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I thought I had to hide my anxiety—instead, I became a better mother once I opened up

I remember lying in bed in the middle of the night, my newborn in the bassinet beside me, and I couldn't move. In fact, I had a hard time catching my breath because in those few quiet moments when everyone was asleep, I had convinced myself that my baby wasn't alive anymore.

Those moments would come throughout the next year as she grew from tiny helpless infant into a walking and (sort of) talking toddler, and here’s the kicker: I attributed it all to being a worried new mom.

I had gone through years of infertility and thought for sure this was my path in life when it came to parenthood. I thought everything from preconception to raising a daughter in a big scary world was just going to be one massive anxiety attack.

I had no idea it wasn't normal to have the thoughts I had. I knew moms worried. That was nothing new. Unfortunately, the few times I spoke up about how terrified I was about something awful happening to my baby, I was left with, “You’re a mom. You’re always going to worry.”

At times I was scared to say anything because I thought if I did, if I confessed the awful things going on inside my head, my husband and family would become concerned. I didn’t want to look crazy or overly dramatic when all the other moms around me seemed to have it together.

What was wrong with me?

It had to have been my history of infertility. It maybe had something to do with the anxiety and depression I experienced as a teenager and young adult. This was my rationalization for two years.

One day, I made an appointment with a therapist to talk about my anxiety. My daughter, since she was a year old, was prone to stomach bugs and the anxiety I developed every time she vomited was worsening with every bug. During one of those episodes, my vision started darkening in the corners of my eye, and I realized I was one vomiting episode short from a full blown panic attack.

I knew I needed to see someone, especially since we were beginning to enter the winter months and another season of sickness was going to put me over the edge.

Sitting on my therapist’s couch that morning, I started discussing the anxiety over my daughter’s stomach bugs. But then it blew up, so to speak, and I found myself doing a spectacular word vomit (no pun intended) where all the little anxieties, the ones where I thought were just a result of being a new mom, came out and I found myself in tears.

“I can’t live like this anymore,” I cried. Even then, even after an evaluation with the therapist, I continued to have the belief that I was overreacting.

Trying to cover up or downplay how anxious I was, especially when it came to motherhood wasn't doing anybody any favors. I learned that the hard way. I pushed it down, didn't talk about it, and it slowly started eating away at me. I ended up on medication and continued in therapy and when I accepted the fact that I truly had an anxiety disorder, it woke me up in ways that surprised me.

I didn’t cover it up anymore. I am a parenting and infertility writer, so talking about my deep dark feelings is just something I’m used to now. Hitting the publish button on my first blog post where I confessed I was seeing a therapist and had untreated postpartum anxiety was exhilarating, embarrassing, and terrifying. I wanted to own it, but I was so nervous of being treated as that unstable mom blogger.

I didn’t downplay my feelings anymore. From then on, when the anxiety hit hard, I told my husband I needed help. I started talking about it with my family, how the medication was working, how my therapist was slowly helping me with an action plan when my anxiety got to panic levels.

Of course, I knew being open and honest when things were bad would help me overall, but I didn't realize how much better of a mom I am now to my daughter. I can recognize when my anxiety is getting the best of me and can now take steps to decrease it.

I don't get so worked up and frustrated, thinking this whole thing is one giant character flaw. I know when I need a break and ask for it from my husband. I think that's the best thing I can do now—to ask my husband to step in when I can't. I am facing my anxiety head on and gaining more confidence every day.

Society still perpetuates anxiety as something to be covered up, as a weakness or something that needs to be overcome to be successful in life. We are talking so much now about postpartum depression. But our culture still needs gentle nudges at understanding anxiety, especially postpartum and into motherhood.

Somehow as moms we are still believing the myth that we are supposed to be busy multitasking, the ones who run the household, and the glue that holds our family together. When we tell ourselves the anxiety isn't that bad, we're downplaying the fact that anxiety is actually really common, and it's important to recognize it for what it is.

We are worth it too and need to be taken care of, despite being moms who are thought to be the ones taking care of it all.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas


Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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