First birthday

Reminiscing, celebrating, isolating and managing expectations.

I was originally going to write a blog post about the lead up to my daughter’s first birthday, my emotions and feelings about it and how we celebrated.

It was going to be a light-hearted piece about surviving a year, having high expectations of her party (which is so silly) but saying (hopefully) that it was a lovely day with family and friends.

That is not how it went…           

In the build up to her 1st birthday I did find myself getting emotional (nothing new there!) but it felt like a really big deal.

We had genuinely survived a year as parents but not just survived, we had found our footing, we had figured it out and we had enjoyed it!

Don’t get me wrong, we are by no means perfect parents, far from it… but we actually feel like “Mum” and “Dad” which is a reason to celebrate and look back.

It is a complete identity change.

We talk SO much about the change to our lives, the changes and developments your baby will go through in their first year but we almost forget to talk about the changes and developments to YOU as people which are vast!

You are not the same people by the end of that year and that is no bad thing but it is an anniversary for you too.

I was looking back through pictures of her as a newborn, reminiscing about the different stages and feeling nostalgic.

She will never be that little again…

When she was that little I prayed for the day that she could be a little bit more independent… now I’m praying to have those precious moments back.

Am I ever satisfied?! It is so annoying!

But that is the paradox and contradiction of parenthood.

We will always wish for the days when they need to rely on us a little bit less and we will mourn those past days when they  no longer need us.  

I became broody and thought, should we just have another now?

(No, I am not pregnant!).

Then I realised that to become pregnant again now (with a 1 year old) obviously would not be easy but also it wouldn’t be the same…

To have another baby wouldn’t just be me and Isabelle in our newborn bubble. I would have a gorgeous new bundle of sleeplessness and Isabelle. My time, efforts and energy would be split.

Then I realised I would NEVER have the same experience again that I did when she was first born.

NEVER.

And I did not appreciate it at the time.

In fact, I resented it.

I did not enjoy the newborn stage at all.

I needed to sleep, I needed to not be breastfeeding, I needed to recover, I needed to become Mum… I wasn’t there yet and it took time.

So… for me… looking back, hurt.

Then the never ending Mum guilt hit me… obviously.

When I look back I feel like I let her down but now I feel like I let myself down. I wish I had just tried to enjoy those moments. Those moments that I will never get back.

But rather than feeling low and emotional, I threw everything into planning her a ‘perfect’ birthday.

What a silly idea!

Not too many presents but surrounded with food, decorations and family and friends.

My expectations were sky high, I knew they were and I knew I would be so upset if it wasn’t everything I envisioned… I knew that before the day I would have to be more realistic and less ridiculous about a 1st birthday party.

4 days before her birthday I got very unwell and we had to self-isolate.

She didn’t have a party, she didn’t see anyone… except us.

I was devastated but I also knew that I was too ill to throw a party and much too ill to be upset about it.

Reality came crashing down around me and I know there are MUCH worse things in the world than not having a party…

Like I said, I did know I was being ridiculous.

We ended up playing with her new toys (which I had thankfully and coincidentally wrapped 5 days before her birthday), I have NEVER done anything like that before!?

We ate cake, had her favourite foods and just enjoyed the day Isabelle, Mummy and Daddy.

It was one of the best days we have ever spent at home, just the 3 of us and it made me feel that I would be so happy if every one of her birthdays (until she tells me otherwise) would be like that.

Us, as a family, happy and grateful for each other.

Nothing about the past year, including the way we celebrated, met my expectations…

I have learnt to manage my expectations because you just NEVER know what is going to happen but I also know that just because her birthday didn’t meet my previous expectations, doesn’t mean it didn’t surpass them.

An isolated birthday may not have been what we wanted but it is something I am genuinely grateful that we had to do.

Happy birthday to my Isabelle and happy anniversary as parents to us.

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