A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

I finally realized I had postpartum anxiety—and everything changed

My 8-week-old son is nestled in the crook of my arm, and I look at his face and swear that his cheeks have grown since yesterday. I grab my phone and open the camera. With the phone poised above his face, I take three pictures and move them to album I have reserved for close-ups of his face, created for the sole purpose of seeing his cheeks grow.

I deliberate between the photos, swearing I can find differences between them, and finally settle on one. A few swipes and taps of my thumb later, and I've sent it out in a text thread to some friends and my son's grandparents for their daily dose of cuteness. All of this happens with one hand and in the course of a few minutes.

It's all automatic and routine, like straightening my hair (which I swear I will get to one of these days). It's a motion that I have done so often these past few weeks that I feel like my body could do it in its sleep (or at least during those many middle-of-the-night feedings).

You might think I am a brand-new mom, the way I obsessively snap pictures of my baby. After all, it's common knowledge that the number of baby pictures dwindles as more children come along. Being a youngest child myself, I know this from experience.

Yet the experience with my own children has been the opposite. This second child of mine is filling up my phone memory with his gassy smiles and pouty lips. And while pictures speak a thousand words, the lack of baby pictures of my first child speak louder.

When my oldest son would fall asleep in my arms, I wouldn't grab my phone for a picture. Instead, I would start Googling. How long should newborns sleep? Should you wake a sleeping baby? Can you spoil an infant? From the moment he shut his eyes, I would worry about what I was doing wrong.

Convinced that this 6-week-old mastermind was manipulating me to hold him for longer periods of time, I would put him down in his bassinet, only to become frustrated once he began to cry.

I slept with his baby monitor cranked to its highest volume perched on the nightstand next to my bed. At every baby gurgle or mattress creak I would sit up and grab it, cupping the monitor in my hands and watch the black and white image of my son shifting in his sleep. When his restlessness lasted more than a few minutes, I would steal into his room and scoop him out of his crib, convinced that if I didn't rock him, he would wake up feeling fearful and alone.

During night feedings I would scroll through Facebook and take in the pictures my friends posted of their own newborns with tired, jealous eyes. I wanted to know their secret—how could they just snap a photo of their child and feel happy? Weren't they worried about when the baby would start crying next, or how the baby was sleeping, or if he was eating enough?

My son was great at breastfeeding, but I still went to weekly support groups so I could weigh how many ounces he ate.

I kept track of his food consumption with diligence, charting the number of minutes he nursed on each side and his weight on an Excel spreadsheet. This wasn't to reassure me that I was doing okay at this whole "mom" thing. No, I was so convinced I would do something wrong and ruin him that I figured if I had data I could at least pinpoint when my great failure occurred.

Sometimes, when the worry felt suffocating I would dare to type "Postpartum Depression" into the Google search bar. But I never felt completely sad with my first, and I never thought about harming myself or my family. And because those questions always came up, I was convinced that wasn't what I was going through.

What if I wasn't "going through" anything? What if this was just who I was as a mother, and I would feel this anxiety bubbling below my surface for the rest of my life?

That thought was terrifying.

Two and a half years later, I was nursing my second son and thumbing through my Newsfeed when I came across an article about "Postpartum Anxiety." I had never heard this term, and I devoured the article. It didn't offer a solution, but it offered solidarity. It gave a name to what I remembered going through, and let me know that I wasn't the only one who's first months of motherhood were stolen by overwhelming feelings of self-doubt.

It provided me with an invaluable gift: validation.

It took around seven months before I felt comfortable in my role as a mother. I know this because I remember giving my son a bath and watching as he dipped his fists into the water before holding them up in the air, mesmerized by the water dripping off his knuckles. It was a small moment, yet I remember it with clarity because I looked at him and felt calm.

I asked my husband to watch him and I ran to grab my phone. I didn't Google bath activities or make sure he was on track with his milestones. Instead, I took a succession of photos of him splashing and experimenting with the water. Those photos are hanging in the bathroom, a mural of bliss.

I wish I could pinpoint what brought on this new outlook.

I had seen a therapist and had gotten on medication, so it'd be easy to say that that's what did the trick. But parenting is not easy, and nothing happens at once. While I remember my son taking his first steps, I can't remember every pull-up onto furniture or army crawl or roll from back to tummy.

We might remember the big outcomes, but parenting is made up of tiny moments—the moment you skip your first breastfeeding support group because you feel confident your baby is eating enough, the moment you turn the volume down on the monitor because you trust yourself to hear your baby's cries, the moment you let your baby nap in your arms without checking the clock. These moments come and go so quickly, we don't realize their significance at the time.

Sometimes it isn't until we stop to scroll through our gallery of pictures that we realize the progress we've made and just how far we have come.

You might also like:

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna


2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna


3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95


4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna


5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna


With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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

You might also like:

Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

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.

You might also like:

Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

You might also like:

When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

You might also like:

The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.