Being a mom is not for the faint of heart. For me, their first year goes way too fast and is so full of surprises. Babies seem so easy to manage — especially when they're snuggly and sleepy — until they're not. Honestly, they can go from sleeping soundly and peacefully to needing your full attention in a matter of seconds. And while some of those newborn memories are starting to fade, there are times when my baby needed me that I will never, ever, forget.
For me, the most memorable moments of my kids as babies weren't their first words or first steps. They were the moments when they needed me most. The moment when the doctor told me I had preeclampsia and had to have my baby early; the moment I first heard my baby cry, and how I felt fiercely protective of this tiny person in my care; the moment when I learned that I wasn't making enough breast milk for my baby, and she was literally starving. I felt so helpless and alone, and like I had failed her. I remember my baby's NICU stays, surgeries, and mystery fevers. Babies can't tell you what hurts or what they need, but make no mistake: when your baby needs you, you know. You feel it.
You spend a lot of time as a parent trying to figure things out, especially during your baby's first year of life. While that year will go so fast, there will definitely be more than a few moments when it feels like time stands still. It's in those moments, I think, that I learned what it really means to be a parent. Trust me: you will, too.
When I Had Preeclampsia
I distinctly remember the afternoon when I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. The maternal fetal specialist, who I had just met, nonchalantly threw around words like premature, stillbirth, and maternal death. I remember thinking that he probably should choose another line of work — like maybe a medical examiner — because his bedside manner sucked.
When I Went Into Preterm Labor
Preterm labor was terrifying. I remember feeling so helpless and afraid, but also a bit like I was on autopilot. I don't remember anything from the time I saw red blood all over my bed until I checked in at the hospital, and like 20 different people asked me how far along I was. 31 weeks was not enough. I kept things together and didn't lose my sh*t, but I will never forget that night.
When My Baby Was Starving
When my daughter was born, I had no idea that I wasn't making enough breast milk. As a result, she was literally starving. By day five she became extremely lethargic, jaundiced, and barely able to eat from a bottle. My partner and I took her to the ER and learned that she had lost more than 20 percent of her birth weight, had a bilirubin level of 21, and was dehydrated. In the NICU they gave her formula, put her under phototherapy lights, and gave her IV fluids. She immediately pooped on the table and started to perk up. I never thought hearing my baby cry would sound so good.
When My Baby Had Food Allergies
When my youngest was born, I knew I had undersupply, and planned to combo-feed him with both breast milk and formula. Unfortunately, life with babies rarely goes entirely as planned. We learned that he had food allergies and couldn't tolerate my breast milk or conventional formula. My partner and I tried five formulas before we found one that wouldn't make him sick. I vividly remember the first doctor visit when we learned he actually gained weight. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders and that we were able to give him what he needed to thrive.
The First Time My Baby Cried
There's something magical and terrifying about the moments between your baby being born and hearing them cry for the first time. I know it was only seconds, but to this mom it felt like eternity waiting to know that my sweet baby was OK.
When My Baby Was Sick
When my oldest son was 7-months-old he got seriously sick. He had a high fever and vomiting, and it was so scary. I took him to the ER and had to hold him while the doctors and nurses poked and prodded him. He ended up being OK, but it was ridiculously terrifying.
When My Baby Needed Surgery
My daughter was born with a hemangioma — a benign vascular tumor — on her face. She needed to have it removed, and according to our doctors it was best to have it done when she was a baby. I remember vividly having to leave my baby in the surgical suite and wait for her in the waiting room. They gave her a sedative, but she cried out for me when I left the room.
When My Baby Wouldn't Sleep
The first night my daughter was home from the hospital, she wouldn't sleep unless she was attached to my breast. I walked her, rocked her, and stayed awake the whole night, begging her to sleep and stop crying while I was exhausted out of my mind. It was one of the hardest nights of my life, but I knew my baby needed me in order to feel safe enough to sleep outside the home I had made for her inside my body.
When My Baby Fell Out Of Her Crib
After a few months of listening for your baby on the monitor, you kind of get lulled into believing that they will always be safe. That's usually when they'll climb or fall out of their crib, because of course. The sound of my baby's cries were so startling and caused me to leap out of bed and probably run faster than I'd ever run in my entire life. She was fine, and the next day my partner and I bought her a "big kid" bed.
When I Left My Ex-Husband
Then, there was the day I left my kids' dad. I was terrified — of him and of being a single mom — but I tried to remember that my kids needed me to be brave and to leave him so they could have the best possible life. My son was just a baby when I buckled him into his car seat and drove away. I will never forget that moment.
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