Checking off another “First”

Last night was MCG’s first night in her big girl room. I still can’t believe that she’s toddling around, saying 40+ words and growing into her own personality. At 14.5 months old she already seems to be more little human and less my baby. Every day she learns more and grows stronger. As I think about the last 2 years of my life (pregnancy-present), I find myself being very reflective. It feels like it was just yesterday that she was snuggled into her infant carrier while we strolled around Target at 4 days old. Or how I would lay her down to nap in her rock and play and just stare at her perfect face while she slept. Where has the last 14.5 months of my life gone? It seems to have vanished into thin air.

People would always tell me to relish the time when they are little; The quiet moments while they slept on your shoulder, the closeness of nursing, the sweet coos and the intoxicating smell of baby. At the time I truly thought I did a great job of being present and taking it all in. I still think I did the best I could to cherish those moments. But the evil truth of it, is that I don’t remember it very well. I look back now and wish that I would have done things differently. I suppose that’s why the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” exists. Every time MCG takes another step towards adulthood (I know, I know! Don’t be crazy Carly, she’s only 1!) I find myself becoming more overwhelmed with emotions. She’s just not a little baby anymore, and as a mama, this is hard to accept.

If you’re a new mom, a mom-to-be, a woman trying to be a mom, a someday in the distant future mom, this is my plea to you. Please listen. Take it all in. cuddle them more, you’ll never regret it. If you’re a grandma or a mom of grown children, teens, young children or toddlers, this is me telling you I get where you have been and I feel for you. These transitions are hard on us moms. Every time something changes, we realize they will never be the same again. This post is a weepy, sob story, love note from a mama of a not-so-little anymore baby telling you what I wish I would have done and what I am so glad I did while she was little. Take it or leave it, but know, I speak with my whole heart.

1. I wish I let MCG fall asleep on my shoulder more. She’s an incredible sleeper. We are so unbelievably lucky. We let her sleep in the rock and play until 4 months when we transitioned her out of our room and into her crib. After a couple rough nights, she fell in love with her crib. I don’t think I’ve ran into a lot of people that can say that their baby happily says “night night”, smiles when you lay them down, and consistently sleeps through the night and for naps. I would like to think that the reason she loves her bed so much is because we have made it a special environment for her. She has her soft sheet, her boo-boo, her aquarium and her “Eddie.” (Side note: Eddie is an elephant lovey from Pottery Barn kids that we named after Chris’s dad who passed away. She started using it when she was very little because she loves to have something close to her face. “Eddie” is one of the very few lovey’s we found to be small enough where we didn’t find it a safety hazard for her from early on.) But truth be told, we made her love her bed so much that she doesn’t want to sleep anywhere else, including on mama or dada. I should be happy about this, she’s a self soother and independent sleeper. But instead, I’m weepy. I miss those early days when she would cuddle in on my shoulder, when she would fall asleep while nursing. I wish I would have let her sleep on my shoulder more so I could feel her little heart beat and feel her tiny little rhythmic breath on my shoulder. I wish I didn’t always lay her down because she “had to be on a schedule.” I wish I would have cuddled her more. So cuddle your baby. Maybe they won’t be the best sleeper. But you’ll have that special time together. You won’t regret it!

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2. I wish I was in more pictures with MCG The dreaded postpartum “I look fat” don’t take my picture syndrome. It’s so real. I fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans around 8 weeks postpartum but I certainly didn’t look the same in them. People tell you all the time that it takes 9 months to grow a baby, so give yourself a break. It takes at least 6-10 weeks for your uterus to shrink back to your new “normal” size. Your body will never be the same. Embrace it! Own it! YOU GREW A FREAKING HUMAN and then…GAVE BIRTH. You are a ROCKSTAR LADY! That being said, hindsight is 20/20. I didn’t feel confident or comfortable or anything of the sort. I stayed out of pictures because I didn’t like how I felt or looked. And I wish I hadn’t! There are SO many pictures of Chris, the dogs, my family and friends with MCG. There aren’t a ton of me and her, especially early on. It makes me sad. I should have jumped in those pictures and been proud to have grown such a fabulous human. So listen to me ladies, get in the picture! Tell your hubby’s, your partner, your boyfriends, your people to take the damn pictures. I’m glad Chris didn’t listen to me when I said not to take them. I’m glad to have these memories. I’m proud of who I am, mama.

3. I’m glad we took MCG everywhere with us. MCG has been in many breweries, restaurants and pubs, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s a regular at Barry’s Old school Irish and Maria’s Mexican restaurant in the Village of Webster. Don’t worry, if we are there, you’ll know it. Not because she’s a screaming maniac, but because she loves to greet all the tables and make her presence known. We’ve traveled with her and been on many adventures. It hasn’t been easy, but its been great making these memories with her. Last summer we went on a quick weekend trip to Lake Placid. It was a really fun trip, but also in the middle of a serious nap strike. MCG transitioned out of her infant carrier at 4 months because she hated it so much. That meant she had to be held if we went anywhere because she couldn’t quite sit up on her own. I remember eating one dinner that weekend in shifts. Chris would take a screaming MCG for a walk down main street while I scarfed down food. Then we would switch. Looking back now, we were miserable but made the most of it. Those memories are totally worth the aggravation. And while it isn’t exactly easy to dine out with a very busy and active toddler, sometimes it can be fun too. We have had very few experiences where anyone has been less than understanding. Most of the time we get smiles and I’d like to think we help people remember what it was like for them during their early parenting years. Most people are happy to see an adorable little kid with pigtails saying hi to them while waving their guacamole covered hands.

4. I’m glad I took weekly and monthly pictures of MCG At first I thought i was going to be THAT annoying mom posting weekly updates of her kid. I mean, who really cares what a 46 week old kid is doing? But I am SO GLAD I took the time to document her first year. What an incredible transition it is from newborn to 1 year old! It was great to have the weekly pictures to look at and compare. It was also a nice way to keep people who we don’t see as often in the loop as far as what MCG was doing. AND its a nice way to look back on her milestones and changes in personality based on the captions. I put all the pictures in an album (YES, PRINT YOUR PHOTOS PEOPLE!) and have all the captions written out as well. It’s easy to look back and see when she took her first steps and what her favorite things were. I think of it as a modern baby book!

5.I’m glad I let other people take charge of her care at times Being a Type A person usually means I’m in charge and in control of the situation. But babies have a funny way of making you check your ego at the door. They do what they want, when they want, and how they want to do it. If you think about it, they are little dictators. So when I, the Type A crazy lady became a mom, I had to learn that I couldn’t do it all. So I let others help. And I’m SO GLAD I did. Not only did letting others help give me the much needed break for my sanity at times, but it also made MCG comfortable with people other than just me. That break also allowed me to watch others enjoying the little miracle that MCG is. I realized when I took a step back and just watched my parents, my sisters and other friends and family interact with MCG, how much she had changed all of us for the better. She has been a true blessing in our lives. I’m glad I took the time to watch how much other people love and care for her. It fills my heart with such joy.

6. I’m glad we stayed up too late having dance parties and splashing in the bath tub Bedtimes can be pushed back if we’re having fun. It’s as plain and simple as that. Will we pay for it the next day? Sometimes. Was it worth the giggles and memories made? ABSOLUTELY. Get on the floor and play with your kiddos. Turn on some fun music and teach them to dance and sing and enjoy life. BeeGees and any disco music is a favorite in this house. We frequently stay up a little too late because we are having too much fun. Put on a swimsuit and get in the bubble bath with your kids. Splash and laugh. Water can be cleaned up with some extra towels. Make up songs to make wiping boogers easier (thanks GiGi for the boogie wipe song!) Try to make life fun for as long as you can.

7. I wish I took even more pictures and videos of MCG Thank goodness for TimeHop and Facebook memories. Each day I open up my app and see pictures and videos of my sweet, teeny, baby girl. But they aren’t enough. I wish I had more memories of the past year. I wish I took more time to capture those moments. But then again, I’m glad that I lived them instead. Our world has become obsessed with capturing memories. Its laughable, but many people see their life through a phone or tablet screen. As much as I would LOVE to see even more pictures and videos of MCG at that stage in her life, I’m glad I put the phone down and was present. Ask friends and family if they have pictures of your baby. My mom just sent my sisters and I this picture today with the caption “Hello my beautiful girls! This pic is by my desk and makes me smile. Look how little Kenz is! Love you all to the moon and back!” Just because you don’t capture a moment doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t. And sometimes moments are meant to be captured. Those are the special memories you have in you heart.

As I stood inside the almost empty nursery this morning, I cried. My baby isn’t a baby anymore. She’s an independent toddler-lady who, aside from wearing diapers, could take over the world.  I don’t know why the big girl room transition has hit me so hard. I thought it would be her first birthday that made me break down crying. But for some reason this week has been the major transition. She went from being spoon fed to eating pouches on her own overnight. She went from needing to be carried out to the car and up the stairs to walking and climbing on her own. She all of the sudden seems to not need me as much. So the timing of the first night in her big girl room seems to be perfect.

And that gets me thinking, How many more “firsts” do we get to share with her? We were so desperate and excited for all them early on. I couldn’t wait for the first smile, the first crawl, the first word (mama!), the first foods, the first steps, and even the first night in her big girl room. Now I just want to press pause and hold off on all the rest of the “firsts.” She’s not ready! Or maybe it’s me who isn’t ready.

But ready or not, time doesn’t stop. It doesn’t slow down. And if my crazy life has taught me anything so far, its not to take any moment for granted. Life is simply too short to not enjoy every moment. So for now, I’ll put MY big girl pants on and go get the not-so-little MCG up from her nap in her big girl room. We both survived her first night and nap in her pretty, purple, rainbow room. And even though we’ve checked one more “first” off of the list, I’m grateful for all the “firsts” we have left. And tonight, if she’ll let me, I’ll cuddle her a little bit longer and let her rest on my shoulder. Because she’s only this little for a little while longer.

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As always, thank you for reading and being a part of my life. Be present. Be kind. Be well.

Carly xoxo

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