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What the first week of parenthood *really* feels like

Half of my hair is dry shampoo, my body still feels unsteady and foreign after nearly 10 months of relentless changes during pregnancy, my contacts may have permanently fused to my eyes and I'm so deliriously tired at times that I'm unsure if I'm awake or asleep.

What the first week of parenthood *really* feels like

It's hard to believe that a week ago our lives were irrevocably altered. Time has both come to a halt and is slipping through my fingers at the same time. Our house is riddled with empty coffee mugs, dog hair dust bunnies, piles of clean and dirty laundry (many of which I'm not sure are actually clean or dirty), boxes from the humbling amount of gifts we have received celebrating our daughter and dirty dishes piled out of the sink.

Normally any one of these things would push me over the edge and into the depths of hysteria, but there is an air of contentment and all-consuming love in our home that dims everything else. I could get up and cross any one of those things off of my list, but I'd rather sit here and relish in my girl.

Her face is the perfect mix of her daddy and me. She is Daddy from the nose up and Mama from her cheeks down. As she begins to fill in, I may even see the beginnings of Daddy's dimples coming in nicely. Her hair is sparse and dark and her eyes are that cool grey-blue all new babies have.

When she opens them and stares at me, my breath catches in my throat. Her doctor has commented multiple times on her strength and feistiness and it makes us smile every time. The world needs more strong and feisty women.

This motherhood gig is completely fulfilling, but it isn't very glamorous. Half of my hair is dry shampoo, my body still feels unsteady and foreign after nearly 10 months of relentless changes during pregnancy, my contacts may have permanently fused to my eyes and I'm so deliriously tired at times that I'm unsure if I'm awake or asleep.

Cabin fever has also fully set in with seven weeks left of being homebound. I combat it with daily walks, but I feel so ready to establish routines with this new little BFF of mine.

My sanity in the madness is my husband. We celebrated five years of marriage just a few days before our baby girl, Sloane Hayes, graced our team. I didn't think it was possible to instantly love a human you just met, but I also didn't expect to fall so much deeper in love with my husband from the moment he became a daddy.

I'll never forget the way he looked at us the moment Sloane was laid across my chest when she entered the world. Just the memory makes my heart swell. I wouldn't have managed labor or this first week without him. His support and encouragement as I navigate motherhood has held me together in those moments that I nearly fell apart.

Through my fears of inadequacies and the barrage of advice and opinions, he has quieted the noise and made me feel so empowered and brave. I'm so grateful for him and humbled by his love for me—for us.

I know this time is fleeting. I'm careful not to wish away these days for easier times because before we know it we will be balancing our lives with work, social and family commitments, and those house tasks we have been temporarily neglecting. This is only the beginning of my life as a mother, but I already feel so entrenched in its gifts and responsibilities. I have trouble remembering life before.

When I watch my baby sleep and eat I can't help but think of all of the experiences I want her to have. I think of the places I want to show her and the love, empathy, and kindness I hope to instill in her. I think of the way her daddy and I love each other and how important that example will be to her as she grows.

A friend described motherhood as 'ravenous' and I don't think I could have come up with a better word. We are drinking in these moments ferociously and holding onto the gifts of simplicity and calmness that we're experiencing as a new family together. Our agenda is simple: love on our little girl.

The weight of responsibility that is raising a child can be stifling and terrifying, but together we make each other brave. Our hearts are so full and we are so grateful for this new journey and all of the people, near and far, who have loved us through it all and celebrated in the birth of our daughter.

One week of parenthood down, and a lifetime to go. Now if you will excuse me, I have a soft head to kiss and some cold coffee to chug. 😉

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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