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You're in the home stretch. Dinner is done. Toys have been tidied. PJs are on. You have storybooks in hand, and there is just one more thing to do. "Time to brush your teeth," you tell your 5-year-old, who looks at you and yells, "NO!" then runs in the opposite direction.

You wonder why you are surprised since this happens most nights. You could pull them out from under the bed where you know they are hiding, and bring them kicking and screaming to the bathroom (reminding them how they need to brush their teeth to avoid cavities). You could give in and tell them their teeth have to be done tomorrow (and face the same argument all over again then.) You could offer a barter. An extra book and a song in return for compliance. However, you know they will string out negotiations and your frustration will hit new levels.

But bribes, rewards and forcing a child do not work long-term.

When children resist doing things that need to be done, our options can feel limited. And none of the above strategies prove useful for long. Forcing a child to do something feels harsh and diminishes trust. Giving in shows a child that when they go off-track, you cave in, and puts them in a position of too much authority for their young years. And bartering and rewards have been shown to reduce children's intrinsic motivation; in addition, they continue the struggle between you.

When a child refuses to do what you ask, there are hidden reasons. Our kids don't deliberately say no just to push our buttons. When they do say no, it's because their feelings and emotions have overwhelmed their ability to think and cooperate. Saying "No!" is a signal that your attention on the subject is needed. The options above are temporary solutions based on wielding power over an already anxious child, or on giving up forging a healthy solution that pleases both of you.

Here's an approach that fosters trust, partnership and co-regulation. It involves discovering a supportive way to work with your child to dissolve the feelings driving their resistance, until they're happy to be part of the solution.

With some forward planning, your child will soon feel able to do more of the things you ask. You can think of it as the Seven C's For Holding An Expectation.

  1. Continuing process: When setting limits, adopt a long-term view
  2. Choose: Decide which request you want to work on
  3. Cultivate: Lay the groundwork with both yourself and your child
  4. Communicate/consent: Set the expectations limit when things are calm
  5. Confidence: Hold the expectation
  6. Calm: Calm and helpful responses to use when your child says no
  7. Care: Respond with listening and care when your child says no

1. Continuing process: Adopt a long-term view

We often think of limit-setting as something that has to happen quickly, when we ask and without delay. And we seek quick fixes when we don't get immediate obedience. In this fresh approach, it's important to see limit-setting as an ongoing project. We will be working not on the resistance itself, but the cause of the resistance. This requires a longer-term view, but will bring lasting transformation.

2. Choose: Decide which request you want to work on

If your child resists waking up, eating breakfast, going to school, picking up their belongings and going to sleep, it can be hard to know where to start. And it's tempting to want to work on everything at once, but don't! Pick one issue, and focus there.

Decide which limit is most important to you, and why, then find a good time to approach the subject when things are calm (and before you need it done).

3. Cultivate: Lay the groundwork

Approach the resistance from both sides.

Groundwork with your child: When we are getting along well with someone else, we are more trusting and able to answer to their requests, and so before holding an expectation you want to make sure you are feeling in touch, open, and close to your child. There are a few good ways to build this closeness.

Sharing time doing the things your child chooses, laughing often, and playing together are all helpful ways to build that connection. Using Hand in Hand Parenting's Playlistening and Special Time tools naturally builds opportunities to interact in a way that fosters closeness each day.

Special Time: An invitation to play in which you give your child a specific amount of time to choose what they want to play, and how you will be involved, is a brilliant tool to use often. It helps your child feel the warmth of your attention. Once you have identified a pattern of resistance around a task, you can boost connection further by offering five or 10 minutes of Special Time before you hold an expectation for them to do something. If your child's resistance to a task is linked to needing more of your attention, you may even see their resistance totally disappear after some intensive Special Time.

You can also try using Playlistening around tasks and expectations in these ways:

  • Reverse roles and become the one who doesn't want to do things. Make it exaggerated and playful, but only continue if you find it makes your child laugh.
  • Create a routine of a playful and physical play with lots of laughter. For example, while I was building toward addressing my son's frequent resistance, we played more roughhousing games, usually before we began our bedtime routine.

Playlistening helps you target resistance indirectly, using laughter and play, and can be a powerful way to shift your child's shouts of "No" to "Yes."

Groundwork for yourself : Setting limits is as much about us as it is our kids. Although a child's refusal might appear to be their issue, it can trigger a rush of feelings for us too. It helps to start holding an expectation or a limit after getting grounded and comfortable about it ourselves.

For instance, when my son suddenly resisted going to preschool for a few consecutive mornings, I started doing my own groundwork. I checked to see if I still thought that the preschool was right for him, and thought once again about whether he was ready for it. Yes was my answer to both, so I continued holding the expectation that he would go.

I checked in with my best thinking using a Listening Partnership, which is a way to address what's going on in your head, check biases from your own upbringing, and experience the kind of emotional support that you'd like to offer your child. There are many places to find a parent who might like to do a free exchange of listening time with you, including this group, and the process is simple.

Having the space to clear out how you feel about limits in general, and to offload the feelings you have about the particular expectation you want to hold for your child, will help you get comfortable with setting the limit. Listening Partnerships give you a place to feel heard and held.

Here are some ideas to experiment with in your listening time when you are working on holding an expectation.

A Listening Partner role models holding expectation for you

A good place to begin with this is by sharing where you have difficulties meeting expectations in your own life. Taxes? Folding clothes? Being on time?

Ask your listening partner to hold the expectation that you are working on: "It's time to do your expense sheet now." Their role is to help you find the exact feelings that underlie your resistance. It's not to make you do the thing you resist!

Then you can say all the things you want to say, without any censorship:

"I don't want to!"

"You do it for me!"

"I'll do it later!'

Your listening partner can just listen with a full attention or if it is helpful, they can offer a phrase (You can set this up before your listening time begins.) Try, "It's time to do it now," or "Expense sheet!" or "I am sure you can do it… and right now show me how hard it is."

You will notice feelings bubbling up–you might feel embarrassed, guilty, insulted…the possible reactions are countless! If you feel safe enough, you will release the tension you feel in laughter, a tantrum, a light sweat, or in crying about how overwhelmed or exhausted you feel.

Once you have processed those feelings, go a bit deeper. Have them ask, "Tell me the first time you did not like doing things you are supposed to."

There's nothing like putting yourself in another's shoes to build empathy, and this time, you get to see the world from your child's point of view. You also get to experience the kind of limit setting that involves meeting expectations with a listener's support. You'll have a loving reminder of the expectation and permission to process feelings in the presence of caring person.

This makes it a whole lot easier to offer similar permission to your child.

Offload your feelings about your child's behaviors in your Listening Partnership

You can also ask your listening partner to role-play your resistant child, and then let loose with all the reactions you have inside. This gives you a chance to start processing them.

If setting limits this way feels hard, that's okay.

Many of us may have a hard time imagining what calmly and warmly holding an expectation looks like because it is such a departure from the way we were raised. It's natural to feel difficulty trying to do something we haven't experienced. Your listening partner can model what you may have a hard time imagining, by role-playing setting a loving limit with you, or around the tasks your child resists.

4. Communicate/consent: Set the expectations limit when things are calm

And so, with groundwork laid, you can begin work on your child's refusal. Begin by setting the limit when things are calm, and you feel well resourced. Announcing the expectation may sound like, "We will go to your school after Special Time and breakfast, at 8 am."

When we announce the limit ahead of time it gives a useful window.

If your child says "Sure!" and they can agree at least then, you might talk about ways that make it easier. "I noticed it was hard for us to get ready, what can I do for you so you can enjoy your preschool tomorrow?"

If they get upset about the very thought of the expectation, they are ready to work on the tension they carry.

You can choose to help them there and then. A first step might be a playful intervention. With a child that resists the idea of going to their preschool, you could playfully say, "I don't want to either! Let's stay here and snuggle forever and ever. No bathroom break, no lunch break, just snuggle and snuggle and snuggle," and give them a snuggle.

Watch how they respond. If your child responds to your playful approach with a smile or laughter, keep going. This loosens up the stuck feelings and sheds a little light on them, so when you hold the expectation next time it might not feel so stark.

When your child's feelings are really stuck, they may get agitated or upset at the mention of your expectation, or in response to your Playlistening. In that case, switch to Staylistening, where you stay close and listen quietly and with caring while your child rails and cries about the expectation.

5. Confidence: Hold the expectation that the request will happen

Now comes what you have no doubt been waiting for. Setting and holding a limit. The process is essentially the same whichever limit you want to hold.

  1. Move in close and set the limit, warmly and firmly, using eye contact.
  2. Listen to your child's feelings
  3. Re-state the limit, calmly.

Here are a few examples:

Holding an expectation around taking a bath: You did the groundwork. You are quite certain that you want a bath to happen and you are clear on your reasons why. You both agree your child will take a daily bath, but when you tell your child that it's time, they protest. You listen for a minute. Then you come close, hold their hands, make eye contact and point to the direction of the bath. "Time for a bath," you say. Then you listen to their upset, making sure they don't distract themselves with another activity. "Nope, no coloring now. Bath time."

Holding an expectation around brushing teeth: If your child has agreed to a morning and evening brushing, you can show the toothbrush and say, "Ready? Time to brush." If they flail, sit quietly with them, with the toothbrush and toothpaste. When the crying or tantrum slows down, bring the child's attention back to the expectation, "Time to brush your teeth." If your child gets upset or cries because of your expectation, you know that they are shedding the feelings that cause them to react. It's a sign that there's something good taking place. Tension releases. Your caring pours in. It takes time, but you'll get results!

6. Calm: Responses to use when your child says 'no'

When the expectation is held with kindness, your child's job is to show you fully how they feel inside. All you need to do is to give your child your time and your presence. These are some steps to consider when your child cannot meet the expectation after they have initially agreed, and when they have begun to cry or get angry.

1. Listen with your eyes as much as your ears and try to offer your whole presence.

2. Make sure everyone stays safe. If your child attacks the toilet tissue and tears it up, for instance, you can regard this as a safe way for them to express their feelings, but picking up a chair with the intent to throw it needs to be stopped. Tell them immediately, "No, I can't let you do that. Not safe." Stop them quickly but calmly, with your body.

3. Check internally if you have the time and patience to keep Staylistening. If you do, use Step 4, if not, skip to Step 5.

4. As your child's outrage calms, gently remind them of your expectation. This is not to win their immediate compliance, but is an invitation to them to keep sharing how they feel about it. Your gentle reminder guides your child's mind to refocus on the feelings that cause their resistance.

The image I use in my mind during this process is of the child digging a tunnel through a sand dune. Their job is to keep digging (shedding their feelings) until they get through the tunnel and out into the light. For them to get to the other side, my job is to hold the flashlight, showing them, "This way! You can make it to the other side." Your child does the work while you support them and show them the way.

Each time they work on these feelings they make it farther through the dune. They may regain their talent for cooperation within one Staylistening session, or it may take a few different times of shedding feelings while you hold the expectation. All work shedding feelings is good work. If the dune always stays undug, your child will continually try to avoid it, and their resistance to the task will remain. They will take a very very long time to reach "the light."

5. If you find yourself out of time and patience, stop your Staylistening. Rest assured that you have helped your child begin breaking down the resistance they feel to the task and that you will return to that work the next time you hold the expectation on the limit.

6. Whenever your child works on their resistance, watch to see how they express their feelings physically. Yawning, crying, laughing, sweating, moving their body around and even saying mean things are signs that they are digging deeper through the sand dune. Once their tunnel is in place, their resistance disappears. When you hold the expectation in the future, they'll move freely through the open tunnel to fill your request.

7. Remind yourself that this way of setting limits is not about compliance. You did not fail or do something wrong if your child's crying doesn't immediately give way to compliance, although that may happen sometimes. How long it takes for your child to dissolve his emotional reaction to your expectation depends on the depth of feelings or fears they have about what you want them to do. In my case, I had to work on the same issue with my son for days, even weeks, and once or twice, when his fears were deeply held, for months. Always, after a ground-shaking show of feelings, things shifted.

For example, when it was time to leave the house for the preschool as we had agreed, my son would not put on his socks, or he would drag his feet all the way. These signs showed me that we need to pause the "going-to-preschool" protocol so I could pivot, move in, and connect by offering eye contact and my full attention.

I laid some more groundwork by starting our morning routine 20 minutes or so earlier. Not having to rush helped me to stay calm and patient. When I said, "It's time to put on your socks," I held the socks. This is often the moment I started hearing voices in my head, saying things like, "We agreed to do this yesterday, and if you don't we will be late!" or "Son, if you don't put these on, you won't get your…" These are often things we heard growing up, or we hear others say. But these are not helpful motivators, so I held back. I sat down and held the sock in my hand and stayed there while my child cried and protested. He squirmed but I stayed with him, holding his little body in my arms.

He would say, "No! I don't want to!" and I would say, "I know you don't. You can put on a sock. Let's do it—here I come!"

I didn't force the socks on, but suggesting it and gauging my son's reactions guided me to what he needed.

Holding an expectation when others are listening

When there are other adults involved, it can get tricky. This kind of waiting for a child to work through their feelings with a few words here and there from the parent can be highly frustrating for grown-ups. If their idea of an outcome means fulfilling the expectation—in my case this would have looked like getting out the door without fuss and skipping off to preschool—my "long-term view" approach did not appear to be "working."

My mother would watch me and get upset. Luckily, we were on the same page about sending him to the preschool, and so I would say, "Thanks for your concern, but I can handle it. He's working very hard to get to a space where he can enjoy his school. I have seen him work through some hard things before. It will be okay."

When will a no become yes?

We worked on him not wanting to go to preschool for several mornings, often arriving late, with an impatient brother tagging along glumly. And then one morning his father Staylistened to our son's vigorous crying and struggles. My son got sweaty and cried hard with lots of wild movements. Then he fell asleep.

We decided that it was so late for preschool, and he wouldn't go. But when he work up, he opened his eyes and he said, "I am ready." From that day on, he went to preschool everyday with little resistance. A couple of years later, he experienced a similar fear response about starting Kindergarten, and I listened to his feelings in very much the same way. He refused and refused to go, but after a long and deep cry and struggle with me listening to him one morning, he was able to start going to school happily and willingly.

I still don't know what he was afraid of or he was working on emotionally, but I know that after he worked hard on his emotions, he has been able to function extremely well in a school setting.

What to do if the problem behavior is persistent

When the problem behavior is persistent, it can be a good strategy to take a break and come back to the issue later, if you possibly can. For example, if getting to school in the morning is challenging, try fixing your schedule so that you can take a wellness day with your child and spend a connecting day together without going to school.

7. Care: Responding with care when your child still says no

Use your time to play, have fun and lay a little extra groundwork. To find out what might be underneath their behaviors, consider:

Your Child: When does your child does want to go to school? Is it about missing you? Is there something that your child doesn't like at school? Are there health or learning concerns that have not been addressed? Did something change in your child's life recently?

How about you? What comes up for you when they don't want to go? Is it hard kissing you baby goodbye or seeing her grow up? Did you like going to school, or do you have less-than-sunny remembrances? How did the adults in your life respond when you did not want to do things?

Once you have reconsidered and reconnected, you'll be ready to start the process once again. Your child can go back to digging through their sand dune—and sooner or later, you'll both scamper through that tunnel and into less resistance and more fun.

Keiko Sato-Perry is a Hand in Hand Parenting Instructor based in Redwood City, USA. Originally posted on Hand in Hand Parenting.

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Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Seeing your baby for the first time is an amazing experience for any parent. For most parents, the months preceding this meeting were probably spent imagining what the baby was experiencing inside the womb, trying to paint a realistic picture on top of that two-dimensional black and white ultrasound photo.

But thanks to Brazillian birth photographer Janaina Oliveira and a baby boy named Noah, parents around the world are now better able to imagine what their baby's world looked like between the ultrasound picture and their first breath.

While most babies are born without their amniotic sac intact, Noah entered the world (via C-section), still cocooned inside his. This is known as an en caul birth, and while it wasn't the first Oliveira has captured through her lens, it is likely now the most famous of her photographs.

After she posted Noah's birth photos to Instagram, Oliveira's photos went viral, making headlines around the world.

This slideshow is amazing.

In a Facebook post, Noah's mom Monyck Valasco explains that she had a tough pregnancy with Noah, and is so grateful that he did not arrive too early.

Noah is now something of a celebrity in his hometown of Vila Velha, Brazil, but local media reports he was actually one of three en caul babies born at the Praia da Costa Hospital in just one month. Birth photographer Janaina Oliveira actually captured all three en caul births on camera. Little Matais arrived before Noah, and baby Laura came afterward, both en caul.

These photographs are as breathtaking as the babies featured in them and remind mothers around the world that our bodies were once someone's whole world. And now they are ours.

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Alexis Ohanian has made a lot of important decisions in his life. The decision to co-found Reddit is a pretty big one. So was marrying Serena Williams. But right up there with changing internet culture and making a commitment to his partner, the venture capitalist lists taking time off after his daughter's birth as a significant, life-changing choice.

"My understanding of showing up and being present for my wife was taken to a whole new level when Olympia was born. I was able to take 16 weeks of paid leave from Reddit, and it was one of the most important decisions I've made," Ohanian says in an essay for Glamour.

A nearly four-month parental leave is something too few American mothers, let alone fathers, get to take. Even when fathers work for companies that offer generous parental leave packages, they often don't use the benefit for fear of being sidelined or seen as uncommitted. A recent survey by Talking Talent found fathers typically use only 32% of the time available to them.

In his essay, Ohanian recognizes that he is privileged in a way most parents aren't.

"It helped that I was a founder and didn't have to worry about what people might say about my 'commitment' to the company, but it was incredible to be able to spend quality time with Olympia. And it was perhaps even more meaningful to be there for my wife and to adjust to this new life we created together—especially after all the complications she had during and after the birth," he explains.

(The GOAT's husband is making the same points that we at Motherly make all the time.)

He continues: "There is a lot of research about the benefits of taking leave, not only for the cognitive and emotional development of the child but for the couple. However, many fathers in this country are not afforded the privilege of parental leave. And even when they are, there is often a stigma that prevents them from doing so. I see taking leave as one of the most fundamental ways to 'show up' for your partner and your family, and I cherished all 16 weeks I was able to take."

👏👏👏

By first taking his leave and then speaking out about the ways in which it benefited his family, Ohanian is using his privileged position to de-stigmatize fathers taking leave, and advocate for more robust parental leave policies for all parents, and his influence doesn't end there. He's trying to show the world that parents shouldn't have to cut off the parent part of themselves in order to be successful in their careers.

He says that when his parental leave finished he transitioned from being a full-time dad to a "business dad."


"I'm fortunate to be my own boss, which comes with the freedoms of doing things like bringing my daughter into the office, or working remotely from virtually anywhere Serena competes. My partners at Initialized are used to seeing Olympia jump on camera—along with her doll Qai Qai—or hearing her babbling on a call. I tell them with pride, 'Olympia's at work today!' And I'll post some photos on Instagram or Twitter so my followers can see it too," Ohanian explains.

"The more we normalize this, on social media and in real life, the better, because I know this kind of dynamic makes a lot of men uncomfortable (and selfishly I want Olympia to hear me talking about start-ups!)," he says.

This is the future of family-friendly work culture. Take it from a guy who created an entire internet culture.

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Trigger warning: Some of these responses describe a women's experiences with child loss.

Anxiety is one of those concepts you can never truly grasp until you face it yourself. And, each person's anxiety can announce itself in different ways—for some, it's postpartum anger, while for others, it's an overwhelming feeling of worry about a pregnancy. This can be especially prevalent if you're at high risk, concerned about telling your boss or undergoing medical issues. If you suffer from anxiety, know you're not alone in this mama. In fact, women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder than men.

These mamas shared how they manage and cope with their anxiety on Chairman Mom:

1. Hypnobirthing class

"I took a hynobirthing class at a nearby parents resource center—it was phenomenal. The class changed my emotional forecast for both the pregnancy and delivery. I uncovered a calm existence that lived dormant inside a very anxious body. For quick help at my fingertips, I love the Headspace app. My favorite quote pops up on the screen before I tap to complete a meditation 'Rather than the mind leading the breath, allow the breath to lead the mind. Keep glowing!'" —Jenny

2. Journaling

"It took my husband and I three years to have our IVF miracle baby after a devastating miscarriage last summer. I was wracked with anxiety for the entire duration of my pregnancy and it got worse as I got closer to his due date. The one thing that helped me was to journal. I wrote to the baby constantly about every step of the process and was very raw and real about the emotions I was experiencing each step of the way."—Anonymous

3. Set some ground rules

"[While I was on strict bedrest for 10 weeks] I tried to set ground rules for myself—I 'indulged' in worst case scenario/message board/Googling for exactly 30 minutes each day, and had to fill the rest of the bedrest time with other positive activities. I controlled for the factors I could, and just tried to chill out about everything else. Easier said than done, but I forced myself to breath deeply and try to limit the physical effects of my anxiety."—Milo

4. Therapy

"I feel like this could be my answer for many questions, but I say get to therapy. Anxiety can be a normal part of parenthood and it's a good idea to take the time before baby comes to build your tool kit and to feel like, even though it is full of unknowns, you have prepared your heart for the wild ride that is motherhood. I am an anxious person by nature, a worrier, a big feeler— learning that this is okay and that I can use it to my advantage has been empowering beyond measure. You are not alone and you will get through this. Hugs to you. If you are an "action person" and can't/won't get into therapy right now, this workbook has a lot of good, practical exercises."—Stratton

5. Reading this book

"I found a book called Finding Calm for the Expectant Mom useful. The major anxiety reducer for me during pregnancy was walking, because it was the only time I didn't feel sick early on and then later it was the only time the baby wasn't kicking me (which is supremely comforting and yet not). I found going with a mid-wife rather than a doctor helped alleviate a lot of anxiety. In Ontario (Canada) this is covered by OHIP (provincial health insurance). Midwives have way more time and patience. All appointments are booked for 30 minutes, so you never feel rushed."—Sian

6. Find a super knowledgeable OB

"I'm currently pregnant (second trimester) with two complications one of which can cause stillbirth. I found the best way to reduce anxiety was finding a super knowledgeable OB that I could talk to about treatments and milestones. Ask them about what kind of monitoring they'll do for you in the third trimester (NST/BPPs). Talk about contingency plans. I also found a doula that has been wonderful to talk with about the process of birth and the potential of NICU time and emergency c-sections (both not that uncommon with other women that have the same condition I do.) I whole heartedly recommend finding a therapist that you can talk with about your fears and anxieties. Look for ones who specialize in new moms. If there are any support groups for mamas with your high risk condition I also urge you to seek them out. Setting a limit for how much time you spend there is also extremely wise. And know that there are women who will experience loss in those groups. That doesn't mean you will." —Anonymous

7. Yoga, working out + meditation

"[After a miscarriage] what I've learned is that all that worrying didn't make a difference. It didn't make me feel any more prepared or okay once I lost the baby. And it limited how much I enjoyed those three months that I was pregnant. Next time I'm not going to read anything or Google anything or read any odds. I'm just going to take everyday as a gift. I know that's easier said than done. Yoga, working out, meditation. Being around people who don't know because then you can't talk about it or obsess about it. Warm baths, tea. Just be super super nice to yourself. Don't worry about what you should be eating or shouldn't be eating, etc."—Anonymous

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Having a new baby is incredibly hard. And beautiful and fulfilling and rewarding, of course—but definitely, definitely hard.

Especially the nights.

Watching the last rays of sunlight disappear would make my heart race. My 3-week-old baby didn't sleep for more than an hour and a half at a time and had zero regard for what time it was.

She was so tiny and helpless—and it was my responsibility to keep her safe and fed and healthy. For me, that was easier during the day. Because at night, it felt unfair knowing my husband and toddler were fast asleep a few rooms over.

The minute our newborn would wake, I would spring to action. Bottle, breast, pacing the floor, bouncing on an exercise ball, loud shushing into her tiny ear—I would do whatever it would take to get her to quiet down so she wouldn't wake the rest of the house.

The evenings also started to feel very isolating. It's hardly appropriate to call your mom or friend or sister at 1 a.m. when your baby starts spitting up a curdled milk mixture so hard it comes out of her nose. And even if I did call anyway, it wouldn't matter because they wouldn't answer because they'd be sleeping.

I was used to anticipating a lack of sleep each night, which was terrifying. I felt such dread knowing I would only get a collective two and a half hours of sleep before my toddler would wake up at 5:30 a.m, ready for his morning dance party.

Fear would strike me at night, too. An incapacitating, all-consuming fear that something might happen to my sweet baby girl while she was lying peacefully in her safe crib, in her baby-proofed nursery. I often wondered how I was even supposed to sleep with such intense worry on my mind.

I would stare for hours into the pitch black night, half of me thankful my baby was healthy, the other half of me terrified something would happen to her.

I'd feel irrational in the late hours of the night (or more likely, the wee, wee hours of the early morning) often reacting with full-on annoyance because as soon as she'd started to fall asleep I'd think, this is it—I can finally get some rest, only for her to wake up a few minutes later. I'd snap, "Seriously? All you do is eat!" at my tiny baby, which would automatically trigger intense guilt over what felt like such an uncontrolled emotional response.

"It gets better" and "sleep when the baby sleeps" are two sentiments I hope never to hear again in my life because—does it get better? Well, yes it does. Children don't usually turn into adults who only sleep for 90 minutes at a time. And sleeping when the baby sleeps sounds good in theory but it's impractical. Plus, neither statement helps at 3 a.m., TBH.

I went to extreme measures to quell my anxiety. I sent my husband to Walmart in the middle of a tropical depression to buy a rock 'n play. Then I sent him back when he returned with the version that didn't vibrate. I put a $300 Owlet monitor on a credit card. I used Amazon one-day shipping to obtain a copy of Dr. Harvey Karp's The Happiest Baby on the Block.

I eventually found there's no magic solution to aid in this season of parenting. It helps to find a community of women going through the same struggles. Prioritizing self-care and spending time connecting with your significant other are also healthy ways of dealing.

But I'm going to level with you—for the first three months of my baby's life, I didn't have time to seek out a support group, wash my hair or converse about one meaningful thing with my spouse.

I was in survival mode and the only thing that helped me was time passing and binge watching Downton Abbey.

And walks around the block. And coffee.

If you loved the newborn stage and came through it with fond memories—I applaud you.

If you gave it all you had and emerged on the other side with a baby who (mainly) sleeps through the night and is somewhat happy, most of the time—you deserve a standing ovation.

You managed to prevail in a time that required intense mental and physical stamina, and you nailed it. Great job, mama.

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