Becoming a mom for the first time is beyond life-changing. Your world rocks, your heart shatters (in a good way), and nothing is ever the same again. If motherhood was a movie, the first year would be described as a drama and a comedy of errors, all rolled into one.
And if it had a soundtrack, Year One would go a little something like this …
1. Doing the deed. (or: “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”)
We all know how this journey begins — with the sweet sounds of Elton John and a couple of folks (ahem, you and your partner) feeling the love. There’s no need to go into detail here, so I’ll just say … wink, wink.
2. Seeing those two little pink lines. (or: “A Whole New World”)
Congrats, you’re totally going to be a mom! A whole new world has opened up to you — a world of Target registries, Pinterest nurseries, and unsolicited advice coming at you from strangers and loved ones, 24/7.
Five baby name books magically appear on your bedside table, and even though it’s months away, you mentally plan your gender reveal. Will the cake be blue or pink inside? IT’S ALL SO EXCITING.
Since you’re going to be a part of the mom tribe and all, you start doing research to understand how the natives live. Which swaddling blanket is best? How many pockets does the diaper bag need? Is this bottle nipple enough like the real thing?
You dream about seeing your bundle and kissing those sweet little cheeks. The possibilities are endless.
3. Giving birth. (or: “The Circle of Life”)
You’re getting to know your body through the pregnancy, and it’s … um … fun. The first trimester is the worst (morning sickness — boo!), the second trimester is better (are those butterflies or is the baby kicking?), and the third trimester is downright miserable (Baby, you can come any day now).
And then you’re having contractions and heading to the hospital. Despite the pain, you are feeling philosophical about bringing a new life into the world and you start missing your grandma who passed away a few years ago. You wish she was here to see this!
Your whole family is in the waiting room, ready for the new member of their circle to make her debut. You feel so connected to some kind of higher being/the universe in ways you formerly couldn’t understand.
The baby comes, and she’s as perfect as you thought she’d be. You look at her and your heart explodes, then it explodes again when you realize that this is how your parents have always felt about you. The circle of life — it moves us all.
4. That (utterly sleep-deprived) first week home. (or: “When I’m Human”)
You’ve been home for a week. You’re not a human anymore; you’re a zombie. You wonder why the nurses ever let you leave the hospital with a tiny human. If they only knew how unprepared and lost you feel.
The baby wakes every hour or two, and you fear you’ll never sleep again. Your world has suddenly become so small. There are only cries, leaky diapers, and burp rags. This isn’t exactly what you bargained for. “One day,” you think, “when I’m human again, I’ll shower. I’ll take naps. I’ll brush my hair.” … Will that day ever come?
5. When the Facebook FOMO suddenly sets in. (or: “Part of Your World”)
You’re up in the middle of the night feeding the babe and cruising Facebook when the jealousy hits.
Your childless friends went to France. Your friends with school-aged kids took the family to the zoo, went out to eat, and generally didn’t get peed on today. You wonder if you’ll ever see the inside of a restaurant again.
You love your child tremendously, but there is a part of you that longs to be back out in the world doing the things you used to take for granted. Then you feel guilty for wanting to go to the movies. Is this what the next 18 years will be like — one big guilt cycle?
6. When you decide to FINALLY give up on being perfect all the time. (or: “Let It Go”)
You realize that motherhood is not at all like you thought it’d be. You decide to let go of all the expectations you had for yourself pre-baby. You let go of the guilt and try to love yourself for the imperfect human you are.
You embrace the fact that the house will be a mess and that you will always be behind on laundry. You refuse to apologize for wearing the same pair of yoga pants for 5 days in a row and living on Starbucks. You forgive yourself for changing your stances on pacifiers, nicknames, cloth diapers, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping. You just let it all go, and it feels so good.
7. When you start doing this mom thing your way, and let everyone else’s judgments roll right off of you. (or: “The Bare Necessities”)
Now that you’ve given yourself a clean slate, you’re determined to focus on the bare necessities of motherhood: safety and love. You practice staying in the moment. You appreciate the curve of your baby’s chin; you notice the precious pads of her fingertips; your heart melts a little each time she laughs in her sleep.
This motherhood thing, you decide, is equal parts soul-swelling and backbreaking. But, you’re doing it!
8. The first time your baby sleeps through the night and you think, “What glory is this?!” (or: “I See the Light”)
One night, when you don’t see it coming, your baby sleeps 6 hours straight (and so do you). Hallelujah! You finally see a glimmer of light, for an ounce of sleep is worth a pound of sanity and you’ve been in desperate need of rest. Maybe the tide is finally turning …
9. When you finally get in a bit of that “me time” people talk about. (or: “For the First Time In Forever”)
After a few weeks of 6+ hour stretches of sleep and three days in a row of getting to shower, you start to feel a bit like your old self again — for the first time in forever.
The world starts to brighten. You crack a joke on the phone with a friend or find yourself flirting with your partner after dinner. You go for a walk without the baby and think about non-parenting topics. You paint your nails. It’s like there’s a real live human under all that spit up after all. Who knew? You didn’t even fully realize she was gone, but you’re so glad she’s back. You’ve missed her.
10. When you realize that tiny human you made is pretty awesome, and all of the hard parts suddenly melt away. (or: “Friend Like Me”)
You’ve settled into your new role as mom and you realize that you’ve never had a friend like the little one you created and that no one will ever have her back like you do. You’ve made a lifelong commitment to love her and be a fellow adventurer on the road of life. You’ll be there on the first day of school, on field day, at graduation, and on her wedding day. You’re tearing up right now just thinking about all the bonding you’ve already done and all the joy that is to come.
You’re in this for the long haul, and in the back of your mind is a tiny, cuckoo thought that you might want to do this all again someday. You head to Mom Central (aka Target) to pick up diapers and a latte — not in yoga pants this time, but in non-maternity jeans. Is this what a million bucks feels like? Time to go home, pour a glass of wine, and put on some Elton John — wink, wink.
Aaaaand hit repeat.