Tomorrow, my baby turns one. One! I can hardly believe it. A year ago today, she was still giving me terrible heartburn, dancing on my bladder, and sticking her appendages into my ribs. As of tomorrow, I will consider myself to be officially on “the other side” of new parenthood. You know, the place the chicken crossed the road to get to. The place where the grass is greener. The place Adele sang about. The other side.
You see, no matter how you think your baby’s first year will go, you will always be surprised. Sometimes the surprises will be wonderful, and sometimes they will be horrible. Sometimes you will cry tears of joy, and sometimes you will cry tears of fear or frustration or exhaustion. You will, at some point, hit your own version of rock bottom. It may come in the middle of the night when your teething baby has not slept for 24 hours straight, or it may come in the morning when you throw on track pants and realise it’s been six months since you actually wore anything else.
And at some point, you will hit your own version of new parenthood nirvana. This blissful moment may come when your baby smiles at you for the first time, or when you finally rock her to sleep and are holding her peacefully in the quiet of the night, watching her tiny chest rise and fall. It might come when your baby rolls over, or starts to crawl, or gets that first adorable tooth. In fact, I can say with confidence that the moments of joy far outnumber the moments of misery. And when you look back on the first year, those blissful moments will stand out far more than the fuzzy, grainy, grumpy ones will.
Reading this, you might be an expectant mum dreaming of holding your newborn in your arms. You might be a second-time or third-time parent, looking forward with anticipation and trepidation to those newborn days, knowing what to expect and half-dreading the sleeplessness of it all. You may be a new mum, glowing with love and satisfaction while your baby takes a nap. You may be a few months into parenthood, with sticky-up hair and vomit stains on your ill-fitting maternity top. Or you may be like me, staring down your baby’s first birthday, feeling nostalgic for the tiny newborn who nestled into your chest, and proud of the almost-one-year-old who has grown and changed so much.
Whatever stage you’re at, be proud of yourself. Every day you grow and love your baby is a day that should be celebrated, even if it’s not such a good day for various reasons. But you’re doing it. You’re getting to the other side.
BUMP & baby is New Zealand’s only magazine for pregnancy and early babyhood. Our team of mums and mums-to-be understand what it’s like to be pregnant in this connected age, and that’s why BUMP & Baby online is geared toward what pregnant women and new mums really want to know.