didn't know any better, I didn't try any type besides the Soothies for several months. By the time I did, he was hooked and completely unwilling to use any sort of "orthodontic" pacifier. So now the question remains when to drop the pacifier (it's only used at bedtime now) and how. It's a distinct possibility that I'll add "lose the pacifier earlier" to my list of things to do next time.
3. Push through breastfeeding 4 of 10
I tried hard to make breastfeeding work for us and then after 5 weeks I gave up. I have some pretty strong regrets about it. While I am hoping that my next child is a champion nurser who has no issue with it, I'm also hoping that I will have more strength and resolve to keep going if things aren't smooth. To look for more/better LCs and to be more stubborn.
4. Not exclusively pump…maybe 5 of 10
Sigh. Exclusively pumping for a year was never something I imagined doing and it was exhausting. I regret it to an extent because it cost me many, many hours away from my son over the past year (at my peak I was pumping for 4 hours a day...) as well as a great deal of money. While I am thrilled to have been able to give my son breast milk for his whole first year, I'm not sure I want or will even be able to do that with any subsequent child. The amount of time and energy required just seems undoable. And if I decide not to exclusively pump or to quit, I will give myself less guilt over that decision.
5. Introduce sippy cups earlier 6 of 10
My pediatrician discouraged us from giving Eli water when we started solids at 5 months because he already had such a small appetite that he was worried it would take the place of milk and because I was afraid we'd waste the hard-earned pumped milk, I didn't give him sippy cups of milk either. So when we started trying to introduce a sippy between 8 and 9 months, it did not go well. At 12 months, Eli is just now getting the hang of it and able to use more than 1 type, so with my next child, I'll introduce the sippy earlier, even if it means possibly spilling breast milk, because it turns out there are more important things than a stash of milk.
6. Not put the baby on a bed 7 of 10
This one sounds tongue in cheek, but after Eli's injury, there will be no babies on beds unless they are surrounded by parents in such a way that they would have to take flight to fall off. This was a lesson I learned very much the hard way and it was a moment that I wish I could take back, but instead will learn from.
7. Start brushing teeth early 8 of 10
A friend of ours who is a pediatrician, recommended beginning to clean Eli's teeth as soon as they came in and for the first few weeks, I was very diligent about wiping them down. And then he got resistant. In an attempt to not make it a struggle (and thus create a long lasting struggle) I backed off for a little while. And it has taken weeks and weeks and months to get back to even the lightest tooth brushing, which is not great since Eli now has 5 teeth that need to be cleaned. I'm hoping that by starting with the finger brushes before teeth pop through, I'll be able to avoid this struggle with future kids.
8. Be more persistent with my concerns at doctor’s appointments 9 of 10
If there's one theme that followed me throughout Eli's first year, it was probably this one. I was too meek at many points. The first was with getting his reflux treated. I didn't speak up when I should've and then I let a doctor convince me that he was fine when I knew he wasn't. It happened again when we went to get a referral for PT for torticollis. Despite this being my area of expertise, I let a pediatrician I had never met tell me that there wasn't a problem when there very obviously was. And most recently and dangerously, even when my mom sense was telling me that Eli wasn't okay, I let the ER doctor discharge us after Eli's fall, only to have him fall apart a few hours later, resulting in 3 nights in the hospital and hours of misery for all of us. With my next children, I will be a better advocate, care less about sounding "crazy" with my concerns and ask questions without fear of judgment. I owe that to my children.
9. Worry less, enjoy more 10 of 10
My first year of parenting was somewhat marred by anxiety. I worried about Eli's health and safety nearly every waking moment. And despite my vigilance, he still got hurt. With future children, I'm going to try to worry less, be reasonable more and enjoy their babyhoods instead of panicking the whole time. I so love being Eli's mom, I just wish that I had let myself relax more and enjoy the first 12 months, because they were gone in a flash and I don't feel like I savored them as much as I should've. And if I can't worry less, I'll ask for help sooner.
Those are the 9 things I’ll do differently next time- what things did you do in baby’s first year that you want to do differently with the next child?