Before we become a family of 4, I’m going to cherish just the 3 of us

For now—I’m focusing on making the most of our short time left as a family of three.

Before we become a family of 4, I’m going to cherish just the 3 of us

I’ve always loved the changing seasons. The excitement, the feeling of newness— it’s a fresh start that I feel four times each year. And this year is shaping up to be a year of many changes for me and my family.

First came winter. We began 2017 full of hope, resolutions and with a vision of a great year. We always knew we wanted two children, and with our son approaching three at the time we felt there was no better time to give it a try. So with the noisemakers and champagne in hand we toasted to a new year, and hopefully a growing family.

Then came spring, my favorite season, where you emerge from hibernation to new life and beauty.

This was the time we would find out that we in fact would be expanding our family. Our precious little boy would soon become a big brother. Something we knew he would eventually be excited about. I felt excited and hopeful. I, again, would start the process of growing a human. What a privilege and a true honor.

But as a protective mama, I felt the anxiety rush over me of how this news would affect him—how he would react and how he would handle it.

We decided we would wait until 20 weeks to tell our son the news, when we knew if he would be “getting” a brother or a sister. Somehow in my mind, I felt this would be easier for him to understand. A decision we 100% know was the right decision for us.

But it did not come without anxiety.

Every day I sucked in my belly, hoping he wouldn’t notice. Every day I felt saddened that we were keeping such a large secret from this sweet innocent boy. Every day I hoped that we were making the right decision and that all of this intense anxiety I was feeling would pay off in the end.

Summer arrived, and I decided it would be all about the big-brother-to-be.

We coined the weekends “Mommy, Daddy + Leo days” to ease my working mama guilt. We made the most of every moment we had together. I would steal away on a weekday morning to take him for bagels and to watch the trains. I gave him extra snuggles in the morning as we watched his favorite show. I prepared his favorite dinners. We spent late evenings at the park playing endless rounds of hide-and-seek.

I wanted him to know that he is loved, oh so much, and that that will never change.

Mid-summer we were ready to share the news. Instead of a gender reveal, we threw him a “big brother party.” He got to cut the cake and share the news with our family. Still, everything centered on him, because it was his party—it was all about him. He was SO excited.

He now has a baby in his belly. He showers my belly with kisses and loves to feel the baby kick. He is going to be the best big brother ever—which we never doubted.

But, simply because he’s taking the news so well, doesn’t mean I’m any less nervous about our family dynamic changing.

As fall approaches and school begins—I think of how quickly these past three years have gone.

My first baby is going to preschool. I can’t help but feel that I didn’t do enough this summer to make his last summer as an only child as special as it could have been. And as he returns to school, I know this signifies big changes for him. New teachers, new friends, new schedules.

And soon, before he knows it, life will change again.

I find myself looking into his big, beautiful eyes each day—longingly and lovingly—hoping that he will be up to the task of being a big brother. And hoping even more, that I will be up to the task of being a mom to two boys.

Winter is coming again (and not just for Jon Snow)

This winter, we will hibernate as a family of four. It will be me and my boys, snuggled up inside, watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on repeat with hot chocolate and footie pajamas. But as whimsical and dreamy as this sounds, I can’t help but let my mind wander and think about how our lives will change.

We have such a good routine right now. We are all sleeping through the night. We can eat dinner together. We have learned to manage the chaos. But with a new little life comes joy and challenges. I know this baby that will enter our lives in a few short months will complete our family—and we won’t remember life without him.

But for now—I’ll focus on making the most of our short time left as a family of three.

Because soon our new family of four journey will begin and I’m sure that chapter is going to be pretty amazing, too.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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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


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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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