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11 Things About My First Year As A Mom I Would Never, Ever, Change

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There are a few things I would definitely change about my first year as a mom. First and foremost, I would have a better idea of what I was supposed to take that hospital. I definitely would have decided to take my daughter's pacifier away at three months, instead of 15, because no one needs that drama and tears in their life. Still, for everything I would change, there are so many more things about my first year as a mom I would never change. Even things that seemed so dire and intense, make perfect sense as I look back now and see how they helped make me into the best possible mom I can be for my daughter.

When our daughter arrived in our lives (you can read her birth story here if you're interested), she was 3 days old and bundled like a burrito in the NICU. We had received the call from our adoption agency that morning that, surprise, our daughter was already here and waiting for us. After years of infertility, neither of us felt comfortable preparing for a child. (That seemed too much like counting our chickens before they hatched.) We didn't have a nursery or even a crib or a single outfit, and we hadn't read a single book about babies. Our daughter's first weeks and were trial by Google until, of course, I finally had enough sleep to remember people wrote books on babies. Maybe, just maybe, one of those bad boys would come in handy, right?

However, despite crash-landing into motherhood at an unbelievable speed while making my way through a pretty unforgiving learning curve, there are so few things I'd change about the first year I spent with my beautiful family of three.

How Intently I Wanted To Figure My Daughter Out

Emily Westbrooks

In my first year as a mother, I put everything I had into figuring her out. We met our daughter when she was 3 days old, and we got the call that she was going to be our daughter that very morning. After only just starting our adoption journey, I hadn't even allowed myself to buy a single book about raising a baby, lest I jinx the process by thinking it would actually come true. But when she arrived, I went all in trying to make up for lost time. I spent hours, usually early in the morning after waking up to feed her, Googling sleep schedules and differences between certain brands of formula.

Now that she's well into her second year, I can already feel that intensity slipping away into a much more normal level, yes, but also just a little less "first time mom." I'm pretty sure my husband thought I was absolutely insane, but I'll always have fond memories of trying so intently to figure her out.

The Close Friends I Made When I Vented About Parenthood

When our daughter was 8 weeks old, we took her to a coffee shop near our house. Seated next to us was another couple with a slightly older baby who recognized our daughter's bottle as similar to her own, then made a mad grab to take it for herself. So began our families' friendship, made stronger over the year as we spent hours chatting about our girls, laughing over the mistakes we made, and venting about how it could possibly be so hard to find the perfect sippy cup.

My Subscription To Amazon Prime

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Amazon Prime was a life saver during my daughter's first year. Not because we couldn't find what we needed for her in other places, but because in times of crisis it made me feel like I was doing something that would help. Even if we returned half of what I ordered in those early morning Googling sessions, it gave me so much peace to have done something to help make life easier going forward.

How Much Time We Talked About How Great She Is

For several months on end, when my daughter settled into a feeding routine and my husband and I would switch off giving her a dream feed every night, he would come back into our bedroom and declare, "She is just so cute."

Every single night the same declaration was made, as though it had never occurred to him the previous evening. Looking back on her first year, we spent an outrageous amount talking about how amazing our daughter was, as well as how cute and brilliant and brave she was. That's, you know, pretty awesome.

My Long, Aimless Walks To Calm Her

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My daughter's first months were a blur of surprised bliss and bottles, so I don't remember much in great detail (thank goodness for photos!). However, I do vividly remember the feeling of wiggling her into her wrap and wandering around the blocks of our neighborhood in the sunshine. We always returned a little sweaty (Houston in October is no joke), and both a whole lot calmer.

Surviving On Wine And Chocolate

I single handedly kept the makers of peppermint patties in business during my daughter's first year of life, and don't regret a single tablespoon of sugar. There's something about sleep deprivation that just needs a chocolate-wine combo.

All The Pictures And Videos We Took Of Her (And Me, Too)

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If you want to take a gander at my daughter's first year, I think there are roughly 7,000 photos for you to peruse. Even now, I struggle to delete a single one. But with every day that passes, the memories of her first year get a little fuzzier and I'm so glad I took a hundred photos of her first bath.

I'm the "photographer" in our family, so it's not natural for my husband to pick up the camera and document anything, really. However, I'm glad I had the wherewithal to hand him my phone and ask him to take some photos of me with my daughter, too. I don't look the least bit glamorous, but I've never looked happier.

Waiting To Join A Moms Group

I joined a moms group at our church right around the time my daughter turned 1. Until then, I sort of braved it on my own, only talking to a handful of close friends who were moms. I felt a little overwhelmed (probably a massive understatement) in trying to acclimate to motherhood. so too many voices or opinions only made everything more stressful.

I love the group I'm in now and take so much away from having a weekly conversation with other, more experienced moms. However, I'm also glad that I spent the year figuring it out on my own, without adding another layer of information that would cause me to question my own instincts as a mom.

Taking In Foster Babies

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I know it seemed nuts, to most people looking in from the outside, that just four months after our daughter arrived we would start taking in foster babies. We probably wouldn't have come up with that idea on our own, but we had only been parents for five weeks when we started getting calls from our agency expressing a huge need for families willing to short- or long-term foster.

While we knew that we weren't really in a position to long-term foster, we knew we wanted to teach our daughter from a young age that our whole family is so lucky to have more than enough love to give around ; that in our family, we practice the ultimate hospitality of sharing our home with those who need it most.

It made my life absolutely bonkers for those weeks when we had two infants, but it was also just so much fun and such a pay-it-forward activity that seemed perfectly right for our family.

Deciding To Travel

When she turned 1, our daughter had been on 10 flights. She was 11 weeks old when she boarder her first airplane; a four hour flight across the country for Christmas with my family. I'm so glad we did. Changing up her routine and having her sleep in different places wasn't the easiest, but I'm glad we didn't give in to the fear that we couldn't do it.

At 15 months, and having just finished her 12th flight, we've only had one major mortifying meltdown. So worth it.

Losing Myself (A Little) In Motherhood

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I think people usually feel that losing themselves in the first year of motherhood is a bad thing, and I certainly have feared that I won't ever be the same person I was before. I mean, when is my brain going to start functioning at high-capacity again?

However, I kind of love that I got the opportunity to lose myself in my daughter's first year. I am glad that I put every ounce of myself into bonding with her and giving her the best start we possibly could. Her second year is definitely involving a whole lot more date nights with my husband, but there's very little I would change about her first year. For that. I'm so grateful.