Working motherhood is: Counting down the minutes until I see my baby

Nine hours and 40 minutes that someone else would feel my daughter's hand wrapped around her index finger.

Working motherhood is: Counting down the minutes until I see my baby

When I got pregnant with my first bundle of joy I was surprised at how many people automatically asked me about my plans for when the baby arrived. Would I work? Would I stay home? Would I work from home? Would I pick up a part time gig? What would I do?


Honestly, I hadn't really thought about it. I had been working since I was 14 years old. I enjoyed going in to work everyday. I found fulfillment in sharpening my skills and becoming a “shining star" in my workplace. My pre-mom self didn't really think through how this all might change once I had a baby. I always figured I'd just find a preschool and continue working like I had always done.

I remember a co-worker of mine telling me with conviction, “Oh girl. TRUST me. Once you hold that baby in your arms, you're not going to want to leave her and go back to work." I thought, Meh… I'm sure it will all work out the way it's supposed to. My husband was in grad school, so staying home wasn't really an option for me at that point anyway.

So I went about my business and allowed the cards to fall into place however they would.

Several weeks later, I had my sweet baby. I was thrilled that I had four months to stay home with her! I was able to find a wonderful woman who took care of a few children in her home, and arranged for her to care for my daughter when I went back to work.

On my first day back at work, I dressed my daughter in her most adorable outfit, bundled her up in her car seat, and toted her to the babysitter. My husband and I walked her inside, chatted for a few moments with the gentle, nurturing sitter we had hired, and that was that. It was time to turn around and walk out the door. Without our daughter.

That's when it hit me.

The moment we sat down in our car and closed the car door my eyes filled with tears as we backed out of the driveway. Soon my face was soaked and I was full-on sobbing. As wonderful as this amazing sitter was, I was instantly devastated that I couldn't be home with my tiny, precious, still-brand-new baby.

My stomach was in knots as I counted the hours until I'd see and hold my baby girl again. It was a 20 minute drive to work, then eight hours on the clock with a one hour lunch break, then another 20 minutes back to get my baby. Nine hours and 40 minutes.

Nine hours and 40 minutes that someone else would get to watch my beautiful baby gaze around the room, grab at her toes, smile, drink from her bottle, and doze peacefully in and out of sleep throughout the day.

Nine hours and 40 minutes that someone else would get to hold her 10 pound body, wrapped up in a soft blanket.

Nine hours and 40 minutes that someone else would feel my daughter's hand wrapped around her index finger.

Nine hours and 40 minutes that someone else would witness many of her first milestones, and enjoy all the amazing things that make my baby special, while I worked all day.

I cried all the way to work.

I think it's safe to say: I was a little distracted that day. I probably checked my phone a thousand times to see if any texts or calls came through from the sitter. My heart leapt for joy when a text popped up with pictures of my adorable little lady. On my lunch break I stared at my phone, scrolling back through all the pictures I had taken over the last four months.

In the afternoon, the stress started fading a bit as I counted down the hours. It was almost time for me to get back to my baby!

All became right in the world again the moment I got back to the sitter's house, walked through the door, and picked up my baby. We were reunited at last.

And then everything clicked. I had spent the whole day worrying about her, but she had had a wonderful, worry-free day. She was loved, fed, cared for, held, played with, sung to, rocked to sleep, and nurtured throughout the last nine hours and 40 minutes.

The next day it got a little easier. And eventually the sting of saying goodbye in the mornings wasn't so paralyzing.

Being a working mom caused me to miss—like really miss—my little one. As I got back into the swing of things at work, I noticed that I was cherishing the moments we had together even more. I was comforted by feeling this way.

Another thing I learned is that the people who were taking care of my daughter did a LOT every day. I realized that a lot of what they were doing every day was the mundane (and exhausting) things that it takes to actually help children grow and thrive. There's a lot of feeding, and diapers, and cleaning, and wiping slobber and spit-up, and then more diapers, and bottles, and dishes, and sweeping, and even more diapers, and coaxing them to sleep, and working to keep a schedule and routine, and managing meltdowns, and establishing boundaries, and did I mention... MORE DIAPERS?!

Sure, they were having sweet moments together. But while I was fantasizing about my child and her babysitter having these beautiful, magical moments together all day every day, the reality was that there were a whole lot of mundane, messy, stressful moments thrown in there, too. We'd probably be flabbergasted by the ratio of magical to monotonous if we compared the two.

So here's the deal. Whichever way I sliced it there were upsides and downsides to being a working mom. There were fun times and draining times. Moments that absolutely took my breath away, and moments that made me feel defeated and weary.

What I've learned is that whether things are currently going exactly as I'd like them to, or whether I cry at night because I wish things were different, I will choose to cherish the moments I do have with my baby girl. I will make them count. I will pause often, and I'll remember how truly thankful I am to be a mother.

Because while I'm sitting here worrying about whether I'm getting it right, my little one is busy going about her day knowing that she is loved and cared for in perfectly good hands.

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In This Article

    Helping your 2-month-old thrive: Tips and activities

    Routines create a foundation for learning how to love and developing good self-esteem as baby grows.

    *This article is sponsored by ParentPal. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Your life may still feel like a blur of feedings, diaper changes and short spurts of sleep. That new baby fog means you usually have no clue what day it is or why the car keys are in the fridge. But this month is the perfect time to actually start a routine. Having a basic schedule helps the day flow, which is good for you and baby.

    According to Dr. Tovah Klein, head of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive, routines help even 2-month-olds anticipate what's going to happen next. She explains:

    Bath? Check. Song? Check? Feeding? Check. Zzzz.

    This kind of predictability helps her feel safe, calm and trusting of parents and caregivers. This creates a foundation for learning how to love the important people in her life and developing good self-esteem as she grows.

    To help support your baby's development and track routines like sleep and feeding, you can try an app like ParentPal™. ParentPal is the only all-in-one parenting app with everything you need to support, track, and celebrate your child's healthy development. Developed by Teaching Strategies, the leaders in early childhood development, and the creators of Baby Einstein, ParentPal provides trusted, research-based guidance and parenting tools at your fingertips. You can use the Daily Plan of age-appropriate activities, Milestones, Sleep, Health & Wellness Trackers, and a vast library of age-based resources for your middle-of-the-night parenting questions.*

    Week-by-week activities

    And speaking of learning, this month your kiddo is becoming more interested in pictures and objects. You'll see the beginning of hand-eye coordination, too. (You're still her primary focus, so keep up the talking, singing and silly faces.) From story time to play time, these week-by-week tips from child development psychologist Dr. Holly Ruhl will help you navigate the month:

    Week 1

    Instilling an early love of reading can strengthen language skills and parent-child relationships. Squeeze in that oh-so-important 20 minutes of reading by visiting your local library or bookstore for story time. This activity will deepen your tot's love of books and promote mama-baby bonding.

    Week 2

    Infants have an innate love of gazing at faces. Spend a few minutes each day attending to baby's favorite faces: the ones staring back in the mirror! Make silly faces and label baby's facial features. Gazing in the mirror may promote baby's sense of self-recognition. This understanding will appear slightly later and is the basis for baby's later self-confidence.

    Week 3

    Your little bundle is developing rudimentary hand-eye coordination. Promote coordination by fostering interaction with baby's fascinating surroundings. Help your tot gently stroke household pets. Dangle a textured, crinkly toy for those little hands to swat. Lay baby on an activity gym and soak in the baby bliss as your little one intently reaches for toys overhead.

    Week 4

    Are family and friends antsy to cuddle with the new addition? Take baby to visit loved ones for exposure to new faces, voices and styles of play. Plus, social support from friends and relatives around 3 months can help you be a more responsive mama and give baby supplemental support, leading to more secure attachment by 12 months.

    Baby

    One of the greatest joys of parenting is getting to introduce your baby to the great, big world. Even from a young age, travel can open our eyes to new environments, teach resilience and adaptability and create a meaningful bond between family members.

    The problem? The logistics of traveling with a baby can be, well, challenging. For too long, one of the biggest obstacles standing between parents and their traveling plans has been the hassle of managing an infant car seat on our journey.

    The new Nuna PIPA lite rx is changing all that. The Nuna PIPA lite rx is an infant car seat made for everyday life and more enjoyable adventures. With a combination of features that make travel easier, you can skip the question of "how" to go with your baby and move onto asking "where" to go.

    From trips around the corner to trips across the country, the new Nuna PIPA lite rx car seat solves so many pain points of traveling with a baby. Here's why you'll love it...

    It is amazingly light-weight

    We're all for a good workout—just not every time we need to carry the car seat. Weighing in at just 6.9 lbs., the PIPA lite rx truly earns the title of lightweight champion. Combined with a luxe leatherette handle for comfortably carrying in your hand or the crook of your arm, this dreamy travel car seat is great at getting from Point A to Point B—whether you're in the car or not.

    It is incredibly safe and secure from day one

    With an additional GOTS™ certified infant insert and harness covers, 7-position height-adjustable no-rethread headrest, Aeroflex™ foam and side-impact protection, you can travel with the confidence that your baby is well-protected from your baby's first ride and beyond. And because any parent knows the trickiest part of travel is getting baby in and out of the car seat, the PIPA lite rx simplifies the task: The 5-point no-rethread harness can be held to the side with magnetic buckle holders while you're getting your baby in or out of the seat. (Meaning no more searching for straps under a wiggly baby!)

    Your baby will be cozy for longer excursions

    When it comes to keeping your little travel companion content, comfort is the name of the game. With foam cushions and a memory foam headrest, your little explorer will have the best seat in the car when buckled in. For a little extra privacy, pull down the breathable Dream Drape and quietly attach it to the side of the car seat with magnets. Or, enjoy some time in the sun without concerns about harsh rays with the full-coverage UPF 50+ canopy.

    Base or belt... the decision is yours

    The Nuna PIPA lite rx offers two ways to secure the seat to the car: with the (included) PIPA RELX base or by buckling in through the belt path on the infant car seat with the vehicle's seat belt, meaning one less thing to take along when you travel by taxi or airplane. Better yet, the car seat securely installs in just seconds so you can get on with the adventure.

    Stroll on with the full travel system

    Compatible with Nuna's extensive line of strollers, the Nuna PIPA lite rx lets you create a travel system that works for your lifestyle. From single strollers to rides that can grow with your family, you can click the Nuna PIPA lite rx into place and go—wherever your travels might take you.

    The Nuna PIPA lite rx is available now in two color options. Take a closer look at this fully featured infant seat on nunababy.com.

    This article is sponsored by Nuna. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.
    Our Partners

    10 Montessori phrases for kids who are struggling with back to school

    The first day of school can be hard for everyone, mama. Here's how to use the Montessori method to help your child adjust.

    No matter how excited your child was to pick out a new lunchbox and backpack this year, there will likely be days when they just don't want to go to school. Whether they're saying "I don't like school" when you're home playing together or having a meltdown on the way to the classroom, there are things you can say to help ease their back-to-school nerves.

    More than the exact words you use, the most important thing is your attitude, which your child is most definitely aware of. It's important to validate their feelings while conveying a calm confidence that school is the right place for them to be and that they can handle it.

    Here are some phrases that will encourage your child to go to school.


    1. "You're safe here."

    If you have a young child, they may be genuinely frightened of leaving you and going to school. Tell them that school is a safe place full of people who care about them. If you say this with calm confidence, they'll believe you. No matter what words you say, if your child senses your hesitation, your own fear of leaving them, they will not feel safe. How can they be safe if you're clearly scared of leaving them? Try to work through your own feelings about dropping them off before the actual day so you can be a calm presence and support.

    2. "I love you and I know you can do this."

    It's best to keep your goodbye short, even if your child is crying or clinging to you, and trust that you have chosen a good place for them to be. Most children recover from hard goodbyes quickly after the parent leaves.

    If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, give one good strong hug and tell them that you love them and know they can do this. Saying something like, "It's just school, you'll be fine" belittles their feelings. Instead, acknowledge that this is hard, but that you're confident they're up to the task. This validates the anxiety they're feeling while ending on a positive note.

    After a quick reassurance, make your exit, take a deep breath and trust that they will be okay.

    3. "First you'll have circle time, then work time, and then you'll play on the playground."

    Talk your child through the daily schedule at school, including as many details as possible. Talk about what will happen when you drop them off, what kinds of work they will do, when they will eat lunch and play outside, and who will come to get them in the afternoon.

    It can help to do this many times so that they become comfortable with the new daily rhythm.

    4. "I'll pick you up after playground time."

    Give your child a frame of reference for when you will be returning.

    If your child can tell time, you can tell them you'll see them at 3:30pm. If they're younger, tell them what will happen right before you pick them up. Perhaps you'll come get them right after lunch, or maybe it's after math class.

    Giving this reference point can help reassure them you are indeed coming back and that there is a specific plan for when they will see you again. As the days pass, they'll realize that you come consistently every day when you said you would and their anxieties will ease.

    5. "What book do you think your teacher will read when you get to school this morning?"

    Find out what happens first in your child's school day and help them mentally transition to that task. In a Montessori school, the children choose their own work, so you might ask about which work your child plans to do first.

    If they're in a more traditional school, find an aspect of the school morning they enjoy and talk about that.

    Thinking about the whole school day can seem daunting, but helping your child focus on a specific thing that will happen can make it seem more manageable.

    6. "Do you think Johnny will be there today?"

    Remind your child of the friends they will see when they get to school.

    If you're not sure who your child is bonding with, ask the teacher. On the way to school, talk about the children they can expect to see and try asking what they might do together.

    If your child is new to the school, it might help to arrange a playdate with a child in their class to help them form strong relationships.

    7. "That's a hard feeling. Tell me about it."

    While school drop-off is not the time to wallow in the hard feelings of not wanting to go to school, if your child brings up concerns after school or on the weekend, take some time to listen to them.

    Children can very easily be swayed by our leading questions, so keep your questions very general and neutral so that your child can tell you what they're really feeling.

    They may reveal that they just miss you while they're gone, or may tell you that a certain person or kind of work is giving them anxiety.

    Let them know that you empathize with how they feel, but try not to react too dramatically. If you think there is an issue of real concern, talk to the teacher about it, but your reaction can certainly impact the already tentative feelings about going to school.

    8. "What can we do to help you feel better?"

    Help your child brainstorm some solutions to make them more comfortable with going to school.

    Choose a time at home when they are calm. Get out a pen and paper to show that you are serious about this.

    If they miss you, would a special note in their pocket each morning help? If another child is bothering them, what could they say or who could they ask for help? If they're too tired in the morning, could an earlier bedtime make them feel better?

    Make it a collaborative process, rather than a situation where you're rescuing them, to build their confidence.

    9. "What was the best part of your school day?"

    Choose a time when your child is not talking about school and start talking about your day. Tell them the best part of your day, then try asking about the best part of their day. Practice this every day.

    It's easy to focus on the hardest parts of an experience because they tend to stick out in our minds. Help your child recognize that, even if they don't always want to go, there are likely parts of school they really enjoy.

    10. "I can't wait to go to the park together when we get home."

    If your child is having a hard time saying goodbye, remind them of what you will do together after you pick them up from school.

    Even if this is just going home and making dinner, what your child likely craves is time together with you, so help them remember that it's coming.

    It is totally normal for children to go through phases when they don't want to go to school. If you're concerned, talk to your child's teacher and ask if they seem happy and engaged once they're in the classroom.

    To your child, be there to listen, to help when you can, and to reassure them that their feelings are natural and that they are so capable of facing the challenges of the school day, even when it seems hard.

    Back to School

    15 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

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


    Stomp Racers

    As longtime fans of Stomp Rockets, we're pretty excited about their latest launch–Stomp Racers. Honestly, the thrill of sending things flying through the air never gets old. Parents and kids alike can spend hours launching these kid-powered cars which take off via a stompable pad and hose.

    $19.99

    Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

    Step2 Up and Down Rollercoaster

    Tiny thrill-seekers will love this kid-powered coaster which will send them (safely) sailing across the backyard or play space. The durable set comes with a high back coaster car and 10.75 feet of track, providing endless opportunities for developing gross motor skills, balance and learning to take turns. The track is made up of three separate pieces which are easy to assemble and take apart for storage (but we don't think it will be put away too often!)

    $139

    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    Sand play set

    B. toys Wagon & Beach Playset - Wavy-Wagon Red

    For the littlest ones, it's easy to keep it simple. Take their sand box toys and use them in the bath! This 12-piece set includes a variety of scoops, molds and sifters that can all be stored in sweet little wagon.

    $17.95

    Sensory play set

    kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

    Filled with sand or water, this compact-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.

    $19.95

    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

    Foam pogo stick

    Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

    green-toys-dump-truck

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

    $22

    Hopper ball

    Hopper ball

    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

    $14.99

    Pull-along ducks

    janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

    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.

    $16.99

    Rocking chair seesaw

    Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

    $79.99

    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.

    $79.99

    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.

    $24.75

    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

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    Coterie

    Ask any new mama what she needs and nine times out of ten you're going to get the same answer. SLEEP. More sleep, better sleep, a baby that sleeps, a nap, a full night's worth, a rest of the eyes, anything. Give her alllll the sleep, please and thank you. In fact, in Motherly's 2021 State of Motherhood Survey, 89% of mothers reported getting less than eight hours of sleep per night. Surprised? Ha. No, we're not either.

    We can all agree there's no better gift for new parents than the gift of sleep. If you're close by, the gift is win-win. You get to snuggle a perfect, most delicious new babe and they get some much needed zzz's, worry-free. But if that's not an option or you want to really (rightfully) spoil them, two of our favorite sleep-obsessed brands have come together to create the perfect new mama gift. Coterie, the modern baby care brand that's mastered the art of sustainable diapering and Parachute, our go-to for all things cozy home just launched The Gift of Sleep, a bundle of gorgeous goods that any new parent will be over the moon about. (We certainly are!)

    In the box they'll find two packs of Coterie diapers to keep baby dry even overnight, a supremely soft Parachute swaddle blanket, a Parachute eye mask so you can doze off no matter what time of day, Charlie the Bunny plush toy, and (we saved the best for last!) a 30-minute session with a certified sleep coach. How's that for hero status?

    A good stretch of sleep can make all the difference. And getting a bit of help to establish a routine that works for everyone is priceless. If you've got a new mama in your life, you might just change everything with one small box.

    Check out Coterie X Parachute's Gift of Sleep Bundle below!



    Coterie x Parachute The Gift of Sleep Bundle

    Coterie x Parachute The Gift of Sleep Bundle

    Just choose the diaper size (NB, 01, 02) and the box will ship with a personalized gift note to cheer on the new parents (or you know, offer up your baby-snuggling skills)!

    $135


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    TODAY host Dylan Dreyer shares that her water broke 6 weeks early

    In her latest Instagram post, Dreyer says that doctors are working to keep her third baby "on the inside a little longer."

    Dylan Dreyer/Instagram

    TODAY host Dylan Dreyer is currently in the hospital because she says her water broke six weeks early. Dreyer, who is pregnant with her third child, shared the news via Instagram on Tuesday.

    "Just a little update as you won't be seeing me on @todayshow or @3rdhourtoday for a while," Dreyer, who is the meteorologist and 3rd hour co-host, wrote on Instagram. In the post, she shared two hospital room photos.


    "My water broke Sunday evening and I've been hanging at the hospital. Our little guy is anxious to get out and meet us!" she continues. "Doctors are closely monitoring both of us and trying to keep him on the inside for a little while longer to get stronger."

    Dreyer and her husband, Brian Fichera, are already parents to sons Calvin, 4, and Oliver, 1. Back in May, she announced she was expecting her third baby—and blamed the show Bridgerton for getting pregnant (which, relatable). In an Instagram post at the time, Fichera shared an ultrasound photo, which he captioned, "When two people are quarantined together for over a year and Bridgerton is on..."

    As for their third bundle of joy, Dreyer says her youngest son will likely make his appearance later this week despite being so early.

    "All is well! I'm in great hands and I have the best person to keep me calm and comfortable," she writes. "Looks like we'll be getting to meet our littlest boy sometime this week…6 weeks early! Guess he couldn't handle being left out of all the fun his brothers have been having!"

    Dreyer has also been candid about her experience with secondary infertility—she suffered a miscarriage in 2019 while trying to have a second child.

    "So many women are going through their own fertility issues, and I want to open up the conversation to get us all talking instead of sneaking onto that baby chat room and scrolling endlessly through the comments hoping to stumble upon someone going through a similar situation as us," she wrote at the time.

    As for her current situation, she remains confident that she's receiving the best care possible, but she still has one request:

    "We'll gladly take any extra prayers you have."

    Consider it done. ❤️

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