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Love makes a baby. Motherhood made me the woman I am today

My boobs were sore.

I remember that’s why I thought I might be pregnant. And not in an “Oh, I’m getting my period” kind of way. They kind of felt like they’d been through a few matches of Fight Club. So I took a test.


Positive.

I couldn’t believe it. I came out of the washroom and did a kind of a nervous laugh as I told the news to my husband, Ashley.

“It’s positive,” I said. “We’re pregnant.”

“Really?” he replied. He was as exhausted as I was; don’t knock him for his reaction.

I felt exactly the same in that moment. Please, please don’t take my wine away from me!

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“I need a shower,” he said. We hugged and kissed, and I brought him a beer in the shower.

At least one of us could have a drink while we digested this life-changing news.

But really, the story starts earlier.

Like two months earlier. We were sitting on our torn-apart brown leather couch, watching Doctor Who and having what we consider the perfect evening.

We’re both social people, but snuggling on the couch is sometimes exactly what you need. I turned to Ash and said, “Hey, hun, know what would make this night really perfect?”

“What?” he replied.

“If there was a cute and snuggly little baby sitting in between us.”

Just like that. No big discussion, no nothing really. We were ready to become parents. And like most decisions the two of us make together, we were already on the same page. So we started trying. Or rather, not not trying.

We were ready to become parents. And like most decisions the two of us make together, we were already on the same page.

Fast-forward eight weeks and... beer in the shower time.

After we both had a good night’s rest, we celebrated and got properly excited in the morning.

Really, we were excited!

But that first reactionthat is what really set the tone of what motherhood is for me.

It’s not the second celebration where you take photos and post them on social media looking perfectly styled.

It’s that first moment.

That moment where you gain the knowledge that suddenly the two of you aren’t alone anymore.

That your love created a third—a child.

It’s overwhelming, and, frankly, I think we reacted in the only way we could.

Reassuring each other that, yes, we understood each other.

That, yes, we could still be ourselves with each other like we always had.

And that, yes, we are still each other’s best friend. The best friend who brings you beer in the shower (be honest, you wish your best friend did that for you).

Fast-forward another nine months (we really like our time travel around here), and baby Sawyer was born. She was everything I hoped she would be, and we quickly mastered all the things I was nervous about: nursing, diaper changes and baby-wearing.

I was loving it.

And yet, navigating the changes that motherhood brings is not easy.

In a sense, motherhood forces you to grieve the person you used to be before you can love the person you’ve become.

It’s a grief that feels out of place next to the euphoric exhaustion of a new baby. But it’s there.

Grief, hiding just under the surface.

Looking back, I can clearly see that I went through all the stages of grief.

Denial that my life would be any different, that I would be any different.

Anger at myself and my baby for preventing me from doing things like six-hour road trips. (Trust me: Do not attempt this with a 6-week-old who hates her car seat.)

Bargaining: If I just get through the next few weeks, life can go back to how it used to be.

Then I had what I think may have been a brief stint of postpartum depression around the eight-week mark.

And acceptance. Finding a rhythm. Starting to enjoy my hobbies again. Stretching, exercising, playing music. And did I mention starting a company? I didn’t? Oh yeah. When my baby was 4 months old, I launched Beluga Baby. But that’s another story. The story of “Starting a business with a newborn,” or, “How Haley went insane.”

The thing that sets apart the transition into motherhood from grief is this: There is a sixth stage. I’m going to call it “Bloom.” Because this is my article, and I can call it whatever the heck I want. Bloom is when all the best pieces of who you used to be and all the pieces of who you’ve become start to collide and make a wiser, more loving you.

A baby is love, and that love permeates through me and affects everything I do: every conversation I have, every action I take, every business decision I make.

I like myself better now. She’s made me a better person.

And that was worth every ugly cry, mom bun, puke stain and missed appointment.

It was from that love that the new me was born.

Haley is the owner and developer of Beluga Wrap, a bamboo baby carrier made in Vancouver, Canada. She gave birth to her baby girl April 2015 and launched her company four months later. Despite the insanity of running a startup with a newborn, she wouldn’t do it any other way.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school 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 summer-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.

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

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

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective 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

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden 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

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

janod toys pull along hippo toy

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

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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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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Becoming a mother has been life-changing. It's been hard, tiring, gratifying, beautiful, challenging, scary and a thousand other things that only a parent would ever understand.

It is these life-changing experiences that have inspired me to draw my everyday life as a stay at home mom. Whether it's the mundane tasks like doing laundry or the exciting moments of James', my baby boy's, first steps, I want to put it down on paper so that I can better cherish these fleeting moments that are often overlooked.

Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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