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6 Things I Regret From My First Year of Motherhood

After four kids, do I get to call myself a mothering expert? OK, definitely not. But looking back, I want to smack my first-time mom self upside the head, because, whoa regrets.

Granted, there are a lot of things I regret in life: the time I yelled at my daughter for being late to school when she was secretly making me a card, the unfortunate short hair phase I went through in middle school, the four pieces of frosted cinnamon-raisin toast I ate yesterday (actually, that's a lie—they were delicious).

But no time in my life holds more regrets than that first fateful year of motherhood.

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That first year is full of so much intensity: the highs and lows of hormones, the months of self-doubt as you navigate through the sea of parenting advice that bombards a new mother, the fierce love that is unlike anything you've ever experienced before. Trust me, I know how hard it can be. But I also wish that I had done things a lot differently. Here are the things I regret from my first year of motherhood.

1. Refusing a babysitter

For the first year of my daughter's life, I worked night shift as a nurse but refused to hire a babysitter at all. This meant that I was frequently staying awake between 24 and 36 hours, and one really horrible time, 72 hours straight. In my mind, no one could take care of my daughter like I could and I literally almost killed myself in order to be the one to always be physically with her. Looking back, I fully understand my new mom feelings of never wanting to leave my daughter, but good grief—that was not only unnecessary, but also totally dangerous for my physical and mental health.

You are so beautiful. You just went through the most amazing transformation of your life and it shows in every ounce of your body.

2. Letting the haters get to me

In that same vein, I also had a slight problem with never wanting to put my daughter down. I held her constantly, and as a result, a lot of people told me I was somehow damaging her by spoiling her. I felt like I was constantly fighting off the negative comments when I knew how I wanted to mother her—we were both happy, so I wish I had had the strength to brush off the haters. To this day, I still don't regret all that cuddling time I had with her, because now, there's a lot less time in my life for that.

3. Ignoring my mental health

I'm sure it had a lot to do with No. 1, but I had some pretty bad postpartum depression going on during that first year of motherhood, and I never sought help for it because I didn't recognize the signs and symptoms in myself. Just as much as first-time mothers nervously get the "all-clear" from their doctors at six weeks, I wish desperately that they paid attention to their mental health as well.

4. Hating my body

Oh, honey. I just want to go back in time and hug first-year mom Chaunie and tell her, "You are so beautiful. You just went through the most amazing transformation of your life and it shows in every ounce of your body in the most breathtaking way." I hate the tears that were shed, the hours wasted in self-loathing, the nights locked away in my closet pounding on my fold-up treadmill.

5. Neglecting my marriage

As you may have picked on, I completely lost myself in that first year of transforming into a mother and predictably, my husband was one of the first things to get tossed to the side. Although in a lot of ways, our bond became incredibly stronger as we gazed at each other in love over the little being we had created together, we also lost touch in a year of major stress, depression and crazy-hard career changes. I wish I would have realized that making a commitment to each other is an important part of parenting too.

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6. Staying home

I was convinced that leaving the house with a baby was just entirely too much work. Grocery shopping was a stress-filled dash for the essentials, visiting friends took hours of prep, and dinners out? Forget it. Now that I have four kids, of course, I can laugh at myself. One baby? One baby is manageable—pack up and just get out there! I was pretty lonely that first year and I wish I had realized that both my baby and I could have benefited from a little more social interaction.

What do you regret about your first year as a mom?

Image via j&j brusie photography

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