Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chronicles of a Rookie Mom: The One-Year Mark

What's life like these days?

I'm a 31-year old working mother of a toddler who works in a fortune 500 company and lives in the suburbs, tucked between a Whole Foods, Zoe's Kitchen and Target. Though I live in a nest of retail and restaurants, I do most of my shopping through Amazon Prime and cook my own meals and occasionally entertain myself with meal-kit services. I almost never eat out.

I binge-watch all the popular television shows like Game of Thrones and keep up with New York Times bestsellers lists so that I am at least familiar with the titles of popular fiction and can insert non-BS claims like 'Oh, I've heard of that! I want to read it too!" I joined a neighborhood fitness center for weeknight yoga and kickboxing classes. My social life is disproportionately baby-friendly and to top things off, my husband and I have officially dipped our feet into the suburbia housing market.

This is my new anticlimactic reality. "Who wants to read that run-of-the mill 30-something year old's story?" life. Becoming a mom and living in white-collar suburbia has opened a new emotional seam for me. I used to pride myself in staying off the beaten path and making unconventional life choices. I was accustomed to gasps and wide-eyed responses when recalling tales from my frequent travels and a career that normalized run-ins with renowned people and places.

People who led exciting lives didn't have time to catch up on six seasons of a popular television series. Interesting people didn't cook everyday because they were always out, dipping in and out of trendy restaurants in the city or getting invited to rooftop dinner parties - always meeting even cooler people.

This past year, I've taken a sharp detour. I'm making headway into the archetypal millennial mom trajectory. Instead of sparks in people's eyes when I update them on my status quo, I get either the 'Been there, done that' rapport or lukewarm interest from women who remind me of the old self. The friends I surrounded myself with in my old life are fading further and further into a phantom capsule. Many of them still living abroad, plucking their dream jobs along the way and inking their passports. I keep up with them on faint note, but avoid talking to them not only because I'm probably the least interesting person to them now, but because my heart literally starts to feel prickly. I miss those days so much as they steadily diminish into a relic of the past. It's no longer just 'last summer' but 'five years ago'. Holy Crap. 

No, I'm not complaining. Having a baby is not a cul-de-sac. Quite the contrary. Life is so good right now. I'm blessed in more ways that I can count and luckier than I probably deserve. Every night when I go to sleep, I look forward to the next morning. Who would have thought that hearing my baby cooing every morning from his crib makes me jump out of bed so fast I almost trip on my face. Then the rush I get when my little human jumps up and down at the first sight of me and running faster than his body can handle, giggling the whole way and plunging right into my arms. Nobody will ever look at me like that. Run to me like that. Love me like that. And every year, he'll learn new ways to show this climactic affection towards me. A soul nourishing state of Euphoria no rooftop dinner party or intellectual conversations with semi-famous people can compete with. 

These peak moments are the much needed remedy for an otherwise confined routine that life has become. In between the gushes of euphoria are cleaning, butt-wiping, floor scrubbing, nose suctioning, screaming 'no' thirty times a day and enduring anxiety-inducing cacophony of fussy, whiny cries. 

It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway, I enjoy being a mom. I love it. Really. And I say this as someone who truly believes it is not natural to me. Even a year later. There's a lot of domestication that metastasizes when stepping into the motherhood paradigm. And I'm just averse to that whole concept no matter how much society insists it is a 'natural place for a woman'. Because I did not outsource childcare or any domestic work for the first year - it was primarily a two-stroke engine I had to quickly learn how to generate.

That's the bad news. If you even want to call it that. And it's like 25% of the equation. The rest is a colorful tapestry of happiness, love and laughter.

I also feel like I have improved as a person and titillated into nicer, kinder and a more understanding woman. This could also be an age thing, you know, turning 30 and maybe because I'm a lot less social than before (less people, less drama, less negative energy).

But I think it's primarily because becoming a mom has made me more grounded as a human being. I learned to be empathetic, compassionate and patient to a new degree. I am not claiming motherhood will have this effect on all women. We all know there are terrible evil moms out there. (Cercei, comes to mind.) But it did good by me. 

While I'm still just barely scratching the surface, within a year, I want to salute  myself and say, "I did it!"!! 

Here is a general overview of my first tryout as a mother... 

Timeline of my First Year as a Mom

Months 1 - 3

The Gist: This was the hardest phase. There's still physical pain for two-three weeks and very overwhelming. Baby is completely dependent so a tricky blend of excitement, anxiety and chronic fatigue. Chaotic but beautiful, I also wrote extensively about this period.

Favorite Products: A Pack'n Play, a swing, bandanna bibs, MAM pacifiers, a Glider, and lots and lots of baby wipes

Mom's Rank: #4 

Months 3 - 6

The Gist: Slowly getting the hang of it and attempted to normalize life and enjoy baby, watching him grow and putting away newborn clothes and trinkets and replacing them with a jumper and baby food maker since baby can now eat solids. Began to frequent parks and initiate play dates with mom friends. I also have a newfound appreciation for Chick-fil-a. We took our first vacation as a family and introduced baby to daycare at least once a month.

Favorite Products: Boppy Pillow, Easy Clean Baby Food Maker, Piano Gym Mat and more bandana bibs (my favorite are by Baby Daulia)

Mom's Rank: #3 

Months 6 - 9

The Gist: A major turning point with many milestones like crawling and established routines with nap times (twice a day) and sleeping in the crib in his own room through the night. A new degree of independence meant baby can entertain himself, and I can get more work done. Taking baby out is a lot easier since he can now sit in the store-carts and I don't have to carry around the heavy infant car-seat. Teething is a major pain, though and had several spasms of regression. Making baby food is still kind of a hassle and creates more dishes to wash, and I still ended up buying packets anyway. Still, homemade baby food is worth it.

Favorite Products: A folding high chair, a Humidifier, nasal aspirator (FriedaBaby), a Jumper and I've discovered this amazing alternative to diaper bags called Grab & Go wet/dry bag insert. More baby wipes.

Mom's Rank: #

Months 9 - 12

The Gist: There's light beaming at the not-so-end anymore tunnel. Baby is so much more fun since he can now interact, express himself with low and high baby talk notes, walking, running, playing and has a jolly time throughout the day, everyday. It's hard not to be in awe just watching baby find everything exciting and mesmerizing. Yes, it's getting scary because you have to keep your eye on him all the time and baby-proof the house. He had his first major bloody mouth when he fell hard on his face because he was zapping through the room faster than his little body could handle. Because his personality is surfacing and he actually speaks to me in his language, I also talk to him about the latest news updates and offer my analysis. I also recap the latest GoT episode. (Does this make me crazy?) He's old enough now that I feel comfortable getting a babysitter so I can now resume a social life. Baby has shown signs of difficulty and resists diaper changes and doesn't listen, drops and throws everything while looking me straight in the eye. He bites really hard, too. He knows it hurts because he wouldn't dare bite himself. My friend Laura calls it the 'adorable asshole' phase. 

Favorite Products: Putting away all the clunky gear is the best part of this phase, replacing them with less invasive Lego blocks and child-friendly handheld devices like the LeapFrog Laptop and Flash Music Remote Control. The mega blocks are awesome although they make their way throughout the house, in the fridge, inside the toilet and even our neighbor's patio. He loves them and has to carry at least one piece everywhere he walks, like it's his buddy. It's so cute.

Mom's Rank: #1 

One thing I was worried about this time last year was how much a baby will cost us, fiscally. It turns out, babies don't cost nearly as much as I thought. The industry says a baby will cost around $12,000 a year.

A Breakdown of Baby's First Year Expenses 

Furniture: $1,500-$1,800

Car Seat and Strollers: $600

Activities and Play Gear: $400

Diapers: $45/month or $550/year 

Formula: $75/month or $888/year

Food: $350

Bottles, Pacifiers and Bibs:$150/year

Clothes: $350-$400

Childcare: $880/year 

Photography: $625

First Birthday Party$1,000

Other: $500

Approximate Total: $8,000

I suppose I should pat myself on the back for spending $400 less than the average! Plus, a size-able portion was taken care of by family and friends (thank you!!) If you're about to have a baby, makeup with family members and start reaching out to friends you have lost touch with :)

Life may have stalled for a year, shedding $8,000 while at it, but considering each passing month is becoming a new favorite, I am feeling pretty good about the juncture I've reached and hopeful of what lies ahead. My career track looks promising and I have a couple of international trips lined up this year. My relationship with my husband, family and friends has never been healthier so I can truly say that life is becoming recognizable and exciting again with potential for upcoming chapters to be on par or even outshine the older ones. 

So please, don't ask me when I am thinking of having another baby. I'm finally back at my pre-pregnancy weight and life is starting back up again. 


  1. I love this! Congrats on your first year! Proud to say that I know you, even though it was just through work a million years ago! Samantha Coggins Rogers

    1. Thank you Samantha!! I'm so flattered <3 I'm glad we met too. Hope all is well!! Would love to catch up.