Wee X turned 1 year old last week. My baby is not a baby any more, he’s be a toddler. I know the calendar claims a year has past since he was born, but I don’t believe it. I might have twelve months of experience under my belt, but I’m still learning about this whole parenting thing. Every day teaches me something new and my boy surprises me dozens of times a day. While I’m sure I’ll still be making new discoveries about myself and X when he’s 18 years old, I thought I share this first year’s worth with you.
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As we embark into the world of toddlerhood, here are 10 Things I’ve learned as a mother to a baby:
1. The human body is a remarkable thing.
Have you ever really thought about the mechanics of childbirth? It’s astounding! In fact, before you even reach the birth stage of parenthood, you will have spent 9 months growing a person inside you. The way a baby grows from embryo to foetus, developing all the physical attributes they’ll need to live outside the womb, that’s mind boggling!
2. Your baby’s brain is astounding.
Seriously, your baby is a tiny little genius! In their first year, your baby might learn to hold their head up, smile, roll, giggle, sit up, babble, crawl, stand, walk and speak a few words. No wonder they need so much sleep! Spend a few minutes watching your baby with a new toy and you’ll see their little mind working as they figure out what it does, it’s fascinating stuff.
3. You will talk about poo. Lots.
I have two different diseases that affect my digestive system, and I have an ileostomy so I’m not new to the topic. However, in the past year I’ve spoken more about poo than I have in 20 years of Crohn’s Disease and 8 years of Coeliac Disease combined. Not only will you talk about the fact that your baby is doing it too much, or not enough, you’ll mention colour, consistency and the facial expressions that accompany it. You’ll discuss it with your Health Visitor, GP, mum friends, family and any random stranger who asks how your baby is.
4. Babies are a law unto themselves.
I’m in awe of the parents who tell me their baby follows a strict routine, although I secretly suspect they’re lying. The best we’ve managed is a flexible routine where food, milk and naps happen around a certain time and it often changes. Just when you think you’ve got a routine down, your baby decides to change it. Likewise bedtimes. The minute you think you’re on top of that routine, your child learns to scream, throw toys or stand and decides their cot is the best place to hone their skills. What routine?
5. You don’t need as much sleep as you think.
Yes, sleep is excellent. Yes, sleep is essential for human life. No, early mornings with no foreseeable lie-in will not kill you. Yes, really. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is nonsense advice, when would you eat, wash visit the loo alone or drink coffee while it’s hot? Grabbing a ten minute disco nap when you can is a good idea, though, it stops you nodding off during the 6 o’clock news.
6. You quickly find out what your priorities are.
When it comes to housework, you’ll soon decide which jobs are essential and which can wait. Suddenly, you’ll find that you can go to bed with dishes in the sink, that you don’t need to vacuum every day or that ironing t-shirts isn’t always necessary. Of course, this varies from person to person, but every parent will gradually triage household tasks once a baby arrives. It’s not just housework either. I know some mums who can spend they whole day in their pyjamas, but still manage to put their make up on and others who can’t remember the last time they saw their mascara ward. You don’t have to do it all, but you will make time for the things that are important to you.
7. You will accumulate weird injuries.
Tiny scratches from razor sharp talons (what possible reason could nature have for equipping babies with such fast-growing fingernails?!) and bruises from kicky wriggles are par for the course. Currently, I also have a cut lip from where X head butted me last night and a sore nose where he grabbed it to stop himself from falling backwards. Babies like to attack in creative ways.
8. Sophie the Giraffe is a godsend.
Honestly, I don’t know what she’s made out of, but it’s like crack for babies. Most of the mums who’d been-there-done-that when it comes to teething recommended I buy one for X, and he loved it. All of his baby friends have one and they take their Sophie toys with them wherever they go. She’s a little miracle wrapped up in a giraffe-shaped package. Parents across the world are indebted to the creator of Sophie.
9. Love is a powerful thing.
It can happen immediately or over time, in a trickle or a flood, but it will come and it’ll make you feel like your heart might explode. It makes you feel simultaneously elated and terrified at this little life you’re in charge of. Every new milestone, moment of parent/child bonding and even acts of defiance will make you love them even more.
10. Your baby’s laugh is the most magical sound you will hear.
From the very first time you hear it, your child’s laugh will be your favourite noise. Whether it’s a chuckle, a giggle or a chortle, you’ll love to hear it. It’s made of pure joy, and it’s brilliant.