A month ago today, my precious little Daniel turned one. Not only did that date mark one year of his life, but also a year of me being a mother. That is a year of being responsible for caring for such an important, defenseless and innocent little person. A year of breastfeeding, baby wearing, co-sleeping and cloth diapering. It has been a year of trials and struggles and learning as I went. It was also a year of loving my baby unconditionally with all of my heart and of striving to do the best I can for him. Even with the lack of sleep, my time being taken over by someone else, and not being able to always eat when I wanted to, I wouldn't trade this past year for anything in the world. I have learned so much and have been so blessed by having Daniel in my life and I'm looking forward to watching him grow up. I'm curious to see how he and his baby brother will get along, what kind of personalities they'll have growing up, what things they will like and what kind of men they will become.
When I first became a mother, I was very unsure of myself. I had done some research on child rearing but did not fee I had done enough. There is, after all, so much involved in raising a happy, healthy child. I had decided to breastfeed, co-sleep, baby wear and cloth diaper but wasn't completely sure of how it would go. I can honestly say that i am glad for the choices that we made. As evidenced in previous posts, I had many struggles with breastfeeding in the very beginning and more recently while being pregnant again. However, I am so glad that I never gave up, even on the hardest days, and have been able to provide Daniel with the best nourishment possible and will continue to do so as long as he wants to continue nursing. The bond that we have created through nursing is something I wouldn't give up for anything in this world. Sometimes I still can't believe how amazing it is that I am able to both nourish and comfort my baby at the breast. I am looking forward to my nursing relationship with Daniel's baby brother as well as tandem nursing and the beautiful bond that my boys will develop not only with me but with each other as well.
Although we didn't originally plan to have Daniel in bed with us, just in our room in a bassinet or co-sleeper, we have enjoyed every minute of sleeping next to Daniel. Cuddling with him at night and waking up to his smiling face and kisses make me feel great. And, of course, being able to nurse him without having to wake up and go get him from his crib is great too. Daniel barely even cried at night and once he started sleeping with us and will usually wake up happy and ready to play instead of crying because he's all alone. When hungry, he usually rolls over and looks for the breast. We are so in sync that I usually wake up around the same time and help him get latched on while we are both lying on our sides and then we both drift back off to sleep. Daniel feels secure and sleeps really well knowing mom and dad and his food are right there next to him. My husband has enjoyed Daniel sleeping with us as well and neither of us can even imagine putting our baby in a crib, all alone in a different room. We wouldn't change our sleeping arrangements if given the choice and plan to co-sleep with the new baby as well.
As for baby wearing, both Daniel and I absolutely LOVED our Moby Wrap and he would be in it more often if it wasn't for me being pregnant. Daniel is now learning to walk and I am so proud of him but he's still wobbly and gets tired so he still requires a lot of carrying. Because I'm pregnant, I can no longer wear him in the front as that is too much weight on my pregnant belly. Unfortunately, i still haven't found the perfect carrier for me to wear him on my hip or back but we do use the Moby or Sleepy wraps in a hip carry from time to time. The rest of the time, I'm usually carrying him in my arms. On some occasions, he rides in the stroller but it is not his favorite. I can't wait to use the Moby and Sleepy wraps with my newborn once he's here and look forward to finding the perfect carrier to wear Daniel in soon. I have found that wearing Daniel has been more convenient than carrying a stroller around everywhere and Daniel has been so happy and content that sometimes people didn't even notice I had a baby in there. If given the choice of stroller or carrier, I'd definitely go with carrier and Daniel would probably agree.
The big choice I'm sure everyone is waiting to hear about is cloth diapering. Most people we talk to assume that it's too much work to have to wash them, too inconvenient to carry them around, and too disgusting to deal with the poop. After a year of cloth diapering, I can honestly say, it hasn't been that big of a deal and is a normal part of our lives now. Whether it's because of food on his shirt, some pee that leaked on his pajamas over night, or some dirt he got on his pants at the playground, the fact is that Daniel usually goes through at least two changes of clothes a day so I have to wash his clothes pretty often. Since I'm washing anyway, an extra load is not a big deal. I must mention that I live in a 2nd floor apartment and must walk downstairs and across my apartment complex to the laundry room where I have to use quarters to pay for my wash. despite all that, the diapers have not been much of a burden. As I said, I have to go wash his clothes anyway. Even with paying for the wash, we have still found that we have saved a huge deal of money, especially since we got most of the diapers as a gift from my mother in law, which significantly cut down on our original expense. Daniel has never really gotten a diaper rash. His bum has been red sometimes but it has quickly cleared up with some olive or calendula oil and has never turned into anything serious. Also, compared to disposables, which we used in the very beginning and have still used occasionally on laundry day, we have found cloth diapers to be more absorbent, and we are much less likely to have a blowout in them. That was especially true in those newborn days with explosive exclusively breastfed poop messes! We have not found it inconvenient to carry them around when dirty. We have a wet bag to put them in that is waterproof. As for the poop, once he started eating a lot of solids, we got a diaper sprayer we use for the sticky poop and the harder poop just rolls off into the toilet. That step takes a little more time but not so much that we would want to use disposables instead. All in all, we are very happy with our decision to cloth diaper and plan to get more diapers before our new baby is born.
I am very happy with the decisions we have made so far and only hope that the decisions we make for our children in the future go as smoothly. We are still faced with the ongoing decision on vaccines and in the future there will be the issue of public school, private school or home schooling as well as thousands of other every day and life long decisions. Although being a parent involves so much work, constant learning and so many decisions, including ones that are very difficult, it is also a very rewarding experience. I still can't believe that i have the capacity in me to love another person so much and I can't help but view parenting as a privilege and a blessing. I am honored that God has seen me fit enough to be responsible for such an amazing, sweet, loving and intelligent little person! I am blessed to have Daniel in my life and thank God for him each and every day. I would not trade him or my role as his mother for anything in the world, ever!