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12 Things I’ve Learned in My First Year of Parenting

by Courtney on August 21, 2014

1. Those first few weeks and months are hard. REALLY hard. But looking back a year later, it seems like such a tiny blip on the radar.

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In the moment it’s intense, and it can be scary when you’ve got your hands full with this teeny little human who knows absolutely nothing that’s going on (and neither do you). But honestly, most of those moments are fleeting, and (most of) the ones I remember are just amazing.

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2. Nap times are sacred. It wasn’t until a became a parent when I truly realized just how important nap time is. BC (before children), when friends of ours would need to adjust times or plans due to a baby of child’s nap time, I would think it was silly. I mean, if the baby doesn’t sleep then, they’ll sleep later and just be a little tired, right? Wrong. Oh, so wrong. And if a child falls asleep on you? You stay put.

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3. Sometimes it’s easier to just stay home. Jay and I always said we wouldn’t be one of “those” parents that skips out on plans or doesn’t go out as often just because we had a baby. Sure, no biggie, right? Just bring the baby along! Boy, were we naïve. Granted, I’m sure some babies are easier than others, and it’s not that Lucas was/is necessarily a difficult baby, because I’d say he’s far from it. But he’s still a baby, who wants what he wants, when he wants it. And sometimes, we just weren’t prepared to deal with that out in public. Maybe it’ll get easier whenever baby #2 comes around?!

4. Washing bottles and pump parts sucks. That’s all there is to say there.

5. I’ve never been the best at being on time…and having a baby didn’t help that. It never failed: just when you think you’re finally ready to go, it happens. A spit up, a diaper blow out, an “I need to eat NOW cry.” And in those first couple months when Lucas was eating every 2-3 hours? Forget it. I still remember my first time going out solo with Lucas and it felt like I should have earned a medal. Jay and I were once three hours late to a meet up with friends. Hey, it happens. Don’t sweat it!

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6. A smile, a laugh, a hug, or a kiss from your baby can change your mood in an instant. There have been a number of days where I’ve just felt wiped. Whether it was a long day with a fussy baby in those early weeks, or just a long day at work. But as soon as Lucas would give me that little gummy grin, or now, look up at me with those big brown eyes with his arms open wide, I melt. And immediately, I’m reminded of what’s truly important.

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7. There are so. many. diapers. And just when you think you’ve experienced the absolute worst…the next one happens.

8. There’s always going to be someone who disagrees with you and/or your style of parenting…and that’s okay. I struggled with this at first, though. Hearing someone else’s thoughts sometimes made me feel like I was doing something “wrong,” and often made me second guess whatever it was I was doing (swaddling, letting him cry going to sleep, being “too scheduled” with sleep). But Jay and I finally realized that they were only opinions from others and, ultimately, we know our baby best. So if we felt comfortable making the decision beforehand, we felt okay sticking with our gut. And in the end, nothing has come back to bite us!

9. It’s good to want to give your baby the absolute best…but it’s also okay to just be able to give YOUR best. I don’t know how much that makes sense typing it out, but it’s just something that’s been in my mind this past year. Sure, I’d love to get him that top of the line car seat out there on the market, snuggle him up in organic, cashmere blankets, and feed him all organic meals every day. But the truth is, I just can’t. We research and we do the best that we can do. When we can afford to buy the organic fruits and veggies, we do. But sometimes we don’t. And we’re okay with that.

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10. It’s okay to admit you’re not supermom. My home has been presentably clean maybe half a dozen times in this past year. Maybe. There’s almost always dishes in the sink or laundry piled up. I’ll give Lucas a couple extra minutes to watch TV or feed him another handful of puffs just so I can get done whatever it is/was I was working on. I can’t do it all, and I’ve never claimed I could. I’ve certainly learned about priorities though, that’s for sure!

11. Trying to balance all of your roles can be tough. For this past year, my role of mom has come first. And with so much focus being on that little boy of mine, there’s been many times where I forget that I still need to balance being a wife, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker, and homemaker. Now that Lucas has turned a year and is able to be a bit more independent, I really want to work on re-balancing all of those roles once again. Jay and I also need and want to take the time to focus on our relationship as husband and wife and regain that connection of ours. We’ve both admittedly been so sucked in to the “new parent” role, that we’ve kind of forgotten about the importance of “us.”

Lucas 1st-3(photo credit Cara Olsen Photography)

12. You will learn a love like you’ve never experienced before. Before Lucas arrived, I knew I’d love him. Obviously! But once he was here, and as the days and months (and year!) have gone on, I honestly feel like my heart could just burst with the amount of love I feel for him. It’s almost kind of scary, at times, to experience such an intense feeling like that…I don’t know, maybe it’s just me. But my love for this little boy is undeniably deep, and I would do anything and give everything for him.

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(photo credit Cara Olsen Photography)

For the moms and the dads out there…what else would you add to your list of things you’ve learned from your first year of parenting?

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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brynn Guster August 21, 2014 at 6:23 am

Ah, I’m all teared up. What a great post. As a momma-to-be (just a few more weeks!) I loved this and appreciate your honesty. I am so excited to become a mom, but also remind myself that all I can do is the best with what I have and what I know. However, as someone who is always late and likes to roll on her own agenda, I am sure there will be quite a bit of adjustment, but as you said in #1, these moments are short and precious. I hope I can stay present and soak them all in.
Brynn Guster recently posted..Thinking Out Loud

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2 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Thanks so much, Brynn! Best of luck to you on what’s sure to be one of the best (and most challenging, but totally worth it) times of your life! :)

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3 Danielle @ It's a Harleyyy Life August 21, 2014 at 6:42 am

Those last two pictures are adorable!!!!!!

Love this post!

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4 Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie August 21, 2014 at 7:12 am

I feel like I need to save this post for the future! I love the pictures of you and Jay looking at Lucas. It’s so clear how much you both adore him!
Stacie @ SimplySouthernStacie recently posted..WIAW: Tomatoes Galore!

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5 Emily August 21, 2014 at 7:44 am

I definitely teared up a bit. I loved reading this and will be sure to reference it again as soon as I have my own kids!

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6 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Thanks, Em. ;)

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7 kristin @ W [H] A T C H August 21, 2014 at 7:53 am

i can’t imagine how much there is to learn when you have a baby! good heavens, i’m exhausted just thinking about it.
kristin @ W [H] A T C H recently posted..KAYAK CLAMMING ON THE EASTERN SHORE

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8 Lindsay & Tim @ Fit with Farrar August 21, 2014 at 8:00 am

2, 3, 6, 11 and 12 = SPOT ON! Excellent post!

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9 Kim @FITsique August 21, 2014 at 8:02 am

I love this post! Although I’m not quite ready for a baby myself I do think about it often if its something I think I would want in the future. To be honest I go back and forth, but reading the honesty in your posts lets me know it is hard but totally worth it!
Kim @FITsique recently posted..You Aren’t Ready To Compete In A Figure Competition

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10 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm

100%!!!

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11 Erin @ The Almond Eatere August 21, 2014 at 8:12 am

What a great post–Just imagine all of the things you’ll learn in year two!
Erin @ The Almond Eatere recently posted..Summer Style: Black Romper and Fedora

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12 Catherine Culligan August 21, 2014 at 8:41 am

Wow – what an awesome post!! Makes me all the more ready to start a family :)

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13 Ashley @ A Lady Goes West August 21, 2014 at 8:42 am

I love this list! I’m not a parent yet, but many of my friends are getting there and I see how their lives totally change. It’s great to hear your honesty and perspective. Now the question is … how has your blog and fitness changed since becoming a momma?

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14 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Oh gosh, SO much! Haha…reading my posts from even two years ago is very different. Not only do I have to be a lot more efficient with my time (workouts), but I’ve also gained quite a bit of perspective in that time as well. Perhaps I should do a “12 ways my blog and fitness has changed since becoming a mama” post? ;)

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15 Lauryn August 21, 2014 at 9:07 am

I could have not said it better myself! Great post!

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16 shelly jerman August 21, 2014 at 9:14 am

Loved this! The only thing I would add is that it made me love and appreciate my own parents so much more! I’m living their sacrifice and struggle and man I wish I hadn’t been so hard on them haha

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17 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Definitely a good point, Shelly!!

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18 Katie@LifesNextBigStep August 21, 2014 at 9:14 am

100%. I love this. Wonderfully said :)
Katie@LifesNextBigStep recently posted..Finding (and Not Losing) Motivation

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19 Bridget August 21, 2014 at 9:20 am

What a great list! I am on board with all of them of course, but #9 really resonates with me. And #10 and 11 :) my daughter is just two and a half months after Lucas so I have really loved getting to follow you through your pregnancy and the first year. Good job mama! Thank you for sharing it all with us.
Another one I would add- my girls loves her toys, but she also really loves Tupperware and keys and pots and pans ect- so let them explore and don’t spend too much $$ on fancy toys!

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20 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm

Haha, that is SO true Bridget!! Go figure, right?! :)

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21 Shel@PeachyPalate August 21, 2014 at 10:12 am

Great post! So good to reflect sometimes! The next year will come with it’s own challenges but I bet heaps easier! You’re a great mum! Love the pics with the balloons!!!

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22 Jill August 21, 2014 at 10:14 am

What a great post. I appreciate your honesty. I also really appreciate hearing that it’s not easy and you’re not perfect – it’s easy to get caught up in maintaining a certain “perfection” in society today. You’re obviously a great mom and blogger – that’s why so many of us come back to check in each day.

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23 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Thanks so much, Jill. I always appreciate honesty and when people keep it real with me, so I like to try to do the same :)

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24 Kristin M August 21, 2014 at 10:34 am

As a mom to a now 8 year old and 5 year old I love this post! So spot on and honest. Thanks for sharing

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25 Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat August 21, 2014 at 10:47 am

This is such a fabulous post and so timely for me seeing as in 2 short months we’ll be welcoming twins. I can only imagine how dramatically our lives are going to change, but I know it’ll be all worth it and so amazing.
Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted..Week 28 – Glucose Test and Growth Ultrasound

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26 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Yayyyyy, so close!!!!! Thinking of you! xoxo

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27 Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections August 21, 2014 at 10:57 am

Oh Courtney, what a great post! I am so glad to learn some of these things from a new mom like you. I will definitely be re-reading this in the future!

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28 Britt@MyOwnBalance August 21, 2014 at 11:04 am

Your photos are beautiful! You hit on so many great points. I’m super nervous for the baby to get here. I’m worried about coping as a new parent and about losing a connection with my husband and of course about balancing it all. It’s nice to hear your perspective.
Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted..IDEA Summer Games by Les Mills

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29 Daisha August 21, 2014 at 11:14 am

Wow! I feel like you jumped inside my head and blogged about it! My little Matthew is 14 weeks tomorrow, and I have experienced every single one of your 12 points. Hardest job in the world = best job in the world :) BTW: love your blog!
Daisha recently posted..3 months!

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30 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Congratulations on your little Matthew, Daisha! :)

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31 Koryn @ High Heels & Healthy Alternatives August 21, 2014 at 11:15 am

Oh my, I’m almost in tears… good ones though! :) If I could re-post your post a hundred times, I would! LOL! It’s just so INCREDIBLY accurate! Agree 100% – especially with #2, 6, 9, 10 and 12!! …and my little one is only just barely 7 months old! Right now, I’m quite overwhelmed with finding him the best baby food recipes (that I can actually find time to make) and the best food storage trays, that will hopefully make this whole process somewhat easier. Any advice/suggestions are more than welcome! Great post!!!
Koryn @ High Heels & Healthy Alternatives recently posted..6 Month Update!!

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32 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Koryn! I used this website for a TON of my baby food making: http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/

I also used regular ice cube trays to store a lot of our purees. Hopefully that helps! :)

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33 Koryn @ High Heels & Healthy Alternatives August 21, 2014 at 11:17 am

Oops, forgot to say #1 most Def. hits home too. I can still remember those super Tough first few weeks. Phew! Lol
Koryn @ High Heels & Healthy Alternatives recently posted..6 Month Update!!

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34 Jackie August 21, 2014 at 11:57 am

I read your blog religiously — I love the content and your voice! This post, though, is by far my favorite yet! We don’t have children yet but I feel like when we do, and I am totally in over my head, I will look back and read this! Beautifully written! Thank you so much for sharing with us!!!

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35 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm

That is so nice of you to say, THANK YOU Jackie!!

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36 Kristin August 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

You are spot on! I’m only 6 months in, but every single one of those “lessons” is something I experienced/agree with. Great post, I love these kinds of things!

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37 Erin August 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Thank you! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I have just finished my 1st year as a mother too :)

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38 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Congrats to you, Erin!!

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39 Tara August 21, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Courtney, I am a long time reader but I’ve never commented before. I just have to say these are all. so. right. on! I have a one year old daughter and I was tearing up at the end because I also feel like I could burst with love for her. You are a great mama! It’s hard to juggle it all ( I work full time and commute a ways as well) so I totally relate to all your points. Lucus is a cutie and a lucky guy to have you and Jay as parents!

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40 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Thank you SO much, Tara (not only for the comment, but also for reading!). It’s so nice to hear from fellow working mama’s sometimes, just to know we’re not the only ones who are sometimes feeling like we’re going crazy! :)

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41 Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl August 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Those last two pictures are so stinkin’ cute!!
Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted..WIAW: August 20, 2014 (Recent Eats)

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42 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles August 21, 2014 at 1:39 pm

This is so sweet! Definitely something to remember once I get around to babies.
Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted..WIAW: Because You Can’t Stop at One.

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43 Kathryn August 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Number 9 is my favorite…so true!

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44 Lauren @ ihadabiglunch August 21, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Oh my gosh the last pictures of you, Lucas and the balloons makes my heart MELT. You guys are such a beautiful family, for the sheer fact that you share all your struggles as well as your moments of joy and yet here you are, one year later, a stronger family than ever.
Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted..I do my best when other people are watching

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45 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Thank you so much, Lauren!

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46 Annette@FitnessPerks August 21, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Such a beautiful post, Courtney!! And so very very true. Especially about the love thing. When I’m near the end of just frazzling out, she smiles or giggles at me, and it’s like wow. LOVE is real.

That last picture made my heart melt. <3
Annette@FitnessPerks recently posted..ZUMBA® Cargo Pants {Giveaway}!

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47 Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment August 21, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Good post Courtney! I would love to see another day in the life post. You had done one a while back…just to see how you get so much done. The blog, your home life and a full time job. It’s awesome!

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48 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:02 pm

That’s funny you mention that, Lauren. I was thinking the other day I should do another one! I just need to remember to actually do it, haha :)

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49 Alicia August 21, 2014 at 5:42 pm

I’ve followed your blog for a long time, but never commented before. But this post is perfection. I don’t have kids yet, but I LOVE that you’re a very realistic mom. I hear a lot on social media about the “perfection” of motherhood…”it’s ALL I’ve ever wanted to be” or “my baby eats ONLY organic” or “breastfeeding is the ONLY way to go.” So many rules…It makes me nervous to match up to such examples (the idea that admitting weakness/struggle makes you less as a mom or a woman). I love that you write about the happiness this chapter of life brings, but also, the hard days. It’s more relatable, and it’s reassuring for people like me who aren’t parents yet. You’re an amazing role model!
Alicia recently posted..Honey Whole Wheat Pizza

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50 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Thank you so, SO much Alicia! That is one of the sweetest comments I could have received! :)

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51 Linz @ Itz Linz August 22, 2014 at 3:09 am

yes yes yes! ok itz just been four months for me so far but i found myself nodding at your entire post!
Linz @ Itz Linz recently posted..little man

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52 Jenny August 22, 2014 at 10:27 am

Honestly– you summed it up perfectly. I can’t think of anything I would add. I loved this post so so much! I think it’s my favorite! And you definitely had me teary eyed thinking about my Kenzer, AND my little one that’s on the way. You’re a good mama! Many blessings to you and your family!
Jenny recently posted..Fitness Friday: Half Marathon Training With Baby On Board

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53 ellie | fit for the soul August 22, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Ohhhhh you gorgeous mommy!!! You’re doing a great job and agree with everything! And yes, baby bottle cleaning, etc. is so tedious because every little part comes on and off, haha. It’s been a blessing to see your journey this past year, Courtney! God bless you guys with many more!

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54 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 11:37 am

Thank you so much, Ellie! And the same goes to you with little Selah!

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55 Fiona August 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm

LOVED this post! I’m not a mom yet, but I have a TON of friends who are, and I think we all need to lighten up on the pressure we put on ourselves and others to be the ‘perfect’ mom and doing everything the ‘right ‘ way. It’s so nice to have a honest post about how hard motherhood can be! Girl, you are doing a great job and your baby is TOO cute for words! I’m sending this post to all my mama friends so they know they are not alone!

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56 Courtney August 24, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Aww, thank you SO much Fiona!

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57 Faith Morin August 22, 2014 at 11:08 pm

so, so good. my little man is 9 months old and i cannot believe how much motherhood has challenged and shaped me. it’s an amazing, wild gift and i’m so grateful for every second.
Faith Morin recently posted..Sneak Peek: Modern Southwest Nursery

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58 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 11:34 am

I completely, 100% agree with you Faith! :) (and congrats on your little man!)

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59 Emily Morris August 23, 2014 at 6:40 am

I am pregnant with my first and this is such a touching post. I have no idea what will come but I know it won’t always be perfect but in a way it will be :)
Emily Morris recently posted..A week in Boston and WIAW

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60 Catherine August 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm

This is just a fantastic post! And no, I didn’t find going out much easier with baby #2, and everything was still fresh in my mind (my babies are only 16 months apart). They were both challenging babies, but in totally different ways.

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61 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 11:33 am

Leave it to babies to keep it interesting for us! ;)

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62 Rachel August 25, 2014 at 11:27 am

Great post Courtney! I’m a long time reader but first time commenter. Also, I love
your jeans in the photos! May I ask where they are from?

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63 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 11:33 am

Thank you, Rachel! They’re from Express, probably from about 3-4 years ago?

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64 Rachel August 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Thank you so much for your quick response!
And good for you for fitting into old jeans again. I
had my second daughter 9 months ago and my
tighter jeans are still pretty uncomfortable!
That tummy doesn’t want to go away lol.
Anyway I love your blog and stop by frequently, even
though I don’t blog myself :)

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65 Courtney August 25, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Oh I hear you…those jeans I wore actually don’t ever get worn, haha. I had to use the hair tie trick on the button because they’re just not that comfortable anymore! I’m holding onto them for the “just in case” though, since they fit well everywhere else. And if not….I’ll just keep using hair ties, haha :) Congrats to you on your second daughter, too!

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66 Jess August 27, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Thanks for posting this! I just had my first a few weeks ago! I don’t know how I’ve managed to read your blog (as you know, the first few weeks/months are nuts) but I’m glad I did. This made me feel much better about being a new mom. Thanks! :)

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67 Gina August 27, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Courtney, I rarely have time to comment (let alone read your blogs in a timely fashion), but I’m glad I ran across this. I, too, am a new-ish mama; my little guy will turn one in October. Everything you wrote is SPOT ON, and I appreciated reading your thoughts. Thanks for sharing! <3

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68 Rachel @ Lou Lou Belle September 17, 2014 at 9:28 am

That’s great you guys are aware of the important of your marital relationship! It is the foundation to make everything else in your life easier! Congratulations on the first year down!

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