01.13.2017

A Year Of Motherhood In Review + My Favorite Baby Products Of The Year

It’s hard for me to comprehend that a year has already gone by and little miss is 1 year old. I was filled with so many different emotions leading up to her birthday. A part of me was sad in realizing how fast her little life is already flying by…. and the realization that it will likely only continue to go faster. I am excited for this new chapter in motherhood…. and while having a toddler will present it’s own challenges and transitions, I look forward to watching her grow, flourish, and develop. I also felt incredibly nostalgic. So much of the last couple of years has been focused on transition and change…. from carrying her in my belly, to birthing her, to countless sleepless nights… learning how to travel with her…. breastfeeding…. baby snuggles and smells, the first smile, baby coos, how perfectly she fit in my arms…. I could go on and on….

I’ve shared this journey with all of you from the beginning (1, 3, 4/5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 moth updates) and have so appreciated your words of encouragement and support! My hope is to continue these updates, maybe on a bi-monthly basis…. it all just depends on how much change happens in a month… I’d love to know if you’d still like that!

With that…. here’s my 1 year motherhood update…..

General Thoughts + Feelings: In the very beginning of my motherhood journey I remember talking with one of my girlfriends about some of the difficulties I was having. She validated and encouraged me and I vividly remember her saying, “The days are long but the years are short.” Now, looking back 365 days later, I couldn’t agree more. I so remember those first few nights, when TJ nor I could get Harper to stop crying (no matter how well we swaddled her)…. we were incredibly sleep deprived (I think we were going on hour 72) and I just broke down crying (just what we needed right… another person crying!), feeling like such a failure. I remember people telling us, “Just wait until she is 3 months old…” and thinking to myself, “90 days?! WTF.” My mom encouraging us with “so much changes everyday, just be patient.” And all of that advice was so right. Every month that went by I was in awe… literally couldn’t believe how much she would change and how much time had passed since those first few sleepless nights.

I don’t think there is anything anyone can tell you to prepare you for motherhood. What works for one baby might not work for yours…. what works for one mom might not work for another mom (which is OK!!)… when someone tells you the sleep deprivation is real, you swear it won’t happen to you. I feel as if I had a fairly realistic image of what motherhood was going to be like, and I was still in shock as to how much change and transition there was. Yet, while no one can prepare you for the lows, no one can even come close to describing the highs…. my heart literally melts when I pick Harper up for the first time in the morning (her little smile and bed head curls… omg)…. and multiple times after that throughout the day. The excitement I felt when she did anything for the first time…. especially when she laughed (when I was singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star….” not sure what that says about my voice….)…..

I remember though, when she was first born, not being certain as to what my role would be….. scratch that, I knew I was mom, I just didn’t know if I was doing it right… the trial and error, the tears I shed (and still do occasionally… I mean, do we ever really know exactly what we’re doing as moms?? As parents for that matter….) at thinking I had failed, how perfect I wanted to be for her…. I also was under the impression that the moment she was placed on my chest that I would feel an instantaneous connection…. I know that happens for many moms, but for me, that took time (don’t get me wrong, I love her, I just didn’t know her…. we didn’t know each other). While I had an immense love for Harper, it was more one sided. It wasn’t until she began reciprocating in coos and laughs that I began to feel a special connection with her…. it’s one that has continued to grow and flourish over the months. One I feel so incredibly blessed that God provided me with.

So, in between those highs and lows, the certain and uncertain moments, are the everyday moments. Those might be the ones I love most. The mornings when we hang out together in her room… where she brings me books to read, explores independently…. the moments where we’re having lunch together…. or where we run errands together…. those are some of my favorites. It’s the homeostasis, it’s our groove, and it’s special for us…..

Feeding/Sleeping: Sleep. Oh sleep. Before becoming a parent, there was a lot of sleeping in on the weekends… now? I don’t think my body knows how to sleep in. Even when TJ and I had a few nights to ourselves we were up around 7:30am. Yet, I do considered myself blessed in this department. After the first several weeks, we seemed to fall into a schedule that worked for our family, and Harper began to sleep for longer segments in the evening. While we’ve had a few bumps along the way with sickness, teething, sleep transitions, and time changes, she’s maintained a 7:30pm-7:30am sleep cycle for about 9 months… and let me tell you, the first night this happened was ah-mazing. Heck, the first evening I got 5 straight hours of sleep I felt like a new woman (and immediately wondered if she was still alive!). I relied heavily on Baby Wise for the schedule, as well as my own tweaking based on Harper’s independent needs (oh, and if you’re looking for an eye cream to help with tired eyes, I swear by this eye serum!)

Nursing was a different story though. I remember when she was first born, being so worried that I wouldn’t be able to produce enough milk for her… or that she wouldn’t latch… or that something would go wrong….. Yet, none of those issues were problematic (thankfully). What ended up being my difficulty was something that wasn’t even on my radar before she was born. About 6 weeks postpartum, little miss flat out refused protested (with screams and cries) taking a bottle. We tried so many different bottles (8 to be exact) with no success. That period of time was probably the most difficult part of my motherhood journey (again, tears…. I’m an emotionally expressive person). I felt that I had lost a lot of independence…. that date nights were a thing of the past, and that she needed to be tied to my hip. I got 1.5 hour segments of time alone in the afternoon to run a quick errand… and it was hard. Very hard for me. For some women this wouldn’t be an issue. Yet, for me, it was my struggle. Nursing is demanding. It’s amazing what the female body can do, and I feel so blessed that I was able to nurse Harper for as long as I did (10 months), but it was also the hardest part of motherhood for me….

We eventually found Como Tomo bottles, and those helped immensely. We started by having TJ give her the bottle first thing in the morning, when she was hungry and hadn’t seen me yet. It was slow going, but she eventually warmed up to it. I remember when we were in Ojai for the weekend with some friends. I had a bottle of pumped milk and decided to just try to give it to her. When she took it, I felt such a sense of relief. It was at that point that we were also increasing her intake of solid foods… with the bottle + solid foods, we began the weening process. We dropped one feeding a week to ensure that Harper was emotionally okay….. the process took a month in total (she used this formula and it worked very well for us). I felt guilty when I made the decision to ween. Yet, I ultimately remembered what one nurse told me and that was, “A happy mom makes for a happy baby.”

Now, feeding time is an adventure. She’s a year at this point, and already has so many food preferences… avocado, bell peppers, salmon, strawberries, blueberries, almond butter and toast…. it’s easy to take her to a restaurant… it’s actually quite fun to have her sitting and eating at the table with us. We have dinner as a family…. she participates in those family dinner rituals too. Although…. since she is a toddler, we’re also testing limits…. so throwing food on the ground has become quite entertaining to her lately (any suggestions on how to stop this are welcome!)….

Postpartum Body/Fitness: I feel as if I had fairly reasonable expectations in this department, yet, it wasn’t at all what I expected. During pregnancy, I was at one of my most confident points…. post pregnancy was a little more difficult. I was under the impression, from everything I had read (from reputable sources too….) that because I was nursing the weight “would fall right off.” Um, that is not at all what happened for me…. and I wish I had never read that statement. I was very hard on myself (which you can see from previous motherhood updates), often wondering why I wasn’t losing the weight as fast as sources said I would with the nursing, healthy eating, and working out trifecta. It wasn’t until I dug a little deeper that I realized your body can also hold onto fat while you are nursing…. I mean, you have to have some sort of reserve to produce that milk…..

Once I read that statement, I started to be nicer to myself. There are definitely still parts of my body with a little more jiggle + wiggle than before, and I wouldn’t say I’m 100% happy with it, but I also try to remind myself of the miracle my body produced. I also try to be so very careful about the comments and views I have towards my body in front of Harper….. even though she isn’t talking up a storm (just yet) I know she sees and hears everything that goes on (I mean, she pretend cleans the floor like I do…. it’s funny, but a reminder that she’s already watching!)… the last thing I want her to have is poor body image.

In that light, I try to model healthy habits. I work out regularly and engage in physical activity that I like (as opposed to it being a chore). If I feel like a HIIT workout in the morning, I do that. If I want to run, I do it…. I try to be mindful of where I am physically and mentally…. I also try to demonstrate a healthy relationship with food. I don’t restrict anything (except dairy…. that’s just because my acupuncturist recommended I stay away from it for gut issues….)…. I eat bread, I eat meat, I eat fat…. and I also indulge here and there in sweets. By restricting I am teaching her nothing about moderation (or “Itsy bitsy indulgences” if you will.) or the value certain foods provide to my body.

While I say all of that, my fitness journey post pregnancy was quite a process. It was hard to figure out how to fit it all in…. yet, I made do with what I could and started out with at home workout videos (post here), BBG, and then runs and getting to the gym. I miss my regular spin and yoga classes and hopefully, as we progress in this year, I’ll be able to pick them up with a little more consistency (TJ bought me a bunch of SoulCycle classes for Christmas… and said he would rearrange his schedule to watch her whenever I wanted to go… so I’m taking advantage of that soon!). What I’ve realized in this whole journey is that you do what you can with what you have…. and if it’s important you’ll make the time for it…… which takes me to my next topic…. Relationships…

Relationships: This is a two fold topic for me: marriage + friends. Both of which are incredibly important to me.

When I found out we were expecting I was initially scared (post here). We had been married for 5 years before little miss… we had our routines and we were spontaneous. I was worried how our marriage would be impacted. TJ and I spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted our marriage to look like postpartum…. as well as the traditions and values we wanted to instill as a family. We both agreed that a strong marriage makes for a strong and happy family, so the commitment to always invest in us was paramount. How that was going to look was a little harder to plan. The first few weeks were hard…. we were sleep deprived, probably said things we didn’t mean at 1am with a screaming baby, and were in complete shock. Yet, as the weeks went by, and we communicated our needs to each other, things leveled off. And communicating is (was) the key to it all. We are constantly communicating…. whether that be appreciation or frustration…. it’s discussed. Which means we’re open and honest, something we hope Harper will feel too….

We continue to invest in the couple dyad. While date nights don’t happen with as much frequency as they did before, we have our weekly wine + music nights, with a favorite takeout meal… something that I look forward to every week. No TV, phones away. Lately, with Harper taking the bottle, we’ve been able to get away for a couple of nights. I remember sitting out at dinner and having a completely relaxed feeling come over me (maybe that was the wine….). It was so nice to be out with TJ, at night, with no need to rush home. We laughed, talked about the future, and of course about our little miss. When we came home the next day, we were recharged and ready to go. Maybe that’s something that has changed. Maybe I took it for granted before we became parents…. now, I cherish and look forward to those small little escapes.

As far as my friendships go I consider myself lucky that we’re all pretty much going through this journey of motherhood together. We don’t see each other as much as we would like, or catch up, but we all understand. A text that takes a few days to return is never something to apologize for… and it’s always nice when we catch up… it’s as if I am instantly validated in all my concerns. I’ve always felt as if girlfriends are an extension of your family. So it’s something I cherish and hope to pass on to Harper as well…

Favorite Moments: There have been so many over the past 365 days that I am surely forgetting most, but:

That first moment we heard her laugh was so special… we all looked at each other and said, “Wait, was that a laugh….” and then she just kept going. It was probably one of the moments I started to see her little personality flourish…..

Her dance moves. Oh. My. Gosh. If you follow along on instagram stories her twerking moves are unreal. This is the only time in her life that I will condone those moves. Ever.

Her sneaky little smile when she knows she is doing something that might not be ok….like running for Captain’s dog food.

Our trips to Hawaii. It was so special to have her in a place that has so many wonderful memories with my family.

Watching her take her first timid steps on our trip to Deer Valley…. and seeing her wonder at all the snow falling.

Our first Christmas together…. from her curiosity with tree flocking and ornaments…. to her complete disinterest in the presents that were carefully wrapped up for her.

When she slept through the entire Easter Bunny.

How nervous we were driving home with her in the car the day we left the hospital. I think I sat in the back seat with her for over a month.

Her little facial expressions. The newest is when she scrunches up her nose and smiles so big with squinting eyes. Heart melting.

How she says “hiiiiiii” to anyone and everyone…. with a little wave.

Playing chase with her…. it’s her new favorite game. It’s a great workout too.

One evening, in the very beginning, when she wouldn’t fall asleep at night, I remember just laying with her on my chest and she immediately fell asleep. It was just one of those moments that when she’s going off to college, or getting married, that I will always remember.

Favorite Products Of The Year: 

UppaBaby Stroller: We took this baby everywhere. From traveling to running errands, it has been our go-to…. I love that it grows with her as well…. she’s now in the toddler seat…. you can read more about my review here.  We have used this travel carrier for all of our travels… it’s great!

Nuna Carseat:  Excellent safety ratings, lightweight (for a car seat), comfortable for her, and airline safety approved, this has been the best first car seat (which was recommended to me by a friend). As she grows, we’re thinking about purchasing this option.

Highchair: We have two (one at our house, one at my parents), and this one is by far my favorite. It’s compact, no crevices for food to get stuck in, and it’s the perfect size for her.

Bumbo Seat: This was such a great item to have when she was learning to sit. We brought it everywhere…. to restaurants, wine tasting…. it also had a little tray in front of it so we could put toys on it for her. I remember the first time she sat in it, I think it was the first time I realized how much she was growing.

Baby Bjorn Carrier: When I was able to go hands free it was a #GameChanger. I could cook, apply mascara, have a glass of wine (kidding, sort of, see below) and still have her close to me. We loved this one and can’t wait to use it more as she grows. (more reviews here)

Moby Tub: This was one of our absolute favorite finds (full review here). It made bath time so much easier…. and it grew with her from infancy to about just a couple months ago. I highly recommend.

Nail Filer/ Nail Clippers: I used the nail filer for the first few months of Harper’s life and they were an excellent alternative to clipping the nails. I never had to worry about hurting her and they were just as effective. As she got older, I switched to the nail clippers and they were another great option. I never clipped her and she didn’t seem to mind them (full review here).

Diaper pail: So, I think this speaks for itself, but this one was great. Sleek, minimized the smell, and incredibly sturdy. Loved the color options too.

Wipe Warmer: I think this was incredibly helpful in the early months… especially when we were doing evening diaper changes at night. It always ensured that the wipes would be warm and comfortable for her. I’d use it all over again, and will when we have another one someday.

Rock N’ Play: This girl loved this thing…. and we did too. This is what she slept in for the first few months… and we took it everywhere…. even down to the pool on our trip to Hawaii.

Nursing Cover: This was my go-to for nursing in public. It allowed easy access, while still covering up.

Wellness: When Harper was sick back in December, we relied on this humidifier (we actually all use it!) and this nasal aspirator. We highly recommend both… easy and effective.

Diaper Bag: I had two that I switched between depending on the activity. If we were traveling or doing something pretty active we relied on this backpack (TJ was even confident wearing it too!). When I was running errands, we were heading out to eat, or walking around the mall this one (almost identical) was my go-to.

Freshly Picked Moccasins: These have been my favorite shoes for little miss. While they are an investment, they are incredibly well made and perfect for her as she walks (and almost runs) around. They come in so many fun color options too!

High Chair/Shopping Cart Cover: I swear by this thing. Use it all the time. Love how it provides a little extra stability…. and helps things stay a little more sanitary..

Owlet Monitor: I wrote a whole post on this product. It helped us have peace of mind (especially when she transitioned into her own room at 6 months) and was just an added level of security. Please read the post for more information. 

Comments

  1. Calla says:

    THANK YOU for being so open about this first year as a mama. I am due with our first (a girl) in only a few short weeks (hopefully short weeks…!) and have #allthefeels right now. Everything you talked about has been concerns of mine and things my husband and I have talked about, but it was so so helpful to read what you have gone through. Like you said, every baby and every mom/family is different so we won’t have the same experience but I feel more at ease knowing my thoughts and concerns are not out of the ordinary and right on track with what others experience. Again, thank you and happy birthday to that sweet little girl of yours!!

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Of course! I am glad that my experiences can validate what you are going through… I know that I wondered if I was the only one who had concerns or worries! Best of luck as you welcome your sweet little one into the world! Enjoy all the snuggles!

  2. My little guy turns one on Saturday and it’s so hard to believe!

  3. Whitney says:

    Sweet, honest and helpful post, as always! My daughter is the same age (a day apart) — wondering if Harper has transitioned to one nap a day? My little one is fighting me hard lately on both naps. Would you mind sharing her nap times? I’m a little desperate! Thank you!

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Thank you so much Whitney! She hasn’t yet transitioned yet to 1 nap…. she is still wanting both the naps. I did speak with my pediatrician about it when we went last week and she mentioned that when she starts fighting the naps it is time to go to one afternoon nap…. and she mentioned it’s usually around 15 months… but to monitor how she does with her naps. Currently she goes down for her first nap between 9:30-10 (depends on how she’s doing) and then her second is between 2:30/3. They last about 1 hour and 15 minutes… I hope that helps and good luck!

      • Whitney Clifford says:

        Thank you so much for taking the time for this response — as you know, naps are KEY. Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. Wow, how fast that year has gone, I have loved your honest posts about your journey into parenthood, and little miss is so beautiful. The time does fly and at least you have your blog to look back on in years to come to see little miss develop. I say cherish every little moment (even the ones when you think you could pull your hair out) as before you know it you are stood at the school gates with a child that is so independent you feel they no longer need you. My daughter is 10 and will be starting secondary school ( I am in England) in September, yet when I look at her trying to act grown up, I still see the little bundle of joy I brought home from the hospital.

    With regards to throwing food on the floor, every child does it as a sort of fun thing watching you picking it up!! What worked for us was as we ate as a family at the evening meal, if she intentionally threw food or her bowl on the floor, we just picked her whole highchair up, with her in it and moved it into the living room (only a short distance away but she could still see us) and told her it was naughty and she couldn’t come back to the table if she did it again and let her sit away from us for less than a minute. (ignore any tears here, although I know it is hard).Then we brought her back to the table and carried on as normal. If she did it again we repeated it and left her a little longer.

    As a an only child she missed being with us at the table so soon realised she got to stay at the table if she did not purposefully throw food/dishes on the floor, Thankfully we only need to do this a few times before she stopped altogether. I don’t know if you have them in the US but the seats you can strap to your own dining chairs (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kiddywinks-KD260-Booster-Seat-Blue/dp/B00FF7WQSM/ref=sr_1_2?s=baby&ie=UTF8&qid=1484559794&sr=1-2&keywords=high+chair+seat) really helped, as we just pushed the chair up to our own table and I am sure it helped her copy our manners at the table.

    I love your blog with its mixture of articles and fashion and honesty and of course seeing your lovely family and the love you have for each other x

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Hi Sharron! Thank you so much for your sweet words and wonderful advice! I appreciate it! I will definitely being trying out the techniques you chatted about! I am 100% certain that I will look back on this time with little miss and miss it so much (I already think about that!)! Have a wonderful day!

  5. stephanie whaley says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey! I don’t usually comment on bloggers, but my baby is 7 months, so I have been following you every step of the way and it is so comforting to see others going through the same thing. And thank you for your honesty with breastfeeding. I didn’t think we’d make it as far as we have. Now that we have made it this far I get a little anxious thinking about when the time will come to wean and what kind of formula I should use. So thank you for your honesty!! Harper is a doll!!

  6. I have always loved these updates too! Thank you for sharing so openly about the ups and downs – my daughter is ten months and I can’t believe we are approaching a year! I am still nursing, but think about weaning and when as well. Have you stuck with formula or have you introduced/will you introduce cow’s milk? I have no idea how to do this! (on my list at the pediatrician next.)

    • Shannon Pulsifer says:

      Doesn’t the time go so fast??! I still can’t believe it’s been a year! I have fully transitioned her to formula now, and am giving her whole milk. What I did for a little while was do half formula and half milk (in the same sippy cup) to see if her stomach could tolerate it. I only did that for a few days and then I fully transitioned her to cows milk, and she did really well. Prior to that, I had been giving her yogurt and cheese. I hope that helps!!

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