Like most new parents, I was a little naive. When I was expecting my first baby, people told me, “your life is about to change so much, it will never be the same after the baby arrives,” I thought that maybe they were exaggerating a bit. After all, my husband and I didn’t party, or travel, or really do much of anything. We were homebodies. We grabbed takeout and watched movies or read books together. So we very naively, thought, we would just have a sweet little one to join us quietly hanging out and watching movies.
But, as some sort of cruel punishment, we got the complete opposite of that. We got a colicky little girl, who would cry and cry and then cry some more, for seemingly no reason and there was not much we could do about it. For the first six weeks of her life, any time you attempted to place her in her bassinet after she had fallen asleep, no matter how gently or carefully you did it, she would immediately wake up and start crying until you picked her up again. So, for those first six weeks, we took turns holding her while she slept throughout each night.
We were both miserable, and I felt like a failure. I had read every book on new babies and thought I was prepared. Instead, she arrived and I felt lost and helpless. It felt like we were messing up from the moment we arrived home with her. Eventually, things got better. We started feeling like we sorta knew what we were doing and that at least we knew our little girl. She got a little easier as she got older. (Well, maybe not easier, at 9 she is still difficult, I mean, “spirited.”) But her fussing, complaining, and crying got more predictable, and we knew what to do for her. As that first year rushed by, the days felt so long. I now knew exactly what people meant when they talked about “surviving” the first year of parenthood, because we just barely made it through.
I learned how incredibly difficult, and sometimes completely miserable, the first year can be can be. Like when they decide they are done with their carrot puree so the dump the rest of the bowl onto their head. Or when they start screaming and crying in the middle of a trip to Target, and nothing you do calms them down, so you just have to just abandon your shopping cart to get them out of there. Sometimes you just feel a little bit like you’re drowning and there is no one to throw you a life preserver. But I also learned how truly magical that first year can be. Like when they smile at you for the first time, the way they are absolutely amazed by peek-a-boo, or when they start to crawl and you feel so proud.
Sometimes the magical times can get a little lost in the difficult times. So when I realized that I could use photography to catch those magical times with my daughter and save them forever, I knew I wanted to do the same for other parents. There is nothing wrong with remembering the difficult times too, especially when they make you laugh in retrospect. But I hate the thought that the pure magic of that first year can be obscured by the sleeplessness, the fear, and the overwhelm. We are all better parents than we think, and I want every parent to remember how happy they made their little one, and how happy that little one made them.