I have a son, Oliver Thomas. Who will turn 1 in a couple weeks.

I also have an almost 6 year old son, Zachary Abe, who I placed in an open adoption at birth.

Oliver is the sweetest, happiest boy I know, you could blink at him and make him laugh. He is so good tempered. He is so smart and learns so quickly, it's amazing to see how proud of himself he is when he learns something new. He is my sunshine. Because I'm nursing, sometimes he goes for other people's breasts, whether with his mouth, face, or hands. We joke that he is going to be a boob man!

It was hard to grasp, being pregnant with Oliver. After placing Zach for adoption, there wasn't much in life that I looked forward to more than becoming a mother. Finding out that I was pregnant with Oliver was overwhelming. I think my mind was so used to associating some very complex feelings with being pregnant, that it took a while to sink in that this was MY baby. This was a new journey, and at the end of it I was going to become a mom to the tiny being inside of me. It was a wonderful feeling.

When Oliver was born it was surreal! Looking into his little, blinking eyes was so sweet. The doctors and nurses let me hold him for a little while before they weighed him, and then they quickly took care of that and we had skin to skin for over an hour and I fed him for the first time. That first hour of his life was awesome. And it was really special and sweet of my husband to let me have that before he even got to hold him. It felt like such a great reward holding him after 10 months of pregnancy and labor and delivery.

How has motherhood not changed me? I know it's cliche, but my whole world revolves around him. His needs and his schedule dictate my every day. I've become much more selfless. And I've been much more patient than I ever expected to be. And I laugh every day now.

The best part of being a mom is the cuddles!!! When he lays his head on my chest, or curls up in my lap, or runs up and grabs my legs... That special bond that we share, that we will never share with anyone else... That is the best part. The unconditional love between us. I'm pretty sure I kiss him and tell him I love him 100 times a day.

The hardest thing is the lack of sleep! Oliver still wakes up a few times a night, and since I am still nursing, it has always been me that gets up with him. It is exhausting. It wears on you. Also, the worrying! I worry a lot about whether or not I am doing a good job and that he will grow up to be a good person... On top of the normal worrying about his well being.

I wish I could hold on forever to the excitement he has when he sees me. Whether it's first thing in the morning, or I've been away for a few hours. The excitement he displays matches the excitement I feel in my heart. I hope no matter how old he gets, that he always loves coming home to his mama. Oh- and the snuggles and cuddles! Can that be my answer twice? I want all the cuddles!

I wish someone would have told me that you don't always have to be perfect. My house is pretty messy right now, and I still have 20 pounds of baby weight to lose, even a year later. It's hard to not compare myself to other moms, and I wish we could all build each other up more and support each other instead of passing judgement.

I hope Oliver grows up to be kind, compassionate, forgiving, and adventurous. I hope he never stops wanting to learn new things. I hope he aims to know, love, and follow Jesus because he wants to, and not just because someone says he should. I hope he is a loving husband, and a wonderful father someday, and that he will be happy with whatever he chooses to do with his life.

I'm not really sure I have an actual parenting philosophy. I feel like I'm winging it most days. I know that I never want to be that mom who just sweeps stuff under the rug and makes excuses for my child's bad behavior and bad decisions. I'm not talking about kids being kids and needing a nap or anything like that. I also don't want to be super strict and get on him for things that probably ultimately don't really matter. It's hard to find that balance, but I hope to figure it out!

Trust your gut, moms. Only you know what's best for your child. Other people might have good advice (and some not so good advice), but know that every child is different and no one knows your baby better than you do!

There is something about being a mom that kind of turns you into a superhero some days. It motivates you to be the best person you can be. You see some moms who work 2 jobs, go to school, have 4 kids, etc. and think how do they do it? It's that superhero power inside of them. Anything we set our minds to, we can do. There aren't many people in the world who our children look up to more than us, so if we raise them right, that's one more adult with a good head on their shoulders making good decisions in this world.

Dear Oliver,

I hope you always know how much I love you. And I hope you always know and believe in what an amazing person you are. I'm so proud of the person you are becoming and I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Love, Mama


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Ashlee also provides magical and delightful services for: newborn photography, cake smash photography, baby's first year plans, maternity photography, family photography, and Newborn mentoring for photographers.

If you have a milestone or special moment you want to remember forever, let's chat! Ashlee loves to photograph in the woodlands and around downtown Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, Zionsville, and Greenwood. She also has a professional studio space available for sessions.