Bug,  illos,  Moody Blues

Spotty Days

Now that Baby Bug has a full blown case of baby acne, I’m wondering if the same hormones that are messing with her body are the ones that are playing ping pong with mine. She woke up this morning with spots everywhere. On her cheeks, on her neck and even on the back of her head. I woke up crying. I hope it will pass.

It’s funny. I know I’m doing a good job being a mom. Baby Bug is getting chubbier every day. But the nursing just seems so unnatural sometimes. I guess I always thought I’d be like Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon and the baby would find her way to my nipple all by herself. I didn’t realize how agonizing it would be to not be able to make your baby happy over and over and over again. Sometimes I feel like such a failure. I know I’m not. But it’s hard to not feel like one.

I figure it’s just hormones. Not full blown postpartum blues. Just a case of the neglatives. You know, when everything in your house seems dirty and if the cat throws up one more time in your favorite pair of shoes, you swear you are going to throw the cat out the window.

When Toby and I couldn’t agree on what design we should go with for our month-late birth announcements, I completely fell apart. I started questioning my whole identity. If I’m not a good designer any more, then who am I? Should I take my whole website down because I feel like my work is flat and I can’t figure out how to get my gallery pages back up? The doubts rained down on me like hail.

I know I’m a mom now and that is the best job I can ever have…but is that enough? Will I disappear into diaper-and-spit-up-land and be forgotten? And why am I so driven by praise? Isn’t doing what’s right for Baby Bug enough? Why do I feel like I need a cheering section just to get through the day?


  • Aunt Jaynette

    Stop. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Remember you can’t MAKE someone else happy, not even Bug. She needs to learn even at this early date to make herself happy. Becky drove me crazy because she wouldn’t let me rock her to sleep the way Mitchell had demanded just the year before. I would put her to bed in frustation and found out that was exactly what she wanted- to put herself to sleep.
    About the acne—she did just have her first bath, what soap did you use? She could be having a reaction to the soap. Just a thought.
    You will be redefining yourself from this day forward. What a shock it was when the kids started school and I wasn’t needed as much. I’m just now starting to me Jaynette again and I don’t know who that is because the Jaynette before kids isn’t who I can be today– don’t get me started on the fact that I’m almost 50 and my kids are only 10 & 11. At lunch one day a kid at school asked if I was the Grandma. Ouch!!
    Call if you need help. You have 3 other SIL’s to confer with. Use us if you need advise.

  • Kimberly

    Your blog is the most honest one that I read. It’s so refreshing. Somehow I feel like it all applies to me. I think you’re speaking for a whole lot of us. And I think everyone needs a cheering section, and yours is us!

  • Becky Z

    I just want to tell you that you’re doing a great job. You can do it Brenda! I’m rooting for you. I’m sure that you will start feeling better soon.

  • therese

    Now you’re starting to sound like a new mom! I too broke down when Izzy came down with spots all over her body. My sister, the doctor, told me it is in part because she is establishing the acid mantle on her skin (the one that kills germs on contact) and in part discharging the hormones she stored while inside you. (That’s why she has seemingly little breasts). But my doctor told me it was a mild case of eczema and to start taking omega 3’s and 6’s (which I did) and it went away. I started taking GLA and EPA tablets, and eating avocado. (I don’t want to recommend brand names over the web, but if you need specifics give me a shout.) In any event, let yourself have a good cry. Your hormones are going through a war right now and you’ve been through a lot. You have a right to feel frustrated, tired and confused (as well as blissfully happy). You deserve all the love and reassurance you need right now. You’re doing everything just right!

  • Sara

    Oh, these feelings are so familiar, although now they feel like they were a million years ago. I think you should have a cheering section — even if it’s just a phone call from a family member or good friend. You are doing a great job and soon you will be able to nurse that baby without skipping a beat.
    Your website (and, I’m sure, all of your other work) is beautiful. Your creative energy is going to your family and I believe you won’t get lost just being a mom. My girl is talking so much now, and is developing her own identity that is amazing; it will happen to you too, and it’s wonderful. Those hormones are giving you a wild ride, but know there are lots of virtual folks cheering for you!
    Take good care of yourself.

  • Nila

    It’s so hard to nurse. It never felt natural for me either, especially since I was so desperate to be normal again, and while nursing your life style is still pretty much that of a pregnant person.

    You do deserve your own cheering section, every new mom does. This Mom stuff is not always easy. Hang in there!

  • Heidi

    I just wrote this long post and I think I got timed out. Anyway, here’s the quick version.

    Thank you for your fabulous illustration. It reminds me so much of the early days with my son. It’s just brilliant!

    Also, the real you is still in there. Just remember how your creative juices took a rest early in your pregnancy, but they came back after Baby Bug was off to a solid start. The real you most likely hiding for a bit, until you get caught up on some solid sleep.

  • Xangelle

    The best “new mom” advice I ever got regarding nursing was to stick it out for 4 months before I made a decision. The lady told me that it would/could be difficult for the first 4 months. If I could stick it out for the first 3 months, by the end of the 4th month everything would fall into place. With my first, I didn’t stick it out, and she became a formula baby. She is now an amazingly wonderful 8 year old. With my second, armed with this bit of advice – I was able to nurse my baby for her first year which had been my goal. If you feel encouraged by this then that was my advice, but if it doesn’t help you in any way, then totally ignore it, and I won’t feel bad one little bit.

    Don’t get discouraged! It will all even out, and you will look at these first few months as just a blur……..Oh, and Yah! Blame everything on the hormones. They are raging through you and your precious little Baby. Go easy on your self. From all I’ve read, you are am amazing mom – doing an amazing job.

  • Rachel

    You are doing a great job!
    My sister had a baby the same time you did. I described your illustrations of the baby nursing (or faking you out) and it made her feel so much better that someone else was going through the exact same thing. And she’s doing this for the second time, having nursed her first for over two years!
    It is absolutely all hormones and sleep deprivation. It does get better.

  • maggie

    It doesn’t really help to say, “it all will pass”, but it does…eventually, when they go to college (I hope) :) Oh, I remember those days! I’m amazed that you can even design your own announcements. I ended up at Crane mumbling, “Here’s all the info, you want a baby?” and “Take all my money, please…”

    Really, hormones suck. And one day we’ll all get enough sleep. And what does it say about us as a species, that it takes so long to get the whole nursing thing down? My guess, is that if it doesn’t kill us, it makes us stronger! :)

    Here’s a cheer for you!

  • Katherine

    I think you’re doing great, lots of bloggers don’t post when they have a baby. I don’t have kids so can’t offer more than that, but the new blog design is lovely and I adore the photos of Babybug, she’s beautiful.

  • Carrie

    I love that illustration. It just screams frustration and totally captures how I felt the first three months. I feel so dumb saying this b/c every one says it and it has no meaning at the time, but it really does get better. Just hang in there. It really is so haed to be redefined so suddenly and so completly,

  • JennB

    Jo, you’re doing just fine. Acknowledge the good that you’ve done. Parenting is tough, and there are very few lessons learned until you’re in the throes of it all. You’re doing great.
    And the acne will clear up. So will the green eye goop. She’s beautiful. Your hormones will steady out. You’re beautiful too. You’re doing a great job.

  • Dawn

    Breastfeeding was hard and I was torn with what to do… formula or breasatfeeding. It stressed me out and eventually, I stopped. What I’m saying is, do what’s best for you. Either way, you’ll have a wonderful, healthy little girl. Be happy!

  • nina

    You are doing a wonderful job as a new mother. It’s such an adjustment and it’s only been a month. You have created some wonderful artwork and you blog and you take pictures AND you are still recovering from childbirth.
    My own baby girl is going on 20…and your delightful blog brings it all back to me as if it were yesterday. She had the baby acne too and I was horrified when it appeared. And even more horrified by the fact that other people felt free to make comments and suggestions in stores. My favorite, from a lady from Korea-
    “It is caused by daddy’s whiskers brushing baby’s face!” (????)
    Looking back in the baby book, I can see that it passed within a month. Which feels like forever. But, it’s not!
    Be good to yourself. I’m impressed with your artistic talent and how well you are doing with your little girl. Enjoy those walks with that clever stroller- I recall our days in CA with a new baby as some of the best years of our lives. The nursing will get better, too. Do you have any friends who are also nursing?

  • Lisa

    SAJ, this too shall pass. I have 2 beautiful children, but I was in your place, feeling exactly the same way. Taking care of a newborn is the hardest job there is. They are so beautiful, but helpless and infuriating at times. Also, anyone that says breastfeeding is so easy and natural is LYING. It is hard work. I breastfed both of my children for a year, and it does get easier, but it is work. Your baby is beautiful, and you are doing a fabulous job. I know there can’t be enough of us giving you encouragement, because all of a sudden you forget who you are. Hang in there mama!

  • Kiki Dee

    Hang in there, SAJ, and do what’s best for *you.* Of the 10 friends I have who’ve had babies in the past 5 years, just 1 of them had an “easy” time of it. That’s a low 10%! Everyone else experienced various ranges of struggling. Know that you are not alone.

    There is so much pressure on Moms these days to do anything and everything that every expert says, that often many Moms forget that taking care of themselves is the single most important thing they can do to be an effective caregiver for their children.

    For some people, that means not breastfeeding (whether after numerous attempts, or from the get-go) and blocking out the comments of anyone who gives them a guilt complex for deciding to stop. It’s not giving up, it’s doing what’s best for you and your child.

    For other people, that means looking for as much cheering and support as their family, friends and the Internet can muster. And if you go that route, you sound like you have a ready squad of people willing to give you all the support you need!

    Baby Bug is just adorable, and you are the most creative new Mom I’ve ever seen. I have faith that you’ll find a solution or figure out what works best for you and that your creativity will experience new heights!

  • Andrea

    I can completely sympathize with what you are feeling. I’m a first-time mom to a 1 year old and those first few weeks still haunt me. Of course it was a wonderful time and I was ecstatic to be a mommy and have my precious boy, but it was also the hardest thing I’d ever gone through. I do not believe I had PPD, but I definitely had a strong case of the baby blues for a couple of weeks. People will always tell you being a mommy is the hardest job there is, but there is just no way to prepare for it or to truly understand that saying until you’ve experienced it yourself.

    I can promise you that it will get better. As Baby Bug grows, she will just get easier and easier to take care of. You will continue to get more confident as a mother. And best of all, things start to become FUN and not just hard work!!!

    I think you are doing a great job and am just amazed that you even find the time to keep up with your blog.

    About breastfeeding…way to go for sticking with it this long through all the hard times! I think most mothers would have thrown in the towel by now. If you are able to continue with it, I think Bug will get better with nursing as time goes on. It was awkward for me in the beginning, but has become something I absolutely treasure doing with my son and I get teary eyed when I think that we’ll be weaning soon. However, if you decide to go to the bottle now, there is no shame in that. Bug has gotten wonderful antibodies and nurtrients from you already and formula is some good stuff too.

    Sorry this was so long. I’m sending lots of big hugs your way!!!!

  • lauren

    i love this illustration! it totally made me smile .. you’re going through a ‘right of passage’ .. you know, like when you got your period for the first time. you went from a woman to a mother … it’s only been a month. it takes time to adjust.

  • mar

    Gotta agree with some of the others – I had 2 bad hormone “crashes” – one a few days after birth, one about 5 weeks. Be patient with yourselves – and with each other! So it takes you a few weeks to get your act together completely – who cares? Baby Bug is not going to be emotionally scarred if your birth announcements don’t got out for another week. She will still have a full and happy life if she has a little baby acne for a few weeks. Your mother/daughter relationship will still be fine even if you don’t look like the cover of “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”.

    There’s a kinda-too-cutesy poem out there somewhere that talks about the struggles of learning to be a parent. I can’t remember find it now, but it talks about being a new parent, and being so worried about doing everything right, etc. It ends with the line – don’t worry, your baby is new at being a baby too. Like I said, a little syrupy for me, but I loved the sentiment.

    Not sure if you’ve covered this, but have you seen a lactation consultant, or someone from LaLeche? (I know in some areas, the LLL are over the top self righteous zealots, but there are a lot of really good ones too!). They might be able to give you some better ideas of how to deal w/Baby Badger!

    Deep breaths – this time will pass so fast ….

  • mar

    Oh I forgot – definitely agree with the poster above who said if the breastfeeding becomes too much of a stress, and you feel it is totally ruining your life … know that you did the best you could, you gave Baby Bug the best possible start, and feel no guilt about moving to formula. And the heck with anyone who says otherwise! They’re not there in your shoes, feeling what you feel, dealing with what you are dealing with.

  • Ellen

    Don’t worry, Baby Agent will be pretty again in a week or two. And I felt like crap around that time also.

    (I’m gonna email you in a second)

  • Anna

    Everyone needs a cheering section!! And you are doing a great job!! The acne will be gone before you know it and your designs are great, so do not stop your work, it is an expression of you, you may just need a little break to enjoy being a Mom for a while. Your Paris postcard adorns my fridge and everyone who comes over admires it and loves it. Keep up the great work.

  • josephine

    Thank you internet. This is why I blog. Maybe I shouldn’t be so ashamed that I need you as a cheering section. Thank you. Thank you. Now I can work on giving something back.

  • rachel

    i felt the same exact way when my daughter was a few weeks old. and your illustration identifies the whole experience exactly. your designing is spot on. those hormones are terrible and the sleep deprivation doesn’t do one any favors either. i always felt like things were better than ever or the worst they could ever be. no middle ground. ALL new moms deserve a cheering section. i also felt challenged each time my daughter cried. i thought, somehow, that i should be able to keep her from crying and predict all of her needs ahead of time. but crying is her stress relief, not necessarily her complaining – well, both. but, she’s burning baby energy when she cries, not telling you that you’re doing something wrong. i know it feels different in the moment, when it feels like you should be doing something exactly right, post haste. but crying is like baby exercise, sometimes, and she’s getting her recommended daily dose; while you are doing an awesome job of meeting her needs.

  • Jamie

    Hang in there. I know you may tire of people saying that, but this too shall pass. My second daughter (now 11 months old) had horrible baby acne last summer and suddenly went bald overnight and it lasted maybe a month. It was her “ugly baby duckling” phase. Now she has this great shock of dark brunette hair that is all over the place and skin as, well, as smooth as a baby’s bottom. And breastfeeding is a full-time job the first few months (along with changing diapers). It does get easier, I promise. I love your illustrations, by the way. You are one talented mama!

  • Lissa

    Good for you for reaching out to the internets. Support is all around you, and the advice and comments have been really good. I hope you feel assured that what you’re feeling is normal, overwhelming yes, but normal. You’re in my prayers new mom!

  • Kristin

    Aaaah! I feel all your pain and wish I could scoop it and huck it into the sewer for you.

    a) The bumps are normal and Nolan had them and they totally go away.
    b) Nursing is easy and perfectly natural for No One except La Leche Leaguers (but in my experience it did get a helluva lot easier)
    c) You are a wicked designer, evidence, that drawing at the top.

    I know you’ve heard it before but it does get less overwhelming, promise.

    Thinking of you.

  • erika

    i believe things are going to get better for you. I don’t have kids, have never been where you are. but i believe.

    sending you hugs and kisses. :)

  • margalit

    RIght on time, I think. I know just where you are, a month into parenting and all of a sudden you look around and the focus, which has been solely on you for the past 9 months, is now on this baby that you love so much. It’s OK that the focus is on her, but it makes you feel kinda lost and left behind. Remember me, you want to yell. I’m the MOMMY and I need some attention, too. I remember at my 6 week checkup when I said goodbye to my OB, I sobbed and sobbed because she always was available to me and we developed a really close relationship, and then boom! she’s no longer my doctor and I have to walk about cold turkey. It sucked.

    Combined with a big giant case of new mommy brain and excess hormones, you’re just feeling blue, lonely, pent up, and kind of lost. Your life has changed forever, just like everyone said it would, but you can never prepare for the change no matter how sure you are that you’re going to be able to handle it. But you’re doing fine. Bug looks gorgeous (the acne will go away eventually) and she’s getting chubby and squishy, just how you want her to be.

    I’ve been through this feeding nightmare with my daughter, who never ever really nursed. She was a preemie and never developed the mouth strength for nursing. I pumped and pumped and pumped for a year for that kid. I hated every minute of it, but I did it whilst nursing her twin brother, who was that kid that rooted, latched on and nursed like a trooper since birth. If things doing clear up, you might ask your ped for an OT referral. It might be something in her mouth muscles or the way her palate is formed that is making nursing so hard fo you. But I know you’ll get through it. You’re doing great!

  • Lilo

    I just wanted to say that when my son was born I started to try to breastfeed. It hurt really badly, and while we were still in the hospital with the breast feeding coach woman there I said to my husband that I needed his help. The nursing woman immediately interjected that he would not be able to help, that I would need to take full responsibility to do this. I decided right then that I wanted our baby to have the ability to be nurtured and comforted by both of us. So our child was always given formula from then on. He is now ten years old, has been in the class for gifted children and is a very wonderful person and son. He has always had good health as well. I never got any judgemental comments or looks either. And my child and his father developed a strong bond very early on. So many different ways to parent in love…

  • Sistina

    I know right where you are as I stare at my own 7-week-old. She’s staring wide-eyed at me while stuffing her fist in her mouth. She’s been eating since six and it’s currently eight. She doesn’t like pacifiers. My boobs are tired. You are not alone. That’s all I can give you.

  • Sarcastic Journalist

    I wanted to email you, but couldn’t find the address. I just wanted to let you know that we all feel that way. At the beginning, it is so confusing. I SUCKED at “nursing” with my daughter. Really sucked at it.

    You won’t lose your identity, but it will take a little while to get back into the groove of things. Eventually, you will, and part of the identity you assume will include being a “mom.”

    You’re doing awesome. Okay? And, if you need to rant, you know where to find me: Up at 3am, kid on the boob.

  • liz

    Muffin Man HATED nursing. He wanted to face the room and see what was going on. So I pumped. And we gave him formula at night (Mr. Spock feeding him while I pumped at 2AM)

    There’s no failure in this. Though I really felt like I was one when it was happening. Why else have these ginormous breasts if he wasn’t going to eat fromo them. But they nourished him anyway and you will nourish your baby bug too.

    About the acne…has she had any shots lately? Or been on any antibiotics? I ditto also the soap question.

  • Marilyn

    That’s our role, right?…cheering section? See, all you have to do is come here…and everyone cheers you on. :) Hope you’re feeling better today. (Maybe it helped to get out and walk and feel ‘human’ again.) xoxo

  • Angel

    Let me tell you, parenting is hard. We never even got around to sending out announcements for our 2nd :::blush:::

    Even though I nursed my son for 2 years, it never felt completely natural. I always had to work hard at it. I mean, it was worth it, but don’t feel like you’re a failure.

    (((((Big hugs)))))))