Celebrating Baby’s First Birthday and a Message to New Moms

Last week, we celebrated our boy’s first birthday. I was feeling so emotional during the entire day and I cried happy tears quite a few times.

It really is an amazing accomplishment to think that you’ve managed to raise, feed, and protect what was once a tiny, tiny baby. Looking back, it’s incredible how quickly the time has passed. It’s like only yesterday he was small and yellow from jaundice, sleeping, nursing, and not doing a whole lot more.

Today, he’s cruising around the house, hiding toys for us to find, and playing with the cat. He’s eating on his own, drinking water on his own, and has the most beautiful laughter.

So now that the 3-day long craziness accompanied by liters of coffee and dozens of guests are in the past, I wanted to sit down and consolidate my thoughts.

Most of all, I wanted to look back at what we’ve been through during his first year of life so new moms, who feel everything is so overwhelming right now, know that it will all pass, and it will be so worth it.

Month 1.

While still in the hospital, my baby got newborn jaundice, on top of some really dry skin. It wasn’t too serious, but it did mean he slept a lot and was generally weak. This, among some other things, caused issues with my breastfeeding journey, something which I was very emotional about. I was generally emotional during that first month. I would look at him and cry tears of happiness because I just couldn’t believe he was mine. I would cry tears of frustration when he had colic and wouldn’t sleep; I would weep when he wouldn’t breastfeed.

And yet, every time he would look at me, every time he would latch on, whenever he would fall asleep in my arms, I felt so much indescribable love, the kind I never thought was possible.

Month 2.

This is the month when his feeding issues really progressed. He wasn’t gaining much weight, and he was spitting up so much I was afraid that he wasn’t really keeping anything down. It turned out he had torticollis and inward feet (the latter was not related to feeding, but still an issue to address). We had to do so many painful exercises with him, and it was breaking me.

But this was also the month when he first smiled, and it was such a surreal experience.

Month 3.

We finally found out he had reflux, and that that was causing a lot of our feeding issues. He finally started gaining weight, and his physical issues improved as well. He started grabbing things, and slowly became more fun to be around. He slept soundly through the night, but because of his previous weight issues, I was still waking him up for night feeds. It was exhausting, but in retrospect, I’m so glad I did it. It meant more breastmilk for him, and there are so many benefits in it.

Month 4.

We started attending events like birthdays and going to the city for walks with him. His colic was finally gone and it all became so much easier. I finally got the green light to let him sleep through the night, since he was a healthy weight now. He started attempting to roll over, he was shaking toys a bit, and he became interested in the cat.

With his head control now intact, we could play around with him more as well.

Month 5.

I started working at my new job, and it was a quite challenging period. He was still too small to need lots of interaction, and he did have some 4-5 naps a day which definitely helped.

He also got the green light for us to put him into a sitting position, since his hips started maturing.

And we started introducing solids to him. He liked carrots right away, and strangely, buckwheat and broccoli as well! However, he did not like the feeding station, and in retrospect, he just wasn’t ready to sit unassisted after all.

This was also the month I stopped breastfeeding him completely. I regretted that decision in the months to come, but I know deep down it was the right decision for both of us. With his reflux, he was screaming bloody murder whenever he was awake for nursing. I had to trick him into nursing while he was asleep, and I pumped whenever I could. It was beyond exhausting.

But I will never forget him falling asleep while breastfeeding, only to smile and have milk trickle down his chin. It was one of the most beautiful memories I have of breastfeeding, and I never, ever want to forget it.

Month 6.

A big boy now, he was rolling both ways, pulling on toys, and trying to get to them. It was so warm outside and we would put him in a baby pool and walk a lot in the evenings. It became our routine — my husband would come back from work, change, and we would immediately go for a walk to the nearby shop and get ice cream. I remember that period so fondly.

Month 7.

I had my trip to Portugal that month, and though I enjoyed it immensely, I also felt guilty for leaving him for almost a week. I missed him like crazy and I couldn’t wait to be back. He started attempting to lift himself to his knees and hands now, and his little tushy was adorable when he’d just perk it out, unsure of what to do.

Month 8.

He was eating a bunch of different foods at this point, but despite my parents’ disagreement, I was firm in not giving him salt or sugars before his first birthday. I stood my ground, and just the other day, he refused a pancake in favor of a banana — and I call that a victory.

He also learned to sit up during this month, the day after being around other babies and kids. It’s incredible how much that inspires them.

However, he was still army crawling with one leg in the air. I was completely freaked out, but it turned out it was just a phase (mom!)

Month 9.

I was working but I also started attending driving lessons again. I barely managed to force myself to do it, knowing that it will mean I would be spending even less time with him. But now that I have my driver’s license, I know it was the right decision to make.

He began properly crawling and it was (still is) adorable! Suddenly he was all around the house and we had to baby-proof everything.

Month 10.

He started standing up, shyly, on his own! Suddenly, he was a lot more confident, and his hands were everywhere. He was grabbing food from our plates, attempting to pet the cat as best he could, and we started taking him to restaurants, which he really enjoyed since it meant more plates he could look at and steal from!

He also got his first set of teeth around this time! After months and months of teething, they were finally here, and they make him look even more adorable. It meant no more pacifiers, though, and it was such a huge step to get him to sleep without one. When I was throwing them away, I got a bit sad, though, and a bit proud as well: my boy was growing up.

Month 11.

This is the time that it started dawning on me he would be one year old soon. We celebrated new year’s, Christmas, we had actual time off which we all enjoyed, and we took him to a place we all traditionally go to every year for Christmas. It’s quite a long walk, but it was so sunny and beautiful and it was incredible to have him there with the entire family as well.

Month 12.

We traveled to another city (and stayed there for a night) for the first time since having him. It was a beautiful experience and we can’t wait to do it again.

We celebrated his first birthday first with the family, then with friends. He still struggles with stranger anxiety but as days went by, he got used to the idea of a full house and fared better and better.

We switched to whole milk, and that moment when I realized I’m giving him his last bottle of formula was incredibly emotional for me.

Now at one years old, he doesn’t use pacifiers, he drinks from a straw or (assisted) from a cup, he’s on the verge of walking, and he’s babbling like crazy.

But mom, did you notice how month after month there was so much more to look forward to, and the problems started fading away?

If you’re at the start of your journey, don’t despair, but do make sure you have the support you need.

Time will fly by and all that will matter in the end is that he’s healthy and happy.

Happy birthday, son. I love you more than I ever thought possible.

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