James' First Year in Review: Part 1

I realize I am more than a little late in tackling this topic.  (James passed the year and a half mark a few weeks ago...but oh well!)  

I sat down to write this update initially thinking I wanted to include a broader overview of this monumental first year of parenthood, along with the usual report of what was new and exciting in James' 12th month of life, since the one year mark seems like a logical milestone to look back and reflect.  What I ended up with was a lot of thoughts, mostly about parenting during the first year.

But here's the deal, I can only speak as an 'expert' (and probably not even that, I'm definitely still learning) within the sphere of influence God has given me authority over, which means my own child and family.   So when it comes to parenting, I don't really want to tell you that what I believe is right for me (and my family/child) will also definitely be right for you.

What I do want to tell you: my personal experiences, what I learned, and what I believe, with the hope you can read what I have to say and just do something with it.  Ponder it, be encouraged by it, disagree with it, think about something you've never thought about before, whatever.  

So, with that disclaimer in place, here we go with Part 1 of my top 12 thoughts + lessons learned during my first year of motherhood.

James' (and his Mom's) First Year: Our Top 12

1. Going from 0 to 1 child: one of the hardest and most awesome + rewarding things I'll ever do.  Before I had a baby everyone said the transition was a huge one and no matter how much I read or thought about or prayed about it before, nothing could have completely prepared me for parenthood until I was fully immersed in it for real.  It really does totally change your life.  I went from caring only about me as a free and single lady, to learning to care for my husband (along with myself) when I entered the covenant of marriage, to caring for a totally helpless and fragile infant (along with my husband and myself) who absolutely depended on me for his very survival and couldn't do a single thing by himself.  It was a heavy load to bear at times, especially in the first weeks and months, but of course, completely and totally worth it.

2. Sleep matters a lot!  I knew I was going to be tired during the newborn baby phase, but I had no idea what tired felt like until it had been months of getting up 3 or more times during the night and I literally felt like a zombie during every waking hour of the day.  James was not a great sleeper (he didn't sleep more than 5 hours at a time until he was 5-6 months old, and he didn't sleep all the way from bedtime until morning until he was 9 months old) so I know firsthand it's really rough to go for that long with an interrupted and shortened sleep schedule.  I learned there's not much you can do about it except sleep when you can, toughen up, and wait it out.  (Crying and complaining to your husband who sleeps like an angel with his earplugs in through the whole night and whom you are terribly jealous of, while sometimes inevitable and somewhat therapeutic, does not change or help the situation.)

3. Follow your instincts and don't stress.  I am extremely thankful we live in an age where there is so much information readily available at our fingertips and all it takes is a quick google search and I can read for hours on any topic under the sun.  In the early months when James was so unpredictable and everything was new, I spent many full mornings or afternoons scouring the blogosphere and mommy forums for answers to my billions of questions, and I found it mostly helpful.

I also learned I could take it too far.  I began to discover based on the many (often contradictory) opinions out there that babies are different and one mother or expert's advice or experience may or may not be applicable or helpful to my situation.  It is good to be educated and informed, look for ideas or options when you're stuck or have a problem, but ultimately you have to do what you feel is best for you and your child.  It doesn't help to freak out or compare your baby or situation to the hundreds of others you can read about on the internet.  Be informed, pray, and follow the mommy instincts God gave you and you will make wise choices.

4. James means "the joy of the Lord is his strength."  We gave James his name because when Justin was halfway through university (before we even met) he woke up from a nap one afternoon and felt the strong presence of God in the room and heard God speak to his heart to name his firstborn son James.  When we found out we were having a boy it was a pretty easy decision for us to obey the word of the Lord and name him James, but we both weren't very excited about the textbook meaning of James.  If you look up its origins, James is derived from the name Jacob, a figure in the Bible who deceived his father to steal his older brother's blessing, and thus gave the name a not-so-great meaning: deceiver, supplanter, or usurper.  We weren't crazy about the idea of giving our son that identity in his name, but felt the freedom to ask God for a specific and unique name identity for our son.  In prayer, Justin felt God say that our James would mean "the joy of the Lord is his strength."  Upon hearing that declaration, we fully expected to have the happiest baby on the planet, and as it turns out James was and is a super joyful and content little guy.  Tons of people told us to "watch out for number 2!" since James was so easygoing and good-natured, but I've chosen to just be thankful and count my blessings.  He truly is a joyful little one and brings so much joy to our lives as well.  


To be continued... :)

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