A Year On - What I’ve Learned in my First Year

A Year On - What I’ve Learned in my First Year

Thinking that my son turns 1 year old tomorrow is simply insane! When I think back on those first weeks with him, so helpless and tiny, it seems a lifetime ago! But then the memories of my labour are still so vivid, it also only feels like yesterday…

I never read the books or researched online how to be a parent so went into motherhood completely blind. It seems though, that wasn’t such a bad idea because I had no real frame of reference to compare myself or my baby to. It took off a lot of potential pressure.

Just dealing with one situation at a time, I looked mainly to family for advice on everything I wasn’t sure about.

The most difficult adjustment was disturbed sleep. In reality, over the course of 24 hours I did manage to get enough overall sleep but, of course, it was disturbed with baby needs - feeding, changing, comforting and so on. For us it took about 6 months before we got to sleep through regularly again. I count my lucky stars that we seem to have a good sleeper. Literally EVERYTHING feels worse, more disastrous and harder to manage with poor sleep!

I have been thinking recently about how we have a great routine with both sets of grandparents looking after my boy and spending time with him, allowing me time to work, clean and rest. Why didn’t I do this sooner?!! In hindsight, I should have handed him over much sooner for a few hours here and there. I feel so much more sane now! They love spending time with him so are more than happy to help, so why not let them? Getting that little bit of time back for yourself just helps you to enjoy the time you spend with your family because you feel slightly less neglected by yourself as an individual.

There’s also the hormone stuff that you have little control over, and until that all settles down and you come out the other side, you don’t realise what impact it has on everything. From what you feel to how you respond and react to everything. These days nothing seems so much of a problem or an issue and that is, in part, down to everything finally just settling back into normality in its own time.

It is such a massive adjustment having a baby but really the best thing I can say is to just take it at your own pace it is stressful enough with the lack of sleep and lack of time to do literally anything else, you don’t need the added pressure of comparing your situation with the outside world. Sod everyone else and their opinions and have a network of people that you trust to seek support and advice from.

If you have a lot of ‘helpful’ friends and family offering ‘advice’ that you could really do without, just let it go in one ear and out the other, nod politely and then disregard anything that you don’t find helpful. After all, half of the time, you never asked for advice in the first place. Just remember that everyone means well and thinks that they are helping, although most of the time they are just adding extra feelings of frustration and irritation that you are already trying to manage your way through!

The first year can be a really difficult time, but managed carefully and taking advantage of any help that you find useful, you can really enjoy huge chunks of your first year with your little one. Take full advantage of the moments that are great and just manage your way through the tough bits as best you can!

Alison Tang