There are so many milestones we reach throughout the course of our lives. Once you become a parent you will begin to realize just how many milestones there are that you don’t even remember from your very own youth. You will be a witness to so many “firsts” through your child that it will be hard to keep track of them all. This got me thinking about “Mommy Milestones.” A milestone is defined as a “significant point in development,” and because children grow so quickly from infancy to toddlers these regular milestones will become so apparent. All the top things like their first words, first steps, first birthday, etc. will be very exciting. But, I think “Mommy Milestones” are a little different and exciting in a different way, in a sense of accomplishment that you are actually a “good mom.” You will start to have these startling moments where you sit back and can’t believe you just did this, or got through that, or that actually just happen?
So, here are the top 15 “Mommy Milestones” I’ve come up with from CONCEPTION TO TODDLERVILLE:
1) GETTING PREGNANT!!!! Any woman planning on having a baby can tell how wonderful it is to pee on that little stick and have it come out POSITIVE!!! As a female I think its safe to say that we feel this is a part of our role, our God given right to be able to grow a baby inside of us. Whether it takes you a short, long, or ‘somewhere in between there’ time to get pregnant, it’s truly a moment of pure bliss that you won’t ever forget!
2) GIVING BIRTH. Being preggers can be very exciting and exhausting time of your life. But that is nothing compared to the craziness of giving birth! Everyone has a different experience when it comes to labor. However, fear not! The most painful experience of your entire life is entirely worth it because you are rewarded with the most beautiful baby you will ever meet! You gave birth FROM YOUR VERY OWN BODY to this little blessing. YES, YOU ARE AWESOME!!
3) NURSING YOUR CHILD (errr, successfully). I was looking forward to being able to breastfeed, another God-given right, right?? Well yes, in a manner of speaking. My daughter was not easy to nurse and we had many problems along the way and then just as we finally got into the swing of it around six weeks, I had to give it up due to her acid reflux. Oh well, at least I gave it my best effort. I was still very hard on myself as we were trying to nurse. Some women have no issues and swear by it, others never try, some stop due to the many different circumstances. But, if you are successful in doing this, I can tell you its amazing feeling to be able to feed your own child from just purely and simply, you.
4) Being able to care for your child on YOUR own for the first time. Sounds strange right? So much preparation goes into planning for the baby, but what about when they are actually there? At the hospital you have so much help, then at home I had the help of my Mom and my husband for almost two weeks on just about a daily basis. Then the reality kicks in on the day it’s just you and your baby for the first time!!! It’s a little scary at first, but you manage to do it. Plus you feel pretty cool (and relieved) when your husband gets home and you tell him, that’s right your are a Mom and yes you kicked ass taking care of your child by yourself, ALL DAY!
5) Leaving your baby alone successfully with someone else for more than a few hours. I can still remember the first time I had to leave my daughter alone with my Mom for about 8 hours. Of course I completely trusted my mom, but as I drove away from Juliette I felt an overwhelming ache, sadness, and worry for a while. Then once I got to my destination I was so overwhelmed with people asking me for photos of her, how she was, how I was, etc. that the ache and sadness subsided mostly, but I still had worry. It also felt a little freeing and somewhat normal again to be on my own, just me. I now know the worry will probably never fully go away, but it does get better and a little easier with time.
6) Getting your baby to sleep through the night. Any mom will tell you that this is in one word, wait for it…LEGENDARY! (HIMYM fans will get that legendary reference) Right around 8 weeks old my daughter starting doing this and I can’t even tell you what the magic key was, but whatever we were doing with her was working!!! You will hear that Hallelujah song literally ring through your head, so much that you will have to make sure you keep doing what we are doing. Of course, any mother will also tell you that just because they slept through the night, it does NOT mean you will. You will wake up, stare at the monitor, listen to the monitor, turn it up, make sure its working, wander into their room, feel their chest, watch them, pace the halls, make sure they have enough blankets, are in the proper position, tiptoe to the bathroom, not to mention check the time about 40 more times, etc. This also gets easier with time.
7) Losing the baby weight. For me, nursing really helped with this one, plus honestly it truly is hard to find time to eat for quite a while. Sometimes you just shovel into your mouth what you can between feedings. Happily, after bout 4 weeks, I was back in my old jeans. I was pretty proud of having shed almost all the pounds because it felt awesome. I think the last few were gone after about 10 more weeks. This is not to say your body will look exactly the same after, you will have stretch marks and that line down your stomach will fade, but your body will never truly be the same. It will be a little stretched out in different places. It’s all worth it though as you almost feel a sense of accomplishment like who cares, they are almost like battle scars and I’m ok with that. 8) The pride of their Independence (seeing them do things on their own for the first time like eating, drinking, walking, crawling, talking, etc.) These are milestones for both baby and parents. It’s fun to watch them try to become mobile and the strange things they will do to get there. You’ll feel like you are living with a little drunken munchkin for a while. You’ll have many proud mommy and daddy moments here. Is the saying true that it’s all over once they start to crawl or walk? Well its over for a little while, but once they become steady and you childproof even more so than you ever thought was necessary or possible, it gets easier. Talking is also quite humorous at first, but when you start hearing real words, its just adorable. Eating and drinking can be quite the scene too as you’ll learn that even your cell phone apparently tastes delicious, so does that 2-week-old Cheerio from under the couch you missed while cleaning…
9) Saying Mama! Admit it, you know you want to hear “Mama” before “Dada.” I still stand by the fact that Juliette’s first words were not “Dada” but merely “DAAAAAAA” followed barely by another “daiiii.” Anyway, whether its said first or not, it’s amazing to hear when they actually look at you, know who you are, and say it out loud, be prepared to grab the tissues!
10) You become the ultimate healer. Who still doesn’t want their mom around when they are sick? I know I do! There’s something about them that just makes you feel better. Guess what? You will have the same power over your child; a mother’s nurturing is the ultimate gift to their child. It’s incredible that by just comforting them and knowing what to do when they aren’t well makes you the Dali Lama! Caring for them in this state makes you realize how much they truly need you, that you are that person who makes it all better. 11) Signing up your child for their first independent class. My daughter’s first ‘non-Mommy and Me’ class was her dance class the started in the fall of 2013. Let me tell you that YOU will be more nervous; YOU will be “that mom” in class that becomes the worrywart. However, my fears subsided when I realized how well Juliette did when that door shut, and that there were, in fact…NO TEARS! A bit of tears came a few weeks later on for her, but she got over it and now she absolutely LOVES her dance class, her teachers, the students, and looks forward to every Tuesday! I catch her doing moves all over the house too, which is thoroughly adorable. They learn, you learn, it’s a wonderful all-around learning experience. Plus, it gets them used to taking direction from other adults besides their parents and social interaction with other little ones.
12) Signing up your child for school. Preschool was a hard word for me to say. I stay at home with my daughter, so it was probably a little harder to let go, as Juliette is like my little sidekick all day, everyday. But, whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home one, I think this is a BIG milestone and it is never easy. Juliette will start two half days of preschool this coming fall and that was a big moment for her, her Daddy and I. My little girl is growing up, which is a very bittersweet pill to swallow.
13) Getting them off the Pacifier. Juliette was very attached to her beloved “paci” as it really did get her through lots of tough times, but they say around 18 months old its time to give it up. Well the timeline was near and I first tried poking holes, but Juliette realized what I did right away and just tried making the holes bigger by poking at them, so now she had a new and very cool paci toy to pick at. Then I tried cutting off the top of it, as apparently most babies realize the sucking sensation is gone and give up, well my daughter is NOT that easy. She realized what I did took it out of her mouth, gave it a maddening stare and then looked at me with a huge pout and proceeded to throw the paci across the room in effigy (almost hitting my head and the wall). Hmmm, ok maybe a little too soon?? At that point I realized maybe it was too early for this, so about a month later I tried to take it away cold turkey, which led to various battles, lots of crying to sleep, and some nights where she would get so worked up into a tantrum that she would end up vomiting. Ok, still too early! As the months went on I starting putting away the pacifiers hanging around the house and in my bags, therefore keeping them out of sight and out of mind…and ONLY giving them to her at nap/bedtime if needed. This part worked well, but I still wanted to get her off it for dental reasons and for the fact that I hate seeing preschoolers walking around with a pacifier in their mouth. It’s a comfort thing but luckily Juliette still had another comfort things, her favorite blanket, a.k.a. “binks” which she could NEVER sleep without. Then on one magical and splendid summer night right around 22 months old she didn’t ask for it, so I didn’t give it to her and she went happily to bed. I was thrilled and hoped it would continue. The next night she asked for it as my husband and I were leaving the room and we just ignored it. She asked again a few times and I would just say something else to distract her, or sing her a favorite song, or give her a little stuffed animal to sleep with. There was a little crying in some of the nights following, but nothing too major. After this we never looked back, and said goodbye to the PACI!!! I was so ecstatic I might even have proceeded to do a little “BYE-BYE-BYE” dance on my way out of the room, well ok not every night.
14) Feeling that special bond. You’ll see once you become a parent that ‘that special bond’ you always hear about doesn’t always happen right away. Maybe for some it does. Of course you love them unconditionally right away, that goes without saying. But as a first time mom, I remember feeling so much worry and emotion at the same time and that can take you over. You just want to make sure you are doing all the right things for your new baby. But as the days, weeks, months, years etc. go on you will have those special moments that make everything completely worth it. You will fall more and more in love with your child as time goes on. I can still remember the first time Juliette really smiled at me, genuinely laughed at something I did the first time, the first time she ran over to me to just give me a hug, the first time she reached out to hold my hand; the first time she said “I love you.” There are so many special things that will make you feel that bond as they grow; it’s truly a wonderful and amazing thing.
15) Potty training success!!!! This brings me to my very last thing, as it the most recent thing we are trying our best to conquer. I’m learning there is no real magic spell to get your child to start peeing in the potty. There are many methods and like most things as a first time parent, you try them all through trial and error. Different methods work for different children and at all different ages too. Potty training takes a LOT of patience, routine, perseverance, cleaning products, and happy dances…oh and in my daughter’s case- STICKERS!! After trying various methods, the one that worked was an intense 15-minute rotation onto the potty and using pull-ups for a few weeks straight and then she finally started to get it. Something started to click and we would all get super excited and reward her with a sticker immediately after, and now she knew what was up. We’ve now worked up to about every 30 minutes or so, and sometimes she even tells me when she has to. We still miss some here and there, still haven’t had any poop in that potty yet, and we have tried underwear a few times which didn’t go so well. So my hope is that in a few more months is that she will be fully potty-trained…fingers crossed!!! Again it takes a lot of patience, just like most things in parenting do.
Parenthood is a very long and winding road, but it is filled with many memorable milestones, so be sure to appreciate them as the years go by. Any other Mommy Milestones you can think of for this stage that I might have missed? Or any extra special ones we might have to look forward to? Leave it in the comments, for now happy parenting!!! ~J