2013 flew by with my pregnancy and the first few months of taking care of our daughter. For the longest time, I haven't posted a "real" post aside from a few pictures in my lame attempt to keep updated. I'll tell you one thing though, I'm grateful for this year-long maternity leave that I have had the privilege to enjoy. I'm nearing the half year mark with Arianne turning six months just a few days from now and already I feel like she's taught me so much more about life than I ever would have learned otherwise. Here are some of the things I've learned from my daughter.
1. We do need at least 10 hours of sleep. Other new moms will smack me in the head for saying this, but I have been so lucky my daughter has been a good sleeper since she was three months old. Mind you, she's a light sleeper (like me) but she would sleep straight through from 10pm to 7am. She'll feed, then go right back to sleep until 10 (so it's more like 12 hours!) I know, I know 10 pm as bedtime is a little bit late but I've discovered if she sleeps just an hour earlier, she wakes up earlier than when Mr. Pearls actually needs to get up for work. With bouts of momsomnia here and there, I do try to sleep at the same time as her and because I have the luxury to sleep in, I never felt more refreshed and well rested. Having Arianne forced me to sleep at 10 instead of my normal 11-12ish bedtime before we had her. Before maternity leave, if I get four hours of sleep, I can call myself lucky. How is it that I get more sleep now than when I was working even when I had five days off every four days?? Of course, I can't say this will still be true when I get back to work.
2. Eating better is not hard. Now that she's eating and exploring new foods, I get so excited with making her food from scratch and it's teaching me to eat better too. We've eaten more vegetables and fruits recently than we've ever had before. Not only that, it's getting easier to realize, you really don't need that extra sugar (or salt, or butter). And butternut squash is really good for you. I never realized how much preservatives and bad ingredients I put in my body until now. With Arianne, we're making healthier food choices as well.
3. I can be an awesome multi-tasker. Not that I wasn't before, but I've learned some new skills. Editing or knitting while breastfeeding, cooking/dishwasing with one hand. It's harder because I got her used to being carried all the time, but really, she's only a baby for so long. Soon enough, she will walk and explore and try new things without me around. I carried her for nine months, what's another year? Mr. Pearls actually thinks I have the mommy grizzly bear syndrome. That I'll pounce on anyone who tries to take my baby away. I do but I think I'm getting better :P
4. The mess can wait. So the dishes are not done and the bed's not made. This used to be my biggest pet peeve but I learned that there are other things more important than keeping the house clean. With Arianne around, we are getting better at prioritizing and appreciating when chores do get done.
5. Save for a rainy day. A lot of people say it's so expensive to have a baby, so many unexpected expenses and I guess it's true in a way. We bought many big ticket items in preparation for her birth, but otherwise, I found we were saving much more now than we ever did when I was working and getting full pay. Strange huh? I guess before we were a little bit more careless when it comes to buying things for ourselves and now, we think a little bit more before buying something.
6. I can beatbox! Arianne gets so amused with sounds that I've learned a few tricks to make her laugh. Not that I would qualify for a beatboxing competition or something, but hearing her squeal in laughter is enough.
7. Giggles are contagious. Just try and keep a straight face with a giggling baby. I think you'll know what I mean.
8. Appreciate more. When I think about how everything she encounters is new for her, I learn to appreciate things more as well. The first time I washed her (which is like the first time I ever washed a baby even though I have washed so many babies in my profession), that first dip in the pool, the first big snowstorm of the season, her first big road trip...these things we've done before suddenly have more value. I don't think I've ever seen the world in such light until now.
9. Pray more. Arianne was an answered prayer. For years we waited for her and now that she's here, I find a more prayerful/grateful version of myself.
10. Love without getting tired. I don't mean to sound all Mother Teresa-ish but one of the things I learned is to love more and be less selfish. When I was pregnant with Arianne, her little kicks and flutters gave me such a reassuring feeling, I couldn't help but ask for more when she was born. Let me explain. When she was little, I would cuddle with her and hold her and sometimes I would think, "if only she'll smile more and touch me more, then all the sleepless nights (which were not many) would be worth it". But of course, she is too young to really understand how much her little smiles or tiny squeals of laughter brings us so much joy. Now, at almost six months, she is so much more capable of showing her affection. She'll hold my face, gives me the best random gummy smiles, giggles when I kiss her cheeks, babbles to get my attention when I'm focusing on the computer too much (like now!). Oh, I could go on and on. I love how interactive she is now and I still can't believe I get to be with her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I mean, seriously how can you not love this face???
Thank you, Arianne for all the life lessons. Someday, when you're older, I hope I can teach you some things as well the way you have taught me. I can't wait for our brighter future together.