Monday, January 19, 2015

When You Don't Love Your Baby (or feel that your baby isn't yours)

This post takes some guts. Oy.

As women become mothers, we are conditioned to the thought of "love at first sight" when our new bundle of joy arrives.  But for some moms, that isn't the case.  

I've thought of this post countless times for over two years but haven't written it yet because I wasn't ready.  This will probably come as a shock to my family, my friends, my blog readers and even strangers, but it's something that must be written ... and it can happen to anyone.

My son Mylo was born under near perfect conditions.  I had an amazing birth, breastfed with very little issues and am a champion for natural living and emotionally attentive parenting.  But yet, when my son was born, there were no warm feelings, no instantaneous attraction and very little connection.  I thought it would change.  Maybe I was just too tired or maybe it's just a second child thing.  

But a couple months into this two-child gig, nothing had changed.  Filled with embarrassment, I told my husband.  

I didn't feel like I loved my son as my own.

I felt like I was temporarily feeding and caring and changing and singing to someone else's child.  I didn't feel like Mylo belonged to me.  I loved him and had empathy for him as a human being, a helpless babe, but not the overwhelming, brings-tears-to-my-eyes type of love I had for my first child.  

I suppose I could say that things started when his pregnancy took more of a toll on my body.  Part of me blamed him.  It sounds stupid, but yeah, since I'm being honest here, I did blame him.  Things just weren't how they used to be.

We also had some name difficulties.  My husband didn't have time to talk names before the baby was born so when Mylo was born at 42 weeks (I know, we had MORE than enough time to discuss names), I felt rushed into naming him as everyone needed a name for this baby.  It took us two days to announce his name and I wish I could go back in time and take two weeks to consider names, rather than rush the process and throw more fuel onto the already detached relationship.  I couldn't think about his name without regret and am finally to the point of accepting his name.

And then there was the unexplained that went beyond my body or insecurity in a name.  Something bigger than those things.  Something biologically was off.   I just didn't feel much towards him.  I knew enough to feed him, change him, sing to him, hold him, cuddle him, smile at him, wear him in various wraps, slings and carriers, maintain skin-to-skin contact, attend to his needs, kiss him incessantly, rub his legs at diaper changes, talk to him and talk proudly about him.  I constantly called him Mylo My Love and referred to him as my son, my baby, my precious boy.  Outwardly, I knew these things were imperative for bonding - not just mine, but mostly his.  I faked it, hoping Mylo wouldn't notice. My greatest concern was his emotional attachment.  I didn't want to ruin him.  Inwardly, I wondered if the day would ever come where I loved him with all of my being.  

Searching for an explanation, I googled things like, "I don't feel like my baby is mine" and "I don't feel overwhelming love for my baby".  I read postpartum depression articles and checklists, which didn't seem to fit me at all!  I didn't want him gone, I didn't want to hurt him, I was functioning well, I had no anxiety, I was sleeping and eating just fine and had plenty of energy and interests in my everyday activities.   The only descriptor I accurately fit was something along the lines of "lack of feeling towards baby". 

So what the heck was wrong with me?  Why wasn't I head-over-heals for this adorable little baby, who practically came out of the womb smiling? 

It took seven months for me to start feeling crazy love for him.  I'm not sure how things changed but maybe God heard my desperate cries for connection with my boy.  Little by little, my heart started to beat a little faster when I'd catch a glimpse of him drooling, while chewing on a toy.  When I'd hear him chatter, my lips would curve into a smile, as a deep breath of pride filled my lungs.  When he'd catch me watching him and reach out for me, it was like everything else faded and I could hardly contain myself to rush to him and pick him up and kiss him. His big smile and the spark in his eyes, would bring tears of joy to mine.  When his cries could only be satisfied by me, the butterflies would dance in my tummy, signaling he was mine.  During diaper changes, his chubby fingers would grab mine, distracting me from my task and I'd feel those fat wrists, those tiny bones and those small fingernails, forcing me to take a break and enjoy this little gift.

It was my boy reaching out to me.

In retrospect, I should've talked with my midwife.  I knew she wouldn't judge me and would show me kindness and grace.  But could I do the same for myself?  I loathed myself as a mother because of my deficiencies.  Those first seven months are a bit of blur of motions and that still hurts my heart a bit.  I know I was doing the best I could but I still wish I would've reached out for help sooner.  What if it had gotten worse?  

Today, I have an amazing relationship and bond with my son!  He is affectionate, spunky, full of love and a TOTAL mama's boy!  He makes my heart skip beats and tears warm the corners of my eyes daily!
  
I feared sharing this because of judgment.  But I KNOW that I am not alone, as I've had friends sob when they share their stories of ache, betrayal at their perceived ideas of motherhood and confusion.  Maybe, when we as women begin throwing off our masks of perfection and sharing our struggles, we will know it's OK to seek help when things seem off because nearly every other mother around us has felt something similar.  And hopefully the next person who searches "I don't feel like my baby is my own" will find this post and not only learn from my mistakes but know there is hope.

My sweet boy, whom I love with ALL of my heart!
PS: For those of you wondering if Mylo will know all this or are concerned that this post may hurt him down the road ... Yes, Mylo will know all of this someday. It's all written down and explained for him in his journal. He will know that his mama had some problems that weren't his fault at all. However, he will also know that he was wanted, loved and cared for from the start.




Thursday, April 10, 2014

My First Experience With Stitch Fix: Review April 2014 (Prices Included)


My friend Natalie recently posted on Facebook about a service called Stitch Fix where a stylist would select clothes, suited JUST for you, and mail them to your doorstep.

Wha???  What is this anomaly of heaven that I have just been shown?  And how could this change my life forever?  I was just getting ready to beg for a friend or two to go out and do some shopping for me.  I need to dress up more (meaning change out of my yoga pants) when sharing about Young Living essential oils.


Let me give you some history:  I loathe shopping for clothes.  (With my children in tow.)  There.  I said it.  It's in parenthesis so that makes it not so bad, right?  Who LOVES shopping with their two small children??  No one.  Exactly.  When I'm in the dressing room, mine always talk LOUDLY about my boobs/bra and try to crawl underneath the dividers and make friends.  Every time, guaranteed.

This Stitch Fix service means I don't have to leave my home, try on clothing with awful lighting highlighting every dimple all while I play goalie while my children try to headbutt me to get out of the dressing room.  I was ready to sign up. Right then and there.

OK, maybe I didn't sign up that quickly, but I was genuinely curious!  I followed my friend's referral link to Stitch Fix, and read the FAQ.  A $20 stylist fee would be charged, but you'd get it back if you bought anything in your Fix.  If you keep your whole Fix, you'd get 25% off the total.  Once your Fix arrives, you have three business days to make your decision.  Whatever you don't want goes back in a pre-paid envelope.  This sounded like a program I would love!


I filled out my profile, so my stylist could see what I would like.  I went through my size, my preferences, rated photos of outfits to my liking and gave specific instructions to my stylist. 

My specific instructions were something along these lines:

  • I'm not into accessories - I can buy those cheaper elsewhere.
  • No skirts/dresses. My closet overfloweth with ankle-length hippie skirts and I hate shaving.  And it's cold outside all the time.
  • Long or 3/4 sleeve tops required.  I live in MN so nine months out of the year I wear long sleeve shirts.
  • I need all clothing to be nursing-friendly.  
  • I'm cheap, so please be economical with my Fix.  In the last year, I spent more than $20 on one item only: my drug rug sweater that I wear everyday.
  • I teach classes on essential oils and I'm a birth doula. Are you getting my laid-back, hippie vibe yet??  I'm a simple gal.  PLEASE don't send me a pencil skirt with a ruffled, patterned blouse!

I waited patiently until I saw IT had arrived at my doorstep on a snowy, Thursday, APRIL afternoon!


I got home from work and saw a cute, little box sitting in my doorway.  I shuffled my kids out of their car seats and into the house and without even taking off my wet, snowy shoes I was ripping open that box!   I was greeted instantly by a photo that made my heart sink a little bit: 

I'm not into patterned shirts; they make me nervous.  Ew.  However, as I unfolded my style guide, I was a little more at peace. 





These little fashion cards are like gold to the fashion-challenged!  I would never pair some of these items together, because I'm a jeans and a plain, ol' shirt type of gal.  Or, on a fancy day, a hippie skirt with a plain shirt. 

I even got a little note from my stylist, Lana, whom I picture to be petite, with chunky glasses and dark hair.  She also works behind her Macbook Pro like an overachieving champ. (Lana, if you ever read this, I'm sorry if 1. You are really a man and 2. You are the opposite of what I describe. Please continue to send me amazing clothes.)
Aww, thanks, Lana!  I feel like we could be BFFs if we just got to know each other a little more!


The photos of the Stitch Fix items just didn't do the five items in my box any justice because once I opened that box, I was in love!!

Item #1: Renee C Malcolm Heathered Dolman Sleeve Knit Shirt $48
I knew instantly this shirt was a winner because slouched style works well with me.  And heather grey in color?  Mmm, Lana, you know my favorite color is sweatpants! The shirt was a wee bit tight in my arms, which is weird because my arms are fairly thin.  Overall, it was very slimming!  The shirt was wrinkle-proof, but lost a point in easy-mom-ness because it's LAY FLAT TO DRY.  Who does that?  Apparently, I've moved up in the world because I now have clothing that says LAY FLAT TO DRY. 



VERDICT:  YES. $48 is more than what I would ever pay for a shirt.  Even if it was woven out of the hair of a magical unicorn.  However, this shirt is cute, can be paired with two of the other items in my Fix AND I had some discounts (more on that later).

Item #2: Kensie Jeans Malin Bootcut Jean $98
Jeans make me more anxious than patterned shirts.  WHO can understand my booty and it's spunk compared to the rest of my body??  I'm also going to come right out and say these were $98, which made me almost not try them on.  Obviously, I couldn't leave beautiful, new jeans to sit in a box and the pictures below show I did try them on and I did really enjoy them!  (Please, have grace on my curvy backside - these are hard photos to post!)



Booty side.

VERDICT:  YES.  Gulp.  I spent $50-some dollars on a pair of jeans when I was pregnant with India.  It was the best $50 I've ever spent because they were good quality and fit me well.  I know Merona jeans DO NOT work with the junk in my trunk and I need to spend more money for jeans that fit me.  If I buy cheap jeans, they always gap on my backside - seriously, you could drive a tour bus in all that space.  These jeans match every top in my Fix.

Item #3: 41Hawthorn Longsleeve Knit Cardigan in Navy $48
I don't DO navy.  It's waaaaayyyyyy to much of a commitment because then I have to think beyond my black boots or faux UGGS.  That means more shoes and boots and I just can't go down that road.  When I saw this cardigan, I was intrigued because it HAS NO BUTTONS!!!  It has lost its library-lady likeness and can be casual or dressed up and super cool!  Every other cardigan I've tried on (OK, so only Target brands) have had awkward buttons and they aren't long enough on me. 
When looking for items that land at my upper thigh length, I sometimes have to get larger sizes, which looks bulky and awkward. This cardigan also matches EVERY item in my Fix!!!  Lana, now you're talking my practical, let-me-brew-you-some-fair-trade-tea language.
VERDICT: YES.  Do I even need to answer that question?

Item #4: Caramela Mallorie Geo Print Tie-Neck Blouse $28
Lana really went out on a limb here, including this patterned blouse.  Blouses are for old ladies.  But, this shirt blouse ended up being very alluring.  I NEVER would've picked this shirt off the rack.  Never.  It truly is a classic shirt, that needs no accessories and will work well when I need to look a little more dressed up. It was slightly tight on my arms as well (what's up with that?).  

VERDICT: YES. I'm not sure I would've kept this shirt, had it not been for the discounts I had.  Even though it is charming, I was reaching my budget limit with the first three items.

Item #5: Fun2Fun Hanna Plaid Tab-Sleeve Henley Top $48

When I saw this shirt in the box, I loved it instantly!  It was smooth feeling and the bright colors were calling my name after a long winter.  But, with my long torso, it was a little short on the sides, which was very disappointing.  It came super wrinkly, but I've since ironed it and it was fine after that.  It is adorable on and I love the adjustable sleeve length!  
VERDICT: YES.  I don't think I would have kept this shirt if it wasn't for the discounts I got because of the shortness on the sides.  I'm way over the days of showing any part of my midriff.  While I always were a tank top under my shirts, it'd be nice to have a shirt or two that was long enough on me.


The GOOD and the BAD and my relationship status with Stitch Fix:

GOOD:
  • In the weirdest way, Lana GOT me.  She kept things simple and Midwestern and avoided the corporate America or high fashion look.
  • My wishes for longer-sleeved shirts, nursing-friendly tops and avoiding accessories were met!
  • I got several referral credits from friends that signed up as well AND I got 25% off my total for buying all five items.
  • I tried clothes I never would have and they actually looked good on me!
  • Very easy process - I even changed something in my profile a couple days before my Fix was to ship with no issues  
BAD:
  • It was hard for me to spend that much money on clothes for myself. 
  • Several shirts were LAY FLAT TO DRY or hang to dry.  Ain't nobody got time for that!
  • I cannot see who used my referral code!!! I would really love to send them a thank you! 

RELATIONSHIP STATUS:
I am most definitely keeping my relationship with Stitch Fix and Lana!  My total for all five items came to $107.50, after discounts (referrals and 25% off discount for buying them all) which is a little over $20 per item.  I know, that's pretty good, but I needed convincing!  We live in a small town and driving to a nearby town that's an hour away would easily cost over $60 in gas and eating out.  Plus the cost of whatever clothes I bought AND the cost of all the Stress Away essential oil I'd have to use on me to combat the stress of shopping with my precious children and husband.  I plan on getting at least one more Fix soon with a focus on half of the items being more suited for summer! 
Next time around, I'm asking Lana to make these considerations:
  • No weird washing/drying instructions
  • Mind my long torso
  • Stay thrifty
  • Keep rockin' it! 
 If you're interested in getting your own Fix, you are more than welcome to use my referral code! ;)  I highly recommend the process but I also recommend being VERY specific in your needs and wants as you go through your profile.
Let me know if YOU try Stitch Fix and what your thoughts are! 


PS: Yes, I get a discount if you sign up for Stitch Fix with my referral code, but I have given you my 100% honest opinion.  I'm doing this again, whether or not I get any discount (although a discount sure does make it nicer).  These same opinions will be sent to my darling and soon to be BFF, Lana, so she knows completely how I feel and how to best suit me next time around! 



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Joyful Girl


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Fun with Mylo


Friday, February 22, 2013

Weekend Reading! 2/22/13

Hey there!  Genevieve here.  You know, the person that used to do Weekend Reading regularly but has been slacking?  Yep, that's me! :)  I've been reading some good stuff lately and would LOVE to share with you.  But I decided to give you a little more than just what I'm reading...let me know what you think!


What I'm reading:

Excellent article on Newborn Procedures to Reconsider.  If you or someone you know is having a baby soon, read this!
 

Sarah shares her failures and triumphs as a parent, ultimately deciding that gentleness makes her children great.

ImprovingBirth shares statistics of "routine" maternity care and evidence-base care.

A true frustration on mine, "Why is Everyone Always Giving My Kids Junk Food?"


What I'm listening to and watching:

The Glorious Unseen- Close to Your Heart


Breaking Bad...not entirely sure I like this show.  It's a little too intense for me.

What I'm eating:


Melt-In-Your Mouth Chuck Roast 





                                       Happy Weekend!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Who Do I See?


Monday, February 18, 2013

Onesie Surprise!

Onesie Surprise!
Hahaha!  This has happened to me FAR too many times!  Love it!
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