Hey Sailor

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Is seven weeks too long to wait to post a birth announcement on your blog? Perhaps. For that I’m sorry. If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, blah, blah, or blah then you’ve picked up on the fact that I had that baby I had been promising was on its way for months. And it took me this long to write about it because, well, what do you even say about something so huge? After the first week passed, we were in the thick of the realness of this child having come into our lives, and words to describe it were getting harder and harder to find. We were thrilled, terrified, mystified, exhausted, nervous… all emotions we continue to feel on a daily basis. Even now, I don’t know how to put it all into words. So let’s start with this… Sailor Joan Sheppard was born on October 21, 2015 at 2:24am, weighing 6 lbs 12 oz, and was 19.5 inches long. Labor was a total of about 15 hours from when I was at Target with my mom in the morning starting to feel cramps to when she arrived. People always talk about labor being 10 hours, 20 hours, 40 hours, and I always used to think that meant they were screaming that whole time. Not the case. It escalates. The first several hours were mild cramps where I wasn’t even sure if I was in labor, and it didn’t get really real until about 8pm.  Parts of it were easier/better than I imagined, and other parts were harder/more painful and dramatic than I imagined. Maybe some day I’ll tell the whole story, but what I can say is that when it was over I breathed a huge sigh of relief and gave myself a big pat on the back for finally conquering something I had intensely feared my whole life. It is… doable, somehow.

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Our first weeks with her have been amazing in so many ways, and incredibly challenging in others. Amazing because I never knew how my own kid would be able to turn me into a baby person. I’ve always been awkward with babies and kids, not knowing how to deal with them. I’m probably still that way to some degree, but I now see kids totally differently. We love watching Sailor’s every move, learning all her little tendencies, and seeing how she grows before our very eyes. She’s an awesome sleeper at night, so we have actually been able to sleep too, and function as somewhat whole humans during the day. Very grateful for that. We still can’t wrap our heads around the fact that we made her, and now she’s here in the world. Challenging because it’s impossible to get anything done. And I’m a person who likes to get things done. I’m certainly not the first new mom to make this observation but I never understood what it meant until I find myself sitting in the living room all day with this baby on me until it’s dark but still no lights get turned on, and I’ve been staring at the messy kitchen and undone laundry for 3 days straight. Not cool for a Type A person. Yet pretty much 100% unavoidable. I will say it does force you to give yourself a break from your expectations of yourself, as hard as that may be, and focus on this new little being.

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But the biggest challenge so far? Breastfeeding, hands down. Without going into too much detail, HOLY SHIT. I have gone back and forth about how much of this to share because on one hand, TMI. On the other hand, I can’t believe how little I had been prepared for what to expect, and I wish I had seen as many blog posts about breastfeeding as ones about nurseries. So I’m not going to be the one to withhold information that might help keep soon-to-be new moms informed and prepared for the possibilities. Breastfeeding has been so damn hard for me. When she was about five days old, it became excruciatingly painful. Like, I could barely feed her without crying for a good 5 weeks straight. Apparently this is very common. What the hell? It’s something that has made it extra hard to leave the house (with or without her), hard to heal from the whole process, and hard to actually enjoy her which is the worst part. It’s only just now starting to get better, but we’re still not in the clear. My OB put it into words pretty well. He said there are 4 main parts to having a baby: getting pregnant, being pregnant, giving birth, and breastfeeding… and you don’t usually get all 4 to go smoothly. I was lucky to have the first 3 go pretty well, so I guess breastfeeding is my kicker. I’m hoping we’ll get to the days where I can see why other women actually enjoy it.

So there you have it. A birth announcement 7 weeks late, accompanied by random thoughts all across the board from joy and wonderment to terror and pain. I guess that pretty much sums up what the first 2 months with a new baby are like. Other moms out there, I’d love to hear about your experiences too, and I look forward to sharing more about my adventures in mommyhood from time to time. And I’ll definitely be sharing more photos from our newborn/nursery shoot with Heather Kincaid in the coming weeks!

Photos by Heather Kincaid 

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  1. Veronica F 12/11/2015 Reply

    Thanks so much for your openness – I’m due in 6 weeks and it’s so wonderful to hear actual insights into breastfeeding. Your baby is beautiful and glad you’re starting to feel better!

  2. Amy Lee 12/11/2015 Reply

    So true to the experience in so many ways. This is the most rewarding but challenging job ever. Every day gives new joys and challenges! Breastfeeding is intense but don’t stress or worry too much. This only makes it harder. I’m still waiting for the Type A in me to stop beating myself up for the things that I didn’t get done. My kids won’t remember that to do list that was incomplete though. I hope they remember me being engaged and attentive to them and their needs!! I try to remind myself of that daily and give myself grace! I was never a baby person either, it’s amazing how your little one gets so much beauty to come out! Love seeing friends fall in love with their little ones!!!

  3. Catherine, Sailor is beautiful and you are killing it. I had a really similar experience with breastfeeding with Axel and it was even worse with Gemma. That unbearable pain came back and even though the it was my second time around, and I didnt push myself to stick with it (mostly for the sake of wanting to enjoy my baby and not dread feedings), I still managed to get mastitis and was in incredible pain for about 6 weeks. It puts a cloud over that time with your noob but it doesnt last forever and just like child birth, somehow you just get through it. I wish your new little fam the most happiness and especially good health! Cant wait to meet this little lady <3

  4. Lola Wills 12/11/2015 Reply

    Congratulations and welcome to the world baby Sailor! She is beautiful… Thanks for sharing. So true! Becoming a mother was truly learning and practicing PATIENCE for me… It’s all about taking one day at a time. You have to just slow down for a bit and really focus on enjoying every little moment you can with your new love. I have a 1 year old daughter and the breastfeeding will get better I promise because if I never gave up …boy I tell ya anybody can do it! Breastfeeding was a kicker for me as well. While the process may be easier for some, it was not the case for me. It was just the worst pain I ever felt in my life. But after the anxiety, agonizing pain and tears bf eventually became a gratifying and rewarding task. Just knowing this little human is depending on you to provide something specially formulated just for them that no one else in the world can duplicate…priceless. Makes you feel kinda awesome.. Be encouraged and continue to enjoy mommyhood. I feel like it only gets better and better! <3

  5. Congrats, Catherine! She’s beautiful! Try not to be too hard on yourself about the breastfeeding. Whatever you end up doing in the end will be right for you and your little girl!

  6. Congratulations! What a wonderful new adventure you guys are beginning. It just gets better and better! We had our first a year ago and I couldn’t agree with you more that you can’t have all four stages of bringing a baby to life to go smoothly. Breast feeding will definitely get better – hang in there! And Mother’s Love Nipple Cream (butter?) is the best, if you are still searching for the magic ointment.