As 2011 comes to a close, I’ve been pondering the life lessons that this year has taught me.  Do you also find yourself reflecting on the past year?  If so, what are some things that you have learned?

1. Becoming a parent is life-changing.  Even though you have the entire pregnancy to prepare for parenthood, the actual transformation is almost instantaneous.  Shortly after I had gotten my epidural in the hospital, Hubster went out to get himself dinner.  We knew there was a long night of labor ahead of us.  I’ll never forget how I shocked my nurse by choosing to lay in silence instead of turning on the television.  I told her that my life would never be that quiet again and I wanted to relish in it.  Wow, was that the truth.  Leaving our home as a couple and returning as a family was an amazing experience for which I don’t think we could have emotionally prepared.

2. Being vulnerable can be a good thing.  I’m usually the stoic, “everybody’s fine” type of person.  I was terrified to publicize my postpartum depression diagnosis; but at the same time, it was a very easy decision to make.  I had recognized my symptoms by reading someone else’s story and I knew that I needed to share.  Within 24 hours of publishing that post, I realized why my gut instinct led me to exposing this secret.  Several women in my life shared with me that they had or currently have the same feelings; and once they knew what those feelings were, they also decided to seek help.  Allowing people to peer into the anything-but-perfect part of my life has helped me begin my journey to healing, helped other people to recognize the symptoms of PPD and has reinforced and/or built several of my relationships with friends and family.  Their love and support brought me to tears.  It’s always the tough times that highlight the people in your life that accept you as you are and will support you through anything.  In 2012, I challenge you to be a little vulnerable – you may be surprised by the growth that can result from it.

3. Parenthood isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.  After your second straight week of sleeping a few hours per night or less, the joy of having a newborn can start to wear thin.  Cleaning up poop explosions, trying every possible soothing method for your screaming newborn, wiping spit up off your baby’s face, wiping spit up off your own face…parenting is not for the faint of heart.  Funny how no one tells you this when you’re expecting.  At least I could have mentally prepared myself. 😉

4. BUT…it is immensely rewarding.  The first time your baby smiles at you, all that poop and loss of sleep will be worth it.  Then there’s the first laugh, first time they say “mama” or “dada,” and so much more.  Sometimes I still look at C in pure amazement that Hubster and I made him.  Your child is at once the most perfectly adorable, smart and funny human being you have ever met in your life.

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