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Dear new mama of two: It gets easier before you even realize it. Believe me.

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One of my very best friends had her second baby just over two weeks ago. And while I’m by no means anywhere close to a seasoned mother of two, it’s amazing what two extra months can teach you.


I’ve found that those that have been through it tend to focus on how things will get easier in the long-term. Just get through the first year, and it’ll all start to fall into place. Yes, it’s a small age gap, but you’ll so appreciate what good friends they’ll be when they’re older!

That’s all well and good, but for me–I needed to hear that things would get easier, or at least that I would get better at them, soon. Like, really soon. As in, tomorrow. Next week. In two weeks. Maybe in a month or two, max.

I needed someone to tell me that there was a light just around the corner, and to reassure me that I wasn’t far off.

In those early weeks, you can’t quite see as far ahead as a year from now, or even six months from now. On some days, even the idea of tomorrow is terrifying. I know that it all goes incredibly fast when you take a step back, at some point down the track. But when you’re living it, when it’s your reality, your now, you are counting every hour and wondering how you’re going to get through the next one.

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So, my lovely, sweet friend: Here I am, only eight or so weeks ahead of you, and I’m here to tell you it will get easier. Next month, it will get easier. Next week, it will get easier. Tomorrow, it will get easier.

I want you to know that in just a few weeks from now, things will change. Some of them will change tomorrow. Some of them will change in a couple of days, or maybe next week. Some things? They need another month or so. Just hang in there. It’s really, really not far away. I promise you.

I know you’re experiencing physical pain right now. I know you’re anxious to start feeling like yourself again. You were one of those incredibly agile and strong pregnant women that people would stare at as she whisked her active toddler and collapsed stroller onto the bus like it was nothing. It’s different now, I know. I know that some days, it feels like that pain, or that fragility, is here to stay and you are trying to fathom how you’re going to run after your toddler if he’s about to fall off the seesaw at the playground, or if he suddenly sprints off in the opposite direction at the grocery store. You will be able to, I promise. Sooner than you think.

You know that thing that was really, really impossible today, or maybe yesterday? It’s going to be less impossible the next time you’re faced with it.

The first time it happened, it caught you off guard and you didn’t have a plan. You had to wing it. That’s a difficult thing for people like us to experience and motherhood really tests us in that way. But you’ve done it once now. Even if it was a complete catastrophe, you did it. And little by little, each of these seemingly impossible moments is teaching you how to do it better next time.

Without those moments of feeling totally flustered and unprepared, you won’t learn what you need to learn to tackle it next time. And you will. You’ll surprise yourself at how much easier it is next time. One of the first of these things that I experienced was getting out the gate of our apartment complex with a stroller and while carrying the baby in a wrap. The first time, the door whacked into the stroller as it swung shut; I stuck my arm out to stop it and nearly bumped the baby in the head; and then I tried to kick it open with my foot and ended up with one of those shin bruises you and I are so good at getting. Now? I do it without anyone getting injured and without even really thinking about it. And you will too.

Your toddler is going to fall more and more in love with his new baby brother. In the next couple of weeks, you’ll start noticing how he expects to see his baby brother when he wakes up in the morning, because to him, even though the baby’s only been around for a few weeks, to him that’s a heck of a long time. The baby is now a part of his routine, his family, his life.

I know it’s hard having to essentially protect the little one from the big one all the time. It’s difficult to see how you’ll ever be able to leave them both in the same room together. But it’ll happen. It’ll be a combination of the baby becoming stronger and more resilient, the toddler becoming gentler and you becoming more relaxed. Sure, you might come back and find your toddler sitting on the baby, but I can literally tell you from experience that the baby will be fine. Your mommy Spidey-senses will heighten to include an alert that the baby might need to be rescued from the toddler. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll see what I mean.

I know you feel like you’re not doing enough for your toddler. Listen to me when I say this: he is just fine. Stop worrying about him and stop feeling guilty. That beautiful, boisterous boy of yours is so content and happy, and has so much love around him, that he will never doubt your love for him. He’s going to get better at waiting for you to finish nursing the baby. He’s going to become more helpful and more patient. He’s going to become more independent and you will wonder how he was ever as tiny and needy as your little one.

You’re going to start tailoring the activities with your toddler to work with the sleep you’re getting—or not getting—and he will be OK with it. I promise. I know it’s hard to feel like you’re culling back on all that you used to do for him, and that somehow he’s missing out, but you will be astounded at how adaptable he is, and how hanging out with you and his baby brother is more than enough for him. So what if you spend the entire day at home? He will get used to it. He’ll be just as happy going to the playground downstairs for 15 minutes or taking a walk down to the grocery store down the road.

Take the pressure off yourself to do everything and be everything. You are enough.

Leaving the house with both of them is going to get easier really, really soon. All the prep that goes with it will require less forethought on your part. I know it’s hard going back to packing a bag for a newborn when you’ve gotten so used to packing one for a toddler. You’ll be able to go through the mental checklist a lot quicker without having to go through every potential contingency for which you need to prepare.

In just a few weeks, your baby is going to smile at you. Ah, that first smile. I remember with Tuna, I cried when she first gave me that gummy grin. Do you remember that feeling, mama? The feeling that this tiny little baby, who seemed to be existing in a realm of their own, now recognises you. He sees you. He knows you. You just looking at him makes him smile. Those smiles are sort of like little rewards peppered throughout your difficult, tiresome days. They’re little thank-yous for waking up with him on the hour and nursing him, for changing him, for bathing him, for holding him and loving him; for keeping him safe and doing everything you can to keep him happy and content.

Now just you wait until you witness the first time your baby smiles at your toddler.

Oh. My heart.

I’m not even going to say anything more about this, because when it happens, you’ll understand what I mean. Tell me when it happens, because I want to cry tears of joy with you.

In the next month or so, you’re probably going to experience your first full day alone with both of them. Call me that day. Please promise me that if you need to, you’ll call me.

You might do what I did and look at your husband forlornly as he leaves for work, silently begging him with your eyes not to go. You might get that odd feeling that maybe you’re a little bit afraid of your children and what they might conspire to do to you once you have sole charge.

Trust me when I say you’ve got this.

Look, it might be an unexpected piece of cake. It might be a complete disaster. You might be more exhausted than you’ve ever been in your life. You might have several moments during that day where all three of you are crying while you look up to the heavens and ask, how am I supposed to do this?!  You might try to leave the house with them both and then vow to never do it again.

You will do it again, and you will do it better every time.

You will panic less. You will throw your hands up in exasperation less. You will doubt yourself less.

You’re going to experience more and more of those moments where you smile quietly at yourself and think, “Hey, I did it!” Something that once seemed so difficult will become second nature, because having a second baby in the mix just forces you to upskill, fast. You’ll sit on the floor with your toddler and play with him while the baby happily gurgles and coos on the mat next to you. There will be more calm moments. You’ll be able to sit back and watch them lay next to each other while your toddler giggles in delight at his baby brother batting at his face.

The truth is, and I say this from the bottom of my heart and the core of my soul: You are an extraordinary person, which makes you an extraordinary mother. You are patient. You are loving. You exude calm and compassion. You are so many things that I strive to be. I know there will be difficult days that will test you, but knowing you, and knowing how beautifully you mother your babies (because I’ve seen you do it first-hand), you will come out winning. If you have one of those days where you think you’ve failed, or that you’re doing a terrible job, call me and I will tell you how amazing you are. Because you really, truly are.

You never need to worry that you’re complaining too much to me. I know there are times when everything is just hard. Let me be your person, the way you were mine when I went through it. The way you still are while I’m still going through it.

We both don’t want to talk about the fact that I probably won’t be here when a lot of these things happen. And I’m so, so sorry that of all the times to decide to move countries, this is it. But know that I’m just a message or a phone call away. And if we need to set up our iPads so that our toddlers can FaceTime each other while we nurse our babies, so be it.

You’ve got this. I have so much faith in you. It’s all going to get easier; not in a year, not in six months, but next month. Next week. Tomorrow.

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There are certain moments of parenthood that stay with us forever. The ones that feel a little extra special than the rest. The ones that we always remember, even as time moves forward.

The first day of school will always be one of the most powerful of these experiences.

I love thinking back to my own excitement going through it as a child—the smell of the changing seasons, how excited I was about the new trendy outfit I picked out. And now, I get the joy of watching my children go through the same right of passage.

Keep the memory of this time close with these 10 pictures that you must take on the first day of school so you can remember it forever, mama:

1. Getting on the school bus.

Is there anything more iconic than a school bus when it comes to the first day of school? If your little one is taking the bus, snap a photo of them posed in front of the school bus, walking onto it for the first time, or waving at you through the window as they head off to new adventure.

2. Their feet (and new shoes!)

Getting a new pair of shoes is the quintessential task to prepare for a new school year. These are the shoes that will support them as they learn, play and thrive. Capture the sentimental power of this milestone by taking photos of their shoes. You can get a closeup of your child's feet, or even show them standing next to their previous years of first-day-of-school shoes to show just how much they've grown. If you have multiple children, don't forget to get group shoe photos as well!

3. Posing with their backpack.

Backpacks are a matter of pride for kids so be sure to commemorate the one your child has chosen for the year. Want to get creative? Snap a picture of the backpack leaning against the front door, and then on your child's back as they head out the door.

4. Standing next to a tree or your front door.

Find a place where you can consistently take a photo year after year—a tree, your front door, the school signage—and showcase how much your child is growing by documenting the change each September.

5. Holding a 'first day of school' sign.

Add words to your photo by having your child pose with or next to a sign. Whether it's a creative DIY masterpiece or a simple printout you find online that details their favorites from that year, the beautiful sentiment will be remembered for a lifetime.

6. With their graduating class shirt.

When your child starts school, get a custom-designed shirt with the year your child will graduate high school, or design one yourself with fabric paint (in an 18-year-old size). Have them wear the shirt each year so you can watch them grow into it—and themselves!

Pro tip: Choose a simple color scheme and design that would be easy to recreate if necessary—if your child ends up skipping or repeating a year of school and their graduation date shifts, you can have a new shirt made that can be easily swapped for the original.

7. Post with sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk never goes out of style and has such a nostalgic quality to it. Let your child draw or write something that represents the start of school, like the date or their teacher, and then have them pose next to (or on top of) their work.

8. In their classroom.

From first letters learned to complicated math concepts mastered, your child's classroom is where the real magic of school happens. Take a few pictures of the space where they'll be spending their time. They will love remembering what everything looked like on the first day, from the decorations on the wall to your child's cubby, locker or desk.

9. With their teacher.

If classrooms are where the magic happens, teachers are the magicians. We wish we remembered every single teach we had, but the truth is that over time, memories fade. Be sure to snap a photo of your child posing with their teacher on the first day of school.

10. With you!

We spend so much time thinking about our children's experience on the first day of school, we forget about the people who have done so much to get them there—us! This is a really big day for you too, mama, so get in that photo! You and your child will treasure it forever.

This article is sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's officially a sale bonanza, mamas! In addition to Amazon's 48-hours of Prime Day markdowns, Target has joined the fray and is also offering major discounts this Monday and Tuesday via its Deal Days, Walmart is offering up Deal Days, and let's not forget the Nordstrom Anniversary pre-sale is happening, too!)

Target's biggest sale of the summer is on our radar for a couple reasons. For one, unlike Prime Day, you don't have to have a membership with the retails to score the discounts. Secondly, once you've ordered a product you can select to pick it up same day at your nearest store. (Have the Target app? From there you can even choose "drive up" and pickup up your loot curbside—without even getting the kids out of their car seats!)

But the deals don't stop at Target, so we hit up a slew of other retailers to find the best deals you can get today..you know the ones that aren't available over at Amazon. Because it's all about scoring the biggest discount possible, right? Right!

Whether you're stocking up on back-to-school supplies, investing in baby gear or just need to replenish your everyday home items, these are the products you want to scoop up this week.

Other

Boxed: Up to 50% off Prince & Spring toilet paper (use code TPPARTY), 20% off kitchen gadgets and tools, up to 20% off snacks, home goods, and school supplies

Best Buy: Flash sale across the site—from appliances to tech

Macys: Black Friday in July sales, including an extra 25% off select departments

TJ Maxx: Summer clearance event with savings that only happen twice a year

Dick's Sporting Goods: $20 off your order of $100+

Carter's: Summer cyber sale, entire site 55% off or more

Williams Sonoma: Friends and family sale, 20% off your order and free fast shipping with code FRIENDS

Gap: Up to 50% off sitewide

Old Navy: 50% off sitewide and free shipping

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Last month Granger Smith and his wife, Amber, shared a story no parent would every want to. Their son, River, drowned at their home—and despite attempts to revive him—the little boy died tragically at just 3 years old. But River's parents managed to find some good in this absolutely devastating loss: They chose to donate their son's organs, saving two lives in the process.

River's mom, Amber, opened up about this choice in a heartbreaking Instagram post.

"I've always known I wanted to be a donor if anything were to ever happen to me," Amber writes alongside a photo of River. "Never in a million years did I think I would be making that decision for my baby."

Our hearts hurt so badly for this mama—but we're also amazed by her ability to find a way to turn her worst-case scenario into a lifesaving measure for other families.

Amber shares more about her family's gut-wrenching experience in the post, writing that doctors told Amber and Granger their son had no chance of brain recovery. As shocking as that was to hear, the parents knew they wanted to donate River's organs as there are so many people who need donations to survive.

That choice began a three-day process of determining which organs could be donated and which recipients would be appropriate. Amber shares excruciating details about the night before River's operation.

 River's organs saved two adults

"I spent the night laying in bed with him, crying and talking to him while they kept running tests and taking blood. The next morning family and staff lined the hall for the 'walk of honor.' We told them River liked to go fast, so to honor him, they pushed him down that hall faster than they had ever pushed anyone. Granger and I held each other and cried," Amber writes.

It's all so terribly tragic...but the outcome is bittersweet. Amber and Granger received a letter explaining that River's organs saved two adults, a 49-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man. Amber calls the decision to donate her precious son's organs the hardest and easiest of her life.

Our thoughts continue to be with River's family. We can't even imagine what they're going through, but their strength and grace in the face of all this is incredible—and we hope they'll always find comfort in the fact that little River left a beautiful, heroic, lifesaving legacy behind.

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When I was pregnant with my fourth child, my husband and I decided to shell out for a swing set in our backyard. Why? We knew with a new baby, packing up four kids and heading to the park on a daily basis would simply not be feasible. Don't get me wrong, I love a playground. But when you've got multiple kids running in every direction and a toddler refusing to only climb up a slide that big kids are careening down—well, let's just say that the park can go from super fun to incredibly stressful real fast.

Having a play set right in our backyard means that when the baby is napping, my "big" kids can get off their screens and head outside to swing their hearts out or play pirates under the canopy. And I can be inside cooking dinner or folding laundry or answering work emails while they get allllll their energy out. The swing set was one of the best investments we've ever made… and we paid a lot for ours.

Which is why my jaw dropped when I saw that KidKraft is offering its Ainsley Wooden Swing Set right now for just $269 at Walmart today. (FYI: It's a hundred dollar more on Amazon.)

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What does it comes with? Two swings, a high-rail wavy slide, a rock-climbing wall, an upper level "clubhouse" (the perfect spot for summer morning snacks or kids-only meetings), a chalkboard and a sandbox. Yup, that equates to roughly 100,000 hours of kids entertaining themselves over the next year alone. For less than $270.

If you're worried about quality, don't be. I've seen the KidKraft product in person and they're legit—big, beautiful and made of super-sturdy cedar lumber. Really I'm just here to tell ya that this is a purchase you'll never regret, regardless of how many kiddos you've got at home. Your summer (and your backyard) is about to be lit!

KidKraft Ainsley Wooden Swing Set

Sale price: $269

Original price: $399

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Many new parents receive the confusing news that their newborn baby has a tongue-tie. It means the skin attaching their tongues to the bottom of their mouths is longer than normal. And while this condition can cause complications from infancy on, a new study shows that not all newborns need to get surgery to correct it.

The condition is known as ankyloglossia, which occurs in 4-10% of people, usually looks like nothing but an extra strip of skin under the tongue. But because that skin (called the lingual frenulum) acts like a taut rubber band restricting movement, babies with a tongue-tie often have difficulty forming a good latch to nurse. This can mean they don't get enough milk, so they have to nurse for longer. Meanwhile, they're causing their mother a whole lot of pain because their latch is shallower and mostly clamping down on the tip of the nipple.

I speak from experience here: When my son had a tongue-tie, it felt like I was feeding an angry piranha. He was definitely not getting enough to eat, and my milk supply was steadily decreasing.

But this new study published in JAMA Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery suggests that not all babies diagnosed with ankyloglossia need to undergo a frenotomy—a simple procedure in which a doctor snips the skin with a pair of surgical scissors.

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Infants don't usually need anesthesia, because this tissue doesn't have many nerve endings or blood vessels. Their mother is asked to breastfeed them immediately after the snip, to get the tongue moving properly and reduce the chance of the skin growing back. According to the Mayo Clinic, complications from frenotomies include bleeding, infection and damage to the tongue or salivary glands, but they are rare.

What's not rare is the number of patients getting frenotomies: Referrals for the procedure in the U.S. went up tenfold, from 1,200 in 1997 to 12,400 in 2012.

"We have seen the number of tongue-tie and upper lip tether release surgeries increase dramatically nationwide without any real strong evidence that shows they are effective for breastfeeding," study co-author Christopher J. Hartnick, MD MS, of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, said in a press release.

The researchers looked at 115 infants (between 19-56 days old) who were referred for a frenotomy. Instead of sending them straight into surgery, the babies and their parents met with a pediatric speech-language pathologist for a feeding evaluation. These specialists observed the babies breastfeeding and gave parents feedback and tips to overcome any challenges they were experiencing. After this, 72 (62.6%) patients did not have the frenotomy after all, while 10 (8.7%) had a labial frenotomy (releasing extra tissue from the lips) and 32 (27.8%) had both a labial and lingual frenotomy.

"We don't have a crystal ball that can tell us which infants might benefit most from the surgeries, but this preliminary study provides concrete evidence that this pathway of a multidisciplinary feeding evaluation is helping prevent babies from getting this procedure," Hartnick said.

For now, parents' best bet is to consult more than one specialist to identify the best plan of action. In addition to lactation consultants, children with tongue-ties might need to see speech pathologists later. In some cases, the frenulum loosens over time. In others, they might wind up needing the procedure after all.

Anecdotally, I'll add that I visited with lactation consultants and my son's pediatrician more than once before deciding he should have a frenotomy. It was no fun for me (who wants a strange man sticking scissors in their baby's mouth?), but my kid was fine. It didn't solve all our problems, but feeding was much less painful immediately afterward.

The bottom line here seems to be that not everyone needs to rush into a procedure just because it's easy. Our kiddos deserve more than a one-size-fits-all approach to their health.

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