Hospital Bag: Take 2

wp-image-864536615jpg.jpg

Ahhh, the joy of having a baby – this is minutes after Teddy was delivered – look at me, happy, glowing, excited for this new life.  The first moments are so precious and its amazing and all that – but here’s what they don’t tell you. You have to stay in the hospital for at least 24 hrs after you deliver. Here’s another thing they don’t tell you – hospitals are noisy, there are constantly people barging into your room, and there are always lights flashing somewhere in your room.  I, personally, hated staying in the hospital post baby arrival. I know some people like it and appreciate all the support they get from nurses and stuff. I am not that person. I need sleep and I had a really hard time sleeping or napping in the hospital. But there are a few things you can bring with you to help your post baby hospital stay. So if you are a first time mom or heading back, here is what I packed in my second time hospital bag…

lip-conditioner

First, lip balm. Seriously, no matter what else you pack don’t forget this item. Hospitals are SO DRY. I drank so much water and felt like I was putting on lip conditioner every 3 minutes. My personal favorite for lip conditioner is Beautycounter’s Peppermint. It works so well, has just enough peppermint (which helps with nausea – did I mention that you can still get nauseated after your baby comes? super fun), and is safe for you and your brand spanking new baby. You don’t want to be kissing that perfect little head with questionable or harmful chemicals in your lip balm! Beautycounter is a great way to make sure all the products you use are safe for your new baby and for yourself.  Amy’s Beautycounter link to order!

ipodThen your iPod or make sure you bring ear buds for your phone. I listened to my iPod when I was trying to sleep; it helped block out some of the noise of the hospital. I love listening to audio books, so I made sure my iPod was loaded with books and fully charged. It was so relaxing to just listen to the book. I could focus on the story and block out the noise and stress of the hospital. Also MAKE SURE YOU PACK YOUR CHARGERS! this means phone, iPod, tablet, whatever else you bring to the hospital.  There’s nothing worse than wanting to listen to your iPod and its dead.

kangaroo-tank-topNext – this kangaroo Care tank top from Milk and Baby. I loved having this with me for skin to skin time in the hospital.  Skin to skin is hugely beneficial for both you and your baby. It helps your milk come in faster and also helps support your milk supply throughout your nursing days.  Your baby will benefit from hearing your heartbeat, temperature control, and lower stress levels. In case you didn’t realize this, going from a warm, loud, very small, and dark environment to the hospital with lights, cold air blasting and your arms and legs flailing about is highly stressful for babies. Being cuddled up with you is so comforting for your little one. And this shirt allows you to have skin to skin without feeling like you are on display. You may have already felt this way throughout your delivery (I definitely did with my first) but after the baby comes its nice to feel like you can cover up and wear some sort of normal clothing. So this is a must in my books. Here’s the link to order: Kangaroo Kare Tank ** I would suggest ordering a size up, I thought it ran small.

snacks

SNACKS

Pack snacks for days.  I wouldn’t necessarily pack a whole cart full, but definitely bring enough for your hospital stay which can be up to 96 hours if you have a C section. Fluctuating hormones and an irregular sleep schedule left me starving at the weirdest times.  Also, when I get hungry and I am hungry NOW so I don’t want to wait on the hospital to bring me something.  Snacks are simply a necessity in the hospital. Some maternity wards have a few snacks available, but since I am GF the only thing they had for me was fruit and let’s be honest, sometimes you need some salt and crunch in your life.

31r2ws7alzl-_sy445_Nice Maternity pajamas. My mom bought me this three piece set off of Amazon from Bearsland Maternity (Link to Amazon here).  These were great because they looked so nice – I got lots of compliments on how cute they were! – and because its a nursing tank it’s easy to strip down and nurse or cover up with your robe.  Honestly, every time you are trying to nurse someone will be coming into your room to check on you so it’s nice to have options for covering up a little. Plus these jammies are super comfy. I wore them all throughout nursing Vincent and plan to keep wearing them with Teddy! They describe the fabric as “Rich cotton” and I would have to agree! The fabric is really nice.  It breathes and has stretch to it. They get the thumbs up from me!

So these are the items that get pictures – but there are other items that I packed that you might want to consider:

  • Granny panties – because you need someone to wear that will support the ginormous pads that they give you
  • Sweatshirt – because your hospital room might be a balmy 75 or a freezing 20 degrees so you need layering options
  • Slippers – you will want to walk around the halls because you need to escape your room and it’s good for recovery
  • Toiletries – shampoo, face wash, lotion, toothbrush, DEODORANT (hormones made me super smelly) etc. I would also suggest bringing some make up, especially if you are going to have pictures done in the hospital.  I think being able to put on some make up helps you feel like a human and less like a zombie who has no idea what is going on.
  • One going home outfit for baby – the hospital will provide clothes for your baby while they are staying. Let them do the laundry and only put on your clothes when you are ready to take baby home.

I think that’s it! What else did you mammas pack in your hospital bags? What am I missing?

Baby #2

Teddy arrived 3 weeks ago and I have had so many thoughts and expierences that I want to share! But as any mom knows, having a newborn and a toddler do not lend much time to dedicated writing. My experience with this baby was completely different than my experience with Vincent and that has allowed me to do things like go out on my anniversary 5 days after having a baby…

I received lots of praise for getting out so soon after baby was born, and while I totally love people telling me how awesome I am, I want to make sure everyone ( especially first time new moms) understands  why I was able to do this. 

1. Sleep.

somehow we lucked out and got a newborn that sleeps 3 hours at a time. This was not the case with Vincent. Vincent ate every 2 hours around the clock for the first 8 weeks. It was awful and since feedings took like 45 minutes I slept maybe an hour at a time. Let me tell you, there is a huge difference between 1 hr and 2. 5 hours of sleep! So if you are a new mom ( or dad supporting a new mom)  and you just can’t imagine doing anything besides watch netflix and nap all day long, that’s totally normal ! And it’s what I did with my first. ( and some days I wish I could still do that all day long )

2. Having Breastfed Before

BFing is way easier the second time around, or at least it has been for me and Teddy. I think having done it before I am just more confident and know what to expect for both myself and baby. Breastfeeding was so hard with Vincent those first 8 weeks. I felt like all I did was sit around and try to keep him awake so he would nurse. Most of the time I can wake Teddy up enough to get a good nursing session in and I feel like it has made a huge difference . 

3. Living with Parents

Living with my folks has made such a difference in my post partum experience .  We haven’t had to worry about things like meal planning or grocery shopping so I can just focus on figuring out being a mom of 2. Having extra adults also means there are plenty of people to entertain the toddler or hold  the newborn so you can  do normal things like shower. 

4. Having your husband around the first 10 days

Bryan was in school when we had Vincent and he was in the middle of a semester when he arrived. He had to go back to school literally he day after we beought Vincent home from the hospital .  Living far away from family, I just didn’t have a lot of resources so I was alone a lot. Having Bryan at the house made a huge difference !! He took the baby so I could nap or shower. I was so thankful for this time together as a family.

So anyway, I just wanted you guys to know what is going on behind the scenes of those pictures. Also, we were gone for maybe an hour because baby has to eat! I am so thankful for how well everything has gone with this baby, but I am prepared if it all changes tomorrow! 

Thanks for all of the encouragement you guys have given over the past several weeks! I can’t wait to write more and keep you guys in the loop!

Because I haven’t posted in literally weeks…

Guys, moving is hard.

Being a mom of a toddler is exhausting.

Working 40+ hours is ridiculous.

Our dogs are insane.

Oh yeah, and I’m super pregnant (37.5 weeks to be exact)

The count down to baby #2 has begun, only 11 days until my planned C. I haven’t had the energy to think of good posts, but I thought that I would share a quick update on the move and transition. 

Honestly, it’s been great. It has been hard and exciting and exhausting and sad, but I have never been more confident that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Every step of the way I have just felt right. Even when the moving van didn’t show up for 2 weeks  (ughhhhhh) it still felt right to be here in Cincinnati. Bryan got a job in the surgical ICU just weeks after moving (now his license hasn’t come through, but I am choosing to see this as a blessing because he gets to stay home with Vincent and will be here when new baby comes, too) which I had been praying for months. We have spent ample time with friends and family and we keep saying “it’s so great to be here!”

It’s amazing when hard things and big life choices are validated in tangible ways, and I feel this move definitely has been. But overall, its the sense of peace – the peace only God can provide – that helps me know we pursued the right choice for our family. 

Now we are prepped for baby #2 and I am mentally preparing to be a mom of two. We are so thankful to be home and have our families to support us. Here’s to many great days ahead!

Millennials: Made for More

textgram_1472223200

I was speaking with a colleague the other day and he said to me, “I feel like I am made for more than this job.”  Our conversation revolved around staying engaged at work, feeling like you are making a difference, and putting your all into work or a company when you feel like you were made for more.  This is the cry of our generation – we were made to be more than order takers or paper pushers! We were made to change the world!

As a manager and a Millennial myself, I am conflicted when I have these conversations. There is certainly part of me that agrees – I do feel that we as individual people were made for more than “just doing a job.” But in my professional career, being responsible for a team of representatives, there is a job to be done and it is my responsibility to make sure everyone on my team is pulling their weight. During this particular conversation, I voiced some opinions that helped me clarify and solidify my stance on where I stand as a Millennial and how I want to encourage my fellow working Millennials to approach work, career, job, and life.

I have been at my current company for 6, almost 7, years.  There have been days where I feel like finding more, where I want to move on to something bigger and better, but I have stayed put because its just always seemed like the right thing. In my time staying with one company I feel like I have learned a few things that have helped to fit my Millennial ideals into corporate America.

If you were “made for more,” MAKE YOUR WORK MORE.

I think that we have fallen into the trap that somewhere out there is a job that will automatically be MORE for us. A theoretical space where we can achieve our best, have an amazing career, love what we do, and make a difference in the world.  I have friends who absolutely occupy this space, but I have plenty more who desperately wish they could find this mystical dream job.

My point is this – do your best to make your current circumstances BE MORE.  Exact change in the space that you occupy, don’t waste away time wishing things were different. Make changes NOW to be better tomorrow.

Here is what this looks like for me: managing a team of individuals, I have the unique opportunity to speak into their lives. I can speak words of truth and encouragement; I can spur them on to achieve higher goals than they thought possible; I can work to motivate each individual and bring us together collectively as a team; I can care about my team beyond numbers and goals and show them that I value them as people and contributors to both our company and society as a whole.  As someone in the customer service field I can show my customers that they are important people by listening and caring about their needs. I can be positive and do what’s right for every individual. I can help people to the best of my abilities and be honest when things go wrong. No matter what I can show people respect and that alone can change someone’s day.

See, I think that we need to stop feeling like we aren’t doing enough and start focusing on the little things that we can do to change the world around us daily. The people you have the most impact on are the people you live with and work with – what would it look like to love and encourage those people the most? What would it look like for you to be the best damn representative your company has ever seen?  How would your team or office change if you started encouraging everyone around you? If you offered to help your colleagues even when they maybe don’t deserve it?

I am not saying that you can’t pursue your dream job or that you have to stay at a job you hate.  But I do think that we make a mistake by thinking there is always something better when we could invest where we are.

So show up with PURPOSE. Commit to do YOUR BEST every day.  Look for ways to enact change NOW. INVEST in your co workers. Make whatever you do MATTER because you make people around you matter. Most of all, don’t let an opportunity slip away because you are hoping for something better, bigger, or more – make your work MORE now.

5 Things That Made My 2nd Pregnancy Suck Less

20160821_071344

If you know me at all you know that I am not a huge fan of pregnancy. It’s okay and I guess its cool to feel the baby move, but really I don’t care for it.  Being nauseated, an alien being flipping around in your stomach, the aches and pains of your body relaxing to accommodate this big thing growing in you.  I could really do without all that. But thankfully I found some products that helped me cope better the second time around and I wanted to share them here!

Screenshot 2016-08-21 08.25.40
Beautycounter Balancing Face Oil

The first thing that I am so thankful for is Beautycounter’s products, especially the balancing face oil.  My skin in my first pregnancy was TERRIBLE.  On top of feeling disgusting because I was pregnant, I also felt terrible because I wasn’t confident with my skin.  Everyone kept saying, “oh your skin will just glow!” – well this was not the case for me.  This time around, though, I am using Beautycounter products and they have made such a HUGE difference!  I think that the balancing face oil is the one product that I can’t give up, but there are a few others that I would also recommend for pregnancy and post-pregnancy skin.  If you struggle with skin issues (whether you are pregnant or not!) I would be happy to talk about options with Beautycounter for you!

Here is my website if you want to browse (specific link to face oil in the caption): http://www.beautycounter.com/amypietch

Screenshot 2016-08-21 08.04.46
Leachco Back n’Belly Contoured Body Pillow

Okay – this is by far the best purchase that I made for this pregnancy. I wouldn’t say that I sleep as peacefully as the lady above (is she even pregnant???) But it does make me much more comfortable! I really like that there are pillows on both sides, this has really helped my back and hips.  It also means that when I turn over I don’t have to rearrange all the pillows to try and get comfortable again.  I actually flip it the other way so that the open end is at my head, then I can use my own pillows for my head.  There is a downside – this pillow is HUGE. We have a queen bed and Bryan gets maybe a third of the bed these days. I think if you have a King bed it would be fine, but it’s tight in the queen. Thankfully, my husband knows how important sleep is for me so he puts up with the pillow, but I’m pretty sure he is counting down the days until it’s gone.

You can get it on amazon prime here: https://www.amazon.com/Leachco-Belly-Contoured-Pillow-Ivory/dp/B0002E7DIQ/ref=sr_1_14?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1471785251&sr=1-14&keywords=body%2Bpillow

Screenshot 2016-08-21 08.17.16
Bai Bubbles Drinks

Okay so if you are TOTALLY cutting out caffeine, then this one isn’t for you. There is a small amount of caffeine in these drinks (about 25 mg), but for me this is the perfect amount!  I loved having these mid way through my day as a little treat and pick-me-up.  The flavors are incredible (Pink Grapefruit is my favorite, but all the flavors are great) and they were something different from just plain water all the time. It was nice to have a sparkling fun drink option. You can purchase directly from the website here: http://www.drinkbai.com/voyager-pack or at Costco (which is where we get ours)!

Screenshot 2016-08-21 08.33.21
Vegan Smart Nutritional Shake

 

 

 

 

Next is this meal replacement shake by Vegan Smart.  Especially in my first trimester I was very nauseated every morning. It was terrible. I didn’t want to eat ANYTHING but knew I needed to get nutrients in my body.  This was a great option for me!  I could make this shake in the morning and shake with ice cubes so it was super cold (which was the only way I could stomach anything) and I knew that I was getting some good nutrients every morning.  I had tried other shakes, but many are soy based which my body does not do well with.  This shake is soy and gluten free but packs 20g of non GMO protein.  I still drink these daily, as soon as I wake up, to make sure that I am getting some good nutrients in the morning.  It blends pretty well (sometimes I get clumps, but if I use a blender bottle its usually pretty smooth) and the taste is actually quite good. I have only tried the chocolate, but it’s not super chalky which was another requirement of my first trimester stomach. This was a life saver for me with second baby!

Again, available on amazon Prime here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FYD5MVA/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

20160821_085142

Guys – I cannot explain what a difference good, supportive shoes make.  My feet hurt SO BADLY with Vincent and never fully recovered after the pregnancy.  The only shoes that really made my feet feel okay were sneakers and I can’t wear those to work and they are too hot for summer so this pregnancy I was on the hunt for something better. Thankfully I discovered Born sandals! I picked these up at DSW and they are FABULOUS!  I don’t know exactly what is wrong with my feet – high arches, overpronation, or something along those lines – but these shoes are super supportive (they come all the way up the arch of my foot) and cute! And sandals! So many good things.

So these are 5 things that really helped me feel better in my second pregnancy – what else has helped you guys feel your best while being pregnant?

So, what helped?

After my last blog post When you [don’t] love your baby I was asked a question by a friend (who gave me permission to use this question):

     “What specifically helped you through this time with Vincent – spiritually, emotional, mentally?            What did dealing with lack of feeling look like for you as you struggled through the process?”

I thought these were great questions – but I really had to think about them.  How did I actually do this? What did help me during this time? I have been reflecting on these questions all week and I have had some thoughts that I wanted to share. There are 3 things that I think helped me through those first 8 weeks.

The first thing that helped me through this time is my relationship with Jesus Christ. I can’t tell you how many times I cried out to God in silent prayer, wrote in my journal, or just asked for comfort.  I honestly do not know how parents do the whole parenting thing without believing in a higher power. I feel like I need God’s help, peace, and guidance every single day.  That being said, I would like to add that Jesus did not magically make the process easier. I would ask God, “why can’t I just set this baby down?!?!? Please Lord, just let him sleep for 30 minutes by himself!” or something of the like. I can tell you that at those moments Vincent did not automatically fall into a peaceful dream state and then I immediately calmed down and then had a perfect day after. Why? Because newborns act the way they do for a reason – they are learning how to function in this new world and it’s overwhelming. I think that my relationship with God gave me a solid foundation to stand on, I stood on my rock and this kept me grounded even on the hardest days. God DID send me comforts – Bryan would get home from class early so I could take a nap, a friend from church would text or bring over dinner, another new mom would stop by with her baby and I would have company, my parents would call with encouraging words.  It might not have been the 8+ hours of sleep that I was hoping for, but God bore me up in different ways so I could keep going.

The second thing that got me through is my self talk. I have always had a strong inner dialogue with myself.  For majority of my life this was third person.  I don’t know if you have ever thought about how you speak to yourself, but typically when I speak to myself in the third person it is negative, “Why did you do that?!” “How could you make that mistake!” etc.  Thankfully, one thing that I began before Vincent came was talking to myself in the first person and asserting truths when things were difficult.  When I was feeling like the worst mom in the world because I didn’t want to hold my child anymore, I would speak to myself truthfully and logically (sometimes out loud) “You are tired, and that’s okay, but Vincent needs to be held right now and you can do that.  Holding Vincent helps his brain develop, I am helping him feel protected and cared for.  I am a good mom because I am doing exactly what Vincent needs right now.”  I would also assert Biblical truths over myself and Vincent.  You see, Satan (who is very real) plays tricks on our minds often. Unfortunately, he just has to plant a little seed of doubt, discouragement, question, or deception for our brains to latch on and let them grow out of control. He would slip in with thoughts of “You aren’t good at this” “You can’t keep going” “You shouldn’t have had a kid” and on and on. What I have learned is that we have extraordinary power over ourselves simply based off of what we think and what we listen to. When these thoughts would slip in, I would speak a truth to combat the lie.

Lie: “You aren’t good enough”

Truth: “Jesus died on a cross and said that I am worth the price, I am his daughter, I am good enough for Jesus and I need nothing else”

Lie: “You shouldn’t have had kids”

Truth: “God knit this child together in my womb. He created this life and chose me to be his mom. This was divinely appointed, not by chance. I am supposed to be Vincent’s mom”

Lie: “You can’t keep going”

Truth: “God will lift me up on eagle’s wings.  He will support and sustain me.  He is Jehovah Jireh – God who provides. I cannot do it on my own, but God will help me”

We have such power in what we say to ourselves and what God says about us. It’s amazing how quickly things turn around when we start focusing on God’s truth and do not let the lies enter into our thoughts.  If you don’t have a relationship with God (or even if you do), I would encourage you to ask God a question, “What are lies I am currently telling myself?” and then if you discover any, “God, what do you say about these things?” I think it would be an interesting experiment. Even if you don’t feel like that would work, or you are opposed to a higher power, I would encourage you to start practicing positive self talk. No matter what, I think you will see a difference in the way you hold yourself, act, and respond when negativity comes your way.

Third, I am extremely stubborn and hate failure. And this really helped me persevere.  Being stubborn and having a fear of failure is definitely something that I am not always proud of, but in this circumstance it worked to my advantage. You want to know why I was able to breastfeed for a year? Because I am stubborn and I set a goal – I was going to achieve it NO. MATTER. WHAT. I didn’t want to fail. You want to know why I woke up every two hours to feed Vincent for those first 8 weeks? Because I am stubborn, I wanted to continue to breastfeed, and I knew I had to keep going in order to be successful. When I felt void of emotions and that I wanted to shirk away from responsibility – I couldn’t because I am too stubborn to admit that I couldn’t do it so I just kept going. This is called perseverance and the experience of living through the newborn stage helped me realize how important perseverance is in life overall.  They say the best things aren’t easy, and I would say motherhood and the newborn phase definitely fall into that category. I learned a lot about humility and asking for help with Vincent, which was good growth for me. But ultimately the will and drive to not give up and just keep going did help me get through a really hard time and continue to breast feed through it all.

The second part of the question, “What did dealing with lack of feeling look like for you as you struggled through the process?” this part is more difficult. Apparently, to outsiders it looked like I was fine. After I wrote the original piece my husband said, “I had no idea you were feeling that way.” In my head I thought,how could you NOT know that I was feeling that way?! I was a wreck and I looked like a disaster!  But at the time, I didn’t express much of the lack of feeling because everything was SO OVERWHELMING. While I didn’t feel like I loved Vincent and felt void of many emotions, I was equally overwhelmed with the amount of change that occurred. I have been able to process these feelings in the year that has followed and I have been able to sort through the difficulties. At the time, I couldn’t express these feelings because I didn’t really fully grasp what was going on. I simply existed and got through the day.  AND WE HAD GOOD DAYS! Here is proof

FB_IMG_1425936889452

See! I am actually happy, that’s not a fake smile. I don’t mean to sound like everything was doom and gloom, it was just hard. I do remember happy times in those early days, too.

As I reflected on this time I realized that social media also played with my head. I had several friends that also had babies around the same time I did. They were posting pictures of these precious little bundles with captions like, “My everything!” “I love him/her so much!” “We are so in love with our little one!” etc. I would see these pictures and think, “I don’t feel that way!” but then immediately feel the need to post a picture with some sort of heartwarming caption because other people were doing it. Here’s the thing – I STILL don’t post pictures with captions like that. My captions are literal, sarcastic, sometimes (I think) funny, etc. The closest I got to “heartwarming” was when we were in the hospital and snapped this pic with the caption “Be still my heart” –

IMG_20150224_155742

but looking back it is interesting that I felt I needed to SHOW and PROVE my love for my child via pics and captions on social media. Just because I don’t post things that way, does it mean I love my child any less? No, it means that type of characterization is not genuine to who I am as an individual. And that’s okay. I don’t have to be sappy just because I am a mom. So this time around I know that social media does not define my affections for my child and I don’t need to worry about how much or how little I post about him.

So those are my thoughts and responses. Mamas – what got you through the newborn phase??

 

 

When you [don’t] love your baby

This blog post has been a long time coming, but it’s one that I keep putting off.

It’s a hard topic to talk about, but a few interactions recently have made me realize how important it is to share about the reality after your baby shows up.

So here it is…

20150307_123539

Prior to Vincent arriving people would ask me if I felt prepared. My answer was almost always, “as prepared as I can be.”  I knew that motherhood would be like nothing I had experienced before, but I also knew that I was a strong person who had lived through difficult experiences so I knew that I could conquer life with a newborn.

No matter what people tell you or what you think you are prepared for, no verbal explanation can explain the first 6-8 weeks of motherhood.  The first 8 weeks were especially difficult for me. I don’t know that I was suffering from postpartum depression, I was actually vigilantly looking out for this because I have suffered from depression in the past. No, what I felt was complete distance from who I used to be with this new life that now depended on me for everything.  I was extremely sleep deprived, away from family, and had a husband in the midst of nursing school and clinicals.  Many days, it was all me all day with a newborn. And many nights I was getting about 30-45 minutes of sleep between feedings while my newborn slept on my chest because he hated being set down.  One day I went from being an independent and self-reliant individual to a mom, and that’s something that no words and no verbal explanation can prepare you for.

Most of all I didn’t feel like I loved my son. I remember when Bryan brought me Vincent in the hospital and I literally had to tell myself out loud “this is your baby, this is Vincent!” But I wasn’t excited, I wasn’t overwhelmed with any sort of feeling really, I felt next to nothing.  I went through the motions, started nursing, tried to sleep (which in the hospital is a joke).  We took Vincent home and I continued to do the things that moms are supposed to do, but it all felt detached. It didn’t feel genuine, it was an obligation, a responsibility that I was now stuck with and no one else could really help with. Bryan did everything he could – he would be up late studying and hold the baby so I could sleep. He forced me to take naps and made sure I was eating while he was around.  But it’s not the same as being a mom.

The most difficult and most unexpected transition was the loss of independence. Suddenly, you have to think and plan every hour of every day to make sure that you are able to provide for your child.  Since Vincent hated being set down, this meant that I literally had a baby attached to me almost all the time.  Being a very independent individual, this was shocking and revolting to me.  Whenever people would come over I would immediately hand over Vincent because I just didn’t want to hold him anymore. I remember telling myself that I had to take pictures of Vincent because SOMEDAY I would want to look back and see how little he was (and that definitely DID happen! Now I wish we had more pictures of those early days).

All of this made me think that I didn’t love Vincent. I would physically make myself tell him that I loved him every day, because I knew that deep down I probably did love him even though I didn’t FEEL like it.

What I learned is that newborn love is a different kind of love.  I was used to relationships with reciprocity.  Babies don’t do this.  You pour out into your little one and you get crying, sucking, and poop in return.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some precious moments, but mostly it was just trying to make it through another day. What I realized was that I DID love my baby because I was doing everything I needed to do in order to care for him. I was nursing him, holding him so that he would sleep, cuddling him, cleaning him, and learning how to be his mom.  This is how you love a newborn – you survive, you learn, and you do what you can every day.

Our feelings lie. Especially sleep deprived hormone driven feelings.  Feelings come and go, like the ocean tides. They well up and overflow and then they dry out. Actions don’t lie. Actions show who and what we really are.  So if you are having a hard time and your actions are to seek help, tell your doctor, ask for assistance – this is you loving your baby.  If you feel like you don’t love your baby, but you nurse him every time he is hungry and then walk him around for 45 minutes at 3am because he is fussy, this is you loving your baby.  If you are a natural and you just have the mom thing down, your actions are still what demonstrate this love.  Babies feel loved by being taken care of, protected, cuddled, swaddled, and being nestled against mom or dad. They experience love in safety and comfort, not words or expressions.  I know that Vincent felt loved because we did everything he needed in those early days and on those really hard early days, I knew that I just had to act like I loved Vincent no matter what my feelings were telling me.

I recently heard of another mom who was experiencing the same feelings that I was during this early period.  My friend was concerned and shared her story with me. I asked if I could write her a letter.  I later had the pleasure of meeting this new young mom and she thanked me for the letter and encouraging words.  So here is a letter to all new moms and especially moms that don’t feel like they love their babies.

Dear Mama,

I am so proud of you. You brought new life into this world and now you are literally sacrificing your own life, sleep, and sanity.  It is not easy, but somehow you are doing it.  I remember those early days and I remember how difficult the first few weeks are.

I remember that I didn’t feel like I loved my baby and maybe that’s how you feel, too. But I want you to know that YOU DO LOVE OUR BABY.  You are doing everything you can for your child, and this is love. You are working hard to feed and nurture, hug and cuddle, figure out sleep and adjust to this new life. It’s a hard adjustment and it takes time. YOU CAN DO IT!  Take things one day at a time, each day gets better.

I promise that things get better. Nursing gets easier, sleep gets easier, you figure out how to balance your own needs with your baby’s.  But it takes time. I know that days feel like weeks and it seems like it will never end, but I promise you will both survive.

I am so proud of you and the effort you are putting into your little one. Remember, ask for help and tell people what you need. Pass that baby off every chance you get – catch a nap, take a shower, take a break. It is important to take care of yourself so that you can care for your child.  But every time you change a diaper or sit down to nurse, I want you to know that those actions clearly show you LOVE YOUR BABY.  Despite what your feelings tell you.

Good job mama – You Rock!