This year I realized that having a baby is a bit like a baptism – the old me is gone, and I am made new.
My body alone tells a story of what this year held. What the world picked apart and called imperfect has been restored and made whole again. My self-worth was brought back to life with the life of this tiny one. My skin shows wrinkles and wear more than before – maybe it’s something to do with hormones, or maybe it’s that I’m smiling and laughing more than I have before. My hips have taken a new shape and width – something that serves as a constant visual that my tiny one traveled a great journey to be here.
There were a lot of times this year when I was consumed by guilt… guilt that I wasn’t soaking it all in enough, that I was too distracted by a to-do list; guilt that I wasn’t giving enough attention to my husband or that I was lashing out, even when he was going above and beyond for me; guilt that I wasn’t doing it “right” (critical people be damned); guilt that Elliott was being ignored; guilt that our house was in shambles because I just wanted 5 minutes to zone out to the tv instead of cleaning the desperately-in-need bathrooms.
I also felt guilt in our adjustment to life as a family of three – this adjustment took time, and I didn’t think it would. Even though it appeared to happen in an instant, it actually took weeks, maybe even months. This little person came to us with big needs, and while it was sometimes a difficult transition, it was a beautiful one. Today, we look at each other knowing that life is better now than ever.
Watching her grow so quickly broke my heart this year, but I think that’s the mark of a momma – a heart that is permanently broken, albeit stitched back together however haphazardly. I’m crushed by the weight of the sadness I feel while watching her change and grow and become more kid than baby, but I’m also being crushed by the joy and overwhelming happiness I get from experiencing all of this take place.
It didn’t take long before I learned to ignore almost all of the advice… by the way, sleeping through the night is not the mark of good parenting. We swim in the sweetness of rocking her to sleep (we have since day one), doing so until she drifts far into her dreams. We know putting her in her bed signals the end of the day and that she will wake up a different, changed baby each and every morning. She grew so fast this year, so we hold her for as long as we can, knowing one day will be the last day that she needs us to do that.
Our first year was one we will hold onto forever. It was our first year as parents, our first year with Winnie, and our first year truly understanding love and grace. We loved this first year, but I have a feeling that we are going to love every year for the rest of our lives together.