10 Lessons in 14 Weeks

As of this past Sunday, I’ve been a mother for 14 weeks. It feels like an eternity, but also as fleeting as the blink of an eye. It astounds me to think that we didn’t have Liliana in our lives a mere six months ago. I imagine this is how parenthood will go for the rest of my life, constantly marveling at how things can change so rapidly?

It’s amazing to me how quickly I’ve grown and adapted to our new normal. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back because there have definitely been bumps and bruises along the way. {Will and I like to say that if we had known how much our parents were winging it as children, we would’ve cut them a lot of slack!} But, as we creep closer and closer to her four month mark, I can finally say that we’re settling in and learning to operate as regular human beings.

Crazy concept, right?

As I was filling out her baby book last week, it occurred to me that while she is learning something new every single day, so am I. Elle may be processing shapes and colors and movements, but I kind of feel like she is teaching me so much more.

And thus, this post was inspired. In no particular order, here are 10 lessons I’ve learned over the past 14 weeks of her life. Enjoy!

1. I Have No Control

This has been the toughest pill to swallow, and I imagine that is the case for all parents. I am certainly not what one would consider a Type-A personality type, nor am I a control freak. But, pre-Liliana, I was fairly confident that if I worked hard enough and really focused on something, I could make it happen.

‘Tis no longer the case!

Babies are going to do what they want, and I’ve learned that while I can help mold their behavior, I can’t control everything. My labor experience was a great example. I headed into that hospital room with the assumption that if I really decided to have a drug-free, vaginal birth, it would happen. {Although I had told the hospital if I screamed for drugs, they better give them to me!} It was up to me.

Turns out, it wasn’t! Her heart rate dropped and they didn’t know why, which led to an eventual emergency c-section. In 11 minutes, I went from quietly laboring next to Will  with contractions two minutes apart to having her pulled out of me via cesarean while I was knocked out under general anesthesia.

It wasn’t what I previously wanted at all, and I beat myself up for awhile afterwards. Because of my desire to go pain med-free, I ended up missing her birth entirely. But eventually, I came to one conclusion: I had no control and we did the best we could under the circumstances. In the end, she came out happy, healthy, and full-scale hollering, as if she wanted to prove that she was going to tackle this world on her own terms. And that is truly all that matters.

The morning we left the hospital…which is why I look like I’ve been run over by a truck.

2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Previous to Liliana, I never would’ve guessed that I’d need to tell myself this. But alas, it’s a daily reminder with a baby! So often, I find myself caught up in small worries: Why won’t she nap longer than 35 minutes? Should I follow a better schedule? Are these curtains dark enough for her room? When should we move her to the nursery? Are we creating sleeping crutches?

Eventually, I always talk myself off the ledge and realize that worrying over trivial matters is useless. It doesn’t help and instead, takes my focus away from where it should be: enjoying every moment with this beautiful daughter of ours.

3. Savor Every Moment

In that same vein, I’ve really come to learn that savoring every.single.moment is crucial, and that’s a life lesson that I think applies whether you have children or not. I cannot tell you how many parents have told us to, “Enjoy this time!” and I think I finally understand what they mean. In the past 14 weeks, we’ve seen Liliana grow from a helpless lump into a vivacious baby girl full of energy, curiosity, and enthusiasm for life….and she hasn’t even been on the planet for a half year. As I packed away her newborn jammies, I actually shed some tears in knowing that she would never again be able to fit into my favorite set with the monkey face on her belly.

Truth be told, I just got teary writing out that sentence.

As I walked into the room this morning, I stood in the door frame and watched as Will and Liliana napped together. She snoozed on his chest, her small head tucked up underneath his jaw, and her single un-swaddled arm flung out to the side so that it rested on his shoulder. She occasionally smiled in her sleep in between small snores while Will’s face peacefully processed her quiet noises amidst his own restful slumber.

Y’all, I’ve never felt so content or happy in my life.

Shooting her newborn photos

4. Allow Myself Some Grace

I tend to have infinite patience with others but very little for myself, and motherhood has shown me this glaring flaw. If anything, I’ve learned that I cannot and will not be perfect, and that is absolutely okay.

A month into her life, lactation consultants confirmed my fear: I have low milk supply and would need to supplement her feeding with formula. I took it personally. Why had my body let her down? Why was I failing our child?

There were many tears on a daily basis, and this lasted for awhile. I truly couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to fully feed our child. But eventually, as she gained weight and became healthier and stronger, those feelings of inadequacy diminished. Now, we have a system dialed in where she breastfeeds first, and then takes a bottle for whatever remaining hunger she has left. I don’t berate myself anymore, and instead I smile in knowing that she still prefers breastfeeding with mama to any old bottle. In fact, we joke that there is no place Elle would rather be than on mama’s boob!

5. Don’t Wish Away the Present

I suspect this is common with all new parents. You know, those fleeting thoughts where you’ll say, “I can’t wait until she walks!” or “It will be so much fun to watch her crawl all over the house.” And while those moments will be incredible and special, I’ve realized that it is more important to identify the joy in our present rather than waste any time looking towards the future. We’ll get there eventually, and it’s important for us to truly delight in the now.

Blurry iPhone photo but I love her little face. I HAVE FEET?!

6. Me Time Isn’t Selfish

Man, oh man, did I struggle with this at first! In fact, this is a topic that I mentioned on my IG story last week, so maybe some of y’all saw it already {Don’t follow me? Head on over and remedy that!}

I now understand that it is okay to take some time for me and that she will be okay with my parents or Will. Not only is me time a great opportunity for daddy or grandparent time {since she spends almost every day with me}, but it’s also a perfect way to help me be a better mother.

These days, my ‘me time’ has been spent at the gym or on a run. I’m still easing back into activity but it doesn’t really matter what I’m doing. After that hour at the gym, I walk out the doors with a new outlook on life, a cleared head, and a positive attitude. That spills over into my daily routine, helping me be a better daughter, friend, mother, and wife.

Priceless.

7. Spontaneity Reigns Supreme

I’m fine with spontaneity, and that’s probably a good thing since it rules my life on a daily basis! I may think I’m taking a call from Subaru at noon {as was the case last week}, but turns out, change of plans because Baby Girl wants to wake up RIGHT NOW!

Going with the flow has made my life so much easier. Probably should take a cue from this and apply it elsewhere in my life, yanno?

8. Sometimes You Need to Cry

I’ve always been a cryer: Hallmark commercials, sappy movies, someone that speaks too sternly to me, whatever. It’s my thing.

But with a baby, the tears have flown more freely and more often than not, it is because I need that emotional release. Perhaps I’m frustrated with how the day went or disappointed in having to miss something due to baby responsibilities. For me, I’ve learned that a quick cry-it-out session with Will works wonders in releasing those emotions and helping me re-evaluate. It’s cleansing, and that’s absolutely okay.

9. Time Management is Everything

Honestly, I thought I was pretty great at this before considering both Will and my busy schedule.

Guess not.

Balancing life with a kid has been eye opening, to say the least. Before, I never really understood why moms said that they “didn’t have time to go to the gym.” Truthfully, I always thought it was a bit of an excuse. Turns out, it is 100% true– and then some!

For some reason, infants just take a lot of time from your day! My entire day disappears and when I look back on it, I feel like all I’ve done is feed Liliana, change her diaper, put her down for naps, and get outside for a walk….and if I’ve managed all that, I feel quite accomplished.

Once I was given the go-ahead, I was eager to get back into the gym, but that has honestly been so difficult. Between our work schedules and finding someone to watch the baby, I’m lucky if I’m managing 3-4 workouts/week and if those are happening, it’s largely because I’m getting up at 4:45-5am in order to make it work. I thank my lucky stars every day for my parents who live nearby and watch Baby Girl a few times a week so that I can get work done and hit my deadlines.

Because no one wants to become known as the writer who always misses her mark, yanno?

Would I change it for anything? Absolutely not. But it has been an interesting point to observe over the past few months.

Liliana enjoyed her first backcountry skiing experience this past weekend!

10. I’ve Never Known Such Instantaneous Love

I don’t know how else to put this, but I’ve never fallen in love so quickly in my life. Truly, madly, deeply in love. When I woke up from my general anesthesia, I had no idea where I was, what was happening, or what transpired in the past 90 minutes. But regardless, some part of my brain immediately clicked and after my eyes opened, I immediately blurted out: “Where is she? Is she okay?” I didn’t know whose face I was looking at but I remembered that our baby girl had been at risk. The doc placing her on my chest is one of the happiest moments of my life and I looked at Will and immediately began crying.

Everything was okay.

Because that’s the type of love that comes when having a child. I always wondered how parents fall in love with their kiddos without ever knowing them, but I get it now. There is something magical about seeing a splash of Will and a splash of me in her personality, but it’s even cooler to see what characteristics she is bringing to the table all on her own. I loved her before knowing her but I’ve fallen more in love with her every single day of her short life.

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13 Comments

  • Reply Beth January 17, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Aw. This is such a lovely reflection, Heather! Liliana is so lucky to have you and Will for parents. <3

  • Reply Joan Sommerfield January 17, 2018 at 10:05 am

    So beautifully written. Well, done to all of you.

  • Reply Amy Hatch January 17, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Oh my gosh … soooo true! I agree with this all 110%. Enjoy the adventure. The days are long but the years are short!

    Amy

  • Reply Michelle January 17, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Your baby girl is absolutely beautiful. I’m really trying hard with #5. Two little ones have been giving me a run for my money and once things got easier again they got really hard and fast and I caught myself saying “I look forward to…” too often. So now everytime I’m about to say it, I catch myself and replace it with “I’m really going to miss”… example: on our recent trip. Mikes off with lux swimming in the pool and I said I’m looking forward to when ivy doesn’t nap anymore. But the truth is? I’m going to miss baby wearing her so much. I absolutely love it. So I’m trying not to wish it away and be present just like you said. Xo

  • Reply Jessie @ Chasing Belle January 17, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I have loved reading and following along as you grow into being a mommy to your little girl. I really enjoy watching your stories and reading tips, like this post, that is so honest and insightful. It will all be helpful for when our baby boy comes along!

  • Reply Sarah January 17, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Just want to thank you for your IG and honest blog posts! I live in Colorado, love to be outdoors, and have followed your IG for hiking destinations! I am 14 weeks pregnant and it’s been amazing to see how pregnancy and birth been for you. My first trimester is completely different than I ever expected – complications with activity restrictions limited to walking, lots of sickness – but I’m so happy. Glad to see your real and honest journey and that you’re showing your baby your love for mountains so early!

  • Reply Alyse January 17, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    Ahh yes, I relate to so many of these – the loss of control and the time management piece especially. Crazy how a tiny little human can upend so much so quickly!

  • Reply Christy January 19, 2018 at 4:13 am

    Being a mother is the best thing that has ever happened to me. and all those things are so true.

  • Reply Steph January 20, 2018 at 9:03 am

    I have an 8 month old and can identify with so many of these. Unfortunately, I suffered from PPD so I’m happy you were able to reflect and use resources to combat that. One of the worst things for me was that my anesthesia didn’t take and they had to put me to sleep, too. I hated not being awake and having my husband hold my hand. I’m largely over it but it’s hard. Thanks for sharing and helping me count my blessings. Enjoy your little one!

  • Reply Rachel @ Better LIVIN January 20, 2018 at 9:30 am

    This is so sweet! And it’s nice to get some perspective of what to expect come April. I know I’m going to struggle with the lack of control as I am very Type A. I’m just hoping I find my mom groove like you did!

  • Reply Lorna Marchand January 20, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Heather, congratulations to you and Will. I stumbled upon your blog while looking for info on backcountry skiing. You may not remember me but I met you 12 years ago in a campground in Arkansas when you were just starting out on your bike tour. We all fled the campground together after encountering the strange guy who wanted to show us his weapons…LOL! I am now living in Summit County (CO) with my husband David. I was so excited to see that you’ve not only continued your adventures, you’ve written a book AND had a baby! You are an inspiring woman, and I look forward to hearing about your family’s next adventures (as you’ve already discovered, parenting is an adventure in itself). Cheers!

  • Reply Liz Pacini January 29, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    What a beautiful baby you have!!! Love all of these lessons.. keep up the good work new momma 🙂

  • Reply Amanda Donner January 30, 2018 at 1:56 am

    Awesome article. Well written. Thanks for sharing such a good post.

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