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An ode to the pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding bridesmaid

I have been in seven weddings in my life. I have been pregnant for three of them, and newly postpartum for two. It is almost five years to the day that I was a pregnant bridesmaid for the first time. I didn't know I was pregnant yet at this one. (So let's just pretend I didn't drink any champagne, okurrr?)


I was very pregnant at three bachelorette parties I've been to, was pumping in the bathroom at one, and had to miss out on another because it was just too much. I have rocked the bump on a party bus in NYC and on a sailboat in Newport, RI.

I've walked down the aisle with a small bump and a large bump. I've walked down the aisle holding a preschooler's hand, with a toddler in my arms, and a six day old baby strapped to my chest in a sling. I have given a maid of honor speech when I was seven months pregnant at my best friend's wedding. (Was that a contraction? Cheers!) I've done a reading at a wedding ceremony with said toddler on my hip because she didn't want to stay in the pew.

I've worn a tight sparkly dress with two layers of Spanx on underneath as a bridesmaid in a Vegas wedding at three months postpartum. I've worn a maternity bridesmaid dress at a wedding where I was six days postpartum and still looked quite pregnant (it was my last sister to get married—couldn't miss it!). I have stressed myself to the max worrying what I would look like in a dress with a still-pregnant-looking stomach. I have also allowed myself to feel womanly and beautiful, despite said stomach, with people doing my hair and makeup and working their magic.

Mamas, I get it.

Partying it up at seven months pregnant might not be what you want to be doing at that very moment and getting dolled up and putting on a tight dress might not be the #1 thing on your fourth-trimester to do list. But we do these things for the people we love. Because we want to celebrate them like they've celebrated us. We want to be part of their big moment.

So to the newly pregnant, very pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding bridesmaids of the world—I salute you. You are the real MVP. 🏆



To the mama seriously contemplating wearing a third layer of Spanx under her dress because she's super self-conscious and doesn't feel ready to wear a form-fitting gown in front of hundreds of people three months after giving birth—step away from the Spanx please. (And definitely do not go for that third layer, please. Especially in the summer heat. You know what will happen. I know you know.)

To the mama who is pretending to drink a "vodka soda" (aka plain soda water with a lime 😉) so she doesn't get bombarded with the, "What are you drinking?! Are you pregnant questions?!" when she's not quite ready to let her secret out—I see you.

To the mama who is wondering how in the world she is going to nurse in this dress. The one who is maneuvering all sorts of moves she never even knew she had to Get. Her. Dang. Boob. Out. Of. This. Dress. Right. Now. The one who is getting that baby their food and looking fabulous while doing so—I see you.

To the mama who is experiencing infertility or who recently went through a miscarriage or loss and has to deal with awkward questions and conversations, seemingly at every corner—I see you.

To the mama who is worried that the bride will be mad at her because her floor-length gown is now, well… at her ankles because her bump got really big over the last few weeks and is having nightmares of the scary seamstress from the bridal shop saying, "Should have ordered it with extra length! I told you, young lady!"—I see you.

To the mama who is thinking, Yes, wonderful, thanks for the 'day of' photo timeline, but the real question is—when can I pump???—I see you.

To the mama who feels like she is one dance away from going into labor on that dance floor—I see you. (Also, #hero.)

To the mama who is sure her toddler is going to scream something ridiculous (like, "I just pooped, Mom!") into the microphone while she is doing the reading at her brother's wedding mass because she wouldn't let Mommy go up to the mic without her—I see you.

To the mama who is so pregnant but she's trying to keep energy levels up to stay up late and have a great time or who's pretending the heels aren't bothering her at all ("I'm fine. Seriously. Totally fine. These tears are not those of pain. They are tears of happiness. What a beautiful day. No my feet aren't broken. Yes, let's definitely dance more!") —I see you.

To the mama who is breastfeeding as she gets her makeup done or her hair curled or her dress steamed—I see you. (Also, multitasking FTW!)



To the mama who feels like she is swatting hands off her pregnant belly—I see you. (Also, WHY.)

To the mama whose sister-in-law had to help her get into her dress, then help get-spit up off her whole chest and part of the dress, then help her get zipped up in said dress—I see you.

To the mama who missed out on the wedding because she went into labor or who was so newly postpartum she couldn't make it happen or was too pregnant to fly on a plane to get there and is watching on Facebook live—I see you. (Also, good choice, mama!)

To the mama who had a bit too much fun at her return to the wedding circuit and got carried away by her first postpartum sense of freedom—I see you. (We ain't as young as we used to be, amirite??)

To me, family is everything. My close friends have become my family, too. While weddings aren't the easiest things to do with babies or little kids in tow, and maybe they aren't the most comfortable events to participate in while pregnant, and they probably aren't the most convenient situations for a postpartum mama—your involvement in them and excitement for them is honorable. It's kind, compassionate and plain and simple—it's really, really good of you.

So, I raise my coffee mug to you, mama. This toast is for you.

"May your dress be comfortable,
May your shoes be flat,
And your Spanx be stretchy,
Your sweat a gentle glimmer of shine,

(Instead of pouring buckets like mine)
And until the day is over
May you feel beautiful, cut your involvement short,

take the heels off—or do whatever you need to do to stay comfy.

Because, remember...you're the real MVP."
—Traditional Irish wedding blessing

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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