I Didn’t Love My Baby Right Away… And That’s Okay

baby

We’ve all seen the photo – you have, haven’t you? – of the parent holding their new baby in their arms, breathless with joy, tears in their eyes. We’ve heard the story – surely you know the one – of the moment when their newborn child was placed on their skin and all they could feel was an overwhelming sense of love. That’s how birth goes, right? That all-consuming, overwhelming, indescribable sense of immediate joy, love, and connection.

But what if that’s not how it goes?

My daughter’s birth did not go how I expected. She wasn’t in the “optimal” position, even after completing exercises. I felt each surge so intensely in my back – and it was not fun. My childhood/past traumas came out during the later stages of her birth and I was completely blindsided. I had my husband and incredible midwife to support me but I was lost. I felt out of control. It felt like I was floating in darkness, fear, and pain, and I couldn’t figure out how to get out. There’s a lot about my daughter’s birth that I don’t remember. I’ve since learned that trauma survivors can dissociate during childbirth, which is likely what happened to me.

By the time she was born, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and totally DONE with the whole experience.
When she was born, I felt relief that she was here and I didn’t have to go through anything else. I felt wonder at what I had just done, and that it didn’t actually kill me, even though I was sure that it would.
She had some minor complications, so I felt worry and concern for her. But when I think back on those first few moments, what I remember feeling most is this: guilt and shame.

“What is wrong with me?!” I wondered. “Why do I feel like this?”

We both had to transfer to the hospital (from a birth center) and spend a few days there. On our second night there, at one of the middle of the night feedings, I finally broke down in sobs as I confessed my guilt and shame to my husband. “Why don’t I love my baby?” I cried. “I was supposed to love her as soon as she came out. But I didn’t. I’m a horrible mother.” We talked it through and I was finally able to release some of that guilt, shame, and fear that I had been feeling since she was born.

I was relieved that my husband didn’t think I was terrible. He thought I was sleep deprived, exhausted, and had been through a traumatic, intense experience. He didn’t blame me or look down on me. But still – I didn’t feel the way that I had been made to believe that I SHOULD feel. By the next day, I was already able to feel more attached and connected to her, and by the time we went home on day five I was feeling those joyful, loving feelings. For me, it took a few days and some time to process what had happened. It wasn’t immediate – and that is okay.

It’s okay if you don’t feel that immediate rush of love towards your baby.

There are so many ways you may feel after giving birth – and they are ALL okay. There is not one way that you should feel. Birth can be overwhelming and intense, and it can be easy for all of the feelings to get muddled together. It’s okay to not even know how you feel. You can still love and connect with your baby! There is nothing wrong with you.

I hope that reading this can help you prepare for birth, feel understood and respected if you experienced something similar, or help you support someone you know during or after their birth. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below or contact me here.

(If you feel that you struggle to have a connection with your baby or child and it’s affecting your life or relationship, please discuss it with your doctor or midwife. They are there to support you.)

Heartburn During Pregnancy

heartburn

Many people experience heartburn during pregnancy. Sometimes it’s simply unavoidable due to hormones and your growing uterus, but it can be worth it to see what gives you relief! Here are some things you can try to help you be more comfortable. (Disclaimer: I’m not trained to offer medical advice, diagnose, or treat anything. I’m simply offering suggestions that have worked for me and others. Talk with your medical provider and follow their recommendations.)

Avoid triggers.
Some common triggers of heartburn are tomatoes, citrus, juice, spicy foods, chocolate, dairy, sugar, greasy/fatty foods, and caffeine. Maybe you can start a food journal to keep track of what you’re eating and how it correlates to heartburn. You don’t have to completely overhaul your diet, but it’s good to be mindful and pay attention!

Eat smaller meals.

Try to eat small, frequent meals and/or snacks during the day instead of 3 big meals. And avoid eating in the few hours before you go to bed. Laying down soon after you eat can cause stomach acid to leak into your esophagus and lead to heartburn.

Wear loose-fitting clothes.

Tight clothes can put pressure on your abdomen and cause heartburn. Loose-fitting clothes are less restrictive.

Talk to your doctor about OTC remedies.

There are many things you can try that don’t require a prescription, but you should still okay them with your doctor. These include Tums, Maalox, papaya enzymes (my favorite!), and digestive bitters. Some people swear by drinking apple cider vinegar, pickle juice, or baking soda water. Try some different options out and see what works for you!

Talk to your doctor about prescription options.

Sometimes a prescription can be most helpful if you’re experiencing chronic or more than occasional heartburn.

Did you experience heartburn during pregnancy? What worked best for you?

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Meet Your Doula, Chelsey DuBois

Welcome! Get to know your doula, Chelsey DuBois, with a fun Q&A session! Contact me or check out my about page to learn more!

Chelsey DuBois
(Photo by Love & Light Photography)

Where do you live? Where are you from?
We just bought a house in South Minneapolis and are enjoying getting settled, learning to be homeowners, and checking out our new neighborhood! I have lived in Minneapolis for almost 9 years. I was born in Maryland, lived in Texas from age 3-10, and lived in small-town Wisconsin for middle/high school.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to be outside in nature – hiking, biking, camping, and exploring with family and friends. I absolutely LOVE live music, especially local rap/hip hop. Dessa and Doomtree are my favorites. I also enjoy cooking, reading, and traveling.

What’s your favorite animal?
I love red pandas and fennec foxes! I think they’re unique and adorable. I’m also an animal lover overall, and can’t resist giving some love to any pets I come across.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. It’s about creating a simple, less stressful life for your kids and is inspired by the Waldorf educational philosophy.

Where would you travel if you had no limits?
Last year we took a trip to Iceland and it was incredible so I would definitely love to travel there again. I also spent 10 months in Japan as a foreign exchange student and have wanted to go back ever since! I hope to visit as many state and national parks as possible, so that’s up there on the list as well!

Chelsey DuBois Iceland(Photo by my mom in Iceland!)

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I have been prioritizing sleep so I’ve had an earlier bedtime than usual recently, which means late nights are tough. However, I don’t love waking up early even though I like mornings.

What did you do before you became a doula?
Since high school, I have worked with kids in some capacity. I’ve worked as a babysitter, reading tutor, preschool/daycare teacher, nanny, and now as a sibling/postpartum doula. I love working with kids and families!

What do you always have in your fridge/pantry?
We always have eggs, beans, spinach, hummus, olives, garlic/onions, applesauce pouches and other quick snacks, frozen fruit/veggies, and coconut milk. These allow me to throw together pretty quick meals and snacks when needed!

What did you want to be as a child? What was your dream job? 
As a child, my “dream job” was always changing based on what was happening in my life at that time. When I got glasses in 3rd grade, I wanted to be an optometrist. When I broke my wrist in 5th grade, I wanted to be a radiologist. I also remember wanting to be a ballerina and veterinarian! My dream job was often related to teaching, and that dream stuck with me. As part of my services I offer some classes as well!

What’s your favorite thing about doula work?
That’s a hard question! I think my favorite thing is meeting families where they’re at and supporting them in the specific ways that they need. Each family and situation is different, so it’s always a fun challenge to get to know a family and how to best help them in the moment. I obviously also love watching babies enter the world and snuggling them during postpartum shifts!

Chelsey DuBois postpartum shift(Photo by Federer Photography)

Best Gifts to Buy for New Mamas (Or for Yourself!)

New mamas are dealing with a lot: feedings, recovery, sleep deprivation, and the wonder of their perfect new little one. You can make their days a bit brighter or easier with these products. They’re great for Mother’s Day, birthdays, the next baby shower you’re invited to, or holiday gift exchanges. Plus, they also make great treats to pamper yourself!

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So… What Exactly Does a Postpartum Doula Do?

I hear this question at least once a week. Given that I didn’t even know what a postpartum doula was when my daughter was born, I’m not surprised! I enjoy answering questions and helping educate people about the importance of postpartum support! Here are some other questions I am often asked.

postpartum doula

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