Recapping Our First Year of Parenthood

Quick Review

If you’ve followed along with our story, you’ve certainly seen your fair share of cute pictures of our kid Judah this year. Whether it’s the Designing with Judah Instagram series or just pictures from our life, it’s obvious that parenthood has changed our life tremendously. We love having a new team member on our mission. It’s been challenging and fun and difficult and awesome – pretty much all the things. So today on the podcast, we are reflecting on what this first year of parenthood has been like.

A Year of Parenthood

It’s really hard to put into words what we’ve learned in the first year of parenthood. Even as we reflect during this episode, we recognize that everyone’s parenthood journey is so different! What we’ve attempted to do here is just bullet point a few key things that we’ve learned and observed in our journey, and we hope that it’s both entertaining and encouraging to you.

When parents say they can’t explain what having a child is like – they are right!

It isn’t a cop-out answer – it’s just true. Especially as first-time parents, we had a lot of anxiety surrounding what life would be like once we had a little guy. We had a lot of unknowns and a lot of people who couldn’t really explain to us what being a parent is like. We realize now that those people aren’t trying to not be helpful. It really is SO difficult to describe all the emotions and changes you’re feeling, especially in those first few weeks and months.

It’s even been a different experience for both Chandler and myself (it’s Jeremy writing, in case you can’t tell). If you need any proof of this, just take a look at Judah’s Birth Story on the blog, and then ask me about my experience. We remember this event VERY differently, and that’s because we process things so differently as humans anyway, there is no chance that we wouldn’t process becoming new parents in completely different ways (not even to mention the hormones, endorphins, etc. that may or may not give one a “rose-colored-glasses” sort of memory).

We don’t want to cop-out, but all we can do is explain what being a parent is like for us. Sometimes it seems simple and sometimes we feel like we are holding on for dear life. We are happier than we’ve ever been and we are often more fearful than we’ve ever been. We pray A LOT. We are more inspired to love Jesus because of our son. We are inspired to be better business owners because of our son. We are inspired to love people better because of our son. It’s just a completely new feeling – an awesome, mixed-up, strange, wonderful new feeling. And we love it.

An example of the tension between being happier and more fulfilled than ever…

An example of the tension between being happier and more fulfilled than ever…

...and being more afraid than ever. This from a choking scare we had one month into parenthood.

…and being more afraid than ever. This from a choking scare we had one month into parenthood.

Phases Move Quickly

Everyone knows about the hard phases – lack of sleep, teething, resisting naptime, etc. While all these phases have varying lengths for different children, we learned that these are all just phases. When we look back on the weeks and months where we only slept in 3-hr increments (max), we think “wow, that was really tough and I don’t know how we did that.” But in the moment, you just DO. And then it’s over. Sometimes it’s even hard to remember those days.

This phase lasts a lot longer for some people than it did for us – but even still in the grand scheme of a childhood, that amount of time is relatively small. The same goes for other difficult phases, like teething. Teething is interesting because it comes and goes in spurts and it definitely can vary from child to child in length. We found it important to remember: it’s still a phase and this too shall pass

The converse is also true though – there are some REALLY sweet times in all stages of the first year of life, and those pass all too quickly. We tried to keep this in mind, which is definitely difficult during the harder phases, but we really wanted to make our moments count in each phase.  Example of a sweet phase that didn’t last long…the little deer phase:

Judah as a deer for Halloween

Judah as a deer for Halloween

…also the skunk phase…

Judah as a skunk...just in general

Judah as a skunk…just in general

Give Each Other What You Need

This looks different for every couple and is a good thing to strive for in any marriage, regardless of whether a child is involved. ESPECIALLY as a new child comes into the mix, it’s very important to communicate with each other and serve each other well during this time when there is an overabundance of hormones and emotions and an underabundance of sleep.

I can give a simple example from our experience. For a while when Judah was first born, we would both wake up every three hours to do feedings. That’s what worked best in that moment. Not too long into it, we moved more towards taking shifts. Chandler was (as usual) AMAZING and said “hey, there is no reason for us both to be exhausted in the morning – I’ll take some night shift, and you can take some morning shift while I sleep” – and that worked best at that moment. 

It is really about taking the next right step and communicating what you need as a family each step of the way

As the father, one of the best pieces of advice I received was this – sometimes there’s not that much you as the dad can do, so change every diaper that you can. I didn’t follow that perfectly by any means, but the truth holds – as a father you need to be doing everything you can do for your wife and child to serve them. While parenthood is a shared responsibility, you’ll find things definitely don’t feel balanced – especially at the beginning. New dads – just do everything you can while knowing that there are some things you just can’t do.

Keep Dating Each Other

This has been a big deal for us and is really easy to overlook when there is so much change going on in a short amount of time. We can also say that this is definitely a lot easier when you have some family close by that you trust to watch your new baby. Regardless, it was really important to us to make this a priority. We don’t have family close by and its easier now that Judah is a little older, but even in the early days whenever family did come to town we really tried to take advantage of them being around – they want to hang out with the baby anyway, so why not get out for a date while they do!

There are a lot of things that you need to process during the first year of a baby’s life. SO MUCH CHANGES. Having space to process together not just those things but just life in general is really important. Chandler and I are the A-Team, and even though we have a new team member, it’s still us first. We need that time together to thrive as a couple, so that we can all thrive as a family.

Backstage at an event for work...still counts as a date

Backstage at an event for work…still counts as a date

Deep thought of the episode: we had to choose to have our baby come alongside the life we’ve been called to.

From the beginning, we said: we want to be intentional about fitting our child into the life we’ve been called to and not create a life that revolves around our child. Our life felt pretty crazy before introducing a baby. Chandler and I are both driven and in our careers, we have been constantly renovating, and we have generally had a sense of direction where we felt God leading our lives. Because of all the changes and newness, we saw potential to turn inward – focusing not just on the baby exclusively but on our new family almost exclusively. 

Because of our faith, we believe that we have a greater purpose than to simply live on earth and enjoy life and we want to bring our kid(s) alongside us in that purpose. Life doesn’t become about them – although there is definitely a lot of attention and love directed that way! Life becomes our team living life intentionally following God’s direction for us. It’s messy sometimes and we don’t do it perfectly, but that’s our goal.

You CAN travel with a baby

Just a short note here – traveling has always been important to us. It hasn’t always been completely intentional, but in our 7 years of marriage we have actually ended up traveling a LOT, even internationally (if you’re interested in travel, you can check out a few blog posts about our travels). We made it a goal to travel with Judah internationally in his first year of life (which we did), but I think we actually ended up traveling with him even domestically more than we expected. Atlanta, Tampa, Orlando, Texas, North Carolina, even a tour bus ride to NYC – all places Judah has gone in his first year of life. Traveling with a baby presents its share of challenges, but it’s been a fun learning experience for us all.

Judah making strangers smile in Quebec City

Judah making strangers smile in Quebec City

Judah in Atlanta for Christmas

Judah in Atlanta for Christmas

Judah On The Tour Bus

Judah On The Tour Bus

Judah In Orlando

Judah In Orlando

Judah On The Tour Bus

Judah On The Tour Bus

That’s all for now…

We hope you enjoyed a little more personal episode of the show today! It was fun for us, so if nothing else, thank you for indulging us as we reflect. Hope everyone has a great week!

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Links and Extra Resources

Check out design inspiration and designing with Judah on our Instagram

Judah’s Birth Story

Check out our travels

Our Quebec City Trip with Judah