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Dear first trimester

You make the sanest of women go completely insane. (But you’re so worth it.)

Dear first trimester

Dearest first trimester,

I'm here because someone has to say it.

You suck. Like, a lot.

You make the sanest women go completely crazy. I hear you denying it. I see your coy smile; I hear your whispers about the most magical miracle nature has to offer.

I'm drawn in by the promise of the pregnant lady glow. ✨

I wish I could say this is the first time I have fallen for your charms, but that would be a lie. Between your pregnancy announcement ideas and the claims that the nausea will go away before you know it, any day now, you keep women so wrapped up that few call you out.

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But it needs to be done.

I started planning for you months before you showed up. I counted days, tracked ovulation, held my breath each month waiting for my period to crush my dreams. Then, when my period showed up, I secretly breathed a tiny sigh of relief because as desperately as I longed for a baby, a little part of me was thankful for one more month of freedom before the first trimester took over my life.

Then came the month where my period was a day late. Probably nothing. Just an off month. Then two days late. I finally grabbed my box of $30 pregnancy tests (because the insanity had already begun and I automatically assumed that more expensive meant more accurate).

I sneaked a test into the bathroom for the first morning pee. Took the test. The fancy digital kind. Prepared for two words. After the three longest minutes of my life, one word stared back at me.

PREGNANT.

Wait, what?

Then I took approximately 12 more pregnancy tests, trying different brands and varieties, just to be sure. I'll never be able to send my kids to college because I spent all my money on pregnancy tests, but at least I was almost positive that I was indeed pregnant.

Excitement and horror intermingled and I thought I might be sick. Flashbacks to my first and second pregnancies crippled me with fear. Why would anyone voluntarily make themselves ill for four to nine months? Oh, right. Because I love my babies. But it wasn't until that exact moment that I remembered how desperately I sometimes hate being pregnant.


The next two weeks were a blur of waiting for the worst to come and praying that maybe I'd be one of the lucky ones this time. One of the ladies who gets to say, “Oh, nausea? Well, one time I felt a little sick when I skipped lunch, but then I ate a cracker and felt brand-new!" But I know I will never be one of them.

I felt like a storm watcher tracking tornadoes in Oklahoma. No one knows when the next one will hit, but everyone knows it's coming.

This first trimester madness starts with the underwear check.

No one wants to say it out loud, but every single mama who has recently peed on a pregnancy test and gotten that big fat positive checks her underwear for blood every single time she goes to the bathroom. And sometimes she goes to the bathroom for that purpose only. Like 200 times a day. It's crazy. And it's part of being a mother. Because we already love that tiny microscopic life so damn much that the fear of losing that child is already a part of who we are.

Sometimes we make it through that season of fear and get to the ultrasound, where we see a heartbeat and know all is well. For now. Sometimes we never make it that far and hearts break and grief is our journey.

Around ultrasound time (or for me, long before that time), the exhaustion and nausea set in. For most of us, the exhaustion is all-encompassing and the nausea makes daily life nearly impossible. I see women online doing CrossFit or running marathons through their pregnancies and all I can think is, Someday I'll have the energy to shower.

As the first trimester progressed, my life became filled with rice cakes and ginger candies and peppermint tea. I lost weight. I lost the tiny bit of muscle I had. I scrolled through Facebook and Instagram and envied my friends who were out in public and interacting with real human beings.

I threw up basically always.

This time I had kids who were old enough to follow me to the bathroom, the one with the lock that doesn't work. I threw up daily to a soundtrack of, “Mom! Can I have a snack?" “Mom, when you're done throwing up I really need to show you something!" “Mom, can I sit on your lap?" And on the really lucky days they both crowded around and leaned over my back while yelling, “I WANT TO SEE YOUR THROW-UP!!!!"

I wanted to scream at them. I wanted to tell them to get the crap out of the bathroom. But each time I tried to speak I just heaved and threw up more and more. So with all my dignity gone they discussed the size and color and volume of my vomit. While I wiped sweat from my brow and reminded myself that it was so going to be worth it someday.

You see, my dear first trimester, after four pregnancies, I can say with confidence: You are one of the worst experiences of my life.

You have put me in the hospital multiple times just to keep enough fluids in my body. You have made me so physically weak that I could hardly stand. You have messed with all my hormones and caused me to have panic attacks so severe I was positive I was dying. You have forced me to miss out on multiple weddings for some of my best friends. You have secluded me from real life for months at a time. You broke my heart when I lost a baby I loved so deeply. And I am only one person. I have heard countless stories from other women who have braved your horrors multiple times. Each story is unique but almost always with the same theme. You are hard. You can be miserable and last forever and are too often heartbreaking.

You are the worst.

But you bring the very, very best.

Suffering through you brought me my boys. Choosing you once again gave me the gift of my baby who I never got to hold but who forever changed our family. Today marks the first day of my second trimester with our tiny rainbow baby, and I mean it with all of my heart when I say I hated every second of you this time around also. But I chose you. Because I needed you.

You are awful. But deeply important. And the truth is, I would choose you all over again a million times.

We all would.


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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

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    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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