Being pregnant is an incredible lesson in surrendering control

We don’t have control over perfect timing or unexpected twists. Our only option is to take things as they come.

Being pregnant is an incredible lesson in surrendering control

My first experience with anxiety and PTSD was at age 12. September 4, 2001 my family visited the observation deck of the World Trade Center. It was beautiful and a memory I hold so dear to my heart. I can still remember the feeling of experiencing the breathtaking views of our city. A few days after our visit, the unimaginable happened. Even after all these years, I still view my life as pre 9/11 and post 9/11. Since that day, I developed an unhealthy obsession with the news and my anxiety spiraled out of control.

When I finally got the help I needed I spent the next few years in therapy which helped tremendously, but eventually, I slowly stopped going and tried to deal with my anxiety on my own.

Fast forward to this past year.

After six months of marriage, my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby. To prepare for this major life event I knew I had to get some control over my anxiety, so I found a therapist and started weekly sessions. The biggest lesson my therapist taught me was how little control I have over most situations and to always stay mindful and accept feelings and events as they happen.

I had no idea how much I would need the tools she was giving me in the upcoming months during my pregnancy.

I found out I was pregnant a few months into therapy. I was confident I had the tools to manage my anxiety and felt I had a good game plan to keep it under control. Less than two weeks after finding out we were expecting our first child, my husband was laid off from his job. Subsequently, we lost our insurance since it was the last day of the month. Panic set in.

The first seven months of pregnancy were difficult.

After the layoff came morning after morning of nausea and vomiting, several breast biopsies after a lump was found, then a major health scare at 25 weeks.

After spending a morning in excruciating pain I went to urgent care, then was rushed to the emergency room due to a 7mm kidney stone blocking my ureter and causing my kidney to swell more than it already does during pregnancy. Almost four days of pain later, I under went emergency surgery to place a stent in my ureter to relieve the blockage of urine going from my kidney to bladder. Not only did my pregnancy complicate the surgical procedure, but we found out I was born with a congenital defect that resulted in a duplicated system. Most people have one ureter but I have two and it has been affecting the kidney with the blockage.

A week after my surgery was my 28 week checkup and I learned I had gestational diabetes. I felt like I had been knocked down again. I immediately burst into tears.

My midwife was so kind to me. She balled her hand into a fist and placed it into my open palm and said, “This is your power. It’s yours to have back.” It was a small gesture that had a big impact on me. In this moment I felt empowered and I felt like she helped piece me back together. This was a pivotal part of my pregnancy journey.

Despite all the bumps in the road, I knew I had to deal with the situation given to me and so far I was doing a pretty good job, so now was not the time to lose it.

I spent the next few weeks adjusting to monitoring my blood sugar and getting used to a stricter diet. (All of this probably for the best since I needed to get a handle on my sweet tooth anyway! ??)

I am currently 32 weeks and had to have a nephrostomy tube placed to further protect my affected kidney. The nephrostomy tube is a catheter that drains urine from my kidney through my back into a collecting bag that attaches to my leg. I currently have two draining tubes and collection bags.

(If that doesn'’t sound fun to deal with on top of 30 extra pounds, pelvic pain, impending labor and delivery, than I don'’t know what does! ?)

But, I refuse to give up my power.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t spent days crying thinking “Why is this happening?” or allowing myself a little pity party here and there. Because, to be honest, at times I feel like my body is failing at something it was built to do. Throughout all of this, I kept thinking “What am I doing to my baby?”

I’ve had to reel myself back in, become mindful and take it one breath at a time.

Jumping ahead of ourselves is something we are prone to do, especially being pregnant. It is so easy to start questioning the “what ifs?”

I am learning that the best thing I can do for myself and my baby is to have a sound mind.

To find something that brings you peace, something that will comfort you during the scary times. Let’s face it—pregnancy can be scary even if you are experiencing a completely typical pregnancy. Our bodies go through unimaginable changes. Nothing can prepare you. I am surrounded by some amazing, strong women who had seemingly uncomplicated pregnancies and births—I had no reason to believe I would be any different.

During this journey I decided to turn to my faith.

My faith has given me strength and has helped me surrender my control (that I never actually really had) and to trust in the process. It won’t be the same for every woman, of course. Maybe you will chose art, yoga, writing, or knitting. Pick something that when you feel the overwhelm coming on, you can turn to and bring your mind back to the task at hand. ?

This pregnancy has been a lot to go through, but I have no other choice. And I know so many other women are walking a similar (or more complicated) path than me. I am calm in knowing that the end result will be the greatest gift of my life. My heart is full of love when I think about my husband holding our daughter. I am brought to tears when I feel my baby moving inside my womb.

This is all worth it.

Trying to conceive and experiencing the ups and downs of pregnancy are the two biggest lessons in surrendering control (which I hear, you have to do as a parent, too.) We don’t have control over perfect timing or unexpected twists and turns. Our only option is to take things as they come.

Oh and—never, ever google anything. Like...ever. ❌

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

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

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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