Shop the fall collection ➔

Do you remember those first moments with your newborn? Most of us likely experienced a mix of bliss paired with some nervous apprehension as we processed our enormous new love and responsibility. But what of the parents and new babies with all that same love, but medical challenges that rocket the apprehensions to new heights. In honor of February’s Heart Month, what of the warrior hearts?

You’ve been intensely monitored for months of your pregnancy, ever since that mid-term scan. The ultrasonographer seemed to take an extra-long time, tried to calm your rising anxiety with, “I’m sure it’s nothing. They’ll probably just do another test to confirm.” Then it wasn’t nothing, and you attempted to prepare yourself for a scary storm that would accompany your sweet one’s arrival. Inside you, he was growing and thriving, but on the other side loomed open-heart surgery. A thought you still couldn’t quite come to grips with when envisioning finally meeting your precious babe. And then . . . 

Baby’s first cry enters the room and your soul knows a new level of elation.

Nerve shaking anticipation while he’s assessed by the doctors.

Your eyes meet his face with heart-bursting joy. Cold flush of sweat as a knowing wave of the waiting challenge washes over.

Happy overwhelmed tears peak from the corners of your eyes for those first touches . . . gripping tiny fingers, tracing round cheeks, soft kisses to the top of the head, the warm gentle weight of his little body against yours. Sharp IV pokes, the cool touch of stethoscopes and scans, the stick of cardiac monitors placed.

The dreamy love melting sounds of sweet coos, little cries, bitty lips adorably stretching and breathing out a soft yawn. Machines beeping, medical talk of surgical details and plans, the sound of your own heartbeat fast and suddenly audible in moments of overwhelmed worry. 

The gut wrench and simultaneous thanksgiving of seeing your baby wheeled away for a heart-saving surgery. The waiting . . . in silence at times, zoning everything out. In hyper-awareness of each sound and sight the next moment. The constant buzz of your phone as loved ones check in for updates. An obsessive watch over your phone for a call from the surgical team providing you those updates. Trying to remain still while about to explode from a tornado of concerned energy over your baby that can’t be quieted. Acutely aware of each second, each minute, each hour. Tears . . . and then quickly pulling yourself together for fear that if you allow them full release, it might be a tide you can’t control. 

A whole body sigh of relief as your baby is wheeled back toward you. Seeing straight through the tubes, cords, monitors, and equipment that drape and surround him to the sweet face that holds a direct connection to your soul. 

A tireless vigil begins toward recovery. Away from his side for only short periods to sleep and shower, your mind and heart never leave. Deep appreciation and awe for the professionals that have worked such delicate life-saving expertise, matched with relentless monitoring and advocating. Tests and trials, then gifts of quiet in the room giving way to moments of peace and comfort. Dad reads to baby, and you allow yourself a “guard down” breath for just an instant.

A new strength has come over you both.

You’ve become the endurance athletes of new parents. Hands together and in awe of the might of soul and stamina you’ve witnessed grow in one another. 

The long-awaited homecoming day brings relief and new challenges. You’ve learned a new language and dance of tube feedings, patience filled bottle attempts, counting cc’s, monitoring stats, and incision care. You see your baby start to relax a bit, finally home, away from fluorescent lights, noises and the ever-present pokes and prods of the hospital.

It may not have been the easy path, or what you envisioned and wished for your sweet one. But in every journey, especially the hard ones, there are blessings to be found along the way. 

In this one, perhaps the greatest is the gift of the truest gratitude.

In the most trying of times, witnessing your fresh to the world tiny baby with a battle to fight, YOU were able to be his comfort. You brought a knowing light to his little eyes, and calm to his body in otherwise moments of distress. You were blessed to be with him always, to be his sense of peace and home, to be his ever-vigilant warrior fighting alongside.

Gratitude . . . and three hearts forever changed and bonded. 

Written in honor of Heart Warrior Baby Milo, and his inspiring parents, Catherine and George. 

“The Strongest Hearts, Have The Most Scars.” -Jeff Hood. 

Emily Roussell

Emily Roussell is author of the tender children's book for new babies and moms, ‘Rock You Tonight.’ It reads like a lullaby, while telling the story of a tired and distracted mom who slows to fully embrace the wonder of and love for her baby. This book was penned when her first children, twins, were just months old. Life was exhausting, upside down, and …blissful. Find it in hard copy or kindle edition on Amazon! Emily and her husband gratefully enjoy a happy circus of life with four children. You can find her at Facebook.com/youarelovedemilyroussell

No One Will Ever Call Me Mom

In: Baby, Motherhood
Negative result digital pregnancy test

This is going to be a tough one. Another seemingly innocuous situation that should be easy, but for me is anything but. It comes in different forms—a conversation, a moment in a TV show, a scene in a book—but it always has the same effect. Some reference to motherhood makes me flinch.  Today, it’s in an English lesson I’m teaching online to a 7-year-old boy in China. I’m supposed to be teaching him to say, “This is my mom.” Slide after slide in the lesson shows a happy mom cuddled next to her child. Mom and daughter hugging. A toddler...

Keep Reading

To the Nurses Who Loved My Baby In the NICU

In: Baby, Motherhood
Woman smiling at newborn in hospital chair

I wish I could remember your face. Your name. Something. But I only had eyes for the tiny baby in front of me. My whole world was about to change and I think you understood that more than I did. He was so tiny. Impossibly small. I had never held a baby so little. He made up for his teeny size with an impressive mop of jet black hair that stood straight up on top of his head. He also had hair all over his body and you reassured me this was normal for a preemie. There was so much...

Keep Reading

My Last Baby Changed Me

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother and baby touching foreheads

I was already a mom of two teenagers. I thought I’d move to a city and join corporate America in a few years. But my last baby changed me. There would be no law school or big city living. Now, I write about life in my little country home. And I don’t see that changing. I thought I’d be that old lady with 10 cats. I already had three I snuggled and loved on. I never cared about the litter box, the clawed couches, or the meowing. But now I find myself disliking pets. I hope that might change. But...

Keep Reading

Real Life Maternity Photos Are Beautiful Too

In: Baby, Motherhood
Pregnant women on floor next to toilet, black-and-white photo

As a maternity and newborn photographer, my feed is full of radiant moms and seemingly tidy spaces in the families’ homes we work in. We always want you looking and feeling your best in your photos, and to avoid clutter that can distract from the beautiful moments we’re capturing. An unfortunate side effect is that it creates the impression of perfection, which can be intimidating for anyone interested in booking a photography session. In our consultations, we frequently hear concerns from pregnant moms like, “I’ve gained so much weight,” “I have nothing to wear,” “My home is a mess,” or...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

You Used To Fit In My Lap

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler lying on mom's lap in rocking chair, color photo

Hi Love, Remember when you could fit comfortably across my lap in this chair? I do. We’ve done a lot of sleeping and feeding and reading and rocking and laughing and crying (yes, both of us) here these last few years. We still manage to make it work for all of the above, but these days we most often sit side by side. When we don’t, I’m fairly certain we both wake up sore the next day from the necessary contortions. (OK, probably just me.) It’s true, there is a larger chair waiting for us in what will soon be...

Keep Reading

We Don’t Get To Know You, but We Will Always Love You

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
Couple holding baby announcement

Dear baby, There is still so much about your dad and me you don’t know, but that takes time. Parents aren’t the only ones watching loved ones evolve. Over time, kids meet new versions of their parents too—we change, we make mistakes, we grow. I often think about what an adult relationship with you would look like, how we might bond or argue, the inside jokes we might have, how we’d show each other love. I hope we’d be close. I don’t know if you’d be loud and goofy like your dad, an empath like me, or something else entirely....

Keep Reading

5 Ways Being a NICU Mom Changed Me for the Better

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother holding up smiling baby, color photo

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was panicking inside. A multiples pregnancy would be anything but a breeze. At our 20-week scan, my husband and I were told that our baby girl had a life-threatening birth defect that could lead to serious complications like heart failure and even death if left untreated. In addition to interventions during the pregnancy, she would require lung surgery immediately after birth. This diagnosis coupled with the fact that our babies were born at 34-weeks earned us a NICU stay of nearly three months.   I could write a whole book...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Your Baby Starts Out Feeling Like a Stranger

In: Baby, Motherhood
Newborn feet

Rolling over in bed, lights off and covers pulled high, I whispered to my husband, “It finally happened. I feel bonded with Bubba.” Our sweet 3-month-old slept peacefully in the cradle beside us as I shared the happy news. I laid back on the pillow and smiled up at the ceiling in a silent prayer of thanksgiving and joy. Motherhood feels like the most instinctual journey I have ever walked, but bonding doesn’t come naturally to me, and it never has. When I pulled our firstborn onto my chest for the first time a few years ago, I expected the...

Keep Reading

Becoming Someone’s Mother Can Feel Foreign

In: Baby, Motherhood
New mom holding baby

For my little girl—I’m so blessed I get to be a part of her world. My life changed in a minute. She came into this world so perfect and innocent. I heard her cry and then they handed her over. I held her in my arms and thought I would know her. I longed for that feeling, like I finally felt whole. But the longer I held her, the bigger the hole grew in my soul. It wasn’t long after, in a room full of people, I felt so alone. Motherhood can be evil. I just wanted to go home....

Keep Reading