• Meghan Douglass

5 Lessons from my first year as a mother

Updated: Feb 2

Becoming a mother has been the most incredible journey of my life. I have had the biggest highs but also some of the biggest lows I've ever experienced, and I have learnt a lot. This is a list of just a few of the lessons I learned from my first year as a mother from my own personal experiences.

Number one: babies are not all born perfect. This was something I had known since I was a child anyway, because I was one of those babies that wasn't born perfect but to be completely honest, I still thought it wouldn't happen to me. You watch all your friends having babies and they are all born, for the most part, pretty perfect. They are healthy and happy with only the usual baby issues to worry about (which I do not wish to diminish in anyway, normal baby issues can still be extremely stressful and difficult to deal with). I thought or I guess I hoped this would be the case for me. So even though I felt like I was going into motherhood with my eyes wide open, I still had an element of, "I know babies can be born with problems, but that won't happen to me."

I had my expectations of my perfect planned birth and all the steps to follow and then had it completely blow up the second he was born, it was heartbreaking to deal with. I think no matter how many times you hear a story of a sick child, it never becomes a reality or even a possibility until you experience it yourself. It always sits in the back of your mind that it could never happen to you, until of course, it does.

Number two: always listen to your gut. As a mother we seem to have this bizarre built in instinct, like a little voice in our ear telling us when something doesn't feel right or that something might go wrong. I have learnt never to ignore that voice, it has saved us from so many near misses. I think the reality of that voice is your mum brain sees something out of the corner of your eye, your brain processes it without you even noticing and sees the danger or the possibility of danger.

My only advice here is don't ignore that voice, no matter the situation. Whether you are a mother or a father, listen to your gut. If something doesn't feel right then it probably isn't, and don't let others sway you to think otherwise. You are the parent and you live with your child everyday, so only you can know what is best and what is safest. Others may have opinions but if they don't sit right with what you feel and believe, then it probably isn't right for you.

Number three: this one is a tough one to do as being a parent is chaotic, but try to be present and notice all the little changes day to day. One of the most amazing things about tiny humans is the incredible pace they learn and change. I am constantly baffled and amazed how different my little man can be from one day to the next. The connections he makes, the things he learns, the new sounds he makes, it all completely blows my mind. I just want to encourage everyone to watch those changes and just be blown away by how wonderful your little human is.

Every day I can see more and more neurons connecting, watching all the new connections he makes with the world around him and I love just sitting back and taking a moment to just be in awe of the fact that my husband and I were able to create this. Just take the time to be amazed by every new thing because it truly is incredible.

Number four: every child is different so there is no point comparing every tiny detail to another child. I honestly did not appreciate the truth of this before I had a child, like many things I was pretty naive about it all. I knew all children were different but I guess I kind of assumed that there were certain things all babies did or didn't do and certain timings for everything. Boy was I wrong!

Don't go to mother's group and expect all the babies to be doing the same thing. Also don't go and start comparing your child to everyone else's, it's not healthy for anyone and only serves to make at least one person feel pretty crap, most likely yourself. Don't read the apps and the books and freak out every time your child doesn't hit a milestone on the exact day they are meant, it can be so variable for so much of it in the first year, the paediatricain is unlikely to be even a tiny bit worried (after the first year there are certain milestones they do look at more closely).

I was very pro dummy, I could see the value in being able to use a device that helped a child sooth them self to sleep that wasn't my boob. Unfortunately for me, at six months old my son decided he was not pro dummy and literally spat it, never to take one again. This confused me as I was always under the assumption that a dummy was more of a parents choice than the child, but again the lesson that every child is different smacked me in the face again and it was goodbye dummy.

And the final one, number five: be the parent you want to be, not the one everyone tells you to be. No parent is perfect and we all make mistakes along the way, but at least if they are your mistakes and not someone else's. So much advice will be thrown your way but sift through it carefully because like I said earlier, only you know what is best for your child and at the end of the day only you have to live with your decisions. We all only want the best for our children and we try to do what we think is right. It is easy to be swayed and pulled by some of the more demanding voices around you, but always try to reel yourself in and check if it's right for you and your baby first. Listen to the voices and use what you like from them, discarding what you don't. Just because it worked for them does not mean it is right for you, this goes doubly for children who are born special with different needs, no one can understand those needs better than yourself.

I guess, to sum it all up, trust in yourself and how you want to care for your child but also enjoy it as much as you can. These amazing tiny humans completely rock your world in their first year of life in the most wonderful way. Being a parent is incredibly hard but you get so, so much in return. These are just a few of the lessons I have learned from my little one but I am definitely learning more each day.

Mother and baby

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