Reflecting on the First Year of Parenthood
With my son’s first birthday fast approaching, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how quickly this first year of parenthood has gone. I know this is the most basic parenthood thing you can say, but here I go: It. Went. Too. Quickly.
It feels like we’ve just brought him home in his tiny newborn sleeper and the itty-bitty booties knitted by my sister. I remember feeling like we had all the time in the world to figure it out, cuddle, and play. Now, he’s an almost-toddler that says “ball” and chooses not to listen when I say “no.” He has grown up, and so have I. We have changed so much this past year together, and it’s been such a joyful time looking back.
I can’t help but wonder if my experience of year one has been so different from that of a “healthy” parent because of cystic fibrosis. I think in many ways, yes, it has been different. If I had to sum up the differences, I believe the first year was physically more challenging and required a higher level of multitasking, but allowed for the little things to be felt more deeply.
I’ll admit caring for a child is undeniably physically demanding. When your lungs don’t work, or you feel weak and fatigued from IV antibiotics, every pound of their squishy, adorable bodies feels so substantial and draining. Without the ability to rest enough, the extra demand of breastfeeding, and carrying that sucker around, I felt as if my body was teetering between functional and depleted the majority of the time.
Some seasons were better than others; it was a fine balance, and I didn’t always get it right. Lesson learned: It’s important not to run your cup dry and attempt to pour from it. I believe “healthy” parents feel the weight of a similar physical demand, but what separates us are the very real and lasting consequences to lung function, weight, and quality of life for someone with cystic fibrosis.
After my husband went back to work just 10 days after our son was born (we need better parental leave in this country), I quickly realized that for the next couple of decades of my life I would always be stuck in a state of constant multitasking. Just taking care of the baby and myself required so much thoughtfulness and planning to be successful. I became a master multitasker. After a while, it felt as if our daily routine was a beautifully choreographed dance of treatments, pills, breastfeeding, playing, and diaper changes sprinkled throughout my responsibility in the non-baby world. All moms develop a keen aptitude for multitasking, but with CF it is an entirely different level of Jedi Knighthood.
Little things, great meaning
The tiny moments carry you through. If that’s not the truest statement when describing motherhood (especially with CF), I don’t know what is. Our first year is overflowing with tiny moments that made me take a step back and appreciate the position we were in. I couldn’t have felt more grateful or humbled that I was able to become a mom after so much hard work. I knew our tiny moments were deeper when I rocked my baby to sleep and caught a glimpse of the IV Eclipse ball infusing on his nightstand. It was a symbol of my persistent fight against my disease, and my worth as a mother.
Watching my CF care team meet our son for the first time was another tiny moment that moved me so deeply. I choked back tears and ridiculous blubberings because they played a part in this victory, and I didn’t know how to thank them. If I had allowed it, every moment settled into my mama heart and filled me with joy, from the early and sleepy wake-ups to the scuttling attempt to escape a diaper change. Everything was meaningful because I gave everything to have it.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.