The good, bad and ugly of being a new parent
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
View as webpage, click here.
Good morning and happy Monday. This month we’re focusing on the behemoth topic of child care. Today, we’re running an excerpt of an essay by Kaci Kohlhepp Conetzkey about life as a new mom and all of its complexities. You’ll definitely want to bookmark it and read the essay in its entirety when you have the spare time. Plus, if you’re still looking for gifts this season, we have Fearless T-shirts (for adults and kids) and notebooks. Have a great week!
Turning ‘should’ into ‘shit’
Photo by Emily Blobaum.
I knew being a mom was going to be hard. I'm the youngest of five with 10 nieces and nephews and three great nieces and nephews. I have one sister with triplet boys and another sister with a set of twins. I've been helping raise babies since the age of 10. Trust me when I say that I was not this naive mother-to-be who envisioned her new life would consist of gazing into my newborn's eyes as he slept peacefully hours on end and think, "What a blessing. I'm the luckiest woman in the world."

With that being said, I should preface that there are women who truly feel or felt this way and I should note that some of you reading this might not be able to relate to anything I am saying from this point on. And that is amazing and I envy you and applaud you at the same time. However, I was not that woman and this is not going to be that kind of story.

This story is for others out there who are like me and did not have this magical Disneyland experience after their child was born, and my hope for you reading this is to let you know that what you have felt is completely OK and, dare I say, normal.

So moving forward into this journey, I was fully prepared knowing the first few weeks after this tiny human was born were going to straight-up suck and this kid was easily going to be my toughest challenge yet. There would be sleep deprivation, a lot of crying (from both the kid and the parents), dirty diapers and a whole lot of just trying to survive while keeping this new life-form alive. What I was not prepared for was how I was going to mentally handle everything. I remember learning about the baby blues and postpartum depression and I had countless moms with every good intention hold back their true feelings because they didn't want to scare me.

Looking back, I wish these moms who struggled with PPD and baby blues would have opened up to me because although it may have scared me, it also would have prepared me. Which is why I decided to write this. To really get into the good, the bad and the ugly so hopefully future moms and dads out there will be more prepared than I was and truly understand that the real shit (pun intended) is not covered in those baby classes.

The first few weeks after our son, Kolhtin, was born, how to put this delicately, I was a fucking mess. Going into this, I thought in between all the terrible moments I would be getting a silver lining when I would look at my son and think, "Yes, this sucks, but it's worth it." I did not. Like at all. Hell, I would have taken a charcoal lining. From the moment he was born, I felt no connection or bond.

I remember them handing him to me after the delivery and he was so awake and observant. He had these huge blue eyes and he looked right at me, and I remember going, "Huh, so you’re the one who was kicking the shit out of me for nine months." The skies did not open up to beam down a ray of light on this child. There were no trumpets sounding or angels singing. No tears of joy were shed. There was me shaking uncontrollably from all the drugs and hormones, lying in a hospital bed holding this 7-pound baby, petrified that I was going to drop him and feeling no maternal instinct toward him whatsoever.

It didn't get better after that. The first few days home from the hospital I attempted to breastfeed. It. Was. A. Nightmare. Fortunately, like all good journalists and Ph.D. graduates, Chris and I did our research on the benefits of breast milk before Kohltin was born.

Turns out, breast milk is not this magical elixir of life that everyone makes it out to be. In fact, most of the studies out there stating the benefits of breast milk, such as higher IQ, reduced allergies and reduced illness, are flawed and outdated and as a result, there really is no real health benefit to breast milk over formula.

In fact, the biggest benefit is for the mother, in that it reduces breast cancer by a small percentage. (If you want more information regarding these findings, refer to the book "Cribsheet" by Emily Oster.)  

But there is a reason millions of moms choose to do it and why I decided I wanted to give it a try. Most women truly enjoy breastfeeding and being able to provide that for their child while simultaneously being able to bond with them. And this is amazing. However, I quickly found out I was not one of those women. In actuality, it caused me the complete opposite. I literally could not form a bond with Kohltin because I saw myself strictly as a food source and nothing more.

I cried that first week more than Chris has seen me cry in the 15 years we have been together combined. Finally, after about a week of no sleep and mental breakdowns, Chris looked at me and said, "You're not doing this anymore. We have done our research and this literally is not worth it. We're switching to formula." Again I started crying.

Even after doing all of the research and knowing that there is no real benefit of breast milk over formula, I felt guilty for giving up. I felt like I was depriving Kohltin of something he needed when in actuality it was the one million hormones coursing through my body making me not think straight.  

Things definitely got better from there, but it was still going to be a road to recovery for me. As Chris labeled it, "Mission Get Kaci Healthy" was going full speed ahead. I was constantly beating myself up for my feelings and believing I was the only one who felt like this. I was ashamed. Everything I read and every mom I knew would always say the same thing. Yes, it's hard but at the end of the day they loved being a mom and wouldn't change it for anything. I, on the other hand, did not like being a mom and felt like I was not cut out for this job.

Once again, I felt like the worst person ever. All things considered, Kohltin was a pretty good baby, so shouldn't I be finding more joy in this? In between the sleep deprivation and crying, shouldn't I be looking at my son sleeping and get that motherly love and devotion that all the blogs talk about? It's during these times that I think back to what my therapist said when I was voicing these concerns. She looked right at me and said, "From now on, you need to replace the ‘should’ with ‘shit.’"

During the day, Kaci works as a career advantage academic adviser at DMACC and spends time with her family: her husband Chris, who is executive editor and publisher of the Business Record, son Kohltin and rescue terrier Payton. In her free time, you can usually find her in the theater, being as active as possible or stuffing her face with as many french fries as she can find.
Left: Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman. Center: Vanderbilt's Sarah Fuller. Right: Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Here's what else is happening
Worth consuming
Iowa is what happens when the government does nothing. (The Atlantic). The imbalance of labor at home is destroying the American economy (Fast Company podcast). Home care workers and their clients are in an impossible position during the pandemic (Prism). More than 1 in 4 women with children report experiencing food insecurity (The 19th). Netflix paid tribute to working moms who hide their bumps. For some, it just showed how broken the system is (The Lily). A look at Janet Yellen, Joe Biden’s pick for treasury secretary (The Daily podcast). "It’s time for white women of a certain age to make space, to move aside, to pay it forward" (The 19th). In 1969, IBM fired Lynn Conway for being transgender. Fifty-two years later, she finally got an apology (The 19th). What it’s like to attend Harvard from your childhood bedroom (PBS Newshour). There’s a certain worker in high demand during this pandemic: multiskilled, flexible, resilient, tolerant of risk and the great unknown. Basically, immigrants (Fortune). Are female founders being unfairly targeted? (Fortune). How Colorado passed paid family leave legislation (Slate).
There are a plethora of resources out there about the issue of child care and parenting. This list is a good place to start.

Tell us: What would an ideal family leave policy look like? Submit your response here.
Like this newsletter? Please forward to a friend!
Did someone share this newsletter with you? Sign up here.

Business Publications Corporation Inc.

515.288.3336  |

Contact the publisher and executive editor:
Contact Fearless contributing editor:
Submit press release:
Advertising info:
Membership info:

Copyright © BPC 2020, All rights reserved.
Reproduction or use without permission of editorial or graphic content in any manner is strictly prohibited.

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign