Separation Anxiety

Esmé has been extremely clingy lately, but also very fussy/whiny, and today I kind of lost it. I was on my hands and knees, hurrying to pick up all the pieces of food she threw off her tray before she could come over and eat them off the floor and I just started crying. Amid thoughts of wishing I had more ‘me’ time, it struck me that separation anxiety could possibly be worse for parents than it is for the children.

If you google ‘what is separation anxiety,’ the response you will receive is: anxiety provoked in a young child by separation or the threat of separation from their mother. They address the many symptoms of what is like for children, even teens, and how you can deal with it. However there is surprisingly little information on what separation anxiety means as a mother, so I thought I would shed a little light on the situation.

Separation anxiety for mothers is: the overwhelming feeling of panic experienced when there is a sudden loss of all personal space due to a small child plastering him or herself to your legs, arms, chest, back, or head (sometimes many of these all at once) during all waking hours of the day; also the feeling of needing to pull out all of your hair, or at least whatever hair your child has not pulled out already, because you can’t remember what it is to pee without a toddler wailing outside the bathroom door; also the feeling of early arthritis in your wrists due to carrying a toddler in one arm, while you perform all basic household duties with the other; also having mixed feelings of gratitude to be loved so whole-heartedly, happiness to be needed so fiercely, and sadness because you will likely never be needed this badly ever again (See figures below for visual aide).

Fig. 1: The BurrowIMG_2492when the anxiety is so strong your toddler actually attempts to burrow back into your womb.

Fig. 2: The Partial BurrowIMG_2669when the anxiety isn’t quite as strong, so your toddler only attempts to burrow her head back into your womb.

Fig. 3: The Full Leg WrapIMG_2462when the use of both legs are needed, thereby immobilizing the parent.

Fig. 4: The Partial Leg WrapIMG_2866only one leg is needed, thereby leaving the parent free to hobble around with the unoccupied limb.

Milestones and Memories: 12 Months

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Hello friends! I realize it’s been awhile, but we were lucky to have almost all of my family here to celebrate Esmé’s first birthday. The past couple weeks have been spent soaking up as much time with them as I could. As such our last monthly update is a couple weeks late, just like all the others ;). Here’s what she’s been doing now that she is 12 months old.

-She has 10 teeth, two of which are her top first molars.

-She can stand on her own now!

-She is not walking on her own, but she has started to walk with her walking toys finally! She really has only been playing with all the lights and buttons on the front of them before now, so we are very excited about this development.

-She will now shake her head ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ She has a preference for shaking her head ‘no.’

-She can now sign for ‘milk,’ ‘please,’ ‘more,’ ‘all done,’ and ‘eat.’ She also recognizes certain phrases like: bath time, where she will point her hand up above her head because we go ‘up-up’ (the stairs) to get there; or if you tell her to ‘stretch’ she puts both arms up by her head; and Nana taught her how to say ‘WOW’ in whispered wonder, while motioning wide with her hand.

-She still loves her Little Gym class. She gets very excited when she sees other babies and shrieks with delight! Her favorite thing to do is to bounce on the spring board that they have, and she has also learned how to bounce on her own when she’s holding on to a piece of furniture. Daddy, Grandpa, Auntie Bees, and Nana have all had the pleasure of going to class with her.

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-She now drinks regular milk, and has had peanut butter! Her first time eating peanut butter she was very excited, but now she enjoys throwing the crackers with peanut butter on them onto the floor, spread-side down, much more. She really wants to feed herself with a spoon, and is getting more and more frustrated if I try to stop her from dipping her hands into her yogurt bowls. Please pray for Mommy as we go through this very, horribly messy stage of learning to self-feed.

-She has learned to snuggle! Probably my proudest accomplishment yet, although it’s mostly with a blanket/pillow and not so much people. We’re working on it. She will throw herself down, head first and say ‘MMmmmmm!’ when you tell her to snuggle. You can see her playing with her favorite blankie here.

-She has also been to the park a few times now and, in addition to eating sand, swinging is now a favorite past time.

Somehow my child managed not just to survive, but thrive. We made it one whole year without ever getting sick, other than figuring out our food allergies in the beginning. She has been to four different states other than the one we live in. She has been on a plane twice. She has been on four road trips, and she has met family and friends who live half-way around the world.

She teaches me every day about what it means to be patient, how to love, how to feel joy, and how to see magic in every little thing. I truly believe we won the baby-lottery. We have this amazing daughter, who has the ability to bring happiness to everyone around her, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Esmé’s First Birthday

One year ago today, at precisely 4:16 in the morning, our daughter Esmé Valentine was born.

I spent all of yesterday, and very, very late Monday going through, in my mind, what happened last year, then sharing it with my husband: ‘This time of the morning was when I was shoveling PB&J into my face before we left for the hospital!’ and ‘This was when we arrived at the hospital!’ or ‘This was when I started to want the epidural.

Emile also had some touching recollections: ‘We had to reschedule the delivery for my TV!’ Priorities man. It’s all about priorities.

I knew today was coming, and yes, I had mixed emotions, but I was not expecting it to hit me like a ton of bricks. So I thought I would be helpful and tell you what not to do on your baby’s first birthday so you don’t have to end up like I did. You’re welcome.

1. Do not sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to your baby in front of anyone but your spouse, particularly large gatherings of people at, let’s say, your Little Gym class. You will end up being that mom weeping uncontrollably, unable to see the people offering you sympathetic words of encouragement through blurred eyes.

2. Do not bring your spouse with you to a particularly large gathering of people at, let’s just say, your Little Gym class again. You will hear an awkward voice asking you ‘why are you crying??’ amid all the lovely mothers trying to help you out. You will also have a witness to your uncontrollable weeping that can recount this story for years to come.

3. Do not look at photos from the hospital when your baby was first born, or photos of the first few weeks of their life. You will come across something like this:IMG_1818Oh hello again uncomfortable heart squeezing. So nice of you to make me wish I had my newborn back again. Or there’s this:

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Ah yes. Remember those times when your baby fell asleep in your arms with her mouth open, and you could smell her sweet milk breath? No? Just me?? Also this:

IMG_0793Sweet, happy, dreaming angel. By the time you finish looking at all those photos, you will convince yourself that you need another baby. Don’t do it.

4. Do not go to Target with your now 1 year old baby. There will likely be at least one person to ask how old she is, and you will get all choked up again trying to tell them that today is actually her first birthday. There will also likely be a new mom with a brand new baby that is crying its little heart out. If you managed to hold it together when talking to the person before, good luck keeping it together now.

5. Lastly Do not spend the whole day thinking about how small and squishy your almost-toddler used to be.  Instead spend the day enjoying the person that they are today, because you won’t get another day where they are exactly 365 days old.

IMG_2747Happy Birthday Esmé love!!! We love you so much more than you’ll ever know. Thank you for giving Mommy and Daddy so much love, laughter, and light in our lives.

Esmé goes to Baltimore

A couple of weeks ago we had the opportunity to go on another ‘kind-of’ vacation, this time to Baltimore. While it was a stressful, whirlwind of a trip for my husband, who had to work, Esmé had herself a grand time. She managed to pack quite a lot of activity into just two short days, so let’s hear what she had to say about her jaunt to the waterfront in Baltimore:IMG_2739First of all thanks for taking the time to speak with us again. We all know how busy your schedule is these days, so we were delighted that you had some time to sit down with us again. Oh sure! So long as it doesn’t interfere with my breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack times, I don’t really mind.

Our readers are curious to know if your mommy and daddy just got lucky with your first flight going so smoothly. How was it going through the airport and being on a plane for the second time? Did you have a hard time because it delayed your bedtime by a few hours? You know, I said it last time and I’ll say it again. Going on those giant loud things with all the people is a blast! This time around I walked all around the airport and pterodactyled as many people as possible while waiting for our plane. It was a short plane ride, so I didn’t get to talk to as many people as I would have liked. I did love looking out the window this time around. I waved at all the take-off and landing crew, I licked the window, I watched the clouds, I looked at the lights, and licked the window again. I think that was my favorite part, licking the window.

So you’re saying that you didn’t even notice you were up way past your bedtime? Not on the plane, no. Once we were in the taxi and it was all dark and quiet, I think I started to get a little sleepy. But there were so many tall buildings with so many pretty lights that I stayed awake the whole time. I didn’t want to miss a thing!  Once we got to the hotel and it was time to go to sleep in the torture-chamber, I let my parents (and all guests staying on the 12th floor) have it, and threw a proper fit.

I’m sorry, I’m confused. Torture-chamber? Are you referring to your pack’n’play by chance? It is NOT a pack’n’play. There’s nothing playful about that thing, so I don’t know why they call it that. It is the torture-chamber.

Oh dear. So sorry to hear that. Yeah, well I just try to make my parents lives as miserable as I can by screaming bloody murder until I fall asleep in hopes that they won’t make me use it again. But so far, my strategy hasn’t been working.

Let’s talk about some of the funner aspects of your trip. We heard that you got to go to your first baseball game! What did you think of that? That was a lot of fun! I’ve never seen so many people in one place before. There was lots of noise, and clapping. I liked the clapping part. I clapped whenever I heard people clapping. Mommy told me that I was clapping for the wrong team, but I didn’t care. Clapping is the best, so I did it as much as I could.IMG_2737That sounds absolutely thrilling. Did you get to do anything else fun while you were there? Mommy took me to this huge building that had lots of different fishes. IMG_2646Oh I bet you loved that. It was OK. I really liked getting to see all the different fishes, like big ones, and little ones, and strange circle ones…but it wasn’t my favorite.IMG_2736

IMG_2649Really? All those beautiful, colorful fish swimming around and it wasn’t your favorite activity? Well I liked them, it just wasn’t my favorite.IMG_2738

What was your favorite then? Whole Foods, and the lobby of the Marriott Waterfront.

Um, I’m confused. Was there a playground at these places or something? Nope. They just happened to have the best acoustics for my pterodactyling skills. 

Aha! Now I understand. We have heard that you enjoy shrieking or pterodactyling, as you call it, a great deal. Do I ever! Let me tell you… I had such an amazing pterodactyl at Whole Foods I actually managed to scare a boy 4 years older than me, AND my Daddy heard me outside the store. I was doing such a spectacular job of pterodactyling in our hotel lobby, that I made all of Daddy’s coworkers question their inviting us to the baseball game in the first place! Hands down, the best part of my vacation.

It certainly sounds like you really made the most of your time there. Tell us, now that you have two plane trips under your belt, are you itching to go exploring again? You know, I do love airports and airplanes and new places, but I am happiest when I’m home with my kitty and my bed.

So no future plans for travel? There actually may be a little more travel in the near future…something to put me in an empire state of mind.

Well we can’t wait to hear all about it if you do!

 

**I just wanted to make a note: we were in Baltimore before all the riots and the protests began. It has been heartbreaking to watch the recent events unfold in such a wonderful city. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Baltimore.

Milestones and Memories: 11 Months

IMG_2534I am starting to experience serious anxiety as my daughter’s first birthday gets closer and closer. We will be celebrating her birthday a couple weeks late, so that we can celebrate when family is here, so technically I still have a little over 3 weeks to get it together, but I am freaking out. Our baby is going to be one at the end of this month! I just had heart palpitations saying that out loud.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much excited. Shopping for party decorations reaches whole new levels of excitement when it’s your own child. There were several raised eyebrows from Target employees as I kept saying ‘oOOOOOooo Esmé look at these!! Or these!!’ I got so excited I ended up not buying much because I just couldn’t make up my mind. I’m waiting until reinforcements arrive in the form of my sister. She can help me make up my mind.

Before I am in full birthday-prep mode craziness, I thought I would let you know what she’s been doing as we approach her first birthday:

IMG_2458-The term clingy has taken on a whole new meaning for me. Basically much of my day is spent shuffling around with a certain child wrapped around my legs.

-We were given an activity table by friends of ours and Esmé loves jammin’ out to all the different songs it plays. This has actually helped a little with the clinginess. It will give me about 10 minutes before she realizes I’m missing, then comes to find me again.

-She can sign for milk now! I have been doing the signs for ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘more’, ‘milk’, ‘water’, ‘change’, and ‘all done’ for a while now. I largely felt like an idiot because she would just stare back at me, so I was very excited when she started signing for milk.  It’s not 100% consistent, but she knows what that sign means and will crawl to you if you are sitting down and make that sign.

-She is always experimenting with different sounds that she can make and at different volumes. Her latest one is making little clacking noises, (my uncle would be so proud…he can make epic, echoing clacking noises). Every morning when Daddy goes to get her from her room, he will stand outside her door and go ‘Clock, Clock, Clock!’ and Esmé will go ‘clack, clack, clack!’ and then she shrieks with joy when she sees him come in. It’s pretty freaking cute.

IMG_2569-She has been taking a class at The Little Gym which we both love. I love that there are lots of moms with babies close to her age to talk to. She loves to watch all the other kids doing their thing, and crawl and explore everywhere. Her Kindermusik class was such a small space, and there were only a few other kids there who were much older than her, so I feel like this is a much better fit for us. She is one of the youngest in her class, so she still gets to watch and learn from the older babies.

-She still isn’t brave enough to stand or walk on her own. This is actually another thing that her activity table is helping with. She is so excited to be banging on all the different buttons, and making different sounds, that she stands on her own for a few seconds as she’s maneuvering her way around it, without even realizing it!

-In addition to saying mama and dada (not always to the right people or at the right time) she can now say hi and wave her hand. It’s super cute, but we have a little problem with timing. People will wave and say hello to her, and she will just stare at them until they walk past. Then she says ‘HI!’ and waves. So we’re working on that, but progress nonetheless!

-She has learned to pet kitty gently, though she still prefers pulling out her hair, and pulling/eating her tail much more. (The video also showcases her pterodactyling skills, along with her ability to make some of the best farting noises you’ve ever heard. You’re welcome.)

-She also tries her best to copy mommy and daddy. She will nod her head yes, she LOVES to clap her hands, and she has started sticking out her tongue saying ‘aaaaaah!’ when we do it.

IMG_2583She is just the best little munchky and we love her to pieces.

Milestones and Memories: 10 Months

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Esmé is 10 months old now and I feel like she is no longer a baby. For starters, she is already outgrowing her 12 month old tops. They are turning into midriff-showing tops and Daddy just won’t stand for that.

I feel like she can understand us a little bit better as well, or at least she is really good at pretending she does. She looks very intently at you while you are talking, before giving you a cheeky grin, then moving quickly on her way. Here are some highlights of what life is like at 10 months:

-We know how to point now (see above), and we are also starting to pick up things with just our thumb and index finger.

-We now get our daily exercise by climbing the full flight of stairs over, and over, and over, and over again. It is our new favorite thing to do, until we get curious about how to climb down the stairs (about halfway up on the landing), so we go into a strange belly-flop-slide, and then mommy picks us up before we kill ourselves (or cause mommy to go completely gray), and we repeat it all over again.

-She mastered the art of sitting down from a standing position! She will slooooooowly reach one pudgy little hand down to the floor, bending her legs a little until she can touch, then she sits her bottom down. If it is a very tall table she’s holding on to, she still doesn’t know how to get down because her little arms can’t reach the floor.

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-She LOVES to eat. She eats what we eat now, just cut up really small. Her absolute favorite food is avocado with tofu as a close second. I know what you’re thinking, tofu?? But she loves it! I think it’s the perfect texture, so it’s easy for her to pick up and crumbles easily once she starts chewing it. If there are any moms out there looking for finger foods to try with their little ones, give it a try!

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-There is a lot more interaction going on with her playtime. She will look for things if we hide them from her. She will play peek-a-boo (though she isn’t the best at hiding all of her face). She likes any kind of ball that mommy and daddy can roll to her. She’s really getting into her toys that play songs or make noise. She will nod her head, clap her hands, or shake her body if there’s a particular song she’s into. Cat toys are still ranking high as some of our favorites.

-She is strong! She actually shook the gate loose, so daddy had to re-tighten it. Oopsie!

Our little lady is smart, curious, lovely, and a little mischievous. Every day with her is something new!

Milestones and Memories: 9 Months

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In three months time I will no longer be mama to a baby. Wait, we are sort of mid-Feb already, so this craziness is happening in only two and a half months. My baby girl is nine months old! Can someone explain how this happened please? Also of note, my child will never be ten months old. Next year she will be a year and ten months in February, but then she’ll have to wait four more years for it to happen again.

I always go in to her checkups expecting her growth to be off the charts because I feel like she’s huge and weighs a ton. I am then always in shock when the pediatrician tells me otherwise. She is 75% for height and weight, and her head is 80%. My arms and back say she is 150%

She is growing so quickly now. I feel like all of a sudden someone pushed the fast-forward button with learning and development. It’s almost daily that I turn around and she’s doing something new. To all my mamas with younger babies, look out. Change is coming! Here’s what we’ve been doing lately:

-She started climbing the stairs. She’s been climbing all over mommy, daddy and kitty for awhile. She also pulled herself up on the bottom stair, but she hasn’t been strong enough to do much other than that. I left her to bang on the stair to do something in the kitchen, and when I came back she was standing on the first stair.

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-We have also mastered the skill of pulling ourselves up to standing. This literally happened yesterday. I went in to get her in the morning and she was chattering away and smiling to be standing in her crib

-Because of the afore mentioned new skill, we had to lower the crib is as low as it will go. This causes problems for mommy because she can not get all the way down to kiss baby anymore. Esmé doesn’t seem to mind.

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-We do not know how best to fall, see above. Her reaction is to put her right hand behind her head as though reclining in a chair, and the left hand flails out. So while we are very excited to be standing, we don’t know how to sit down if we get tired. So we fuss and cry and whine until someone comes and rescues us.

-She has obviously been sitting on her own for awhile, but within the past month she actually learned to get herself in a sitting position on her own.

-The army crawl (or as my husband calls it leopard crawl) is a thing of the past. We started crawling on hands and knees just before we left to California, but she really mastered it while we were there, as you can see here.

-I fear walking is not far away. She walks very well, and very fast if you give her two fingers to hang on to. She has also started cruising around between furniture and mom.

-She has five teeth now: three top and two bottom. I think this is why everything from shoes to the cat’s tail (sorry Ruby) is a chew toy.

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-She is on her way to eating what we eat. She will eat small pieces of our food if they are squishy enough, and while we were on vacation, we discovered carbs! MMMmmmmmmm! Sourdough bread is mama’s favorite, and it looks like it might be hers too ;).

IMG_2150-This picture just kills me. This is the little angel face I get to see every time I feed her. She might be a little behind in this one, but she is holding her own bottle now.

-She can clap her hands now! It’s one of her favorite party tricks. Just in time too, because we just started music classes! We had our first one today and she LOVED it. There were only two other little boys, maybe 4 years old, and Esmé was fascinated by them. Daddy scolded her when she came home and said ‘no looking at boys.’ She shrieked and pterodactyl-ed at them as loud as she could, and, sweet little ones that they were, shrieked back at her since she couldn’t talk like them. We played with jingle bells, maracas, and a very big, loud drum. We sang and danced, and then we played with bubbles. The bubbles are her favorite so far. Besides the boys 😉

-Last and best of all, she says mama all. day. long. It’s the best thing ever. She says dadda and papa too, but mama is her favorite jibber jabber sound at the moment.

Esmé goes to California

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Last week we kind of went on vacation to southern California. I say ‘kind of’ because my husband was working the whole time, and I had to look after the baby, so basically we were both working…just, elsewhere. Esmé had herself a nice vacay though, and I figured, since she was the one who got to have all the fun, she could tell you all about it herself.

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Esmé how was it going on an airplane for the very first time? That giant loud thing with all the people in it? That was a blast! I got to crawl all over my mommy and daddy, and there was all this neat new stuff to chew on: armrests, buttons, tv screens, the backs of other people’s chairs…it was basically the best thing ever.

We heard that on the trip out there you were seated next to the bathrooms, what did you think about that? Well I was taking a nap, and someone flushed the toilet. It was so loud it woke me up! It took me awhile to figure out where I was at first, but when I realized where I was, I was ready to party again. Let’s be honest, all those people weren’t waiting in line to use the bathroom anyway. They just wanted to come talk to me!

How did you like the hotel? Were you able to sleep ok even though you weren’t in your own bed? I don’t know why my parents make me sleep in that pack’n’play thing, but it is the WORST. I basically try to make my parents suffer for putting me in there by crying as loud as I can, for as long as I can, until I fall asleep. Also, there’s something wrong with the hotel’s bathtub… they don’t have any mirrors or toys. That kind of freaked me out the first few nights, but then people brought me presents! After that I had toys to play with in the tub, so it was much better. I did enjoy crawling all over the hotel bed and making out with myself in their mirror.

Speaking of people bringing you presents, were you excited to meet your family and friends? Those people were the best. Any time I said ‘ha,’ they would clap their hands, sing songs, and get all excited! They were so easily entertained, it was awesome. A couple of times they tried to get me to sit down and eat dinner with them, which was not cool. Sitting is just way too boring. So I whined and cried loudly to let them know I wasn’t having any of it. A lot of them also tried to hold me. I was like, you’re not my mom so, no. 

I see. Well we also heard that you sampled many different foods that you hadn’t had yet. What was your favorite? Grass.

eating grass

Really? Not the bread? Grass.

Scrambled eggs? Cookies? I liked the grass. And the sand. The sand was good too.

How interesting. Now, we have a couple of photos here…the first is when you were at Myrtle Beach, the second is from your recent trip to Laguna Beach. Tell us, how does it feel to have had your feet in both coasts before the age of one? Terrible.

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You’re not excited about it? Well the first time, I was a little unsure what was going on.

Yes I was going to remark that you look like you have some mixed emotions in the first photo. There was all this wet stuff, and squishy stuff and I just didn’t know how I felt about it. But when my mom and dad took me to the beach this last time, I knew exactly what was going on. And I did not like it.

It wasn’t exhilarating? No. It was cold. It was loud. My parents held me there just so they could have a picture of me crying in the ocean. It was terrible, just terrible.

I see this is a sensitive subject for you, let’s move on and talk about activities. What did you do with all your time? Certain people had concerns that there wouldn’t be enough to entertain you during your stay. The question should be what didn’t I do? I went to the playground, I talked and waved to everyone in the stores, I made artwork on the floor with my food, I went to the playground, I chased seagulls, I chased doggies, I went to the playground… did I say that last one already? Because I really, really liked the playground. There were all these other little people! But they were moving so fast! And on only two legs!! It was fascinating, really.

Now that you have a cross-country trip under your belt, will we find you traveling elsewhere soon? Currently I have no set plans, but perhaps later on in the year. We’ll just have to see what happens!

Well thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about your latest excursion. It certainly seems like you had a wonderful time. It was the best.

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 *Top, third, and last photo credit: Alma Alvarado*

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.

 

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?