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I always know where my children are—but other parents aren't so lucky

If I'm being honest with you, I know in my heart that I've been avoiding the news of the separated immigrant parents and children.

I always know where my children are—but other parents aren't so lucky

I always know where my children are.

They're 4, 2, and 8 months. They're typically within 100 feet from me. But more realistically, they're typically on me: asking to be held or picked up or perched on my lap. My oldest child goes to school but it's a little, beautiful preschool with people I trust. I let my kids play on their own when we're at home, but we have a small home; we're all always within earshot of each other.

I get a little panicked in public sometimes when they're close but maybe for some reason I can't find them in that *exact second.* My heart threatens to jump out of my chest, and I feel weak—all in a matter of milliseconds. But then I see them, and they were never far in the first place, and all is well again. We still go on adventures and we go to the store, and do the things we need to—but sometimes I still feel knots in my stomach; worrying, watching.

But I have never had to actually worry about being separated from my children. In fact, I've never even been away from them for more than two nights. And that was by choice, for a trip.

If I'm being honest with you, I know in my heart that I've been avoiding the news of the separated immigrant parents and children. I have seen bits of headlines on my newsfeed, and I've quickly scrolled past. I knew something was going on, and I averted my eyes. My heart often feels so raw, my nerves so fried from the everyday worries of motherhood, I didn't think I could read about this pain.

But tonight I did. And I feel sick and so, so sad.

And I know why I was scared of reading the news. I can't stop picturing my sensitive 2-year-old in particular—in a shelter, crying for me, wondering what the heck was going on. Like the children who have been separated from their parents are likely doing right this second. I know there would be a look of terror in my baby's eyes. I know she'd be anxiously scratching at her skin. I know she'd probably cry so hard she'd puke. Or she wouldn't be able to breathe. She would feel so alone, so confused—so completely frightened.

And I would be a wreck. What would I do? How would I get to her? Would I ever see her again? How? How would I fix this? How would I be able to even function?

I'm lucky that my 2-year-old has not been ripped from my arms and put into a cage. But other parents are not so lucky. Other parents are living a real life nightmare as I type this.

Putting yourself in someone else's shoes who is experiencing pain, discrimination or pure evil is not easy. Because we're human; we will feel some of that, too. And that's scary. But maybe that's okay, to feel a little of their pain. Because maybe that will pull more empathy out of us. Maybe it'll inspire action and change. Maybe it'll force the world to love one another more deeply.

I'm still confused about how to help. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. It's so overwhelming. But I want to. And I'll figure out how I can do my part.

But for now, this second, they have my heart.

And tonight, I'll pray to God my children will always stay safe. And I'll pray to God that these families will find each other. And tomorrow morning when my three babies wake up, they will have me—all of me. And I'll be able to hold them in my arms. And I'll try not to get caught up in the chaos of the day and take that seemingly simple fact for granted.

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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