A Year In Review

In Dis Abled Mom, Family by Amy Blanchard

Wow! I can hardly believe it, but this article marks my one- year anniversary of writing for Audacity Magazine. And what a year it’s been!

I took this opportunity to look back at some of the articles I’ve written here. I’ve covered a lot of ground, I’d say. I’ve discussed my pregnancy, my feelings on motherhood, and many of the joys and challenges I face as a mom everyday.

But what I haven’t talked too much about is what it was like for me in the early days, during Ella’s first year, to have a brand new infant and increasingly mobile baby in the house.

Whether it was bath time, feedings, or simply getting her from place to place, it was quite a learning experience. But with lots of help from family and friends, and adjustments to the “norm”, we managed pretty well.

First off, I had help right from the start. My mom graciously took an entire month off from work to spend her days with me, helping me on my maternity leave to care for my new daughter.

My day would start with my husband bringing Ella downstairs for me before he left for work. Soon my mom would arrive and she’d be there to do all the baby pacing and transporting. We’d go to baby doctor appointments together and visit friends and family. Bath time for baby happened when Nana was around too.

When baby went down for a nap (which is quite often for a newborn) mom was there to keep me company. We watched chick flicks, organized baby clothes, did craft projects and just had fun. We really bonded during this time – mom showing me the tips and tricks to soothe a cranky baby and comforting me when I felt overwhelmed.

Mom would leave for the day in time for hubby to come back home. Then the baby transporting and mobile comforting duties turned to him. And, boy, what a job!

For about the first 3 months, Ella was regularly cranky in the evening, inconsolably crying for hours on end. This meant lots of pacing for hubby with Ella in the classic football hold in his arms.

When he’d tire, I’d take over, rocking her side to side on the couch as I sang a soft, familiar tune in her ear (a tune I’d been singing throughout my pregnancy). Over time, Ella actually started to settle down much faster rocking with me then with any other method.

Middle of the night feelings was a partnership between my husband and me as well. Sweetie would wake and hubby would retrieve her, bringing her to me in bed to nurse. Hubby would rest again until Ella was fed, then he takes the happy, sleeping baby back to her crib. What a team!

Luckily, Ella didn’t wake us too often in the middle of the night. Once, maybe twice a night – that’s it. This was a wonderful thing because we sure were tired from our busy days!

I remember one instance where hubby was so exhausted after bringing Ella in for a midnight feeding that when I told him I was through and he could take her back to her crib, he didn’t believe me that Ella was with us.

He had fallen back asleep and completely forgotten that he brought her to me in the first place! Hah! Can anyone say “zonked”?

As Ella grew and became mobile, new tricks were needed to keep her safe and contained.

I could bring her up and down the stairs myself by sitting her on my lap and scooting. She quickly learned to not squirm and wiggle, intuitively helping me out as we accomplished this feat together.

On weekends when Daddy was around but not necessarily with us, I needed to make sure I always knew where my new crawler was. Hubby installed baby gates at both entrances to our living room. This kept Ella in one room with me. And if I had to step out of the room for just a second, I was confident in knowing where she was and what she could and could not get herself into.

Another adjustment we had to make was to move her naptimes to a downstairs playpen instead of her upstairs crib. Since my husband was often busy and not reliably within calling distance, and I couldn’t easily get her up the stairs and across to her room, I’d put her down in her living room playpen to sleep.

Sure, this meant a dark, off-limits room for us as well as the need for Hubby and me to keep a low volume. But it worked for us, giving us time to read, relax and complete some quiet chores around the house.

As far as car trips went, Hubby again was “the mobility man”, transporting Sweetie and her car seat in and out of the house. Since he and I work together, getting Ella to daycare was a breeze. We’d all drive together for pick-ups and drop offs, me hauling in the diaper bag and hubby taking in Sweetie and her seat.

On the rare occasion when we had two cars for the day, I’d be the one to take and pick up Ella. We’d just tell our babysitter ahead of time so she was ready to meet us in the driveway. She was great about taking in the baby while I brought in her “stuff”. Likewise at pickup time, she was always happy to help me click her into place in the car.

From there, I’d head on over to my parents’ house. Since two cars usually meant Hubby was working late, and I couldn’t get Ella in the house on my own, a stop off at my parents’ allowed us to get that extra help we needed for the day. Then I’d head on home when I knew Hubby would be there to greet us and help us in.

I was also lucky enough to meet a new friend near our home who was happy to help out. She would help me get Ella in the car if ever I was home alone with her and had to leave for my parents’ house or somewhere else where I’d meet someone to help on the other end. Before this, my mom would have to drive the 20 minutes to our house just to help me for two minute’s time. So finding this wonderful friend was a real treat!

So, that was it. An eventful year with lots of developmental milestones met and lots of challenges faced and conquered. With the help of family and friends and with a little innovative thinking and flexibility, we got the job done and began the process of raising our happy, intelligent, inquisitive little girl.