It’s been two years since we discovered that we would be parents for the first time. Even though my son will be one year and a half in a few days, the journey started on a sunny day of autumn two years ago.
I’m so grateful for writing this story. As every mother probably knows, there is never a perfect time to have a moment to think and relieve the experiences that shaped us. Writing about this first year as a parent allows me to frame my thoughts, feelings and understandings.
My intention with this article is to offer a glimpse into the first year of parenting for those who are at the beginning of this journey or have the desire to make these steps. Likewise, for those of you who have already passed by the first year, I hope this article will remind you how it was and how strong and powerful you are.
1. How strong a woman is
Giving birth was the hardest thing I ever did, and I had short labour, just a few hours. Raising a baby is by far the most complex thing I’ve done. There is no emotion or feeling that I have not gone through until now—many times in a single day.
Fortunately, I have a partner who is helping me actively in raising Arun Sai. But I know that are millions of women out there who are raising their babies alone besides the rest of the things they need to do. For me, these women are heroines. You deserve all the respect and admiration in the world. I think about you often, and I’m sending you all my deep love and support.
Most women want all that is best for their children, healthy food, love, care, and attention. We read books, watch parenting programs, and go to workshops to be as good as we can for our children. All of these take time, love and dedication and are just a part of our daily life as a whole human beings. We are protective, intuitive, dedicated, present, and we manage to smile while swaying all of this and all the rest.
If this is not the definition of strongness, I don’t know what else it can be.
2. Travelling will never be the same
Christian and I love to travel. Since we met the first time, three years ago, we travelled a lot in every possible way by car, plane, ferry, bicycle. You name it. Being pregnant with Arun didn’t stop us either. In those nine months, Arun visited more countries than me until the age of 30.
I knew that things would change, so we enjoyed our last trips alone. Still, I miss the moments when it was just the two of us. I miss a lot the liberty of walking in the night on empty streets on a warm autumn evening, wandering for hours in the forest or camping in the mountains.
Yet, since Arun came, the trips didn’t stop, and he seems to enjoy them if we don’t count the fact that he’s disliking being in the car for too many hours.
The first time we understood that our vacations would never be the same was a few months ago when we went to Berlin. Suddenly, everything had to be organised around him and not around our desires, no museums, no events, no theatre, no romantic moments. All of these felt like a cold shower.
Viewed from a positive perspective, we can now start exploring our inner child and plan trips to more playful destinations. In my childhood, I didn’t have the opportunity to explore the world with my parents. Therefore we decided to release our imagination and give Arun the best experiences we can create and find for him.
3. Take time to be just the three of you
I believe that being a first-time parent is a precious moment that needs to develop from the inside out.
It is mostly like when you fall in love with someone, and you are at the beginning of the relationship. You only want to stay with that person and know everything about them, to spend all your time alone with her or him to harmonise your energies. You start to build something new, and you need all your attention invested in building a solid foundation.
With a baby is the same. Take your time, just the three of you. Also, your partner needs this time with the baby to bond and connect. It is a unique, powerful and vital part of creating a solid foundation between all of you as a whole and also individually.
For us, those moments counted a lot. We stood together, and we learned together how to manage this little creature. We helped each other with feeding, changing, sleeping, singing, rocking, everything. It wasn’t easy because we were just the two of us and Luna, our cat. We didn’t have help from our parents or friends. We had to manage everything by ourselves.
It was a transformative period, intense and challenging, but it helped us create this connection with Arun. For Christian, this time built a strong bond between him and Sai. It is incredible for me to see how they interact with each other, and how affectionate and connected they are.
Take the time to be only the three of you. Grandparents, relatives, and friends can definitely wait.
4. Panic moments
As first-time parents, there are tones of things you don’t know and find along the way even though you took your time to inform yourself from the beginning.
There are a lot of things you can panic about, starting with the constant question “Is he breathing?” and ending with more complex ones like crying and not being able to reassure him in any way. Or more severe things like different kinds of illnesses.
For most of the first time, parents, the panics that they pass through are mainly minor like tooth growth, development of the digestive tract, growth shoots, Oral Trush and others.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that the panic is less intense, not nearly. When the panic activates is panic all the way. When you don’t have the experience, and you don’t know what is happening for sure, every little thing can be devastating. The emotions and sensations you can pass through are unimaginable. Even though you read that the symptoms are common, until it passes, and you see with your eyes that everything is all right, you will not feel relieved.
What I did in these situations:
I said it before in another article (How to prepare for childbirth, educate yourself), and I will repeat it. Educating yourself is the best thing you can do in any situation but especially in this new chapter of your life. During the pregnancy and after, I read a lot about the process and the baby’s developing stages. These helped me tremendously to keep my cool and be always one step ahead. It was by far the best thing I ever did. You can see in the article mentioned above some of the resources I used.
In this process, it is vital to check your information’s from many sources. Be very careful about what you feel because the information that you will need will resonate with you at a deeper level. You always, always know what to do. Your heart and your instincts work better than anything that humans could ever create. We may think we don’t know because we forgot how we lack the practice of attuning with ourselves. Use the information you read as a guideline. Create an understanding of the situation, check with your gut, and make further moves if necessary. Always keep up your faith and trust in the Universe, God, Buddha, or whoever you believe in.
I experienced great panic when Arun had his first tooth. We didn’t know what was happening to him because he was all right, playing, laughing, and suddenly everything was not ok anymore. In the beginning, we didn’t know for sure what was wrong with him. We could see he was suffering. At one point, he started having a fever. He was not eating, not drinking, just crying or mourning in our arms. All my skin was trembling, my heart was bleeding, and I would have done everything to take his pain away.
In those moments of stress and panic, I discovered something very powerful. Something that helped both Sai and me to calm down. This action became a habit, and now we do it preventively.
I held him in my arms, and after a few hours in this situation that seemed like years, I started saying affirmations in his ear. You are healthy, and you are brave, you are courageous, you are powerful, you are gracious, you are light, I love you. I kept saying these affirmations over and over again with so much love, dedication, and power that at one point, he managed to fall asleep in my arms for a few hours. I was so concentrated and so determined to ease his pain that I sincerely believe these affirmations worked.
When you are in a stressful situation like this and see your child in pain, you do everything you can to comfort him. However, if the pain is still there, being stressed, agitated, and panicked, it only makes it worse.
Your baby is so connected with you that he feels all your emotions. Your panic sends alarming signals to him, and it is much harder to calm him down. Saying those affirmations allowed me to use the most powerful tool a mother has, the connection with her child, a tool that is yet misunderstood and much underused.
I spoke about the power of words and how they influence our lives in this article.
Speak With Someone With Experience
- My mother is a babysitter and, besides raising my sister and me, also raised other four kids. Unfortunately, my mother didn’t saw every step in our growing process. She had to go to work and take care of the house while our father worked abroad mostly all our childhood. But she definitely had the opportunity to see every change these four children went through. Speaking with her helped me to regain my calm in many situations. I had times when I thought that Arun was having a significant problem when, in fact, it was something common like lung development or constipation. Our mothers have already gone through many of the situations we experience as mothers, so I believe there is a source of wisdom we can not afford to ignore.
- In the first year, here in Denmark, we receive visits from a midwife. She came a few times to take measurements and interact with Arun to see if he developed properly. Every time I was insecure about something, I was also speaking with her. I always received a specialised explanation of the situation.
- In various circumstances, I also spoke with the paediatrician to be sure everything was all right.
5. Connecting with your baby sometimes takes time
Yes, you are his mother, and you had him in your belly for nine months. You already have an unbreakable relationship with him/her. Still is also a new living being who is entering your life and has his/her own plan and processes.
The love and affection for your child increase from day to day, from one experience to another. Every day it gets stronger and more prominent. It is perfectly normal not to feel all the love you are capable of from the first interaction.
In my mind, I had this idea of how the first months should feel based on what I heard or read. The way everything was presented and the way I was truly feeling weren’t that similar. Yes, I was experiencing love but not in that ecstatically, all rainbows and honey way.
Love gradually expands from one day to another. It still does. I often look at Sai and wondering how much this love can possibly expand. I reach such peaks sometimes that it seems they can’t ever be reached again. Then comes the next day. I look at him, and I’m shocked to see that my love expanded. All of this is fascinating to me. I can see and feel how my whole being expands there in that very moment.
Good things take time. So don’t panic if you do not hear the angels singing in your year when you give birth. Some of us experience motherhood in different ways, and it’s okay. I feel you.
6. How big are the little things
BIG, the answer is BIG. Why is that? You may ask. The answer is simple. There will be many stressful moments, extenuating, frustrating, sad, mental chatting, nervousness, that will come, and your baby will trigger most of them. However, just a smile or a look from him and everything, I mean everything, will be miraculously erased.
I like to think about myself as being a calm and patient person. But there are times when I want to scream from the bottom of my lungs. Yet he then looks at me with those puppy eyes, babbling something in his language, and I burst into laughter.
When Sai is around, I’m singing, speaking, playing, laughing, dancing. Something is happening. I’m charging every time I see how happy he is and how he laughs.
The other days I was eating with Arun in the kitchen, and at one point, I asked him if he wants to get off the chair, and he answered YES. It’s the first time I felt I had a real conversation with him. It hit me directly in the Solar Plexus. That moment was a moment of presence, a dilation of time, one second that felt like an eternity. Suddenly it was a tiny human in front of me with consciousness. It was wow.
And there are many, many little moments like these that make you forget all the others and also make you question yourself, your reactions, and your thoughts. Do we really need to stress ourselves? We grow little by little with them every day.
7. You don’t know where the first year flies
Time flies when are you having fun, right? There are so many changes in the life of first-time parents that it is almost impossible to grasps. Being pregnant wasn’t that much fun. I know women who loved that period. I’m definitely not one of them. I remember wanting it to end and be myself again. It was challenging from many points of view.
After giving birth, everything happened so fast. We were both so focused on being present, offering Sai all he needed for proper development that we almost didn’t notice how time passed. Besides changing diapers, feeding, and putting Arun to sleep, we also focused on our changes and transformations. We were healing our past wounds and patterns so that Sai will have a balanced and fulfilling life.
Our lives begin to have a sort of normalisation only after Arun started to walk, somewhere around one year old. Babies change a lot in their first year, so until we got used to a program, a new change took place, and we had to recalibrate our routine. There are still chances that occur, but in a way, they are more understandable.
First-time parents, what a complex experience, and we are only at the beginning of this journey called parenting. Take the time to know yourselves and always be as informed as you can be. Building a relationship takes time, dedication, and presence. Do everything is in your power to make the most of this time spent with your newborn. It’s a precious time which no one will ever be able to give or take it from you ever again.
So, those of you who will be first-time parents, enjoy the ride because it is one of the most transformative experiences of this life. Stay together and help each other out. Respect the work that the other one is doing and create a cocoon of love, care, and protection around you. You are doing the most important job in your lives. Even though it will seem overwhelming in some moments, wait for your baby to give you a smile, a hug, or a word, and everything will vanish as if by magic.
I hope you had a wonderful time remembering and reliving all those magical moments that shaped your souls for those of you who already went through all of these.
I deeply respect all of you, it’s not easy, but it’s fun.
Remember to love yourself