A New Mom Story

There is nothing anyone can tell you to prepare you for what the first few months with a newborn are like. There is no amount of reading/ class taking that will help you to be more prepared. All the advice that people will give you when you first start out, though it is true, will not help you. It may actually make you feel worse, or like you suddenly need to punch them in the face.

The other day I read an article on the Huffington Post about a woman’s experience with her newborn. She wrote how in spite of exhaustion, she found waking up in the middle of the night to care for her newborn the most rewarding experience. She enjoyed sitting in the quiet with her daughter at 4am, and cried tears of joy because she was so happy. When she went out for some time for herself, she cried because she missed her baby so much.

The mama in me is happy that she enjoyed that special time with her new baby. Everyone does tell you to enjoy it because time passes so quickly. But honestly, my first reaction to reading that article was, are you kidding me??? I mean crying tears of joy to be awake in the middle of the night? Come on. The first time I left the house by myself I was deliriously giddy with happiness. I didn’t shed a single tear.

I debated whether or not to write this story for a long time because it is not a happy/lovey story like the one I read, and it’s still uncomfortable for me to think about. My heart could very well burst from the love and joy I now feel for my baby, so it also feels a little wrong to go back to a time when I felt more frustration than joy. Then, I remember how alone I felt during those first few months. I was overwhelmed by the amount of new mom photos on Instagram declaring, ‘She brings us so much joy!’ and ‘Best job I ever had!’ and ‘Loving every minute!’

I did not like our daughter when we first took her home. I loved her, but I was completely blindsided by how physically and emotionally draining a newborn can be, and on how little sleep you have to survive. I know that there are so many mothers out there who instantly bond with their children, and cherish everything about their new life together, but I was not one of those women. I’m sure it wasn’t the author’s intention, but this article brought me right back to being a new mom, and feeling like I was the worst mom ever for not loving every minute of my life as a new mother.

When I reached out to my mama friends, I found that they were going through some of the same things that I was. One of them said that she didn’t think enough women were honest about what it’s really like. People only post pretty, filtered, or professional photos. I myself am guilty of this, but it’s a damaging habit. When you are a new mom covered in spit-up/pee/poo, and you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed at 12am, 2am, and 4am, and you see all these perfect pictures, it starts to make you feel like there is something wrong with you. If my not-so-happy, messy, true story can make just one new mama feel even slightly better about herself, I feel I owe it to her.

The first few days in the hospital were wonderful. There was room service where I could order as much food as I wanted for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Pretty sure I ordered two desserts every time. There were doctors and nurses who were always checking on us to see if we had questions or concerns. You sleep on a bed that periodically inflates and deflates to make sure your post-pregnancy body is getting appropriate circulation. There are lactation specialists who answer your every question, give you free nipple shields, and coach you through the pain and frustrations of breastfeeding for the first time. Your baby sleeps in a clear little box right next to you so you can see everything that’s going on. Life is perfect.

Then they make you leave, or rather, insurance carriers do not allow you to stay for the duration of your babies first year. The following are some highlights of our first few months together:

Sleep Loss-

Esmé required feeding every two hours. It took her 45 minutes- 1 hour to feed. I was so frazzled and stressed that she would start crying again, that it generally took me about 30 minutes, at least, to fall asleep. You do the math.

Post-Partum Healing-

I had some tearing from giving birth to Esmé, so things were very, very sore down there. I was fortunate not to get any hemorrhoids, but sitting down was painful. I had to sit for about an hour, every two hours. It wasn’t fun.

Feeding-

This did not come naturally to either myself or Esmé. It was extremely painful for me in the beginning, and she also fought me during feeding. I wasn’t aware of it for at least a month, because I didn’t know that what she was doing wasn’t normal. My husband actually woke up some nights, not because the baby was crying, but because he heard me sobbing uncontrollably. I was past my wits end trying to figure out why my baby was crying, and how to make it stop.

Food Allergies-

We actually discovered this because our baby started pooping blood. We took her to the pediatrician who then asked what she did when she was breastfeeding. When I told her she said, ‘Ahh, yes. That would be a dairy allergy.’ I was instructed to cut out dairy from my diet until she was 3 months of age. I was told her diapers may get worse in the following week, but should start to get better after that.

I cut out dairy and Esmé improved dramatically! We were thrilled that feeding sessions were no longer a battle.

About a week after improved feedings, she started fighting me again, crying and fussing a lot, and she started pooping blood again. Back to the pediatrician we went. We were told that she also had sensitivity to soy, so that had to go too.

I would just like to point out that breastfeeding makes you just as crazy-ravenous as a pregnant lady. When you can not have anything containing dairy or soy, your options for food are limited. Like not eating out anywhere, not eating any take-out, shopping at only Whole Foods limited. It was a very trying time for this foodie.

After 3 months without soy, 6 months without dairy, and a consultation with a lactation specialist, we were back on track with no food limitations. YAY!!

Hormones-

I really was not an emotional pregnant lady. Heart-warming commercials, looking at baby clothes, listening to lullabies… none of that really got me misty-eyed. When I came home from the hospital? I cried all. the. time.

I cried because my husband only took one week for paternity leave, and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do by myself with a newborn when he went back to work.

I cried when we sat down to watch the news together because I felt like I never got to see him anymore.

I couldn’t sing lullabies to my child because I always got choked up and started crying halfway through.

I cried when I couldn’t fall asleep because I was terrified that the baby would start screaming the second I closed my eyes.

I cried at 2am because I had never felt so isolated and alone.

I cried at 2am because everyone else in the world was sleeping, but me.

I cried because I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life in an uncomfortable glider chair, in a dark nursery.

I cried because my baby cried a lot, and I didn’t know why.

All these things said, we did have our idyllic moments as a new family. She loved snoozing on her Daddy’s chest, and would often fall asleep on me when nursing. She was also such a little squish for awhile, preferring to have her legs tucked under her. It wasn’t all terrible, but the moments of pure joy and happiness were very few and far between. They really didn’t become a regular thing until about 2.5-3 months, when we got her upset tummy under control. Once we did that, she was happier. She slept more, so mommy and daddy were happier.

I’m not trying to scare any future new mamas out there, or discredit anyone who had an enjoyable first few months. I just want you to know that you are not a bad mother for not liking your baby sometimes. You are not a bad mother for letting your baby cry while you give your ears a break for 20 minutes in the other room. You do not win worst-mother-of-all-time award for shouting at your baby, ‘What is wrong with you???!!! Why won’t you stop crying??!!’ But most importantly, you are not alone. There are many other mother’s who are going through the same thing, even if they look pulled together on the outside.

 

Friday Facts

1. It’s date night!

2. We are going to a movie that starts at 9:15pm.

3. I may or may not be sleeping through the last hour of the movie.

4. My husband is bringing a Redbull, so he’ll be ok.

5. The last time we went to see a movie I was pregnant.

6. I almost peed my pants because it was too long a period to not go to the bathroom when you have a fetus is sitting on your bladder.

7. My infant child is as long as her diaper changing pad now.

8. My infant child used to be a third the size of said changing pad.

9. When did my infant child get so big?

10. Is it too late to change my mind about seeing a movie?

This entry was posted in Life.

Recipe Review: Lentil Loaf

My husband likes to say that I’m a really good cook. I always feel the need to clarify that I’m just following the recipe. I am not the kind of person who is able to look at what is in the pantry/fridge and come up with something brilliant. After making something a few times, I might modify it to better suit our tastes, but that’s it. I am a rule-follower, and I follow recipes exactly as they are written. You can ask my husband. He’s been trying to get me to stop using a measuring cup to make my instant oats for years, but I just can’t do it. I need to know that there is exactly 2/3 cup of milk for my packet of oatmeal. That is why this is a recipe review! I love to cook, but very few things I make are my recipes. You will see lots of these on here, as I love to share my favorites with other people.

I try to cook healthy vegetarian meals for my husband and I throughout the week. That way, we don’t have to feel guilty if we want to do pizza, or burgers and fries on the weekend. I have also found that I have more energy and feel lighter when I eat this way. One of the things that I make at least once a month is Jenna Beaugh‘s Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf Recipe.

I know what you’re thinking. Lentil loaf does not sound very appetizing. In fact, every time I tell my husband we’re having lentil loaf for dinner he says ‘lentil loaf?? Ugh!’ and pulls a face. However, every time he eats it he always says ‘Oh, wow! This is really good!’ Then he forgets that he likes it, and the whole situation repeats itself when I make it again. So, do yourself a favor and give it a try. You will be blown away by how delectable lentils can be.

It starts with preparing your vegan ‘egg white,’ (which is basically stirring water and ground flaxseed together), and then cooking your lentils in broth, or water, for about 25 minutes, until they are tender and have absorbed all the broth. Note: I have cooked this both with water and broth, and I have found that the lentils absorb water easier than they do broth. I waited and waited for the lentils to soak up all the broth, but after 35-40 minutes, I gave up. They were tender, but they hadn’t quite absorbed all the liquid, so I just drained them. Since then I just use water, so I don’t waste my stock.

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While your lentils are cooking, it’s time to chop some veggies. One thing that I did differently than Jenna, was instead of shredding the carrot, I diced mine like the onion and celery. Why? Because I’m lazy. Shredding requires either more work to do it with the grater, or more dishes to do it in my food processor. Plus I kind of like how it has a more chunky texture with all the veggies being diced. But if you want this to have a texture similar to what an actual meatloaf would be, I think grating your carrot would help do that.

If you do chop your carrot, you need to saute it at the same time as all the other veggies, not add it in at the end with the garlic. It’s going to take longer to tenderize a diced carrot, than a shredded piece of carrot. While you are sauteing your veggies, toast your chopped walnuts in the oven for 6-7 minutes. Something that helps me to keep them from burning: when I start to smell that nice roasting/toasting nutty smell in the kitchen, I know it’s time to take them out of the oven. Add the nuts and your seasonings to the veggie mix in the pan, and mix well before you remove it from the heat, and put it in a large bowl.

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Add all the remaining ingredients to the veggie mix, cooked lentils, flaxseed egg, and bread crumbs. Make sure it’s mixed together nicely before pressing it  into a greased loaf tin.

IMG_2836Now it’s time for the topping! This is also something that I changed from the recipe. I found that the sauce she used didn’t make as much as I liked, so I made one that is based on the one my mom uses for her real meatloaf. I did forget to put the mustard in it the last time I made this, so it’s not pictured above. Also I didn’t have tomato sauce, so I used ketchup. I know, I know, it’s full of sugar, and terrible for you, but this is a lentil loaf. I told myself that cancelled out the unhealthiness of the ketchup. Basically you put all the ingredients into a small bowl, in no particular order, and mix them together. Then pour over top of your loaf, spread it evenly around, then stick it into your preheated oven for 40 minutes.

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It’s delicious sliced and served as a main, or eaten in a sandwich for lunch the next day. You can also place it on top of salad greens for a healthy, hearty salad. Really the options are endless, and oh so tasty.

As many steps as there are to this recipe, it’s easy to do. My favorite thing about this recipe is it allows you to cook it in stages. If you are wrangling a crawling baby who is determined to play in the cat’s water bowl, like me, you can cook the lentils ahead of time and just keep them in a container until you’re ready to use them. Same goes for toasting the nuts, and making the sauce. You could probably even make the whole thing and put it into a foil tin and freeze it, so then you just have to cook it in the oven later. In fact, if you’re smart, unlike me because I forget every time, double the recipe and freeze one so you have it for later.

Whatever you do, don’t be a hater. Love the lentils. Make this for yourself, or your family and they will love you back. Promise.

Vegan Lentil Loaf: (Modified slightly from Jenna Beaugh’s recipe.)

Ingredients:

1 cup green lentils

3 cups vegetable stock

1 large onion

1 large carrot

1 stalk of celery

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 cup breadcrumbs

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

3 Tbsp. ground flax mixed with 1/2 cup of water OR 1 egg white

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

for the topping:

1/2 can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. spicy mustard

1 1/2 Tbsp. A1 sauce

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl combine ground flax and 1/2 cup water. Set aside.

Simmer together lentils, broth and a pinch of salt for about 25 minutes, or until lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.

Meanwhile dice the onion, carrot, and celery. Saute in olive oil over medium high heat for 6 minutes, or until tender, not caramelized. Add garlic and cook for another 4 minutes.

Toast walnuts in the oven for 6-7 minutes. Add to the onion/carrot/garlic mixture on the stove and mix well.

Add oregano, salt and pepper, then remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.

Add breadcrumbs, flax/water (or egg white), and lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make your topping.

In another small bowl combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, mustard, A1 sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and basalmic vinegar. Pour on top of loaf and spread evenly. Bake for 40 minutes, then serve.

On Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a special time for the couple expecting. It’s awe-inspiring because you are actually growing a human inside your belly. It’s still crazy to me to think that my daughter came out of my body. I was there, and I saw it, but I still kind of can’t believe it. It can also be really hard, painful, stressful, and frustrating.

The first 3 months are spent either feeling like you want to puke your guts out, or actually puking your guts out, from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep. Then there is the exhaustion. Just to put it in perspective: I am not a nap person. My mind just won’t quiet down enough to take them. When I was preggo? I napped. I napped every available opportunity.

Of course there’s also the weight gain.  Your body has to accommodate an extra 20-60 lbs in just 9 months. Let’s just think about how insane that is for a moment. All that extra weight throws your back out of wack, causes your pubic bones to ache as you never imagined possible, and causes swelling in your extremities, which in turn can cause spider veins. Fun stuff!

Most annoying are all those people hell bent on telling you how to be pregnant and give birth the right way. You don’t know it until you become pregnant, but these people are everywhere. They are at the grocery store. They are at Target. They are at baby stores. They are your coworkers! If you’re lucky like I was, you wear scrubs to work, and can hide it for the first 5 months before telling anyone. Then you only have a few months that you have to deal with overzealous coworkers and patients offering advice. Bonus points if you actually get the male species to try and tell you what you should be doing. Unfortunately for me it was male patients who were offering unsolicited advice. So I had to smile politely and let it roll off me, when I wanted to say, ‘Really sir? Have you ever pushed 7 lb 7 oz of anything out your butt? No? Ok then, do us all a favor and zip it!’  But the hardest things to face during pregnancy are health concerns.

My first pregnancy actually ended in miscarriage. For whatever reason, the embryo just didn’t develop the way it was supposed to. It was a rough time for us because we couldn’t get closure as the doctors couldn’t decide whether it was a miscarriage or not. The first time I went in they said that ‘It looks like a miscarriage, but we’re not sure, so there’s a small chance it could be ok. We need to see you back in a week.’ We had to hear that two more times, before we got a definitive ‘no.’

That miscarriage overshadowed a lot of the pregnancy with my daughter. When I found out that we were pregnant to begin with, I wasn’t excited. I was nervous. When we went in for our first ultrasound to see the heartbeat, I held my breath until we saw the little flicker in grey and white on the screen. With each following visit, it was the same: feelings of apprehension and anxiety, then relief and gratitude.

Throughout my pregnancy I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. Instagram and Facebook showed me many couples who were happy and excited going into their monthly checkups, decorating a nursery, and having gender-reveal parties. I wanted to be like that, to have the joy and anticipation that they had.

I know now that I could have had those things if I had let go of the worry and anxiety. If I could have done anything differently, that would have been it. It’s easy to say now because we have a healthy baby girl, and the miscarriage is not a fresh wound as it was then, but I wish we had not been so guarded with our hearts. I wish we would have let ourselves be excited, and indulge in dreaming about all the possibilities having a baby brings.

I know a lot of women who are expecting, and I could not be more excited for each and every one of them. I love seeing their pictures and hearing about their stories of how their pregnancies are going so far. I also see them post about snarky comments people make to them, or the overwhelming amount of unsolicited advice that is given. I know that this is just part of being pregnant, and that it happens to everyone at some point, but it does make me a little angry.

Pregnancy is not easy. You never know what someone’s story might be. Maybe they have been trying for years and are thrilled to watch their body finally grow with new life inside them. Maybe they are really young because they couldn’t wait to be a mom. Maybe it was an accident and they are feeling insecure about how things are going to change. Maybe they have to spend months on bed rest because they are a high risk pregnancy. Maybe they are perfectly happy and healthy. Maybe they are super emotional because their hormones are all over the place. Why make someone’s journey harder than it has to be by making mean, or rude comments? Don’t steal their joy when they may be struggling to find it in the first place.

So, to any woman reading my blog, that happens to be pregnant: You are not as big as a house. You do not look like you’re having twins. You look AMAZING! I admire you for your courage to bring life into this world, (particularly those of you who have done this before, and are doing it again…serious props to you). Take naps. Take lots of naps. Make your husband pamper you as much as possible, you’ve earned it. Eat cake, because your baby might be born with food allergies that prevent you from having any for 6 months. Buy compression socks. Yes they are ugly and unattractive, but they are SO helpful with tired, swollen legs. Be happy and hopeful, and don’t let anyone, or anything take that away from you.

 

 

It’s Wednesday

1. Daddy is out of town on business. Baby is sad. Mommy is sadder. Kitten is saddest.

2. Esmé actually took a decent nap this morning allowing me to clean 3 out of 4 bathrooms, sanitize her humidifier, AND eat lunch before she woke up.

3. I took advantage of the cloudy, windy, chilly day, threw the baby in the stroller, and went for a run. Ok I didn’t throw her. I bundled her so she was nice and cozy.

4. We had the woods all to ourselves. Which is precisely why I love running on crappy days. People stay in, I go out.

5. Esmé had serious conversations with the trees.

6. She told me that if I made her a bottle of warm milk when we got back, she would make me a hot cup of tea. I’m still waiting on my tea.

7. Esmé did not take a decent nap in the afternoon, so my grand plans of continued cleaning went out the window.

8. The sensory ball set, which we bought because she likes to play with the jingly cat ball so much, came today. She is actually afraid of the baby-sized, jingly, sensory ball, and is frustrated that they roll away from her. Ruby, on the other hand, loves them. Go figure.

9. As I was getting undressed to take my shower, I discovered a dried-up pool of spit-up in the hood of my North Face fleece jacket. I have no idea how long it’s been there.

10. Tomorrow is Friday right?

 

Milestones and Memories: 8 Months

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Last week marked our daughter’s 8 month milestone. She is becoming more and more active, making non-blurry photos hard to come by, as evidenced above. I feel that this is crazy because this means we have only 4 more months until there are no more monthly milestone cards :(.

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A dear friend of mine gifted these cute cards to us in a beautiful basket filled with all sorts of goodies when I was pregnant. I was so excited to use them. ‘Look!’ I told my husband, ‘We can take pictures with all these different things she gets to do!!’ I put them on her shelf in the nursery and eagerly awaited the first time I would get to take her picture with them.

The first card that you use is the 1 week old one. My pregnant self had imagined our baby to be in a coordinating outfit to match her card, on her sheepskin rug, in perfect lighting. I would be smiling, looking on her with love and affection.

In reality, it was nighttime before I remembered, in my delirium, that we needed to take a picture for the first week. I wasn’t going to risk losing my allotted 20 minutes of sleep to wake her up, change her into a pretty outfit, and put her on her pretty rug. We took her picture in her crib, in her pajamas, with the light dimmed so we didn’t disturb her. I looked on her with reluctance and exhaustion.

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I was told that the first 12 weeks are the hardest, and you just have to survive. At that time I couldn’t believe that we had 11 more weeks to go. In the beginning those milestone cards were a reminder of how slowly time was passing. I longed for the day when I would be able to take her picture with the ‘slept through the night for the first time’ card, and really hated mothers who posted about their new babies already being such good sleepers. But survive we did and, eventually, our baby did sleep through the night.

Each month I put a new picture in her baby book and write about what she has been doing for that month. I always look through all the months before. Now that Esmé is 8 months, I have seven different photos to look back on, and I can not believe how much she has grown! She used to be so small that I would put a toy or two in the photo with her just to fill the frame. Now they don’t fit. She barely fits. And I’m lucky if she doesn’t eat the card.

Here is what is happening at 8 months (apologies for it being kind of linktastic, but we’ve been taking a lot of videos):

-She is becoming fast friends with the cat. Ruby keeps forgetting that the baby likes to pull and eat her fur, tail, paws, and face (see here). So in her desperation for attention she will plop down in front of the baby seeking a good scratch. Then once Esmé proceeds to climb on top of her to eat her, she remembers her error, and tries to escape.

-She is down to two naps! This makes Mommy and Daddy’s lives a little easier as the baby bomb timer can now stretch out a little longer. This also equals an hour of a very cranky, whiny baby before nap time. Win some, lose some.

-She is only happy to crawl around on her belly by herself for 30 minutes. She then requires an adult to bend over and hold her hands so she can walk around until she tires of it. Backs are breaking (watch here).

-She has belly laughs! Oh this is the most magical sound you ever have heard. There isn’t one thing that seems to always make her laugh, so my husband and I just make ourselves look like idiots in various ways throughout the day in hopes that we’ll find something. Once we do, we do it over, and over, and over, and over… until she gets tired of it. Yesterday it was very funny to hear mommy snort loudly while sitting in her high chair.

-We are no longer using the baby bathtub :(. We have a very colorful fish non-skid mat that we sit on in the tub. We also like to lean forward to try and eat it, until we remember that we can not breathe in the water. Then we sit back up, and have lots of fun squirting water out our nostrils.

-She isn’t as good an eater as she used to be. I think this is because she wants to feed herself, something that is difficult to do with purees, and she gets frustrated. She loves her fruit, so she will allow you to spoon feed it to her, but her veggies she fights a little. To encourage her feeding herself I cut up slices of banana into little pieces and put them on her tray one at a time. She gets a kick out of eating those. She is also an expert at feeding herself puffs, (our first attempts here), and mum-mums.

-She outgrew her infant car seat, so we got a convertible car seat. Initially we were really excited for it because we thought it would be easier to get her in and out of it. Once it came and we installed it, rear-facing as you’re supposed to, we realized that this seat is even harder to get her in and out of. Awesome. She likes that it is more of a sitting position, but hates that she can’t look around the head bumper things because she’s strapped in tight. Unless it’s a quick trip to Target we generally end up screaming bloody murder. Road trips are a blast.

 

*I am asked about the previously mentioned cards quite frequently, so if you are looking for a present for a soon-to-be-mama you can find them here or here.