And just like that, it is now a day to our baby girl’s first birthday and I want to scream to the entire world “I survived my first year of being a mama!!”
I imagine myself drenched in sweat, weary from countless nights of interrupted sleep, dirt under my fingernails from all the poopy diapers I have changed, standing victoriously on a mountaintop. Yes I am on top of the first mountain in a whole range of mountains, but for now I want a pat on the back, an award for participation. A personal moment to say “girl, you did it!”.
This time last year, I was on one of several beds in the labour ward. Anyone who has any experience with Nigeria hospitals will imagine or know first hand the trepidation I felt. I had to constantly use exercise my faith so as not to be overcome with worry . All I knew was that as long as I had a natural birth, by the grace of God, I and my baby will be in good hands.
I was divinely favoured to have a relatively pleasant and easy labour and delivery story (no need to bore you with my tales of the inadequacies of the healthcare system here). With simple child-like faith, I believed for a relatively stress-free labour experience and I was beaming (like a child who opened their Christmas gift to find it was what she has asked for and doubted whether she will get it) when I found out I was 2cm dilated with pain-free contractions. There were some challenging moments as time when doctors insisted I go for a C-section but honestly the whole experience was divinely blessed with God’s grace.
Our child has been a blessing from the moment of conception, to labour and unbelievably easy pushing part of the delivery. I literally pushed and grunted and our baby slid out.
Within first few minutes of her birth, a song of praise burst forth from my lips. Mind you, the words was more or less whispered under my breath as I was exhausted and beyond famished. As they were stitching me up, I turned my head and watched in awe as they cleaned up this pale skinned, raven haired little human with olive oil.
The struggles and anticipation of the previous nine months and the grueling ordeal of labour were already fading into memory.
How do I condense all the struggles of a rookie mama into a paragraph? Or two? The journey of bonding with our precious baby was no walk in the park. It is assumed that because a baby grew inside of you for nine months, you will form a magical bond that will detect whether they are hungry, tired or need to go poopy.
In the first several months, the process of trying to figure out why your baby is fussing goes like this:
Changed her diaper, check. Nursed her like five minutes ago so she can’t be hungry. She just napped like 30 minutes ago. Probably she is feeling the heat? Is she feeling uncomfortable because of the immunization shots she took yesterday?
Oh I look back with fondness at how frazzled different stages of the past year made me. From mommy and baby struggling to latch properly, figuring how to nurse baby girl in public like it’s no big deal, to learning how to survive the crowded immunization clinic days. Dealing with immunization aftermath like fevers, swollen tenderness and fussiness. Teething periods. Introducing solids. Progressing through purees to semi solids to beaming in pride as baby girl ate a whole banana by herself.
Oh and the moments when as a parent I beamed with pride and urged our baby girl to perfect a milestone or new skill: holding things with her fingers, grasping, rolling over, pulling herself forward, crawling, pulling up, standing, cruising and so on.
Right now we are helping our daughter learn how to perfect her balance and walking. As parents we are always teaching and encouraging our children to improve or perfect new skills and talents but there are so many lessons our little ones teach us to. I recently did an article on lessons I have learned from observing baby girl learn to walk. (Read here)
I honestly don’t know what my second year as a parent will hold but that’s what makes being a first time parent be so much fun.
Please share stories about your experiences with me too! What was your most challenging and rewarding moment in the first years of your child’s life? Is it easier the second or third “child” around? 🙂