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Before you know it, you’re in the next phase with your baby—so don’t wish this one away

Each stage has its hardships, but also has its glories.

Before you know it, you’re in the next phase with your baby—so don’t wish this one away

I don’t really like the newborn stage. There. I said it.


I’m not sure why it’s acceptable to not love the “terrible twos” or the teenage years, but frowned upon to wish the newborn stage away. But it is. Maybe it’s because babies are just so precious. Or because they are so helpless. Or so teeny.

But, all those things aside, I’m just not a fan of sleepless nights or inconsolable crying or non-stop nursing. I have often said, if a baby came out as a 6-month-old, I would have had 10 more babies—but those first few months are just awful to me.

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So, when I had my third baby, I found myself counting the days until she turned six months. Every time I woke to nurse I would think, I am that much closer. Every one week celebration would be met with a “another week down, xyz more to go.” I literally spent every waking moment wishing time away.

But, as mentioned, she was my third. I also had a 10-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter who were in the throes of their childhoods. And I felt guilt. Extreme, heart wrenching guilt. Because I so did not want to wish their little lives away. If anything, I wanted quite the opposite; for them to remain exactly where they were in time.

This point was brought more fervently to me upon a trip into their elementary school . I was savoring the hour away from my littlest. And as I rounded the corner, heading back to the cafeteria from the front office, I was met by a first grade class. In that moment, for some reason, I could see my youngest. Clearly and precisely. It was as if time—that terrible monster—had indeed sped up right in front of my eyes. I could feel her as a first grader and knew it would be here in an instant.

And I almost lost it.

I rounded yet another corner and stumbled upon two middle school girls putting up a poster. And I could see my middle child. Clearly and precisely. I could feel her as a teenager getting ready for high school. And, I remember thinking, high school is going to be here before I know it.

And I almost lost it.

I then entered the cafeteria, and my 8-year-old daughter came running at me with such love and enthusiasm that I buckled. She grabbed me in the biggest bear hug and held on with all her might.

And then I did actually lose it. Because I wanted nothing more than to freeze time, right then and there. I didn’t want my baby to be a first grader and I didn’t want my middle to be a teenager. I didn’t want my oldest to ever move away. I wanted time to stop and allow me to enjoy my children who loved me with every fiber of their being, the way they do right now.

My son then entered the cafeteria. All 10 years and 100 pounds of him. I asked him if it was still cool to sit with his mother and he said, without question, “YES MOM!” I waited to see if he would hug or kiss me, and without a pause, he did.

And I could see him as a high schooler. I knew that he would not be in this school much longer, nor would he want to eat lunch with his mother or hug her in the cafeteria. But in that moment, he wanted nothing more than that. And I wanted to hold on to that moment, with every fiber of my being.

As I drove home, I was met with the ghost of my big kids’ past. I passed the playground where I wished for nothing more than for my son to be able to go down the slide by himself or for my daughter to be able to swing without assistance.

I also passed the house where I can see—as clear as can be—my 2-year-old son trick-or-treating as a pirate while my husband held my 7-month-old daughter dressed as a cat.

It literally seemed like just days ago, as opposed to years. I passed the pool where my kids learned to swim and the trail where they learned to ride bikes. All places where I thought, I can’t wait until they can do these activities without assistance (while also being in awe of the learning process.)

I then entered the house where they learned to roll over and crawl and pull up and walk and talk. And, again, felt as if those milestones were met just a little bit ago rather than an eternity. And I realized—at every stage, I simultaneously wanted them to move on to the next phase and yet remain right where they were.

So, mamas, my advice to you is this. Each stage has its hardships, but also has its glories. Learn from the hard and revel in those good moments—no matter how big or small. Because, in just a hot second, you will be on to the next and the next and the next.

And before you know it, your child will be hanging posters in the middle school hallway while you wish desperately that you could go back to those sleepless nights.

It really does go in a blink, even when it feels like a lifetime when you’re in it—in those exhausting raising-little-kids days. But what I truly understand now is that if you don’t stop to enjoy the present, future-you will do nothing but wish she could return to the past.

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    To your child, you are safety. You are security. You are where (out of anyone or any place), they can come undone. Where they can let it all out, let it all go. Where they meltdown, break down, scream, cry, push.

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    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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