Baby Talk: Dear New Mom

Happy Thursday. This has been on my heart so I wanted to get it out.

Dear New Mom,

First of all, congratulations! Secondly, how are you? Welcome to what I would describe as the hardest month/six weeks of your life. I am 7 months and 3 weeks into this parenting thing and, admittedly, we both have a long way to go… but there’s a massive difference between where you’re at and where I’m at, so I wanted to give you some encouragement.

Let’s get this out of the way: there is nothing wrong with you.

If you want to do laundry and organize the pantry while baby sleeps, do it. If you want to hold your baby while she sleeps, do it. If you want to take a nap while he’s snoozing, do it. There isn’t a wrong way and you shouldn’t feel guilty. Listen to your body and your brain.

But also… tell your brain to can it. You’re going to feel guilt. Guilt over a dirty house. Guilt over “spoiling” your baby (<< impossible.) Guilt over wanting to hand baby off to a visitor while you do dishes/nap/shower(/cry).

Stop that. Guilt only sucks whatever energy and stamina you have left. There is no wrong way to survive the first month as long as you’re taking care of your brain and body.

But let’s talk about your body. Girlfriend… it’s straight up broken– whether you pushed baby out or underwent a cesarean. (And if you adopted you’re STILL not running at 100% because babies suck the life out of you no matter what.) I know it takes all your energy to stand or roll out of bed for the 100th time to feed a crying baby. I know you pee when you sneeze… or cough… or move. I know there are stretch marks and swelling and ouchies everywhere. I know your boobs hurt.
Not to mention your brain and your hormones and your insides…

The six week gap between birth and your first appointment is B U L L S H I T . If you need to see the doctor sooner, do it. (I went twice- once for PPD and once for an infection.) Give your body what it needs- antidepressants, sleep, Tylenol, etc. Even if you’re breastfeeding, the doctors can work with you and figure out how to help. Talk to them.

And now for the most important part: accept the help (& do so without feeling guilty!).

If you have a spouse, let them raise that baby, too. They’re not helping you or watching the kid, they’re raising their child. If you have family nearby that you trust and love, accept their help. Let them spend the night or drive you to your doctor appointment or pick up the groceries for you. If you have a trusted neighbor let them come over and rock the baby to sleep while you shower. Say YES when you need the help or want the break. I was bad about this & I regret it.

I know you’ve heard this before & I hope it’s not coming across as unsolicited advice.

Please know that sometimes these are not the golden days… Sometimes these are the make-it-or-break-it days. You’re tired and sore; it’s tough to truly enjoy anything in those moments. But the days will get better and better. Motherhood will start to feel more natural over time. Your baby will recognize you and smile at you. You will figure out how to squeeze in sleep and brushing your teeth and maybe even a shower.

It doesn’t get easier necessarily, but you get much much better at it. And you’ll realize that all things end- good or bad. The crying, the sleepless nights, the snuggles, the helplessness… it will all end eventually and you’ll come out on the other side.

For the new moms in my life, if you want to reach out I am available. You can vent, ask me to mask-up and hold your baby, or run to the grocery store with a long list.

You will get through this. Your baby will thrive. You are doing a fantastic job. ❤️

Three Months of Madelyn

Tomorrow M will be THREE MONTHS OLD. That’s a quarter of a year! 90 days! Excuse me while I both go cry in a dark closet & also pop open a bottle of champagne.

Yes, I did turn my kid into a Pokemon card.

Nicknames: Maddie, Maddie Lou, Mads, Maa-da-lou, Moo Loo, Moo Shoo, Moo, Poodle

Stats: Based on rough at home measurements… 13.5 lbs & 25 in. She’s quite long. Doesn’t get it from me.

Likes: When Mom sings with her (If You’re Happy & You Know It) and when Dad makes faces with her (she’s started copying what he does!). She loves her activity mat, she loves watching the dogs, and she loves laying flat on her back & talking.

Dislikes: Being cold after a bath. Being overly tired. Being in the car- esp. when it’s not moving.

Sleeping: M has one wake up per night, typically between 2 & 4am. She gets her final bottle around 7pm and goes down. She’s up for the day between 6 & 7am. Naps are good when you’re holding her. We’re working on napping in the crib.

Eating: She’s a big fan of formula- mainly because it’s her only option, lol. She recently started refusing the bottles she’s taken since she was a week old 😑 We changed bottles and solved that problem. She’s starting to watch K and I eat so I’ll be excited to introduce her to real food once we get the green light!!

Developments: She smiles, coos, and is starting to copy us. She has found her hands and likes to suck on them, but she hasn’t quite grasped grasping. She also hasn’t rolled over. The little turd is very content on her back and sucks her hand when she’s on her tummy… and therefore doesn’t give one lick about rolling.

Personality: Our little sundrop is a HUGE fan of mornings. When she summons me to the crib at the ungodly hour of 6am (I know, I know- that’s a normal time to wake up) she is alllll smiles. M loves people watching, but she’s a little homebody. She’s happiest in a familiar setting with familiar people. After a big day we can usually predict an evening breakdown because she’s OVER IT. She most certainly gets that from her mother…

Travel: So far M has been to San Antonio, TX. She did amazing on the planes!

Mom’s Summary: Month 1 was so hard. We didn’t enjoy the newborn stage at all. After that things got better. By the time M hit Month 2 we had it mostly figured out. Once I was out of my fog and M was a little less potato-y, we really started getting to know one another. I will completely admit that we didn’t bond at first. It wasn’t until I quit breastfeeding, I got my hormones under control, and M started showing a few patterns that we started to click.
In the beginning when I was really struggling Erin told me that babies are complete strangers! It will take days, maybe weeks, to get to know her and understand who she is. Society tells us we’re supposed to have an immediate bond but sometimes it takes a little time. Hearing that helped me so much and now that I know Maddie, I completely and totally agree. She is her own person with her own likes and dislikes and quirks. Every single day I love her more.

Instead of monthly blog updates I decided to do quarterly updates. So the next one will happen at six months 🙂 I can’t wrap my head around the changes she’ll make between now & then!

When the Happiest Time of Your Life is the Hardest pt.1

Before I talk about my struggles with motherhood and postpartum depression I want to say that our daughter is nothing short of perfection. My mental health is not a reflection of my love for her- it’s a reflection of my mental health. It’s also not a result of a poor support system- our family and friends have been incredible. They have shopped for us, made us food, held M while we nap/shower/do a load of laundry. They have offered to come clean or just keep me company on the lonely days. Again, my mental health is because of me- my thoughts, my hormones, my chemicals. 

It’s unfair that after battling through delivery mothers are given a scary, new, unpredictable baby. My delivery was not easy & it left me broken and hurt. On the way home from the hospital the “baby blues” hit with a vengeance. I’m not a doctor or expert; I’m just sharing my experience. PPD sucks and feels very lonely- I want to make it a little less lonely for someone else.

I’m breaking this up into two posts because it hit me in two parts in two different ways.

After being home for a day I realized that M’s nursing latch was not right and it was painfully tearing up my chest. Of course, now that the nurses were gone and I was all alone, things were suddenly bad. I powered through as best I could but at her first pediatrician appointment I asked about supplementing with formula.

Fortunately, M was getting enough food and her weight hadn’t dropped too low but our ped was very supportive and gave us samples so I could catch a break. Once we were home I hesitated to give her a formula bottle. I hated that I was “giving up.” I cried and cried about how weak I felt to give in to the pain and not do this thing we women are “made” to do.

*Before she was born I swore that if breastfeeding didn’t work out I was not going to beat myself up over it. We would just make the necessary changes and move on. Well… hormones and guilt and exhaustion all come into play once baby arrives. Knowing when to make a change is tricky and frustrating.

I did eventually give her a few formula bottles. Then I’d switch back and nurse her the next time. I also pumped during the formula feedings and got a little milk for her. (I was also concerned that my milk hadn’t come in fully.) Every single feeding I felt defeated. When I gave her formula I felt like a failure as a mom and selfish for wanting to ease my own pain. When I attempted to nurse I felt nothing but fear and pain and anxiety… and a growing frustration for M. I cried constantly.

We paid $120 for a breastfeeding consultation at a local resource center. Everything went smoothly there and I came home feeling great. And then we nursed at home and M’s latch wasn’t right over and over again. I bawled. I felt like I wasn’t meant to be a mom. I felt the crushing monotony of doing this day in and day out for months. I felt so, so hopeless.

My mom stayed that evening and kept M in the living room. K and I went up to bed alone and, in a moment of clarity and quietness, we made the decision to stop breastfeeding. Making that final, clear, black and white decision felt amazing. In a season of unpredictability and chaos it felt like we’d gain some control over something.

So on M’s one week “birthday” we quit breastfeeding.


Let’s talk about breastfeeding for a second. (I am not a doctor.) The general consensus right now is that “breast is best.” In history, opinions about breastfeeding have gone back and forth but right now I feel like there is a massive amount of pressure to breastfeed. Just about everyone assumed we were going to nurse. I didn’t even consider formula- I put no research or consideration into formula. We registered for all the nursing things- creams, pads, the pump and pillow and storage bags. We took a class at the aforementioned center and we decided we were going to give it a shot.

The night K and I made our final decision was the first night I put thought into our nursing situation. For me, these were the main factors:

  • I felt no joy or connection to M when we were nursing. On the contrary, I felt anxiety, fear, pain, and resentment every time she started rooting.
  • On the flip side, the few times I’d given her a bottle she was happy and I was pain free. She made eye contact with me and it was a peaceful moment between us.
  • I plan to return to work and didn’t want to figure out the logistics of feeding AND pumping enough for caregivers to use.
  • I didn’t plan to bf beyond 6 months tops.
  • While I respect the HELL out of mamas who feed their babies anywhere, I was not comfortable doing that. Even in my own house, if we had company visiting, I removed myself from the room and went to her nursery to nurse. I couldn’t imagine doing that for months and months.
  • She got the colostrum at the beginning of her life (but even if she hadn’t it would’ve been ok).
  • I really hated it. I never felt that moment of peacefulness when she latched.

Why am I sharing this? Because I was inundated with the pros and perks and facts of breastfeeding… but no one talked about the pros of formula feeding.

It still feels like a taboo opinion, but I love formula feeding.

I love that she looks me in the eye and holds my finger when I’m giving her a bottle. I love that ANYONE can feed her, including her dad or grandparents or caregiver. I love how easy it is to mix up a bottle and make her happy- whether we’re at home or out and about.

I am surrounded by extremely supportive people. Not one single person has given me flak about formula feeding- even my hardcore breastfeeding friends have cheered us on. And my respect for those who breastfeed is through the roof. It’s a tough path to take- it just wasn’t the right one for us.

A fed, happy, peaceful baby is most important. This post has seemingly focused more on breastfeeding and less on mental health, but having the confidence to make a decision and stick to it and feel good about it was such a boost to my mental health. I imagine it might help out another mom in the same way, too.


The second part of this mental health saga is much more ppd/depression heavy. I wanted to focus on breastfeeding this time, though, because there’s a lot of opinions out there and the pressure is insane- even when it’s pressure we put on ourselves. It was the first major mental hurdle I faced.

I am an open book (& total novice) when it comes to parenting M and surviving early motherhood. Please feel free to ask me anything or reach out if you’re struggling with something- either in the comments or via email (audreylou09@gmail.com).

Introducing Madelyn Louise

HI! I am alive and also a (human) mom now. My, how quickly things change. This won’t ever be a mommy blog, but there are baby related things I want to record and write down so my next few post might be mom-heavy. But also some book posts. (LOL because I have any time to read… #dillusional)

Most longtime readers know that my husband’s name is Kyle, but I typically shorten it to K when I blog because a) ease and b) semi-privacy. That said, Maddie is getting shortened to M once this post is done and over with.

I want to share about her birth and about our first few days at home. I want to talk about the pressures of motherhood (which have thus far only existed in my own head- the family and friends we surround ourselves with are incredible and supportive). I want to talk about how our family looks now and about all the wonderful people who have helped us these past two weeks…. and I will. But today I’m introducing our newest little love to my blog family and giving you a quick update on the rest of us.

going home outfit

Madelyn arrived on Dec. 4th at 8:36pm weighing 8 pounds 2.3 ounces. I am well aware things with a baby can change daily, but as I write this she is darn near perfect… She loves to sleep & eat. She doesn’t mind being laid down or held by “strangers” (to her). Nights are still a little rough. She’s cool with noise or silence, light or darkness, pacifier or no pacifier. She’s completely unphased by dog barking. We are counting our blessings for her temperament during this stage. (We imagine karma has something good cooked up for those toddler years- lol.)

The dogs are perfect. The initial meet-and-greet was Enzo gently sniffing M and Bristol barking/growling at her 😂 Bristol is a husky mix who does husky-talk & based on her physical cues, it was not an aggressive growl- she just wanted the new human to play with her.

first meeting with fur sibs

Since that first meeting, Enzo is loving but indifferent to M. (He still love his mama and his sleep most of all.) Bristol is glued to her freaking side. She keeps her eye on M all day long and checks out every visitor who holds the baby. She checks on her throughout the day and usually lays near me while I feed her. Maddie has essential become Bristol’s baby.

*(We’re not irresponsible- we never leave the dogs and baby alone together.)

Moving on…

Kyle is the best human in the world. The dad life looks so good on him but the husband life is even better. He’s been so supportive, patient, attentive, loving, focused… with both Maddie & myself. I handle most nighttime duties and I change most diapers, but he is willing to do whatever I ask and is wonderful at entertaining, cuddling, comforting, and loving on baby. And spoiling the pups, too.

I love this picture

After the hospital I was hit HARD with emotions. They started on the car ride home. I spent 5 days in a complete fog. I cried off and on daily, felt awful about the present and the future, and moved through the current hour dreading the next. Baby blues/PPD/hormones at its finest. Finally on day 5 Kyle and I made some big decisions regarding life and the fog lifted. We’re still keeping an eye on my mental healthy, but those were some dense, dark woods and I am grateful to be out of them. Again, thank God for Kyle slogging through those days with me. He is a workaholic and he put everything on the back burner to make sure I was ok and Maddie was doing alright. Obviously that’s the job of a husband and partner and I’m not surprised by his attentiveness, but I know not all partners can/would do that.

running on 2 hours of broken sleep in this one… lol

I’m going to dive into that fog more in another post- I promise. This is already longer than I intended. Haha.

We’re doing well. We’re starting to kind of slip into a routine. Every day Maddie gives us something new- whether it’s a schedule shift or gas smile or physical development. I will say more about her, my postpartum experience, and our life soon (for those interested).

Before I go, a HUGE THANK YOU to my blog friends for the well wishes, gifts, advice, and friendship. Your love has been overwhelming- esp in those first few days. I have utilized some blog friends as resources for parenting and I really, really appreciate the time and energy they’ve given me. This community is incredible and I’m so grateful for all of you ♥ You all helped carry me through those first few days.

 

My Best Friend Had a Baby

When I see this quote it reminds me of my best friends, Erica & Nic:

Elliot 1

Erica and Nic planned for their baby. Erica has Type 1 diabetes, so they knew the path might be a little bumpy, but they were ready to be parents.

Click the picture for my post on the baby shower!
Click the picture for my post on the baby shower!

Yesterday, at 11:36 am, I received a text from Erica:
Her water had broken and she was settled in at the hospital. She told me not to rush- it would probably be a while until baby arrived- but K and I were welcome to drive up whenever we wanted.

I think it’s safe to say I freaked out.
Actually… that’s an understatement. I called K and told him that I was unavailable all day and I would be making one last baby-related shopping trip and then booking it to the hospital. Then I called my mom because I always call my mom when I’m excited.
Mom told me to cool it. This was actually good advice. I was ready to jump out a window and run to the hospital.

Enzo and I SnapChat-ed Erica!
Enzo and I SnapChatted Erica

K and I decided to run the errands that we had planned and then we’d head to the hospital. I might have annoyed him a bit because the only thing I could talk about all day was babies. Oops!

We finished our jobs and I stopped by Nic and Erica’s house to feed their three kitties. FINALLY it was time for us to join the family at the hospital. (Still no baby!)

We arrive around 5:45pm. Erica’s mom and dad, brother and brother’s girlfriend, and aunt and three cousins were waiting in the hall. Nic’s brother and sister-in-law were also there. We joined everyone and waited (un)patiently to hear a cry (and/or kidnap a nurse for information). Just after 6pm some of the equipment came out of the room and we were told there was a baby. (The messenger was smiling, so we weren’t fearful about complications.)

Just after 6:30 “DAD” emerged from the delivery room and delivered (get it?) the news.

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GRANDPA is in the light blue, GRANDMA is in pink, and UNCLE is in red…

Elliot Rose arrived at 6:05 pm. Six pounds, eight ounces. Eighteen inches and a full head of hair.
We also learned that Erica’s sugar was normal and had been under control the whole time, so she was feelin’ great!

Yay! A healthy, happy, baby!
Yay! A healthy, happy baby (& mom)!

Then it was back to the waiting room until visitors were permitted in.

Of course grandma, grandpa, and uncle went in first!
Eventually we all made our way in to see Erica and Elliot.

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I have a very cute picture of DAD and MOM as Elliot is being passed around, but I swore I wouldn’t put up any pictures of Erica… kinda.

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I’m about to break the rules because I LOVE this picture…

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MOM watches as DAD helps GRANDMA with Ellie’s hat

By 9:30 pm we all had gotten a chance to see Elliot and talk with Nic and Erica. The family started to say their goodbyes and K went to get some pizza for the new parents.

Once Ellie had been fed a second time (successfully! – Go, Erica!) it was finally my turn to cuddle the little peanut. When K got back he took a turn with her, too.

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Is there anything cuter than a grown man cuddling a baby? (The answer is “no.”)

I can’t explain the joy that Elliot has already brought to Nic and Erica’s family. The love between DAD and MOM is so strong and the indescribable joy on Grandma and Grandpa’s faces was almost more than I could handle. This baby is a very, very loved and wanted baby.

Personally, the happiness that flooded my body when I cuddled the little lady was incredible. It’s crazy to know that K and I will get to watch her grow and learn and struggle and succeed. I’m so honored to be an honorary “aunt.”

Congratulations, Nic and Erica! You guys are so lucky and definitely in for a lifetime of happiness!

-Louise