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This weekend I got to experience magic: One of my best friends invited me and a few others to be there for the birth of her first baby. I’ve never seen birth except my own.


It was magic. Birth is magic. It is terrible, it is messy and it is brilliant. After 24 hours of hard labor and zero results, my friend had gotten a epidural. She cracked jokes as she nibbled graham crackers between pushing contractions. What a rockstar. She was so strong and so powerful… I have never seen her so beautiful. Her husband stroked her head and held her hand as she used all her strength to bring new life into the world.

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We cheered her on like it was the World Cup. At one point we offered to leave the room and the midwife looked at us intently, “No, she needs you–she pushes harder when you encourage her.”

“This is how it used to be,” she said, “Women gathered, supporting each other during birth.”

As she gave the final push, Flora Milo became, and I watched her dear parents also become. They will never be the same. We all burst into tears as this tiny being was placed on Allie’s chest. Magic. Blood, sweat and tears, had brought them to this moment. Crushed hearts, tragic loss, health battles and doctors that said this moment would never happen… Yet, here they are.

And here is this baby who says I beg to differ.

And we cry, because magic.

As I held this precious one, I thought of my own babes when they were brand new earth side… And my heart hurt. I remember the magic. I remember the simplicity of eat, sleep, eat, sleep.

That night I was looking for pictures and I came across Facebook posts from two and three years ago. My heart sank. Their precious tiny faces. Oh how I miss it! How’d it go by so quickly? The moment didn’t seem special when I was in it. It seemed stressful and hectic. It seemed like something to survive until everyone was finally in their beds, fast asleep.

I was disturbed by the regret that gripped my heart. What was I worried about then? I was worried about my pant size and whether Scout would ever stop throwing tantrums. I was worried about the budget and whether or not my floor was clean. I was worried about me.

How am I ever going to stop worrying so much about me?

I have somehow misplaced this magic. This magic that lives and breathes and wakes up in my house every morning.

Haven with her big hair and puffy eyes. She sometimes is cute, other times she growls in response to our cheer with clenched fists and an arched neck. Her eyes say DO NOT SPEAK THESE GOOD MORNING WORDS TO ME.

It will get better when you can have coffee dear-heart, hang in there.

Magic.

Magic is the smell of Oaklee after a bath. It is all of us dancing in the living room to Shakira and Robin Thicke after movie night. Magic is when Haven sings to Bob the cat about how she wasn’t trying to hurt him. It is Scout crying because Malachi got in trouble. It is that four kids ask to have sleepovers together on their bedroom floor.

Magic.

There is magic happening all around me every day… Why do I miss it?

Sometimes there is no coffee strong enough. Sometimes I look inside my bottom fridge drawer and witness things a person can never unsee. Sometimes it’s the whining and the bickering and it’s the constant of eat, clean, eat, clean. Sometimes it’s that life is painful and it feels like it is closing in from every side.

It’s the constant, persistent, wondering if I am doing this. all. wrong.

It’s the wondering if I can really raise these children into the incredible adults I know they can be. Will they be kind? Will they be strong? Will they be healthy?

I think about my friend giving birth.

Could it be that the process and pain of labor isn’t really over? Our mother hearts are in the wringer daily. With each transition and every stage of growth–our minds often scream, “I CANNOT DO THIS.”

And we lose the magic… for good reason. Because it is hard.

Birth isn’t that magical when you’re doing it. It is a lot more like pain and really, really hard work.

But, we are not doing it alone. We are a sisterhood. A sisterhood of flawed mothers doing our very best.

So my friend, wherever you are at, and whatever your story,

As one flawed mama to another,

I want to take your hand and say LISTEN TO ME. YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR. You are DOING IT!! This is HARD, but you are CAPABLE. Look at the amazing children you are raising…WOW! Look at how STRONG you are…

Because we can most definitely, certainly do it better together.

Mama, YOU are INCREDIBLE. Look at you.

Childhood is magic. It is terrible, it is messy, it is brilliant.

Let’s cheer each other on like it’s the World Cup.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking.

On July 13, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced the 33-year-old mother's body was found at Lake Piru, five days after her son was found floating alone on a rented boat. According to Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub, Rivera's last action was to save her son.

"We know from speaking with her son that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point in her journey. It was at that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water," Ayub explained, adding that Rivera's son was wearing his life vest, but the adult life vest was left on the unanchored boat.

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Ayub says exactly what caused the drowning is still speculation but investigators believe the boat started drifting and that Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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