what I learned in my first year of motherhood.

whatilearned-1the bump // one week // one year

When I think back on that giddy and grateful mom propped up in the hospital bed holding her baby boy in one arm and a barf bin in the other, I can’t help but smile. I had been a mother for less than an hour and was already struggling to find a balance between taking care of myself and taking care of him.

My first year as a mother I learned all kinds of things. I learned how to swaddle and breastfeed and avoid getting peed on while changing a diaper. I learned how to use a moby wrap and a puj tub and a bumbo and a bunch of other words/things that made no sense to me prior to creating a baby registry. I learned how to survive on very little sleep and how to look relatively presentable without showering, skills that will probably serve me well for a while.

I learned how to love my body again. And again. And again.

I learned how to strap a baby in an ergo carrier using only one hand in the middle of a crowded parking lot. I learned how to handle a temper tantrum in Target and the importance of carrying an entire container of puffs on an airplane. I learned how to breastfeed in the car, in a restaurant, at a wedding, during church, on the beach, in a bathroom stall, and a variety of other places. I learned how to pee while holding a baby and how to wash my hands while holding a baby and how to cook pasta while holding a baby and how to send e-mails while holding a baby.

I learned how to love my husband as a father. And can I just say….dang. Fatherhood looks good on him.

I learned how to be patient when patience is absolutely necessary, and how to forgive myself for not being patient the rest of the time. I learned that I do have a threshold for the number of minutes I can listen to a baby scream before I start screaming myself. I learned how to make homemade baby food and where to draw the line with homemade baby food (see: pureeing ground turkey and/or meats of any kind ).

I learned to trust my motherly instincts and not freak out when the doctor lectures me about growth charts. I learned to pay attention to the habits of my baby and the curves and marks on his little body. I learned that baby hernias are not exactly common, but can easily be fixed with a routine surgery. I learned to trust God (again) and trust doctors (again) and trust anesthesiologists (again).

I learned how to love fiercely and wildly without expectations, how to give myself fully and wholly to the greater good of another person. I learned how to sacrifice my body and my time, day after day and week after week and month after month.

I learned that it’s really hard not to silently judge other mothers, but it’s a task I am committed to carrying out. I learned that almost all of us—the biological and the adoptive, the breast-feeders and the bottle-feeders, the working moms and the stay-at-home moms—are doing the best we can. I learned that my friendships with other mothers are stronger, better, more vulnerable and more powerful when we both accept this truth.

I learned that God is real and present and with me every second of every day, because without him, I never would have survived this year with a smile on my face. I learned that motherhood is hard, and that it’s not for the faint of heart. I learned that motherhood requires bravery, selflessness, perseverance, courage, and creativity.

I learned that it is entirely possible to spend a whole day with a baby, and miss him the second he goes to sleep.

I learned joy. Real, un-fleeting, permanent, here-to-stay-forever joy.

And above all else, I learned that God loves me even more than I love Everett—mightily, profoundly, perfectly, and unconditionally—a truth I never fully understood until this year. 

I have never been so grateful to be a child of His.

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33 Responses to what I learned in my first year of motherhood.

  1. Rhianna says:

    This is a beautiful post. Congratulations on your first year of motherhood — it looks good on you!

  2. ah beautiful . congrats on a wonderful first year 🙂
    Julie@my5monkeys´s last blog post ..Reading Challenges –Blog Confession

  3. Karen :0) says:

    This is beautiful!!
    Karen :0)´s last blog post ..A Very Disney Birthday

  4. Lesley says:

    It’s been so fun and special to watch you become a mother this year. You are a great one! A baby’s first birthday is a mama and daddy’s celebration first and foremost. I’m celebrating you guys this week and can’t wait for chipotle on Saturday!
    Lesley´s last blog post ..Are you lazy when it comes to money?

  5. Camille says:

    Thank you for sharing Ashlee, such a beautiful post! You are a wonderful mother and Everett is a blessed little boy. xoxo

  6. This is so encouraging to me! I am five months in and can relate to much of this already. Thanks for the insight for the rest of my year and Happy Birthday to your sweet boy!

  7. Natalie says:

    Beautiful Ashlee. Motherhood looks great on you too!

  8. Beautiful, Ashlee! To many, many more years of memories (and lessons!) 🙂 Love to you and Ev as you celebrate his birthday!
    Katie Blackburn´s last blog post ..see you soon

  9. Paulette Hawes says:

    Dearest Ashlee, Brett and Everett –

    This has been quite a year!! I so enjoy watching you with Everett and the parents you have become. Everett has brought so much joy to all of our lives. I love the time I spend with him!! Thanks again for making me a Grandma. Are you ready for round two?? LOL

    Love, Mom

  10. Regina says:

    I look forward to reading your blog. You have such a way with words . Thank you

  11. Gina says:

    Yet another beautiful post, Ashlee! All of your posts on motherhood make me so excited to be a mom someday. 🙂
    Gina´s last blog post ..On Choosing a Career, Professional Development, and My New Job!

  12. Lindsey says:

    Beautifully said!! I’m in the middle of writing my 1st of year of motherhood post too! I can’t believe he’s one this month!! But, I can’t believe my daughter will be too! 🙂 and 🙁

  13. Stephanie Anfinson says:

    I completely agree with your last statement. I never truly understood the phrase “child of God” until I had a child. I feel like having a baby brought me closer to God just because I understood love in a whole new way. Motherhood is just plain awesome. 🙂

  14. I love the photo – he looks so tiny and then wow, he has grown!

    It was such a beautiful post – not just coz your baby is turning one, but Mother’s Day is right around the corner. I’m still learning – trying to find a balance as my baby just turned one month old a few days ago.

    It changes you, doesn’t it, this motherhood thing.

    PS – love the comment from your Mum (Round 2?? :P)
    Sig @ Melbourne Maharani´s last blog post ..Rehan – One month old

  15. Katie says:

    This is so beautiful, Ashlee. Thank you for being so real and honest. It is posts like this that make me excited to be a mother one day.

  16. I love the words of this post, but just as much/more, I LOVE the photos that accompany them. That series is just mind-blowingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing. <3
    Kate @ Suburban Sweetheart´s last blog post ..Three Ways New Jersey Handicaps its Drivers

  17. michelle says:

    This makes me so excited to have our little one in 4 months! Wonderful, touching, heartfelt post. Happy Birthday E!
    michelle´s last blog post ..Weekend Baking: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

  18. Jo says:

    Beautiful post. Happy birthday to your little man!
    Jo´s last blog post ..New chapter

  19. Megan says:

    Wow, I cannot believe it has been a year! This is a beautiful post. Happy birthday, Ev!
    Megan´s last blog post ..A Life in Transition

  20. This is so beautiful. You are such a wonderful momma Ashlee! I’m gleaning so much wisdom from you and tucking it away for the future! 🙂
    jennifer blair´s last blog post ..Why Your Wedding Photography Should Be Like My Old House

  21. Pingback: Five on Friday v10 | Gina Marie Rose

  22. Jill says:

    As a soon-to-be first time mom, this was a much needed read. Thanks for sharing what you learned throughout the first year.
    I’ve snooped a bit in your archives, but was wondering if you have you ever posted a list of your favorite things for the first year? I’d love to read suggestions from someone who has been through it before. 🙂

  23. It is really beautiful picture. It so lovely.

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