By Guest Blogger Emily Saunders

A few weeks ago my “baby” boy celebrated his first birthday.  It’s still surreal to me that a whole year has passed, yet there were days along the way that seemed impossibly long when naps didn’t happen, teeth were aching, or no place was good enough for sleep except Mama’s chest when she desperately needed a nap.  It’s been the best year and the most difficult year and the emotions involved are too complex to put into words.

I am most certain that I learned and grew more spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally than I EVER have. I suppose that’s what becoming a Mom will do. God uses parenthood to teach us big things about his plans and his ways.

Here are a few simple, but profound truths and tips that I’ve learned during this wild year:

1. You have more patience than you ever, ever dreamed. When you doubt yourself take big Jesus breaths.  It works!

2.  There will NEVER be enough time to check off everything on your list so prepare for that in advance.

3. You will cry more happy tears than you could ever imagine. Not a crier?-  I wasn’t either.  As a Mom you are connected to every single Mom on the planet now.

4.  Your husband will not understand your wild emotions- don’t expect him to- just ask that he accept them and support you through them.

5.  Some days your head will be in the clouds and five minutes later you will be frustrated and in tears. It doesn’t make logical sense.  Have grace with yourself!

6.  There is no one-right-way to do anything when it comes to caring for little people. Do what works for you and your child and support other Mamas decisions. There is enough judgement in this world.

7.  God uses new parenthood to provide us a small glimpse of the love and grace he shares with us. Hold onto those feelings- they are life-changing.

8.  Kids really do grow up SO fast.  It’s ok to take pictures every day. Next week he or she will be doing something totally different.  Write in your baby book and journal because you will forget everything that happened if you don’t

9.  Mommy guilt is unavoidable whether you stay home or work outside the home, breastfeed or formula feed, let your baby cry at night or employ attachment parenting techniques, make time for yourself or never take a break etc. It’s going to happen. Don’t let the enemy allow you to feel inferior or unworthy.  Instead take it to God.

10.  All of your relationships will change. Your relationship with your spouse, your parents, and your friends will change. Some will change for the better while others will be challenged.  Give those that are worthwhile the energy needed to flourish.  Above all else, don’t neglect your husband.

And my Top 10 Things that helped me Survive my 1st year as a Mom (not in any particular order):

1. Simple Wishes Pumping Bra– This thing is amazing.  It doesn’t move and is completely customizable.  I can do ANYTHING while pumping (except bend over or jump)

2.  Medela Freestyle Breast Pump– Goes with #1.  Battery operated, small, goes anywhere (think pump and drive).  Make sure to check with your insurance provider because pumps are often partially reimbursable.

3.  A swing, bouncy seat, etc. that your newborn loves.  When you figure out their favorite “thing” don’t be afraid to use it!  And let them sleep in it too.  Later this becomes the jumper or saucer.. Sometimes Mama needs a break!

4.  A Pack & Play:  We travel a fair amount and these things are awesome and durable. However, we leave it set up all the time for diaper changes on the main level of our house.  Adler napped in the bassinet portion for the first few months. Now I use it as a “cage” while I’m exercising or need to keep him safe for a few minutes to grab the mail etc

5.  Video Monitor: Extra peace of mind during naps and nighttime sleep to help Mom lower her stress. Added Bonus is watching their fun crib antics while they are falling asleep or waking up

6.  Amber Beads: They are controversial, but for us they have made the teething process (so far) manageable. I notice a difference if I forget to put them back on after Adler’s bath.

7.  Amazon Prime:  Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to spend the time or energy to lug the baby into the car, out of the car, into the cart etc. to pick up one obscure item at Home Depot. Enter Amazon Prime. It’s saved me so many times!!

8.  A Stroller You Love: We walk a LOT. Getting outside and out of the house is good for Mama and baby and leisure walking lowers stress hormones which makes Mommy feel better all around.  An easy to “drive” stroller with good wheels is essential.

9.  My Dear Husband:  I knew he would be a great Dad, but it brings tears to my eyes to share how wonderful he truly is. He places our family higher on his list than anything except God. He prioritizes family time above professional opportunities and hobbies. He puts Adler to bed almost every single night because he wants to. His patience, grace and love for me and our son have overwhelmed me over the past year.

10.  Experienced Mommy Friends and New Mommy Friends:  I had the gift of sharing new motherhood with many friends this year and have made many new friends as a result of being a new mom. I have also sought the wisdom of Moms who have “been there done that” and value their advice immensely. Knowing that my feelings and challenges are not unique and being able to share milestones together is heart warming and uplifting.

I don’t claim to know everything (or much of anything) about parenting babies and, honestly I still don’t consider myself a “baby person”. But- God has used this year and the many experiences to bring me closer to Him and closer to so many around me. He’s also taught me a lot about unconditional love and putting others needs before my own. I am humbled and forever thankful for the gift of motherhood.

Emily Saunders is part of the Momsanity Team, which is a community of Moms striving to achieve balance through physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. You can read more about this amazing program here, and also get information about the Momsanity Sisterhood here. The Sisterhood is a closed group with nutrition guidelines, workouts designed for fat loss and strength building, daily spiritual guidance, and more!