New mama to-do list: Learn how to love my baby ?

The newborn season is heartbreakingly short, and I was determined to enjoy as many moments as I could—and I did.

New mama to-do list: Learn how to love my baby ?

I remember the wave of nausea that overpowered me when my baby’s cry pierced the darkness on our first night home from the hospital. I remember how breastfeeding felt like death by a thousand tiny knives and how I was terrified of my own healing body. But I also remember the smell of my daughter’s hair and the impossible softness of her cheeks. I can still conjure up what it felt like to hold her in my arms and be utterly astounded that I grew her.

When you have a newborn, the days are hard, the nights are long, and the exhaustion is unbearable. I won’t deny any of that. But I’ll also admit that I loved the newborn weeks with my baby girl, and I’m slightly eager to do them again (very, very slightly.)

To tell you the truth, I felt more rested and peaceful than I expected to in those first few weeks of my daughter’s life, and it’s not because she was a particularly easy baby (she wasn’t) or because my recovery was particularly easy (it wasn’t). Yes, I was overwhelmed. Yes, I was terrified of breaking my daughter. Yes, I wondered if I’d ever feel normal again.

But I knew that this season would be heartbreakingly short, and I was determined to enjoy as many moments as I could—and I did.

Before my daughter was born, I spent a lot of time and mental space preparing for what those first few weeks would be like, and I set my expectations pretty low. I expected to be in a lot of pain. I expected to be sleep deprived. I expected to cry a lot. I expected to deal with the baby blues and maybe even postpartum depression.

So I decided in advance to also set my expectations low for myself.

I decided I wouldn’t do the things I normally do—not just physical things like doing dishes, cooking meals, cleaning, working, and blogging, but also the emotional things like tearing myself down when I look in the mirror, putting pressure on myself to get one more thing done, and guilting myself into believing that I’m lazy for choosing rest.

My only expectation for myself during those first few weeks of being a mom was this—learn how to love my baby.

This one expectation changed everything and allowed me to fill my days with actions that put the two of us first.

I committed myself to memorizing the smell of the space where her cheeks meet her mouth, the wrinkles on her tiny fingers, and the curve of her upper lip.

I laid on the couch for most of the day, binge watching Friday Night Lights while she slept on my chest, and I kissed the top of her head and breathed in that fleeting newborn smell.

I let my husband rock her in the middle of the night so I could get as much sleep as possible before the next feeding.

I whispered words of love and encouragement while I helped her latch on, even when it hurt so badly I could hardly stand it.

I let the tears run freely down my cheeks when I felt like I couldn’t keep going.

I said yes to every person who offered to bring a meal, clean my house, or fold my laundry.

I reached out for help from my mom friends in the crisis moments, begging them to tell me that what I was experiencing was normal.

I let other people hold my baby while I showered, ate, and took care of my hurting body.

I told myself that whatever hard thing was happening would be over in a few days or weeks.

I reminded myself that these newborn days would be over in a blink, and I’d want them back.

I let my baby be a baby, I let myself be a mess, and I gave us both grace as we learned how to become mother and daughter.

Recognizing that the transition from womb to world was probably more traumatic for my daughter than it was for me allowed me to treat us both with the gentleness we so desperately needed in our first weeks together. I held her as often as I could, cradling her tiny body close to my skin. I wept with her when I needed to and allowed her to comfort herself with my body as often as she needed it.

And here I am, slowly becoming myself again.

For nearly two years, my daughter and I were one person, sharing one body during pregnancy and even as I breastfed her. It’s equal parts freeing and heartbreaking to watch her as she becomes independent and to feel myself enjoying the independence too.

But those newborn days will live in my memory as some of the sweetest, hardest, most emotional days of my life, and I will always think of them as the days when I became more fully myself by giving myself completely to another person.

The deepest relationships in life, our strongest bonds, are formed when we give ourselves completely away.

This doesn’t mean I’m not still myself. I need to explore my own desires, be my own person, and not lose myself in motherhood.

It simply means that I’m learning to love this new version of myself, one that comes with fewer expectations, less guilt, more joy, and more forgiveness. A new version of myself whose sharp edges are softening, whose stretch marks are slowly fading, whose heart is stretching and tearing and deepening its capacity for love.

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10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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