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.
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
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
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
5. Neglecting my
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.
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
What do you regret about your first year as a mom?