This was a rough year that sometimes felt like a trial by fire – sick relatives, caring for a baby, and the pandemic making these things more difficult to deal with. My father was diagnosed with cancer and passed away later in the year, and my sister had a sudden serious health issue but is thankfully recovering. One theme for the year was that work is a break from parenting, parenting is a break from work, and both of those things are a break from loved ones being unwell. I found it hard to cope with all the uncertainty and stress, and this was probably my worst year in terms of mental health. There were some bright spots as well – watching my son learn many new skills, and lots of time with family and in nature. Overall, I look forward to a better year ahead purely based on regression to the mean.
The first year after having a baby went by really fast – happy birthday Daniel! This post is a reflection on our experience and what we learned in the first year.
Grandparents. We were very fortunate to get a lot of help from Daniel’s grandparents. My mom stayed with us when he was 1 week – 3 months old, and Janos’s dad was around when he was 4-6 months old (they made it to the UK from Canada despite the pandemic). We also spent the summer in Canada with the grandparents taking care of the baby while we worked remotely.
We learned a lot about baby care from them, including nursery rhymes in our respective languages and a cool trick for dealing with the baby spitting up on himself without changing his outfit (you can put a dry cloth under the wet part of the outfit). I think our first year as parents would have been much harder without them.
This is an annual post reviewing the last year and making resolutions and predictions for next year. 2020 brought a combination of challenges from living in a pandemic and becoming a parent. Other highlights include not getting sick, getting a broader perspective on my life through decluttering, and going back to Ukraine for the first time. (This post was written in bits and pieces over the past two months.)
Janos and I had a son, Daniel, on Nov 11. He arrived almost 3 weeks later than expected (apparently he was waiting to be born on my late grandfather’s birthday), and has been a great source of cuddles, sound effects and fragmented sleep ever since.
Some work things also went well this year – I had a paper accepted at NeurIPS, and was promoted to senior research scientist. Also, I did not get covid, and survived half a year of working from home (much credit goes to the great company of my housemates). Overall, a lot of things to be grateful for.