It has now nearly been one year since I gave birth to my little baby boy. And needless to say, the first year as a mom has been very exhausting, very exciting, and very different from what I’ve imagined it. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and learned a lot along the way. So here are the things I learned in my first year as a mom. And the things I wished someone had told me earlier. And my thoughts on mom life in general. Enjoy my one-year postpartum update!
My life has changed a lot, and that’s okay
One thing that I definitely didn’t imagine was that my life and lifestyle as a mom would be so different postpartum. Yes, I knew that with a baby it wouldn’t be so easy to do the things we did before. Like going out, meeting friends, traveling or running races like before. But it actually now is REALLY different. Of course, all these things are still possible with a baby, but so much more complicated.
What is really different now is that we plan everything around him. Going to a cafe or restaurant? We look for the ones with diaper changing facilities. Sleeping in on a Sunday? Probably not happening, and staying up late to watch Netflix isn’t a good idea either. We want to travel or see friends? We only drive around his nap times so he can sleep in the car. Flying away? We pick the airline with the best infant luggage policy. (For more tips on traveling with a baby check out this blogpost)
But guess what, I don’t mind this change at all. Because the new activities are just as much fun as the old ones. Playing peekaboo in the living room. Playing on the grass or in the sand or in the water. Tickle him and make him laugh. Kids are amazing in teaching us to appreciate the little things. And these little things now give me way more joy than all the other big activities before.
We love breastfeeding and don’t want to stop
From the beginning I wanted to breastfeed my child, even though I knew it might be hard. I read all the books, got all the tools and asked for a lot of advice. (Btw: you can find my favorite products fo breastfeeding and pumping here.) And to my surprise, breastfeeding was really effortless and easy. Yes the first few weeks were hard and painful. But after that it worked really well. The only downside however was that Lucian doesn’t like bottles and pacifiers, so giving him pumped breastmilk in a bottle was rnearly impossible.
So in my first year as a mom I nursed baby Lucian everywhere, in my office, on the train and tube, in restaurants. But my favourite breastfeeding moment was by far Chicago Marathon, where my fiancé met me with the baby at the half way mark for a quick pit stop. At around 5 months we started giving him pureed foods, but I still nurse him a few times a day. I do this because breastfeeding has so many benefits, like supporting the immune system. And this was definitely the case because Baby Lucian was only sick once in the past year. So, I want to at least keep doing it until he enters nursery. Because he needs this immune boost when he contracts all the germs that young kids usually gets there.
But the main reason why I want to continue breastfeeding is simply because we both love it. It gives us some relax time during a stressful day, even if it is just for a few minutes. I can cuddle him, talk to him, feel him. It is special bonding time for both of us, and I want to keep that as long as possible.
Losing weight in the first year postpartum
Another benefit of breastfeeding is that it burns an extra 500 kcal per day. And every runner like me knows: 500kcal a day is a lot. For me it worked so well, that I did not worry about losing my baby fat at all. My main goal was to fit into my favourite jeans again at around 7 months postpartum. I reached that in just 3 months, mainly by breastfeeding. I am now 5 kg below my pre pregnancy weight, and even though I am eating A LOT I am not gaining any weight. To my surprise I even had to buy new clothes because the old ones were too big. But losing weight and being slim is not only good…
My back hurts
… being slim might look like a great goal to achieve, but there is one down side: slim doesn’t mean fit and strong. And I am definitely not fit and strong as I used to be. I don’t take the time to train as I did before, and I can definitely feel it. The baby is getting heavier and heavier, and with that extra weight it gets harder to lift him up and carry him around. My back hurts a lot because of lost muscle mass, bad posture and not enough core strength. The solution is of course solid strength training, that I need to be more consistent about.
So, to all new Moms and Dads out there: do your strength training exercises regularly, even though the baby is not so heavy yet. Your body will thank you.
The baby is more important than time for myself
I think every Mom knows this feeling: we feel bad if we want time for ourselves. And I am definitely the same. My baby cries sometimes when I leave him with a babysitter, and my heart cries as well. But I do see the need for some me-time. Self-care by spending time with yourself is really important, even for moms. So, I tried to find ways where I can do things together with my baby, like running with a running stroller or hiking with a baby carrier in the great outdoors. It is the best of both worlds. And if this doesn’t work out, I am very lucky to have very loving grandparents.
My pelvic floor will never be the same
Yes, this was one thing that I imagined really different in my first year pas a mom. Even though I knew that the pelvic floor is stretched hard during the birthing process, and that a pelvic floor postpartum rehab is really important afterwards, I imagined it to be easier. Fact is that I still need to do my rehab exercises regularly one year postpartum, so I don’t get any issues. Being lazy and pausing for too long will cause even more problems. So I now exercise regularly using my Elvie trainer device, which is really expensive. But for me it was worth every Euro.
Sleep deprivation and sleep training
I can easily count the nights in my first year as a mom when I got 8 hours of sleep in a row: zero! At one year old my son still wakes up at least once a night. Sometimes he wakes up more often, especially when he is teething. And sometimes he wakes up early in the morning, and I can’t go back to sleep.
So I’ve accumulated lots of sleepless hours in my fist year as a mom. And trust me, it was not fun. I have times when I am really exhausted, and when I am having real breakdowns because of a lack of sleep. We have considered sleep training more than once, and even have tried a gentle version a few times. Did it help? I honestly don’t know. His sleep was getting better over time, but this could also be his age.
But I do know is that it is perfectly normal. Probably all new parents are going through this. And I know that things will change one day. Until then I try to adapt to him and just go to bed earlier.
New job opening: Chief Entertainment Officer
One thing I didn’t imagine for my first year as a mom was that the baby would need constant entertainment. I was really naive and thought he would be sleeping all the time. And when he was not sleeping, that he would be eating.
Reality was really different. Already at 3 months he clearly wanted to be carried around and enjoy a good view. And now he wants to switch constantly between being carried and crawling on the floor. He can play with his toys, but he gets bored of them quite soon. So we get creative in finding new toys and new ways to entertain him: the remote control, a small calculator, tupper ware, kitchen utensils, cardboard boxes, post its on a glass door…
My fiancé is really good at keeping him entertained. So, I promoted him to CEO: chief entertainment officer.
I am such a proud Mom!
One thing that has definitely changed in my first year as a mom are the pictures on my camera. We take pictures of every milestone that our son hits and we celebrate it heavily. The first time rolling over, the first time sitting up or standing up, the first time crawling, his first tooth etc. And we are soooooo incredibly proud of everything he does. We think he is the cutest and smartest baby out there. One day he will be an Olympian or Nobel Prize winner.
I never understood my Mom when she cried at important moments in my life, like graduating from high school or university. But now I totally do, and I see myself crying as well when they will happen in Lucian’s life. It’s just a mom thing. We moms are always super proud of or kids and can’t wait to show the world.
Mompreneurlife is hard
Half a year before I got pregnant, I quit my old corporate job and started working in our family business. And while being an entrepreneur definitely has some advantages when it comes to flexible working hours, it has some disadvantages as well. For me it meant that I could not take my maternity leave as planned, especially not during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
In the beginning I brought him to the office with me. Be the older he got, the more he needed special attention and entertainment. I applied for a spot in the local nursery very soon, but there will only be open spots in December. And until then I have to either ask the grandparents or book a babysitter when I have important meetings.
But the worst thing is the current struggle of priorities. When I am at work, I feel bad because I am not spending time with my son. When I am playing with my son, I feel bad because there is still so much work to do. I usually am at work before he wakes up. But when I have to say good-bye to him and he cries it breaks my heart. I honestly don’t knowhow to resolve this inner conflict. But for now I am just trying to do my best in my both jobs as a Mom and entrepreneur.
We want more!
Something we decided the second day after our son was born, and we haven’t changed out mind in the first year as a parents: we want to have more kids. Yes they are a lot of work, and life as parents can be really exhausting. But they are sooo cute and adorable and they bring so much love and joy into our lives. So this is what our heart says: we are not done yet. Let’s see how many kids will make our family complete.