One Year with Our Baby Girl Rory
Yesterday, our sweet Rory girl turned one. In some ways, it’s hard for me to even remember what life was like without Rory in our lives. Finn and I always say, “Wow, we had a lot of free time on our hands. What did we do all weekend long without her?!” And it’s true, now it can feel impossible to get the simplest of home tasks done around here, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Today, I want to reflect a bit on the past year as a new parent. I think I went into motherhood with a lot of ideas about what it would be like and I’ve definitely been surprised along the way. Mostly good surprises! But before we get to that, let’s go back to April 11th, 2020…
One Year Ago
As I shared in my birth story, Rory decided to make her debut more than four weeks early. This threw a wrench into our plans because, as you know, we like to have everything in our lives planned and scheduled out months ahead of time! Clearly, Rory didn’t care about that and she was ready to meet us on her own time. Even if that meant that daddy was running around the house like a maniac trying to pack his hospital bag, get the bassinet put together, and finish up work before I dragged him to the hospital.
The moment Rory was placed on my chest, I felt so much peace within me. I felt lots of anxiety throughout my pregnancy and there were many times where I thought that she might be taken away from me. But holding her in my arms, looking into those big blue eyes, I felt calm, still, and at peace. I was finally a mom and my perfect little baby was finally here.
What Surprised Me The Most About Parenthood
I feel like there really is no true way to prepare for parenthood. You can read every book out there. (Believe me, I read a lot.) And you can attend every baby class, but until you actually bring that baby home, you can’t really get a sense of what is about to come your way.
You Manage Without the Sleep
I think my biggest concern about life with a newborn was the lack of sleep that I knew would happen. I’m a girl who loves her sleep and needs to get eight to nine hours a night to really perform at my best. I was terrified at the thought of those early, sleepless nights. I hated when people would say, “Sleep now because you won’t when the baby comes!” or “Rest and bottle up those hours!” because it just wasn’t helpful and really made me even more nervous about what was to come. I kept thinking “How the hell am I going to be a functioning human being on two hours of sleep here and there?!”
Of course, those first few months are hard and you don’t sleep much, but you somehow get through. You somehow get up every few hours and keep on going. I remember four hours of sleep seemed like the best gift anyone could ever give me. Absolute heaven.
Eventually, Rory started to sleep longer and longer stretches and I felt more human again. In fact, I now sleep more than I did before becoming a mom! Rory has forced me to slow down a bit, rest more, and really savor a good night’s sleep. This mama is back to her eight to nine hours, sometimes ten, and I’m loving it!
Everything is Temporary
When you’re in the thick of it, you think that that particular stage won’t ever end. I remember agonizing over every single phase – the sleeping, the eating, the pooping. Was this normal? When would it get better? But everything is so very temporary and the baby is soon onto the next phase.
I’ll have people message me and ask me questions about Rory…… When did she say her first word? When did we stop swaddling? And it’s honestly so hard for me to remember! When I’m in that phase, it’s all-consuming. But once it’s over, Rory has changed so much and it’s onto the next thing, the next milestone, the next worry!
Because of this, I’m so happy that I’ve been pretty good about documenting Rory’s first year of life in her baby book. I’ll often go back and check those “stats” because I can never seem to remember off the top of my head. This post goes into detail about how I’m saving all of Rory’s photos, videos, and more.
Every Stage is A Good One
Whenever someone asks me what age has been my favorite with Rory, I always say the same thing…”Right now.” I’ve loved every stage with this girl. It honestly just feels like it keeps getting better and better. From her first smile at just a few months old, to her first coos, her first spaghetti dinner, and now her sweet “mamas” and “dadas”, every stage has been full of so much joy, surprise, and excitement.
I’ve always been the type of person ready for the next thing. I love planning for what’s to come and looking forward to something in the future. With Rory here, I love enjoying the here and now. Instead of being excited about the next phase in her development, I’m trying to savor this particular one and all of the little quirks and funny stories that come with it.
Finding Myself as a New Mom
I’ve also been surprised at how laidback I’ve been as a mom. We are pretty strict with our feeding and napping schedule (It truly just makes the entire house happier!), but besides that, I’m actually pretty chill, which is kinda shocking for this type-A workaholic who likes to be in control all the time. I don’t stress about the toys everywhere, I don’t stress about her food on the floor, and I don’t stress about her development too much. Instead, I just try to go with the flow.
Rory has forced me to slow down and it has been wonderful to savor our days together. I’m cramming fewer tasks and to-do lists into our weekends and instead, I’m adding trips to the park, long walks for coffee and donuts, and time spent just sitting on our living room floor watching old Disney movies. The work can wait. The phone can be put away. Rory needs me right now and I’m not going to waste that time.
The Privilege of Time Together
I will always look back at this past year as a time when we were all together. Finn hasn’t been back to the office since March, 2020 and there are no immediate plans for him to go back. It’s wild to think that he has been home for every single day of Rory’s life. He hasn’t missed a bath time, a dinner, or a milestone and I am so grateful for this time spent together as a new family of three. It truly has been the silver lining of this pandemic – a slower life at home spent with my two favorite people.
Rory has never known a world without a pandemic. To her, Dada just hangs in the basement all day and if she needs him she can crawl to the door and bang on it – ha! Rory doesn’t know what a restaurant is. Instead, she knows she eats all of her meals around our dining room table as a family. She isn’t used to a packed schedule or play dates. Instead, all of her memories involve time with her family at home. COVID has taken a lot away from everyone, but it has given us so much, as well.
To My Rory Girl…
Rory, I look at you and see so much hope and light. Yes, the world can be a scary place sometimes but I see your curiosity and your joyful spirit and I know that you’re making the world a better place just by being in it. Your dad and I will be here cheering you on every step of the way. Thank you for being our light. We love you to the moon and back. Happy Birthday, sweet Aurora.
Helpful Rory Blog Posts from This Year
Before I go, here are some of the newborn/baby-focused/new mom blog posts I’ve written over the last year. In all honesty, I’m so happy I have these as resources for myself! As I mentioned in today’s post, it’s crazy how you forget so much as soon as your baby is onto the next thing! I’ll be referencing these if we ever welcome another baby into our family…
- Rory’s Birth Story
- What I Packed in My Hospital Bag
- Surviving the First 8 Weeks
- Our Favorite Newborn Products
- Finn’s First Father’s Day
- Making It Through the 4th Trimester
- FAQ About My Mom as Our Nanny
- Where Finn Buys Rory’s Clothes
- Secret Baby Storage in the Living Room
- Keeping Rory’s Dresser Organized
- Our Experience with Baby Led Weaning
- Food Prep for Baby Led Weaning
- How We Babyproofed Our Home
- A Mom Day In My Life
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.