I’m the mother of a 9-month-old son, and I think we all know what that means. It means that I’ve successfully reared a child for 3/4 of a year. That’s like 75% of 12 months. Given this impressive level of experience, I’d like to provide some words of wisdom to my soon-to-be mom friends as they embark on this, the most rewarding and challenging of roller coasters known as the first year of parenthood. Sure, my own baby is basically still a glorified (albeit cheerful) ham, and yeah, I couldn’t figure out how to get him in or out of his carrier today without the assistance of a pit crew. But who’s to say what constitutes being an expert, really?

With that in mind, here are my thoughts on what makes up the best and worst aspects of the first year of life with a baby:

Best

Immediately losing 10 pounds post-delivery. I mean, when else can you achieve such magnificent results, unless you have Jillian Michaels standing over you with a bullwhip? (Answer: you may also achieve these results in a sauna if you’re chock full of laxatives, but that’s not medically advisable. Otherwise, never.)

Worst

Constipation. This is your enemy in a way you can scarcely imagine prior to giving birth, especially if you have a C-section. Sure you’ve been clogged up before, perhaps following an overzealous rendezvous with a prime rib. But post-birth constipation can take you from behind, if you will, and not let go. It can make you wish you were still in labor, because at the end of labor you have a new child to look forward to, while at the end of constipation you only have hemorrhoids to look forward to. The saving grace here is that you can at least enjoy a daily sitz bath, which is like a spa in the same way that a prison cell is like a dorm room.

Best

Maternity leave. This is a glorious period when you are “free from all obligations” (except for the notable mandate of keeping a baby alive). Nonetheless, this period provides a respite from the daily grind, leaving you with enough stamina at the end of the day to be beaten down by your infant ALL NIGHT LONG. It also gives you time for leisure activities, such as scouring the internet for ways to make your baby stop crying and reading 1,000 online forums regarding the developmental milestones your baby is not meeting. Such a calming and restful time. Quite simply, it is THE BEST.

Worst

Finding day care. A question that many of us face with a new baby, beyond the obvious one of Where in God’s name did the belly button stump disappear to? is the question of who will watch our child if we’re planning to go back to work. Grandparents? A nanny? A friendly pack of local wolves? The choices are endless. Make a bad decision and you will most definitely ruin your child for good. The emotional scars will be deeply etched, and you will have only yourself and that pack of wolves to blame. Make a good decision and acceptance into an Ivy League school is all but guaranteed. Your child will be socially advanced and physically fit, with better hair than his peers. He will probably be taller too, dramatically improving his chances of holding political office. Other than that, the stakes aren’t very high.

Best

The ability to dress up your baby in a variety of costumes. Ask yourself this: Is it even worth having a baby if you’re not going to dress him up as a bear? I can’t see a really compelling reason to have children if you’re not planning on taking advantage of this opportunity. (Note: If you prefer to dress your baby up as barnyard or aquatic animal, you’ll reap the same benefits).

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Worst

You will spend a lot of money on clothes that your baby will only wear once. There is no getting around it, as the odds are 110% that your baby will either shit all over her new clothes or, alternatively, control her bowels but then decide to grow 7 inches overnight. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, you guys. Sometimes it’s easier to just concede defeat right out of the gate.

Best

As a new mom, you can wear whatever you want. WHATEVER you want. Vomit stained maternity pants? Of course. A shapeless mumu? No problem whatsoever. Sweatpants from 1987? Hell yes. Nobody will judge you. Ok people will probably judge you, but nobody will judge you OUT LOUD, and isn’t that the only time it really counts?

Worst

You won’t have the energy to pull together an attractive outfit, even on those rare occasions when you really want to dress up. As the months go by, this can start to affect your ability to recognize yourself as a reasonably attractive individual. And if you weren’t even attractive to start with, then man does this hurt! This can be especially tough if you’re breastfeeding and need to be wearing something that is both trendy and also allows you to pull out your boobs at a moment’s notice.

Best

New parent camaraderie. Making friends with other new parents and being able to commiserate with them is priceless. Even if you already have amazing friends, you’re going to want to add to your stockpile some parents with babies who were born within 2 months of your baby. Otherwise you won’t be able to discuss the stumbling blocks of your child’s particular developmental stage. You also won’t be able to do head to head comparisons, and you’ll definitely want to in order to determine if your baby is superior to all the other loser babies. (Note: If your baby seems to be falling behind, just adjust his birth date so that he is “back on track”).

Worst

Discussion Boards. It turns out that moms whose parenting philosophies differ from one another can be downright vicious, especially on hot-button topics like working vs. staying home, breast vs. bottle, and “crying it out.” Stay clear of these conversations unless you enjoy a good old fashioned blood bath. The baby forums read like “Lord of the Flies” only with fewer tender parts. I’ve noticed that this phenomenon seems to be primarily on the internet, whereas in real life I haven’t found moms to be so aggressive. Unless they’re trying to beat you to a parking space at Target, in which case all bets are off.

Best

The first time your baby looks right at you and really knows it’s you. It’s an amazing feeling, and in that moment, it hits home that this child is yours and you are his in a way that nothing can compare. Please note that you may get confused at first, thinking your baby is in fact looking right at you, only to find that he is gazing adoringly at the decorative throw pillow just over your shoulder. You’ll feel the difference when it’s the real deal, and it’s awesome. In the grand scheme of things, that throw pillow has nothing on you.

Worst

The anxiety that comes with worrying about keeping your baby healthy and safe. For that first month, you pretty much want to hold a mirror under your baby’s nose to make sure he’s breathing, 24/7. I myself was obsessed with my son’s airways and making sure they were free and clear at all times. This is not particularly practical, and makes it hard to accomplish other important tasks, like feeding your baby. Worry and new parenting go hand in hand, and sometimes its best to just accept that you’re going to be a hypochondriacal lunatic for a few months.

Best

During those first few months, once you’re out and about, you start to think that your portable little bundle is the best sidekick ever. You’ll be carrying around your 8 pound sack of flour to dinners and bars, and thinking wow, my baby is the easiest baby ever! Look how he sleeps through everything and causes no commotion whatsoever! These are the glory days, and they’re the best while they last. Enjoy them.

Worst

Having your 8-pound sack of flour morph into a 20 pounder who’s tougher to hold onto than a greased pig at a state fair. He will now grab everything in his reach and attempt to knock it over, and you’re forced to recognize that he was just tricking you those first few months by “playing possum” so you would keep him.

The VERY Best

Every night, after you rock or nurse or cuddle your baby before bed, there is that brief instant when his head lies on your shoulder, heavy and asleep. Sometimes his hair will be a little damp, his forehead sweaty. He will feel so snug and perfect and you will want him to stay just like that, forever maybe. It is a fleeting moment. And in that precious time you will think to yourself, I couldn’t love anything more than I love this little person. And it wouldn’t matter how many “worsts” you could come up with, because you could add them all up and they wouldn’t outweigh this very best.

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Unless of course you have a poor dismount into the crib, bobbling and waking your baby and turning him into a screaming wildebeest. And you know right then and there that it is going to be a LONG night. That… right…. there…. is the worst.

— — — — —

– by Wannabe Blunt Liz Faria. For more from Liz, check out her blog A Mothership Down and follow her on Facebook.

Liz Curtis Faria
Author

Liz spent much of the past decade as a social worker and photographer, earning very little money but having the opportunity to travel widely and meet many interesting people, including a drunk Canadian who cut her a mullet on a dare. Now a full-time mom and blogger, Liz is continuing her quest to make no money and spending her days wondering why her son so closely resembles a ham. While many, many people call her Mother Earth, she finds that cumbersome. Please just call her Liz. Liz blogs about the joy and ridiculousness that is motherhood at A Mothership Down. Her work has also been featured on Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, and Mamapedia, among others.

50 Comments

  1. Maternity leave was such a huge disappointment. I had a vision of me and LO (I hate new mom acronyms) enjoying THREE MONTHS OFF, laughing and singing together in the car as we ran errands and worked on home projects. I knew I wouldn’t be like Giselle, getting my hair and make up done while my baby sat on my lap, but I still thought it would be fun. Or at least bearable. I was wrong.

    • Haha, Kiki, it is quite an interesting 3 months! Home projects? Ha! That’s what I thought to. I had visions of grandeur for all that I could get done. Who knew that blowing my hair dry would become my crowning achievement.

    • I’m right there with you! I’ve been on maternity leave since memorial day weekend… I kept referring to it as “summer vacation” before the baby got here… HA! Now that I’m 2 months in I’m less of a wreck… but my visions of long walks around town, beach trips, and relaxation were quickly quashed by panic attacks that she was overheating in the 90 degree heat, sleep deprivation induced breakdowns, and my newly acquired germophobia making me too scared to have anyone over until after her first round of shots. Ugh.

    • Oh, not to mention almost immediate dread at heaving to leave her to go back to work…

  2. Love it, Liz!! My son is 8+ months old and I have yet to dress him up as an animal. Thank goodness Halloween comes before he turns 1 or someone may show up at my door to take him away. Oh, and they DO say you love your kids best when they’re asleep. So yeah, ruining that perfect bedtime moment truly IS the worst.

    • Get him a costume STAT! It’s a good thing you saw this article in time, you are dangerously close to missing the window. That would be more than a shame. It is, technically, a crime. I think.

  3. Courtney C Reply

    You nailed it at the end – that sweet sleeping creature is absolutely worth it! Great post!!

    • Thanks Courtney! I do love that last moment of the night when Nolan is on my shoulder sleeping. But yeah, screw up the dismount into the crib and you’re screwed, big time.

  4. Jessica Phinney Reply

    Amazing! And so true! I myself have a 9 month old and concur with all of the above! Liz you hit the nail on the head!! Excellent article!! šŸ™‚

    • Thanks Jessica! That’s really nice! We should discuss in 3 months (at the actual 1 year mark) whether we have anything to add to this post šŸ™‚

  5. Mary Vopat Reply

    I loved the article. The truth is grandmas have it even better. We don’t have to say no. We are perfect in our grandchildren’s eyes

    • That is completely true Mary. As I’m typing this I’m watching my mom play with Nolan, and they are pretty much in love with each other. He ADORES her! And vice versa.

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  7. I totally agree about the discussion boards. Mom competitiveness on discussion boards is just the worst! For example, Is there a secret prize for any mom who can successfully keep their children in rear facing car seats until they’re juniors in college? I mean aside from the obvious prize of their child’s 21-year-old virginity. Actually, now that I think of it, that’s a really good prize…

    • Haha, Chrissie, that IS a really good prize. You should start posting about long-term virginity being your goal for your children on a discussion board about car seats. See what sort of feedback you get.

  8. Karen Schofield Gulley Reply

    Liz!
    This is hysterical, I loved reading I all. Fortunately, I had a dream maternity leave with 2 years for each of mine and got to return to my job…but experienced everything that you are talking about! One of the best/worst, depending on how you look at it, for me was that when you are in the final months of pregnancy everyone is all over you, whether they’re touching you or oogling you or making some wonderful comment. The day after you give birth, it’s over, I mean, no one knows you were pregnant, no one cares, they just assume you look that tired and puffy and run down normally…unless you’re out and about with your newborn bundle of joy, it’s like you were never pregnant!
    Congrats to you on “bluntMoms”, can’t wait to read more:)
    K

    • Thanks Karen! I totally know what you mean about the pre vs. post pregnancy ogling. Leading up to delivery you’re like a minor celebrity, and once the baby comes out you just look like someone getting over mono. It’s important to always have your baby on your person for this very reason. And if you don’t want to take your baby out, at a MINIMUM carry your diaper bag as evidence that you are responsible for a child who is in turn responsible for your poor appearance.

  9. Oh the perils of dressing when you’re breast feeding! I recently put my foot down and said (to myself) “I’m wearing a dress damn it!” I later found myself with my dress around my neck, breastfeeding.

    • I still haven’t figured out how to manage this! Sometimes I want to wear dresses (ok, I want to wear cotton maternity dresses) because they’re loose fitting, but to breastfeed in a dress you need to be super clever or very flexible. I’m neither. It’s a disaster every time.

      • I found a great dress for breast feeding at lands end that crosses over in the front for easy access (fit and flare on sale for $29). Liked it so much I now have six of them in different colors, prints, short and maxi. It’s too hot in Georgia to not be able to wear dresses in the summer. Plus they hide the post baby belly!

  10. Betsy HIGGINS Reply

    I love to read anything that you write, Liz. I so rarely break out in a belly laugh, but you get me almost every time. Your writing is great, funny and touching, and your photos are beautiful. love it and knowing you a little bit makes it that much better! Love you, too!

    • Aw, thanks Betsy, that’s so nice! And as an unrelated note for this venue – congrats on your newest grandchild! Jamie is adorable!

  11. Liz, your posts are always so clever and, more importantly, educational. Here I thought we had children for proliferation of (the) species and/or to pass on our values and/or to create and mold a being who will contribute great things to benefit society. Thanks for setting me and, no doubt, many others straight.

    • No problem. I’m basically a walking Discovery Channel. I’m here to educate, NOT to entertain.

  12. Love this post, Liz. Oh the little girl clothes are really the best….until you have to change them 16 times a day because of another diaper explosion. It’s all worth it though for those quiet, cuddly moments at the end of the day. They are the best.

    • They really are, aren’t they? And they better be pretty amazing moments to counteract the sheer volume of feces management that precedes them.

  13. Wonderful post. Very true! The BEST moment is when your kid looks at you and smiles just because it’s you and they do really know you. Makes it all worth it.

    • It really is amazing when you get that connection with your baby, who was previously very close to being an inanimate object…

  14. Liz, I don’t even have a kid, have no idea what half your references mean(sitz bath?) and I still thought this was hilarious!! Look forward to the next one!

  15. Oh Liz. What a list. I was thinking of how I could relate to so much of this STILL, even my third time around. But then I found myself also thinking about how by #3 I had mastered a hold specifically useful for fat, gassy babies. Only downside: sometimes (and ONLY occasionally I would whack his head on a door frame while using this tired and true handy hold). He hardly cried, I swear, it was fine. But still….parenting. What a trip!

  16. My little guy is 2 1/2 and for the first 2 years, I thought he was the most laid back, chill kid ever. Yeah, at around 18 months he got wriggley and mobile, but still mostly go with the flow.

    Now I am in possession of a wild raccoon. AND HE RARELY SNUGGLES ANYMORE! I miss it. That’s why it’s my nightly mission to exhaust him to the point of tolerating my affection. I need this to get through the wild raccoon phase.

    • Oh man, I will be so sad if Nolan stops cuddling with me! I mean, I assume that will happen prior to adolescence. But I hope I can get a few good years out of him. Although if he stops being snuggly I do like your tactic of exhausting him so he has no option but to relent.

  17. Dancingwithdad Reply

    Loved it! Thank you for the continued laughs! Can’t wait to read more!

  18. Great post Liz! Everything in this list is so true but I especially like the points about getting dressed after having a baby… it’s such a complicated balance between wearing washable fabrics and being comfortable yet not so “comfortable” (frumpy) that people ask you when the baby is due (this happened to me… I looked right at the woman at Chipotle and said “3 months ago” and then debated whether I had made her uncomfortable enough to ask for my burrito for free…). I also find myself eying cute things I used to be able to wear then having an internal meltdown because even though the cute boots are on sale, I have no need for cute boots anymore… I digress…

    • Mer, maybe you need boots that are so spectacular that nobody even notices the rest of your outfit, thereby removing the pressure you felt to find a fabric that is both washable and un-frumpy! The boots need to be particularly dazzling to have this effect, but I think you’re up to the challenge of finding a pair.

  19. deborah sigman Reply

    Thoroughly enjoy your thoughts on motherhood and can still relate 37 years later. So interesting as a grandparent how some things never change. Glad you now have a wider audience.

  20. You have the most adorable little boy! And you have just reminded me of all the things I thought and felt when my three year old was that little. I miss it! And that’s good, because I am due to have another in 4 weeks. You have helped me remember why I am so damn excited, so thank you for writing this. šŸ™‚

    • Aw, that’s great! I’m glad this post amped up your excitement! Sometimes the exciting part of the pregnancy can be forgotten in those last few weeks when your ankles expand in ungodly ways. Not that I’ve seen your ankles, since I don’t know you. I’m just taking an educated guess based on my own ankles. I think I’m off topic. Congrats!

  21. Basically the only reason I had a kid was to be able to dress him in costumes. 6 months in, he has yet to be lucky enough to have a costume on (hoodies with bear ears just don’t count), unless you count the oversized sombrero we photographed swallowing his head. I must rectify this immediately.

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