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Mama, thank you for allowing me to witness your birth—love, your doula

In this space with a laboring woman, time stands still. There is no phone, schedule or any connection at all to the world outside this room. My purpose is breathtakingly simple: to be attuned and inseparable from this woman who is transforming.

a woman and her doula

My phone is just inches from me. And yet, my fingers still fidget with the screen, concerned I may have missed something. This waiting game is the hardest part of a doula's work.

I'm anticipating a call from a client who's in early labor. I wonder how she's doing, what she's doing. In fact, I have a hundred questions. But I have to hold back and not intrude in her story. Like a sprinter who doesn't know when the gun will sound, I wait for this call, rehearsing my readiness on repeat.

The empathic journey of doula work has begun. From here, I cannot consider myself separate. I am joined to her and her metamorphosis from one to two.

I hear her baby's steady heartbeat on the monitor as I approach her hospital room. She is moored to a stretcher, coiled in wires and cables. Her face is crumpled. She looks like a gull that has become knotted up in the detritus of sea waste that gets washed ashore. I lock eyes with her and help redirect her focus inward to baby and the calm waters that surround him.

I encourage her to stay there, where it is safe, and to allow her body to sway with the ebb and flow of her inner current. Her breathing deepens. Her shoulders give way. The fluorescent lights dim, the beeping and electrical hums fade, people's footsteps recede into the background.

In this space with a laboring woman, time stands still. There is no phone, schedule or any connection at all to the world outside this room. My purpose here is breathtakingly simple: to be attuned and inseparable from this woman who is transforming.

This singular focus is deeply liberating. I don't feel spread thin from worry, wonder and the trappings of my own life. I relish these days I spend outside of my life, perfectly present, in this utter clarity. To enter someone's world and enmesh so intimately in their experience is not just an honor, it's also an escape.

She stands and holds her partner, head on his shoulder, her giant belly between them. I squeeze her hips and sacrum from behind. Her partner and I are her buttresses. We hold her hands, her feet, her face—whatever part feels as though it's sinking.

"You will not break," I remind her. "You can let go completely. This is the power that is needed to bring your baby to you. Let him go. Let your baby go."

I am with her for every breath. We move, drift and dip along. I suggest different breathing techniques and offer position changes. I guide her through visualizations and help her find rhythms and rituals that provide comfort for a spell and then cease to. The urgency of her body is building.

She tries to fight off the deluge of sensation and then spirals into panic. I massage her back and whisper, "What you are feeling cannot be stronger than you because it is you." She doubts herself and then plunges. No hands or words can reach her. This is part of the surrender and the relinquishing of control. "Your body was wise enough to have created a baby, trust that it knows exactly how to release him," I remind her. "You are doing everything right."

She's in my arms, the whole of her weight descending on me. I hold her like a mother holds her baby. Then she finds my eyes and with heavy, desperate breaths tells me, "I can't do this anymore." I know that her admission is the key to accepting what's before her. I see so much strength in her, so much deep-seated courage. And so I become her mirror and beam it back to her.

She takes me in. She trusts my trust in her and allows herself to let go with new resolve. I try to act as invisibly as possible in the labor room, to be indistinguishable from her awareness of herself. To feel I've truly succeeded as a doula, my measure is that she is unaware of her dependence on me—my strength becomes her strength, my guidance pours into her. The affirmations I whisper are beliefs she already holds.

All of this feels—for her—as though it is spouting from her deepest well. And it is, because I am her shadow, and we're locked in this intuitive dance.

Amid a burst of low, guttural howls, her baby is born. She wails with relief and ecstasy at his departure and simultaneous arrival into her arms. She takes him in and beams. Her joy expands the room. We all feel a lightness overtake us.

The privilege of observing a birth is unlike any other. It is to watch a woman undergo the greatest transmutation possible next to being born and dying—to leave behind her former self and emerge anew as a mother. Birth is the closest I've ever felt to something truly holy—something so vast and endearingly mysterious. I'm stricken with awe and wonder every time.

So I return, again and again, hooked. At the end of it all, the new mama receives her baby. And what does the doula receive? Why am I committed to this work? Because I get to be liberated from my own life and I get to feel both needed and essential to someone in a state of intense empathy. I get to experience the pure honor and privilege of being present for something in-expressively profound. I get to feel depleted and empty because I have given all I have and all I'm made of to this work.

And in this giving over of myself and stepping out of my own way, I feel full of purpose, exquisitely strong and profoundly connected with this world and humankind. I leave this new family after a few hours. They are lost somewhere in a sleepy reverie—warm, comfortable, fed and dozing.

I feel I have to sort of peel myself away and reacquaint myself with my own body. I stagger home, feeling the first tingling sensations of the birth-room high beginning its inevitable fade. By the time I reach my apartment, the full weight of postpartum descends. I cry. I always cry. I need this purge, to release all of the magnificent intensity of what I just witnessed. It's my letting go, from two beings—three actually—into just one again.

Pre-order Motherly’s Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box today 🎉

A curated box of the pregnancy products you'll want.

We're extending the sale, but just a few days and supplies are limited! Preorder now.

The Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box

pregnancy box

The Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box is available for ordering—but supplies are limited and the preorder window is almost over. Order now so you don't miss out. Boxes will ship in just a few weeks. We will send you updates as the ship date gets closer.

$125


We know just how profound the journey to becoming a mother is, and we want to celebrate and honor you through every step of the way. That's why we created the Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box—and we are thrilled to share it with you first!

Curated by the founders of Motherly, our resident midwife and our fabulous team of motherhood gurus, it's a swoon-worthy box full of items you will adore.

You'll find some of our favorite products to help you on your journey to becoming a mama. We focused on three key feelings of pregnancy: preparation, wellness and celebration.

Preparation: What do you need to prepare for becoming a mama? We've been in your shoes so we handpicked products that focus on you as you prepare for this chapter.

Wellness: Self-care during your pregnancy (and beyond) is so important—mama, you deserve it. That's what helped up select the most luxurious and beautiful pieces to help you embrace your wellness.

Celebration: We are excited for you, too! Keep the celebrations going with a few of our favorite baby items.

Supplies are limited and today is the last day to order!

Motherly's Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box FAQs

What's in the box?

The Becoming Mama Pregnancy Box is an exclusive set of products designed to help you on your journey to becoming a mama. We handpicked pieces to help you prepare, stay well and celebrate your anticipation. What's in the box is a surprise, and we know you are going to love it!

Psst: But check out a few sneak peeks here!

How much does it cost?

The box costs $125—it's valued at almost $300!

When will the box ship?

The box will ship in 4 to 6 weeks. We will announce the official date when we launch the box.

How do I get it?

Preordering is available right now! But you'll have to act fast—it's only open for a few more days.

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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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30 hilarious + eye-opening truths about the 4th trimester 😳

19. Babies grunt a lot! And loudly. They make lots of tiny noises. And they are really adorable.

We kind of know what we're getting into when we find out we're pregnant. We know we're going to have to pee a lot, we figure our hormones will have us riding a roller coaster of highs (OMG the baby kicked!) and lows (*sobbing* WHY DID YOU THROW OUT THE COOKIE DOUGH????).

We get the fact that we'll be gaining weight and we've heard about some of the trimester-specific unpleasantries (morning sickness, migraines, hemorrhoids, to name a few.) Those three trimesters of pregnancy are transformative, enlightening and eye-opening.

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