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By Laura Doran


Dear first-born,

I am so sorry we didn’t get to do everything on our bucket list before your brother was born. I was tired. I so wanted to get to every pumpkin patch and Christmas village while it was just the two of us. I hope all the beautiful, snuggly naps we took together were sufficient.

Dear second-born,

I’m sorry you don’t have a baby book. I’m sorry I only have 9,000 photos of you as a baby instead of 84,000. My phone was always full, and aintnobodygottime to back it up. As I scroll through my Insta, though, you were a beautiful newborn and I should have taken way more.

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Dear first-born,

Thank you for teaching me that healthy food is best for littles, and screen time is to be avoided.

Dear second-born,

Thank you for teaching me that French fries still fill hungry tummies and that a well-timed episode of Thomas and Friends can restore my sanity.

Dear first-born,

Thank you for putting this love in my heart. Thank you for shifting who I was into who I am now.

Dear second-born,

Thank you for showing me that love and snuggles are far more important than a clean house, a rad outfit, or being up-to-date on whatever show I fell asleep to last night.

Dear first-born,

Thank you for teaching your brother to climb every surface known to man. Just kidding. Your big boy monkey body may be able to scale Everest, but his is still mostly baby. Why on EARTH is he constantly on the dining room table?!

Dear second-born,

Thank you for sitting patiently in my lap as I type this. Just kidding. You’re pressing every key you can get your adorable baby fingers on. You’re also reminding me that first-born never once got this close to a screen when he was your age. Great.

Dear first-born,

Thank you for giving me enough time to read one or two parenting books.

Dear second-born,

Thank you for teaching me I’m mostly good enough without them.

Dear second-born,

Thank you for letting me call you a baby even though you are clearly more of a toddler now.

Dear first-born,

Thank you for only correcting that lie I tell myself every other time.

Dear boys,

Thank you for being exactly who you are. I had visions of pink tights, ballet slippers and bunheads. But, my God, I wouldn’t trade you two for the world. I showed up to my 20-week sonogram to find out if you were a boy or a girl. Instead, I saw a stunning and functioning heart, 10 teeny tiny fingers, a little body in perpetual motion. You were both amazing. Then you joined our lives and have gotten even more amazing every day.

(Also, my dear boys, if for whatever reason you do want to wear pink tights and ballet slippers, you do you. Mama loves you no matter what.)

Dear boys,

Enough with the couch cushions already. Please leave the toilet paper on the roll. Give the middle-of-the-night wakeups a rest. And FOR THE LOVE OF GOLDFISH AND GRANOLA BARS, please stop accidentally head-butting me all the time. If all this is too much to ask, I get it. I’ll survive.

Dear boys,

Thank you for letting me love you so much. Thank you for forgetting the moments I suck at this. Thank you for your smiles and snuggles each morning. Thank you for eating your vegetables sometimes, for minding your manners sometimes, and for your enthusiastic belly laughs.

Dear third-born,

I hope I’m woman enough to add you to this circus one day. These first two are giving me a run for my money right now, and I want to be a “good enough” mom. If it works out, I have every confidence you’ll be just as perfect (and imperfect!) as your big brothers. If we’re ever so blessed, I know the love in our family will expand to cover you, too.

Originally posted on FIT4MOM.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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