Today I’m featuring the writing of someone else (with her permission, of course!). She doesn’t have a blog of her own, that I know of. Maybe she should. This was a Facebook post she made regarding her son’s first birthday. It is not the candy coated version of motherhood. It is the raw but beautiful truth of that first year. It is something that almost every new mother can relate to.
Natalie has always left such a deep impression on me, since the day that I met her. And watching her growth as new wife and mother has been a blessing and a reminder of the goodness humans possess. So with out further ado: Meet Natalie and Tucker. Happy Birthday, little man. You are so blessed and loved.
Happy Birthday Tucker: Our first year together (By Natalie Jo Hart)
**disclaimer: long post about parenthood. If you aren’t into sappy, probably not the best piece to read**
Today is the day my son turns one. This incredible, quirky, adventurous and independent boy is 12 months old. I am in disbelief. I remember taking the test and reading a positive, and telling my husband the news. He was simply ecstatic. I was happy too, but the first emotions that hit me were sheer panic and fright. I was absolutely terrified. I was responsible for someone elses life besides my own. The first few months of pregnancy were rough, with the doctors finding bleeds and noting me as a high risk pregnancy and putting me on bed rest. I remember the doctor telling us that we weren’t “out of the woods” and “there is a high chance you could lose this baby”. Then, thank God, the bleeds healed up and we grew a little “bean”. All throughout pregnancy I would imagine what he looked like, what he would smell like, if he would have his momma’s eyes and daddy’s nose.
He came almost 2 weeks early, Jeremy didn’t believe I was in labor until I told him to take me to the hospital (men, lol) and I was having back labor and contractions. As much as I had prepared for this moment, I still didn’t feel “ready”. I didn’t feel like I could be a good mom, or be ready to take care of a family on my own. I remember being in the hospital room with a very crabby nurse and when I finally had a minute alone with her, I asked her if she could please tell me why she was so upset. She broke down with me and told me she had just lost twins recently and it was hard delivering babies now. In that moment of us crying, I realized that I was given this gift for a reason and that as much as I might not feel ready, I was. Tucker Daniel Hart was born at 2:25 am, with dad right by our side. Tuck came out of my womb and was put on my chest briefly before the room got quiet and Jeremy’s back was towards me, shielding everything from my view. I kept asking “what’s going on? Is everything ok?” Tucker wasn’t breathing. It took what seemed like forever and finally they got his airway open. I was in shambles. So many emotions, the biggest one of all was joy. Jeremy kept kissing us and telling me how proud he was of me and what a great job I did and how perfect our boy was. I looked at my sweet little 6 pound boy in complete shock and awe that I grew that. I was now a mother. The delivery room staff was still in there and cried together that he was okay. We made it!
(Yes this is still really long…)
I vaguely remember the blur of the hospital bed, and feeding our boy every 2 hours and trying to get used to waking up on and off. When we were getting ready to leave, I told Jeremy he had to drive because I was too scared I was going to get us in an accident. when we got home, I couldn’t let him sleep in a bassinet the first couple days because I was convinced he was going to roll over and suffocate or die from SIDS. I kept him in an elevated swing and slept on the couch with him right in front of my face so I could watch every breath. Tuck started crying in the truck on the 2 minute car ride home from Walmart and I busted out crying because he was crying lol. When Tuck turned 3 weeks, Jeremy had to go back to Afghanistan for almost 4 months. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I didn’t know how to raise a newborn, especially all alone. Completely terrified! When Jeremy left, I was so upset I laid on the floor for two days and was throwing up because I was so stressed out and taking care of Tuck in between. (I was way too proud to ever let on to any of this at the time.) I just kept looking at my baby with those beautiful eyes, and seeing a whole new world for both of us. I analyzed every single feature on his face, and kissed him from head to toe and feeling so much gratitude that I was blessed with him. For the next few months, I had the most life altering experience. I was too tired to sleep, knowing in less than 2 hours he would wake up to feed, then change then sleep and in an hour be awake etc (anyone with a newborn understands). But through all of that, I was rewarded with smiles and coos and little laughs and all kinds of snuggles and love. After the first month, i hit a huge rut. I felt like a complete failure. I couldn’t get him on a sleep schedule, couldn’t fix his colic issues, he had a bad diaper rash… Was I a good mom? I called Jeremy at work and told him it was an emergency and Tuck was crying and couldn’t stop. His colic was the culprit after all, so bad I had to carry him in the football hold for 4 hours before the episode passed. Was it my fault? Did i not do enough? Do I take him to the hospital? I was literally so freaked out and scared every single second for the first 5 months of his life. Complete train wreck. I hit another huge wall of utter exhaustion where I had only slept 2 hours here and there after a matter of days because of the colic, and I was at the end of my rope. I hadn’t left the house in days and didn’t have food (Tuck did of course) and was once again convinced, I just wasn’t cut out to be a mother. I was beyond sleep deprived and feeling defeated. From counting laps around the living room on how many until I could get him to sleep (142, btw) and car rides at 3 am to get him to pass out, lots of burping and gripe water for his tummy… Of course this entire time, I knew I had to keep going for my him, and suck it up and dig deep. He still gave me so much joy and love and this full heart and a new desire to be as perfect as I could be for him, I couldn’t bear to let him down.
Soon enough, this new adjustment, turned into a routine. And now, a second nature where I can’t fathom the thought of not having him. I can’t imagine my day not taking care of him, I’m wired for it now. Once he hit 5-6 months, I felt like we got through the newborn stage and now he was having even more changes and being so alert and aware.He would smile and laugh, and I remember when we would follow me with his eyes when I walked across the room and did it ever melt my heart that he couldn’t take his eyes off momma. I was able to watch him look at the sky in wonder, giggle at the dogs licking his face, and try to figure out how everything worked. Just witnessing how intelligent he is and what he liked and didn’t like. All these new discoveries for him, sights and sounds. Figuring out he had hands and feet and stuffing them in his mouth.
One of my favorite things from this journey has been that I get to witness him make self discoveries, from him learning to crawl and getting so mad he couldn’t figure it out for months. He just figured it out and took off one day! He would try and try to crawl and knew his body could do it, but couldn’t get his body to comply. Once he did, he was all over and exploring. I watched him just walk off and him look back and cackle like “yeah mom, I just did that!” lol.
These last few months have been him developing into a little boy. Talking, walking, responding, pointing, throwing fits, the whole nine yards. It went in a blink of an eye.
And here we are, a year later. Some may read this and think I’m selfish. It’s her sons birthday, why does she keep talking about herself. And as selfish as it may sound. I feel like I am celebrating, too. This was by FAR the hardest but more importantly the best year of my life. I got through my first year of motherhood, which is known to be one of the hardest things women experience. My son has no idea what being his mom has taught me. I got to finally experience unconditional love, patience, grace, and faith. I had no confidence in myself until I had him, and he gave me every single ounce of life he has and relies on me to exist. I’ve said it a million times over, my son was my “rebirth”. My second shot. I changed my life around to do what’s best for us, or at least I try my best to. All the memories of just a year of you falling asleep in my arms, to sleeping in your crib, to seeing yourself in a mirror for the first time. So many firsts for you, little cub.
And although I still have those days of doubt, and I wish I could be better, I see his smile and hear his laugh and I know deep down in my heart, we are doing what’s right and the best we can. I get to see this gigantic, 26 pound boy wake up in the morning and make him birthday pancakes. It’s going to be the best day ever.
I love you, Tuck Tuck (and Hubbidy). We did it.