It goes without saying that it is such a surreal feeling to have a one year old! I really can’t fathom how fast this year has gone, it’s been the best (and at times worst) of my life. Since our little Finley decided to put in his 5 weeks early appearance, my life has been changed so completely in the most wonderful way.
It’s been quite strange thinking back to this time last year, I would have still been in hospital while he was having his jaundice treated. Not long after that, we found out about his heart defect. The first few weeks of his life were like a blur while we waited for his open heart surgery. Thankfully when I reminisce, it’s all the good stuff that comes back. Watching films and eating Reece’s Cups in hospital, going to the breastfeeding cafe and making new friends and making the most of night feeds by watching random stuff on Netflix. There was a day just before he went in for surgery (the time when I was at my lowest and didn’t want to leave the house) when I decided to go out, popped him in the wrap and had a walk around Durham with a chai latte in my hand. His feeding tube was hidden as his head was turned to my chest, and for that hour or so I enjoyed feeling like a ‘normal’ mama.
We seriously could not be more thankful to the Children’s Heart Unit for basically saving our baby boy’s life. Watching the Festival of the Tyne and the Great North Run last year, and then really focusing on the idea of us doing the run gave me so much strength when Finley was ill. I’d visualise myself doing the run and having Finley there all better, and it’s all come true :-) I’m actually welling up as I type this, life now compared to then really is a dream come true. You can find out all about Team Finley here.
I wrote a lot on the blog about my adjustment to becoming a mama, and now it feels like this is what I’ve always been. Breastfeeding in public is no longer awkward, I don’t feel the horrible anxiety about what each night might hold and it’s comfortable in the most wonderful way.
Finley himself is just an absolute joy. Considering all that he’s been through in his short life, he’s doing really well. He is still very small for his age, but that seems to just be him for now at least. He’s crawling, coasting around on the furniture, saying dada and baba (although sadly no mama just yet!) making friends at nursery and just being completely awesome. He also has his eight front teeth in and I think his molars are starting to try and get though at the moment.
He’s doing great with his food and we continue to combi feed, having the boob when he’s with me and formula when he’s at nursery or being cared for by anyone else. Sleep is still not great. He starts the night in his cot and then when he wakes (usually after 2-3 hours) he comes into bed with me and we bed share. It works for us, and I have no issue with continuing to bed share, certainly while we are still in the flat. It’s been the best way for us to get the sleep we need. He still wakes a few times a night, and when he’s not teething or having a developmental leap he’ll settle back to sleep really easily.
On Sunday we had a little tea party for him with some of my friends and his baba friends. I was determined to make his birthday cake, and in the end I decided to make Jamie Oliver’s gluten free carrot cake in a double layer with extra cream cheese icing. I also made a separate dairy-free cake (my Vegan Victoria Sponge cake) for one of my friends and her little girl who have a dairy intolerance.
It was a really fun afternoon and a lovely celebration! For his birthday we got him some toys and clothes but I’m also in the process of creating a photo book using Blurb, which I reviewed a few months ago. It should make a lovely keepsake.
I have learned so much over the last year about motherhood and myself. I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned is that you really need to be flexible and just open yourself up to that flow. There is nothing ‘routine’ about having a baby, Finley is changing all the time, and the best way to deal with that for me, is by letting go of any assumptions or expectations about how things ‘should’ be.
Given the unusual circumstances we had to deal with at the start, I think it’s fair that I felt down and depressed at times, but that aside, I do know that my expectations of what motherhood would be like didn’t help. Further on, since I ditched the expectations that Finley would sleep through the night, do this thing by then, etc, I’ve come to relax and enjoy motherhood so much more. I’ve also stopped comparing him to other babies – if any child is going to be different, it’s him, and actually he’s doing absolutely wonderfully!
I believe I also said here on the blog that a turning point for me was when he started nursery. Yes, there’s a shitload of guilt that goes alongside that, but I am a far better mother when I have some time for me to both work and to just recharge. Oh and there’s another thing, the mama guilt! I think it’s almost inevitable that you will feel it at some point but you just have to do what’s right for your situation and your beliefs and no one deserves to be judged for that. I’m a breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-wearing hippy, who also needs some time away from her son sometimes, and that’s ok.
I’ve always been into self care, but this year that has just blown up for me. When you suddenly don’t have time for it, you notice how much you need it and if there’s one thing I’d say to another new mama it would be to work in the self care as a priority. I know it’s not always easy, but it is so worth it. I’m just better in every sense of the word when I take care of myself, certainly a better mother all round.
Body-wise, I’m really happy with it a year after giving birth. I am finding myself feeling a renewed need to focus on eating well and exercising more consistently again, but changing my body isn’t the focus, rather it’s about how much better I feel when I eat really well and have a good exercise routine. I also had a kind of pleasant surprise a few weeks ago when my period returned. After several years of no periods and everything that went into getting pregnant, it’s a beautiful sign to me that my body is in a great place right now.
Looking ahead, I couldn’t be more excited about life with a soon-to-be toddler! I can’t wait to enjoy autumn to the full (I really feel like it slipped me by last year) and of course do this Great North Run and give something back to the people that helped us so much.
If you have children, how did you find the first year changed you? What advice would you give to a new mama?
He has the cutest, cheekiest little face! Congratulations on his first birthday – it really is an important milestone! I think the party is almost more for the parents than it is for the child :-) The first year of motherhood was a massive learning curve for me but I can hand on heart say that it just keeps getting better and better. I am hoping that second time around I won’t worry about the silly things I did when I had my first and instead I can learn to just enjoy the quiet (and crazy) moments – I know that the are all too fleeting now! Well done on doing the first year in style xx
This is such a beautiful post Laura, I welled up reading it.
What a year you guys have had, it’s amazing how far you have come. I shall be saving this to look back on if j become a mama some day, your attitude is so inspiring. Lucky lucky Finley.
PS in reply to your last comment, would love to try meet after GNR! Shall definitely try come find you if I’m not in a heap!
How can he be a year old already?! That year went by so fast! Happy birthday Finley! Also, love his cake! :)
I’ve bought several books from Blurb in the past and they make really good quality, great keepsakes.
Finley really is one of the most precious little babies, it’s so lovely to have seen your journey from prior to even being pregnant , right up until now just to see how amazing everything is for you! I cannot even begin to imagine what actually being a Mother must be like, especially after some of the things you’ve experienced this past year, but from everything you’ve shared, you’ve done an amazing job so far!
She’s So Lucy
Just think you were born to be a mother(wee Finley’s very blessed indeed:) & a complete natural on this privileged role. You more or less covered it in(great advice for any new parent or parent-to-be as usual:) on tips to motherhood / parenthood so I will just reinforce the emphasis on self-care & being kind to yourself(as baby needs happy carers:), taking it slow and easy especially post birth & if possible a year or so ajust to this totally life-changing transition(let’s face it it is a bit of shock on mind & body, we need time to recover & heal if necessary) & just being mindful(no worries) helps to enjoy this wonderfully-precious buddle of joy. They’ll only wee(in arms)for a relatively short time so enjoy him / her while you can as this will pass’ soon enough!
He’s so adorable! I can’t believe how quickly that year has gone- it must have flown for you guys. Glad that you are all doing so well.
Beautiful post, Laura… It brought a little tear to my eye!
It’s been lovely reading about your journey with Finley over the past year, you’ve all been through so much – hopefully the next year will be filled with nothing but awesome, happy memories. xx
It might be cringey to read this but I really think you’re an absolute role model ‘mam’! I may be a long way off from having kiddos myself, but just reading posts like this make me feel some kind of mixture of excitement and relief to know that it CAN be done – to be a great mum AND a badass businesswoman. Oh, and an epic cake baker by the sounds of it ;)
Such a lovely post to read. You’re so blessed, but you guys definitey deserve all the happiness in the world.
You’re a wonderful role model and inspiration. Keep doing what you’re doing! x
Happy birthday Fin!
I have said this before, and I’ll say it again- you should not be feeling guilty over Finley going to nursery. Honestly, from a teacher’s point of view, the children that struggle to settle into school are the ones who have never been away from home before. If he is used to playing with other children, not being with his parents, and being with other adults, it will put him in such a great place for when he starts school (and I know it’s a few years away, but his first year went by very fast). It’s not like you are leaving him there 8-6 every day or anything.
Glad you had such a lovely time celebrating :)
You know your child more than anyone, follow your intuition you can’t go wrong and forget to mention you are superwoman, Laura for navigating motherhood with a heart-centred business, very admirable!
Happy birthday Finley! Wow, one year goes so fast! He is indeed doing so well considering what he’s been through and you are doing so well too. I really enjoy reading your posts, learning about babies, so if I have any in the future I will have some knowledge already.
What a lovely post Laura, a huge happy birthday to your beautiful, healthy boy! xx