About two weeks ago, I took Hayes upstairs for bed after a bath and as I was feeding him before going to bed, I realized he was nearly 9 months and that we were quickly approaching 1 year. It felt as if we had sped through months 7 and 8 without barely blinking. It was the first time I connected how in less than 4 months we would have a legitimate toddler and our little baby who came home at barely 6 lbs was going to be walking and talking before we may even know what hit us. Early on I felt so much of this experience was so ultimate. The sleepless nights. The never ending feedings. The unpredictable wake ups that sometimes were middle of the night fights to get him back to sleep. The figuring it out and second guessing yourself. All of it I found myself continually wondering when would it get easier. When would I deeply enjoy this new chapter like I see so many other moms enjoying it or were they all faking it trying to make it through just like me? But as I sat there that night nursing him feeling the weight of him on my body, I realized these days are numbered and by no means felt ultimate any longer. Sometime in the last month things found a groove for the first time for us without ever realizing it. I realized that soon enough this time of nursing him, holding him, rocking him would come to an end and in that instant I realized that I was in the middle of the most precious time in life right now and it was as if a switch flipped inside of me. I started getting teary eyed holding him in the dark completely unaware his mother was falling apart as she realized how beautiful and special this time we have with him is. I caught myself from that day on completely absorbing every thing with him. Even Mike began feeling the same way. We both nearly fight for holding and playing with him these days and I think it is because we know these days have a time limit more than ever. In many ways, I avoided writing our 8-month post because I really didn’t want to acknowledge how quickly this was all going.
I think back to when we brought Hayes home and those first 3 months nearly took us to the edge like they do for most parents.I know how fast it goes even when it feels forever at 2 AM and 2:30 AM and 4 AM, and 4:15 AM. Looking back now from here I know now how short it really is, but during those times it felt endlessly difficult. Even now, we aren’t out of the woods, but compared to what we experienced in the beginning with the sleeplessness and then the even harder months between 5 &6 I feel this is smooth sailing these days.
When those tough times came with Hayes, many people especially older moms would say, “honey, it gets better.” At the time I felt it was completely them forgetting how hard life was as a mom now that they were empty nesters. But, here at 8-months, I will say it gets easier. Maybe you can chalk it up to getting sleep (he only wakes once now!) or maybe it is he can crawl and do his own things, but having a baby now is much easier than ever. I think for everyone it becomes easier at different points, but for us it was month 8. I think most of that had to do with the fact that from month 4 to month 7 we were more or less living out of suitcases. We were selling a house. We were buying land. We were moving. We lived with my parents for nearly 4 months. We were trying to shake life into the right places and he was a piece of that puzzle falling into its place. We were trying to sleep train. He got sick for the first time. We were traveling to new places every other weekend. It was a lot. I do no suggest that by the way! If you can stay in one place as much as possible that first year do it! haha.
In all honesty, those first 8 months were hard as hell for me. It wasn’t just finding the balance as a new mom and as a business owner, but it was about accepting so much of this new phase of life. These last 8 months (now nearly 9) have transformed me into someone that I know only having him could do. My heart is softer. My soul is gentler. These past 8 months as I see him become more and more of who he is and discover the world, I have found things in this experience I never expected. Everyone says all the time he looks like me. I knew from his 20-week ultrasound he had my nose and now as he grows and I fall in love with every bit of who he is more and more, I also have found myself learning to love myself in a way I never anticipated because of him. This may be the strangest thought, but having him and knowing how much we look alike has made me love and accept myself more. I think it is natural as women to compare and struggle to accept our own beauty, but seeing myself such as my nose and my eyes on a little one we created and that I so deeply love has brought confidence and ownership to parts of myself that are unique to me. I have learned to accept how even my nose wrinkles or how funny I look sometimes in a photo. I always feared having a child would only lower my confidence in myself because of the changes that occur from carrying a child and birthing them, but instead, it is quite the opposite for reasons I never anticipated. There is a sense of belonging I feel in who I am since having him. It is something I feel so thankful for these days.
The best part though is that that is only the half of it. It has taken all this time for motherhood to settle into my bones and find its place. Some women are naturals and I don’t think I wasn’t, but I think I needed time to accept this role, find my footing, and most importantly, my identity within it. It is a role that defines you, but I was afraid I would lose myself in it. Instead, I feel I found myself, but it by no means happened over night. There are days that are still hard, and I anticipate that that won’t go away, but those become fewer and further between. It feels the good more often outweighs the bad and I desire things in the experience more than I used to. It wasn’t till now I really enjoyed nursing him. It wasn’t till now that I loved our bedtime routine together and one night I even cried about letting Mike do it haha. It wasn’t till now I longed for the rocking of him. Before many times I enjoyed it, but there was the feeling of it being a chore in some way. It felt like part of checking off of doing things that day not like a relaxing and enjoyable moment of my day as it has become now. That may sound terrible, but it is real and I think a lot of women struggle to find rest within themselves during their entrance into motherhood. Some less than others, but for me it took time to find ease and comfort with this new role. What I realized is that my perspective was off. I hadn’t settled into this time in life. I was still expecting or trying to make life fit in the box of before more than I was accepting this new box I am within. I have accepted a little more every day the parameters on life are different and I have slowly found comfort to having those new parameters in life. There is no way to prepare for it, because it will never be what you anticipate…never.
These days, as I watch him play, pull himself up, try to figure out how to walk, and I think just how lucky I am to enjoy this time right now in life this way. I feel so blessed to be finding a balance between work and him and Mike. It is hard as can be some days when we both have a ton on our plates like we have the last week, but I have learned that this time we are at is important and meant to be enjoyed before it is gone. How much I wish I could capsule it up some days when he grabs for me and snuggles into my shoulder. I watch him giggle at the dogs and find joy in the tiniest things and I want to soak it up and save these moments so much more than ever before. Maybe it is because I know they are numbered more now than ever as we slowly approach this time of baby ending and toddler beginning. I know each night things change a little more. Each night is one less night I will cuddle him when he is this small. I am savoring them and remembering how precious these 8 months have been even in the struggles because they are simply that…precious.
There are days I still wish I could go somewhere new or live my old wild adventurous life. It is natural. Those times in life will come again and in that moment I will long for the times when he would be in his carrier on a daily walk or for him to fall asleep in my arms. So for now, these moments are my wild adventures. For now, these sweet times are the adventures worth being present for instead of desiring to be somewhere else. The days are long at times and some days the work doesn’t get done the way I want it to, but I wouldn’t trade this time for anything in the world. It took me time to find comfort with not getting it all done, with not being the best at my career at this point in life. I think each stage of life has its purpose. This one for me is about settledness and now. I am choosing more than ever these days to learn to be best at this stage not at trying to find the perfect balance or being the best at everything, but just the best where I am with what we have. Finding contentment with life as it is and not with something that doesn’t exist within this realm for us. Every stage has its beauty and its pain, but the worst thing we can do is to find yourself not recognizing the stage you are at. Ultimately that makes you miss the beauty of where you are actually at in life.
Tonight, as I lay him down I know I will once again find myself lingering there holding him humming “Itsy Bitsy Spider” for the 50th time that day. I will kiss his head and tell him goodnight and quietly close the door as he falls asleep peacefully. I will stand there for one-second longer holding him and will acknowledge another moment has passed. A little more of this time has slipped away. Some nights it feels a little harder than others, but knowing I am here completely present recognizing these moments in all their beauty and pains of what it looks like at 8 months is all I can do to make sure none of this passes by faster than it already is.