Carter's First Birthday Party
I think it was about four months ago when someone first asked me, "So..what is Carter's birthday party theme going to be?!"
At the time, the question totally took me off guard.
I wasn't even anywhere close to thinking about his birthday party.
I was still trying to figure out exactly how much formula he should be drinking versus how much solid food. And what "solid foods" he could eat. I didn't want him to choke. And in between meals trying to figure out why my child was the ONLY one on the entire planet that wouldn't take a nap longer than 17-23 minutes at any time during the day. On top of running a growing & expanding photography business, being a wife, friend, and daughter. On top of trying to lose "the baby weight" And take a shower. And brush my teeth. #selfcare?
Now, if you know me, you know I'm a little extra when it comes to birthdays...I L O V E celebrating birthdays...well...birthday months 😂 I like to go big. So I knew that Carter's first birthday could easily escalate into a lavish event complete with wax sealed invitations and an ice sculpture of his face.
But that question really got me thinking.
Carter doesn't have to have a theme for his birthday party.
They say the first birthday is mostly about the parents anyway, so the theme for Carter's birthday party is :
"We Have Kept a Human Child Alive for an Entire Year"
You might think I'm being facetious or me trying to make a joke, but I promise. I'm being 100% serious. He gets to celebrate all week long because on his actual birthday, we leave for the beach!
When Carter was first born, he lost a significant amount of weight. Where he should have had fat rolls, he had skin folds...thinner and thinner every day. He had blisters on his lips. All day. All night. His lips would start to peel.
We found out he had a tongue and lip tie causing him not to be able to transfer enough milk when nursing. We went to doctors.
ALL. THE. DOCTORS.
Lactation consultant 1.
Lactation consultant 2.
Lactation consultant 3. (if you're reading this and need a lactation consultant, stop now and go see Ashley Benz, IBCLC)
A pediatric dentist.
A pediatric nutritionist.
A speech pathologist.
It felt as though were in some kind of doctor's office 2x a week for the first 6 months of his life.
Weight check after weight check. Praying he had at least not lost an ounce. Oh yeah and I still had to go to MY doctor's because...you know...pushing a baby out of your body can do quite a number and I wasn't sleeping, eating, or bonding with my baby.
At 12 days old after he had dropped even more weight and was hardly able to transfer anything. We had his tongue and lip tie revised (a fancy work to say the pediatric dentist "released" the ties with a laser, and then every 4 hours...on the hour...for FOUR WEEKS...I stretched his little mouth to make sure it didn't heal back improperly)
I pumped. I nursed for over an hour, then I pumped. Then I fed it to him. Through a tube. Taped to my finger. Holding a screaming because he's so hungry baby. Trying not to spill the breastmilk I pumped. Then we did it all again. This was just the "hard" part, right? I mean, my mom had nursed 7 tiny humans (two at once!) so surely it was in my DNA. I just had to stick it out.
I don't think I slept more than 15 minutes straight until he was about 6 weeks old (when I finally gave in and let Cory give him a bottle) There were SO many moments that I truly never thought we would ever make it to his first birthday.
His weight kept dropping.
Ounce after ounce. Percentile after percentile.
Then I was handed the paper.
The paper with three letters on it.
"Failure To Thrive"
Just when you've finally convinced yourself "you're not a bad mom, you aren't a failure" and then. Then this gets written on a piece of paper. And handed to you.
My baby wasn't thriving. I was his only source of nutrition.
We began to supplement with formula after seeing a pediatric nutritionist and several weeks of appointments with a pediatric speech pathologist. Already struggling with post partum depression, Carter weaned himself. I didn't even have to try. I honestly don't remember the last time he nursed. Not even in the slightest.
Carter finally started gaining weight. And sleeping more. He hovered about the 2% up until just last week (now a whopping 18lbs) he's officially in the 7% 😂🙌🏻
So mama, if you're reading this, and you don't yet have a theme for your sweet little baby's first birthday party and it's stressing you out :
I'm giving you permission.
You don't have to have a theme for your baby's first birthday party.
You don't have to have matching custom t-shirts for the entire family.
You don't have to order matching invitations, centerpieces, napkins, plates, and gift bags.
You don't have to re-name all the food items to something that goes with the theme.
You don't have to make a hand written chalkboard full of all their favorite things.
Please, please hear me. If this is your thing, then go for it! Life is SO worth celebrating. But don't get caught up in trying to do what the other moms on Instagram are doing.
This isn't meant to be an attack to any mama that is planning a totally themed out birthday party for their little baby. I really think that's awesome!!!But for us, for our family, in this season, the only thing we need at Carter's birthday party are the people that have helped us get to this point. To reach this milestone. We are so grateful for each and every person in our village that has helped us along the way. I believe we were created to do life in community. And that's what I wanted to celebrate.
So, if all the Pinterest perfect parties and Instagram birthday celebrations seem a little too overwhelming...send out a text, order some pizzas...and love on him, play with him, and sing him "Happy Birthday" That baby just needs to know he or she is loved. Oh and probably a cupcake ;)