10 things I learned in my first year of motherhood

10 things I learned in my first year of motherhood — tips to get through the newborn phase and beyond.

Cake smash photos by Conrad Photography.

Memphis is a whole year old and I can’t believe it. It seems like I was pregnant 50 years ago, but it also seems like I was swaddling our newborn just two weeks ago.

(In case you missed it, you can read our birth story here.)

10 things I learned in my first year of motherhood
10 things I learned in my first year of motherhood

I went into motherhood pretty much blind. One of my prenatal classes — uno — was about taking care of your baby. Needless to say it wasn’t in-depth and like most new parents I am learning as I go. Memphis is my teacher. He shows me how to take care of him, what he needs, how to love, how to play. He’s taught me a lot in our first year of studying together, but I narrowed it down to a top 10 list so you won’t have to be here forever.

Also, a little flashback of photos of him throughout the year. Remember this little newborn?

newborn in hospital

1. Prioritize self-care.

At times it seemed impossible to take time for myself. Especially in the newborn phase when Memphis was waking up every 1-2 hours to eat. But even during this time, I would do at least one thing a day just for me. Usually it was one of two things: Some gentle, postpartum safe yoga or curling my hair. I know those are very different things but yoga made me feel alive again and curling my hair made me feel like a confident woman. Sure, I had bags under my eyes, my boobs were leaking everywhere and I was probably wearing spit-up and/or poop, but if my hair looked good I felt like a million bucks. Or at least a few thousand.


2. Be realistic with expectations.

Like many moms, I often feel pressure to be super woman. I need to get everything done. If the house isn’t spotless and my to-dos aren’t tackled I feel like a failure. But I’ve learned … well, still am learning … to let go of that need for perfection and set realistic expectations.

For example, time. Everything takes more time with a baby. You have to make sure they are fed and freshly changed and dressed and don’t forget to pack extra clothes and diapers and maybe bring a bottle just in case. Have they napped yet? OK, looks like you have exactly one hour to get all your errands done. Shit, it took 30 minutes to prepare. You have 30 minutes. And baby just pooped again. Alright just run to the nearest store and grab the essentials.

2 months old
Memphis Christmas

3. Breathe first.

I expected my yoga practice to prepare me for childbirth and postpartum recovery. I didn’t expect it to be such a huge help in the day-to-day stresses of parenting. There were times when Memphis would cry nonstop and I couldn’t seem to find any way to make it better. There are times when he’s teething and really hard to please. There are times when he throws a temper tantrum because his evil mom won’t let him play with sharp objects. In these moments, I use my yoga breath. I pause and take a few — sometimes even just one — deep breath and come to my two mommy mantras … which I’ll share in numbers 4 and 5.

Memphis Stay Weird
Memphis bath

4. This is temporary.

My first mommy mantra — a phrase I come back to often — is “this is temporary.” Memphis has only been alive for one year, and he’s changed immensely in that short time. Any phase he’s going through is temporary. I remind myself this when things are challenging because when I’m stressed, two hours can feel like an eternity. But after taking a few deep breaths and shifting my perspective, I’m less overwhelmed because I know in the grand scheme of things this is but a fleeting moment. As an added bonus, it’s also a good reminder to stay present.

You're killing me smalls
Sleeping baby

5. Lead with love.

My second mommy mantra is to “lead with love”. In everything I do for Memphis, whether it be wrong or right (because I’m sure I’m doing some things totally wrong that later I will wonder, “WHAT WERE WE THINKING?”), it comes from a place of love.

Kissing booth baby
Baby's first food

6. It’s OK to take a timeout.

Sometimes, even with the best yoga breath and my mommy mantras, I need a timeout. I haven’t needed one in a while but when Memphis was having those days when he cried nonstop, there were a couple of times when I had to take a timeout. I put Memphis in his crib where I knew he was safe, and I stepped outside for some fresh air for a couple of minutes. This may sound like a horrible mom move but I was able to ground, reset and be a better, more loving mom when I came back inside instead of a wired ball of stress frantically trying to make the baby stop wailing. It was better for the both of us.

Baby and dog

7. Don’t miss the moments.

Remember that mommy mantra, “this is temporary”? Well, I also use it to remind myself to soak up the moments. Sometimes I keep moments just to us. No photos or Instagram videos. Just him and me. Without distractions. Fully present in each other’s company.

fourth of July baby
baby in Tula carrier

8. Ask for help.

Man this one is hard for me. I want to do it all. And I want to do it on my own. Being a mom has taught me that it truly does take a village, and that when I need help, I need to ask. I ask for help from my husband, my family, my neighbor and my friends. There’s no way I could stand on my own two feet without the support of others. People who care are willing to help — ASK.

patriotic baby

9. Just call the doctor.

It’s not a nuisance. If something seems off, trust your instincts and call the doctor. I don’t want to imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t called that day he seemed off.

rookie of the year one year old

10. The female body is incredible.

I’ve gained a whole new level of appreciation for my body. Although I didn’t love all parts of pregnancy, overall it was an incredible experience. It’s incredible that my body held two souls, and that after Memphis was born my body continued to nourish him as it healed. Our bodies are powerful and I’m so proud of mine for all that it’s done.

9 months in, 9 months out

Happy birthday to this little guy. Thank you for making me a mom and for teaching me new things every day. We love you!