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Four months

I close the garage door behind me and tip-toe into the living room—a useless effort, as it turns out—because he is still awake. The sound of muffled crying hits me like a wave; my husband sits defeated on the couch.

“I tried to give him that bottle half a dozen times,” he starts.

I glance at the bottle on the counter, quickly doing math in my head. Two-day-old breastmilk warmed and re-warmed half a dozen times. Ugh.

“He’s waiting for you.”

“I know. You can toss the milk,” I say quietly.

We brush past each other in the living room as I make my way to the audible cries. I glance back at the microwave clock just in time to see four ounces swirl down the drain, along with any shred of independence I could foresee.

9:47 p.m.

I open the bedroom door and float to him like a magnet. We retreat to the rocking chair and he nurses hungrily, desperately, clutching my t-shirt in his tiny hands the entire time.

Eight months

I walk into the living room with my iPhone in hand, ready to tackle a few e-mails over breakfast. Rounding the corner, I brace myself, but it’s too late. I’ve been spotted.

He starts to softly hyperventilate. A grin stretches across his face while he army crawls as fast as he can to my feet, hurling his body over toys in the process like a 12-pound baby soldier. He glances up at me with hopeful eyes, placing his hands on my shins desperately, as if he hasn’t seen me in days.

I pick him up and place his body on my hip against my faded floral nightgown. He melts into my side like pie filling conforming to the crust.

He last saw me 14 minutes ago.

12 months

He clings to me tighter as a few guests trickle in, digging his nails firmly into my bicep. I loosen his grip on my arm and kiss his cheek, reassuring him that I am not going anywhere. I try to distract him with the shiny birthday balloon, but he is too panicked to play.

Grandma tries to take him; he screams. Daddy tries to take him; he screams.

I eventually escape to the bathroom for a few minutes of solitude. My husband whisks him outside to play, and I make my way back to the kitchen cautiously. I dart in front of the sliding screen door, grab a burrito, and finally sit down at the table with my friends.

“I think I’m safe!” I joke.

The second the words leave my mouth, a familiar wail follows. I glance out the window and see him, safe and secure in my husband’s arms, anxiously looking at the screen door.

My husband locks eyes with me through the window.

“He heard your voice!”

I can’t help but roll my eyes, placing my burrito back on the plate. I open the screen door, and within seconds we are reunited, his body back on my hip, his nails back in my arm, his head resting on my chest.

He grins.

My first son had normal spouts of separation anxiety, usually lasting a few weeks at a time. It was sweet, welcome even, and barely affected me outside of needing to take a momentary break from the gym because childcare became insufferable.

But this? My second baby? I have never known attachment like this. I have never so much as witnessed attachment like this.

Picture me holding this baby while I do dishes, while I prepare meals, while I type e-mails, while I pee, while I do anything.

Picture me handing him to other people and his face turning beet red while he screams bloody murder.

Picture me walking towards the front door while he buries his face in the carpet sobbing hysterically as if I will never return.

Picture me darting around my own house like a ninja to stay out of his sight on the rare occasion that he’s preoccupied with a toy in the living room for two whole minutes.

When he’s not in my arms, this baby lives at my feet, parked next to my toes like a relentless puppy dog. He’s not content unless he’s next to me, in my arms, on my hip, in my lap, breathing the same air that I breathe.

He is my Velcro Baby; I can practically hear the ripping sound when I pry him off my hip to put him down or hand him to someone else, at which point he completely falls apart.

How can someone so tiny possibly adore me so much?

On the one hand, this attachment is straight up suffocating. Between nursing around the clock and holding him on my hip or strapping him to my chest in a carrier, I have felt at odds with my own body this year, as if it doesn’t belong to me anymore. We seem to be lacking...what do the therapists call it? Oh yes, boundaries.

On the other hand, I would absolutely be lying if I said this attachment was not the most loved and needed I have ever felt in my entire life.

I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but I genuinely feel a sense of pride when I walk into a room and he cries for me with outstretched arms. In these moments, I actually feel the sacrifice and sanctity of motherhood, this complete lack of personal space that transcends my body straight down to my soul.

Who cares if I never eat lunch in peace? Who cares if I have to hold a baby while I pee? I am needed! And it is a glorious feeling.

I look at my 3.5-year-old, the confident boy who casually waved, “Bye, mommy!” on the first day of preschool without looking back. He needs me less and less every day. Just last week, he informed me that he can go to the bathroom by himself, closing the door in my face.

“I need pwivacy!” he shouted.

I was simultaneously amused and devastated. Is this where we’re headed?

I don’t know how much longer this Velcro stage will last, but we all know it’s temporary. Someday he won’t sob when I leave the house. Someday he'll prefer the company of his dad, or his brother, or his (God help me) girlfriend.

Someday he will need space from me, while I cling desperately to every sight of him, to every conversation with him, to every encounter we share. We are heading toward those days, like a freight train that won't stop.

Perhaps this is all a dress rehearsal, a preview of what's to come. Perhaps this is all a glimpse into my own future, and he is paving the way for my emotional expectations. The day he gets his driver's license. The day he leaves for college. The day he gets married. At some point we are bound to trade places, and I might be the one burying my face in the carpet, sobbing hysterically.

Everything will come full circle, and the Velcro will rip once again.

This story was originally published on Coffee + Crumbs. Check out their book, The Magic of Motherhood, for more heartwarming essays about motherhood, love, and the good kind of heartache.

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.

Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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