For first-time parent with no helper (except for hubby, of course!), the first year of raising a baby felt like a constant marathon of body and mind. Everything is fast-paced and it happens every single day. Some days ran faster, especially when I was doing a zillion things in one day.
Out and about with Naomi last year.
As a stay-at-home Mom, I consider myself to be very lucky to never miss every single milestone that my baby had during her first year – say, her first giggle, first tummy time, first crawl, first steps, first words, etc.
However, I still feel that there are things that I should have done more during my baby’s first year – simple things that you don’t realize you should have done until it’s too late to go back and do them.
Here are my thoughts on what I should have done more of...
Cherish the time with my baby
In the beginning of my motherhood journey, I was mentally and physically tired. Not to mention, I felt so 'injured' from my episiotomy wound and experienced prolonged post-partum bleeding. Add all that to my newborn's erratic schedules and there was a very exhausted me. In short, my first two months with my baby were not that euphoric as I hoped it would be and I was not able to fully enjoy my newly bundle of joy.
I found myself wishing the time away. When Naomi was still three days old, I wished she was one week old instead. When she was few weeks old, I wished she would quickly turned to one-month old so she wouldn't be so fragile and hopefully had better routines. I tried to enjoy the moment as they came but somehow failed to enjoy it fully. I thought that as she grows older, it would be easier to take care of her. In some ways, that was true! As Naomi grew bigger, I got to know her better and she was easier to deal with. However, she kept launching new developmental milestones that presented new sets of challenge for my husband and me and so in that sense, both of us keep on learning and handling new things about the little human being in our house every single day.
In the end, I guess back then I was so concerned about my baby caring duties 24/7 that I overlooked the beautiful new Mom experience. I really should have taken more real times to hold, cuddle and do nothing else but bonding with Naomi without worrying too much of my laundry, dirty dishes in the kitchen, dusty floor, the plants in the garden, etc.
Naomi's sweet smell, tiny fingers, little toes, chubby cheeks and cute button nose won't be there forever, will they?
That's why when you hear Grandma’s pearl of wisdom that goes "Cherish every moment because babies grow up so fast!" You must trust her because it's true. Soak the moment in and just... enjoy your baby more.
Let baby have more time on my chest
Did you know that babies can take comfortable nap on your chest only in their few months? Needless to say, as they grow bigger, it will get quite uncomfortable for both baby and you.
Sleep, baby. Sleep.
I can assure you that nothing beats the peaceful, calm and warm feeling of having your little angel napping on your chest. It’s the next best intimate bonding time with baby after breastfeeding. This being said; if you have a newborn, please don’t take baby’s snuggly naps on your chest for granted. The rests can wait. Seriously.
Give myself more ‘me-time’
Soon after my Mom went back to Indonesia during my confinement period, I fell into a hyper-Mom mode – making sure all my today’s to-do-list was done and attending my baby's needs mostly on my own to the point that I neglected my own well-being. I skipped meals and got little sleep. I was hardly ever rested and often lost my appetite whenever my baby cried.
Thinking back, I should have trusted my family members like my husband or Mother-in-Law in babysitting Naomi once in a while. I should have, now and then, taken some time to just chill, taken my sweet time to eat my food, spared myself more me-time to lie on my bed with my scary face-mask on, go to a hair salon, get my nails done or even just crush some candies in my tablet! I should have done more reading undisturbed or even done some baking just like the good old times. Maybe it could have even be less taxing for me to raise a baby and I would have been more relaxed. After all, a happy and healthy Mom who eats and has enough sleep is the best thing for her child, isn't she?
Therefore, give yourself a break. We don't have to be joined at the hip with our baby all day long, all year long. When the situation gets overwhelming, it's not a sin to get some much needed help.
Travel with baby more
When Naomi was still very young, I often refused the idea of traveling far, especially when it required air travels. I thought traveling with a young infant would just spell trouble. I mean, imagine packing baby’s truckload daily necessities, dealing with her potential fussiness during the long-hour trip and cleaning her colossal poop in the car or plane. In a nutshell, I foresaw nothing but stress if I were to venture into holidaying with a baby in my arms.
Who knew that when the older your baby gets, the more complicated it gets to travel? Not only we need to keep enough supply of her milk during the trip, we also need to consider packing solids food and lots of toys as well. Moreover, keeping a toddler to sit still on-the-go is easier said than done.
My little Amoi!
Hence, I would recommend traveling with your little one when they are still tiny, have very simple needs and mostly sleep during the trip. Go for sightseeing and short holiday during your early months of parenting – raising a baby would surely be much less dull and wearisome this way!
Keep a baby journal and record more videos
Baby’s first step and first word may be easy for parents to recall. However, baby’s first haircut, favourite song or movie at certain age may fade from memory. Journals are a great way to document various events in your little ones’ childhood. While photos provide wonderful memory keepsakes, journaling is an excellent way to keep track of special moments and share memories of babyhood.
Although I keep my baby’s journal in my online blog, there were times when I got lazy or too busy to update her milestones; thus I can’t remember the details of some of my baby’s developmental milestones in certain months. You know, after you become parents, you just tend to forget what happened yesterday or the day before.
Finally, don’t forget to take lots of videos of your baby too. I love watching the old videos of my little one and somehow those videos reminds me of the blessing of being a mother. Not to mention that Naomi also loves watching her own videos too! I really should have recorded more of her videos back then.
Now that Naomi had blown her first birthday candles, I intend to slow down and have some order in my busy life while having a little more fun with my toddler. I will dedicate more time becoming the 'old me' again, do more traveling and at the same time keep tabs on my little tot growing up each day.
Have fun with motherhood and don’t forget to take care of yourself too!
** I wrote the above article sometime in Q4 of 2013 and this piece was featured in BabyTalk Malaysia Magazine's November 2013's issue. I planned to scan the articles from the magazine and post them here but I was not able to do so because I only have one copy of this magazine and scanning some pages would ruin my magazine. Therefore, curious friends and other readers (especially those overseas) who didn't manage to get a copy of this particular BabyTalk Malaysia issue, I hope you enjoy the above motherhood story of mine. A bit late, I know but I just remembered about this article again like half an hour ago!