Vaughn Robert, today you turn ONE. One whole year ago, you entered our lives, taking your time and showing up just as the rest of the Midwest went under a deep freeze. You were healthy, came out looking just like your Daddy, and in our eyes, were absolutely perfect in every way. We took our time adjusting to you and settling in as a family, and looking back, it’s already difficult to think back to those early days, and nearly impossible to imagine what life was like before you came.
I will admit that it is absolutely, 100% true what they say when it comes to your family, your children, and all of life that follows: it certainly does FLY BY. I will also admit that I had fully intended to recap every major stage of Vaughn’s early life (if not even monthly), but that idea quickly became overwhelming while we were in the midst of all of the breastfeeding/teething/growthspurting and also trying to soak it all in, that the concept of sharing his life wound up feeling more trivial than triumphant. So, like mothers can and should do, I decided to prioritize the big stuff and skipped it. And we lived. And we thrived!
What ALSO happened in the last magical year is that, somehow, my husband and I were able to bring a tiny, hugely dependent, incredibly strong, and insanely EXUBERANT child into this world, and that is NOT SOMETHING TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY, PEOPLE!
I have thought long and hard about what I wanted Vaughn’s one year post to look like, and one thing I kept coming back to over the last twelve months is this…
It truly does comes down to SURVIVAL at some stages, and the fact that you can even come out on the other side of that spectrum is truly noteworthy, and something that should absolutely be celebrated. Danny and I both believe that parenthood is very much NOT a natural thing, and is, in fact, something that must be learned, practiced, even tried on like a cardigan that feels a little too snug the first couple of times… because, dang, once you’re in it, it takes a LOT of getting used to before it feels comfortable.
In the same breath, though, I think it’s also important to note that, in my experience, so much of parenthood comes with this odd sigh, symbolizing “you’ll know it when you’re in it,” or, “I wish someone had told me…,” and I guess my gut reaction in having our own, wished-for but random baby is this: IT PROBABLY WILL BE MESSY AND CUTE AND CONFUSING AND BLISSFUL AND PICTURE-PERFECT BUT FULL OF SPIT-UP AND THEN THEY START TALKING AND YOU WONDER WHY YOU EVER MADE THE DECISION buttttttt….
Everyone has their own journey, and instead of imposing your own thoughts and opinions and advice onto two oblivious new parents who clearly have never navigated this journey before, the absolute BEST person you can be is simply the one who SHOWS UP: either dropping by so Mom can take a nap, arriving around that tough 4:30p hour with dinner (yeah, kids eat super early), or simply swooping in, doing the dishes, and leaving without a word… yep, THOSE people are who have helped shape Vaughn, made us more functional and fulfilled parents, and frankly, who he (and we) will probably remember most looking back at these crazy times. Huge thanks to Grandpa and Bachan Wedel, Auntie Kirstie, Grandpa and Grandma Warren, Crazy Uncle Joey, Vaughn’s great grandparents, and all of our incredible friends/sitters/aunties/uncles who have helped us build our community. We absolutely would not be here (and decently sane) without all of you.
LASTLY, for those who have wondered about them, I wanted to follow-up on the goals that I outlined before Vaughn made his appearance. As a reminder, I will share my initial thoughts (outlined in italics) as well as a report of sorts as to how we did on those initial thoughts:
- One thing Danny and I discussed and agreed upon pretty early on was that we wanted to be surprised by Baby W’s gender. We WERE surprised! As it turned out, Baby Wedel was, in fact, a BOY! Mr. Vaughn Robert joined us six days after his due date, after a pretty difficult and loooong labor. Thankfully, he was perfectly healthy and beautifully OURS.
- Without getting into the gory details, I will share that we have been spending SO much time educating ourselves on how we’d like Baby’s birth to go, and feel super comfortable with our plan going forward as a couple and family. Obviously, you can never plan for everything to go your way (babies do seem to have a mind of their own – which I’ll share about next!) but there are a few key goals we have decided on together:
- I’m hoping to have a natural, vaginal delivery with no medical interventions. – That…..didn’t quite go as planned. While you can have plans on plans on plans, once you’re actually in the thick of it, things can take their own turn. I ended up in prodromal labor with Vaughn for 2 days, and actual labor for another 2, so by the 5th day, I was ready for a little relief. 🙂 Surprisingly, the only thing that DIDN’T go accordingly to plan was getting an epidural – thankfully, everything else was as we had always dreamed. 🙂
- We’ve hired a doula, and plan to deliver Baby with just the two of us, her, and our OB present. This was, basically, everything we had envisioned! And thank GOD for Tammy, our Doula, who was there for all 72 gory hours of labor, and even swooped in AGAIN for the 3+ hours of pushing!! We truly could not have done it without her. This is a topic for another blog post, but Doulas are the birthing world’s equivalent to wedding planners, so naturally, we 100% believe in them and how important their role is in this world.
- Water has always been a very calming, steady presence in my life, so I am planning to spend most of my labor in the tub. – I have to chuckle at this one. Labor is spent wherever the heck your body decides to be. I was on the couch, on the floor, on the bed, in the hall, in the shower, in the tub, out of the tub, back in the tub, and then back on the bed within the course of one hour. Good to have a plan, ladies, but be ready to be flexible. 🙂
- I hope to exclusively breastfeed and am WAY interested in seeing how that goes.- Thankfully, this has gone amazingly well, and is STILL going well! The only “plan” I had in place was to breastfeed for one year, and thankfully, we’re still absolutely on that path! Again, another topic for another blog post entirely, but breastfeeding in itself is a magical, beautiful, incredible experience. I am insanely grateful for the time Vaughn and I have had with this, but will admit that it. is. HARD. We’ve dealt with mastitis, cluster-feeding, lack of supply, leaking, and more.
- We’re cloth diapering! – We ARE! And LOVE IT! I will now consider myself an absolute expert on cloth diapering (with a full year of exclusive cloth, I don’t care what the standard is, we absolutely FEEL like experts), so if you have any specific questions, please ask me! All in all, my major takeaways are: 1) We feel SO much better about our carbon footprint on the world after realizing that babies wind up going through anywhere from 10-25 diapers in one DAY! 2) The cost savings are enormous… in trying to calculate the number of disposable diapers Vaughn would have gone through by now, we likely could have spent about $7,000 in diaper costs over the last year, and I know for certain that we have spent no more than $1,000 in supplies and laundry detergent. 🙂 Again, I am absolutely here for anyone who needs a resource, and would be happy to discuss our choices/philosophy/advice for anyone looking for an ear!
Vaughn, now that you’re here and already ONE YEAR in, hot dang, I am SO proud of seeing you grow. I still can only imagine what the coming years will look like, who you will become friends with, and what obscure things you will develop a preference for, but until those equally difficult-to-navigate moments arrive, I will bask in the beauty that is being your mother – in knowing that most days, my love for you will be everything that you need.
Vaughn Robert, today, you turn ONE and I turn one year wiser, more confident, more lived in. I am grateful to have a fresh perspective, a new outlook on how I allocate my time, and the chance to crawl, squeal, and twirl without abandon. Oh, how we love you so, Mr. Vaughn.