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I didn’t fall in love with my baby right away
Photo by Sarah Gillogly 

“You are going to be such a good mother! You're a natural," people said all the time during my first pregnancy. I always responded sheepishly, nodding like a bobblehead stuttering a quiet, Thanks."

I didn't know what being a “mom" really meant. I read books and even took classes on how to take care of a baby. I bought all the essentials (and way too many non-essentials) so that I could be ready the day I brought my baby home.

However, nothing prepared me for actually becoming a mom for the first time.

I remember the moment the midwife placed my son on my chest after he was born. I remember feeling extremely strange because I expected this wave of warmth and love for my baby to overcome me, but instead, I was petrified.

I didn't connect with my son right away.

He was this…alien who just landed on me and expected to feed off me. He cried A LOT. But so many family members and friends expected me to just embrace motherhood with open arms, so I smiled and played the part of a happy new mom, afraid that they would find out how I really felt.

After the hospital staff moved us to the recovery room, I was supposed to relax and take time to bond with the baby. Instead, this isn't happening, this can't be happening, kept running through my head as I nursed my newborn son for the 11th hour in a row.

I had just given birth and was exhausted from nearly 12 hours of labor. All I wanted to do was to catch up on sleep and rest. However, my son refused to sleep in his bassinet and insisted that I hold him and nurse him, or else he would scream. So I stayed up all night nursing him, jealous of my husband sleeping soundly in the bed next to mine because he was so tired from a day of labor.

I remember looking at my son in my arms, so tiny and helpless, and feeling the weight of the world bearing down on me because he relied on me to survive.

I didn't want that responsibility. I wanted things to go back to the way they were before I got pregnant—a life where having to wake up at 8 a.m. was way too early, sleeping less than 6 hours a night was unfathomable, and my boobs were my own.

I wanted to give birth and meet my son so badly the last month of pregnancy. Now my thoughts were more along the lines of: Why didn't I take the babymoon like everyone else recommended? Why didn't I take my time and enjoy the freedom I had?

I had this perfect picture of me holding a happy baby who cooed and smiled while I basked in the glory that is motherhood. I couldn't wait to make that image a reality, but it wasn't my reality.

My son was a fussy baby and the best answer I got from the (multiple) doctors I brought him to was that maybe he had colic. I didn't want to bring him out in fear that he'd cry in public, so I stayed home feeling like a prisoner.

I felt like I failed as a mom since I couldn't make him happy and stop him from crying. And when I did go out, I always ended up nursing to make him stop crying—and nursing in public as a new mom was nerve wracking.

I was stuck between my desire to rejoin society and my fear of embarrassing myself as a mom who couldn't figure out why her baby was fussy.

About three weeks after giving birth, I started going to support groups—desperate to connect with other adults and seek advice. While I found some moms who were taking motherhood in stride, others were struggling as well. We commiserated on the sleepless nights and painful, chapped nipples. We laughed over unfortunate blow-out moments and spit-up incidents. While I was still adjusting to being a mom, at least I then knew that I was not alone.

So no matter how difficult it was to get out of the house and drive 20 minutes to the support groups with my son screaming in his car seat, I looked forward to the meetings as if they were luxurious spa treatments or vacations on the beach.

Then it happened.

One day, when my son was about two months old, he looked into my eyes and smiled. It wasn't a huge smile, but it was definitely not an “I-need-to-squeeze-out-a-poo" smile.

And just like that, I was hooked.

I made it my goal every day to make him smile as much as possible, whether it meant doing jumping jacks or making silly cartoon noises.

We started bonding more and more as he became more responsive to me, and I started to get hints here and there of what that perfect picture of motherhood is all about.

One night soon after, as I rocked and nursed my son to sleep—I realized that I could no longer imagine a life without my baby. I didn't want to imagine a life without my son because I had fully embraced motherhood, and I was holding on tight and never letting go.

Many moms feel the pressure to immediately bond with the baby moments after delivery. The truth is, motherhood is a major adjustment that takes time.

As much as movies and commercials make you want to believe that you should be falling in love at first sight with your baby, it's actually very difficult to connect with a newborn who does not respond to you and needs you to take care of his every need 24/7.

So take your time to form the bond with your baby. It may not happen right away, and that's totally okay. With tons of cuddling, nursing and playing, you will eventually build a connection. Then finally, before you realize it, you will feel like a natural.

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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