It's so hard to believe that my baby is going to be 1 on Friday. During this week a year ago, we were making all the last minute preparations for his arrival. I had my final doctor's appointment to check up on how the baby was doing and go over everything involved with having the C-section. The day before Colton's birth, Gregg and I enjoyed a nice lunch out at Fuddrucker's and talked about how it was our last full day together as just a "twosome". In the middle of lunch, I received a call from the hospital telling us when to arrive, and we phoned our families to let them know when they could show up.
This past year has been the most challenging, frustrating, and rewarding of my life so far. I had to learn so much about taking care of a baby. I didn't know anything about diapering, bottle feeding, swaddling, burping, etc. I got a crash course in mothering pretty quickly and nothing's been the same since.
I had to overcome all the internal voices telling me that I wasn't going to be a good mother. I was so discouraged when breastfeeding didn't go according to plan. Colton had difficulty latching on and he would always seem to fall asleep in the middle of a feeding. He slept so much in the hospital and when we first brought him home that I actually thought there was something wrong with him! (It turns out I just have a really good sleeper. Even now he takes two naps during the day and sleeps for 11 hours overnight.) At the time, breastfeeding was like a complicated mathematical problem and I didn't have the strength emotionally, physically, or mentally to figure it out. So I decided to try the pump, but it was really painful. I had the stupid thing on the highest setting and I still got very little milk. Before the first week was over, I just resigned myself to the fact that Colton would be exclusively formula fed. It was the best decision I could have made for his health and my sanity, but it sure didn't feel that way at the time.
Right after he was born, I was an emotional wreck. I don't know if it was the dramatic shift in hormones paired with the monumental life change I had just encountered and all the painkillers I was on, but I'd be sobbing hysterically one minute and laughing uncontrollably the next. I didn't know how and if I would ever make it through that first week home from the hospital. Eventually I started learning how to do things and bonding with my baby, who once seemed like such a foreign creature. Colton started sleeping through the night, and before I knew it he was outgrowing his newborn clothes and I stopped stumbling around like a zombie. Then before long, he was interacting with us by smiling & laughing and it was time for him to try baby food.
I kept watching and worrying about his development, though he was progressing just as he should. I was concerned that he was too chubby, he couldn't stand tummy time, he wasn't reaching for toys, and on and on. The anxiety that I had about doing something wrong or messing up my child somehow was overwhelming. So I read everything I could on what to expect the first year, took some good pointers and tossed out the rest. I learned to read my own baby's cues and stopped fretting about every little thing.
This past year has felt like a marathon, and on Friday I will cross the "finish line" only to begin running another race with new obstacles and challenges as Colton enters toddlerhood. I'll have to learn how to discipline, provide well-balanced nutritious meals, and (oh joy) potty train. Colton has certainly come a long way since his days as a teeny, helpless newborn. He can completely feed himself now. He's standing on his own and imitating words. He is mobile enough to get to where he wants to go. He is asserting his will and independence more & more all the time. As I look back at how much he's grown physically and developmentally, I am so proud of all the things he can do. I am thrilled with the little boy he is becoming. I'm truly blessed to be his mother and look forward to celebrating his first birthday at the end of this week!