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I was laid off during my maternity leave—this is what I learned

Toss in a global pandemic, first-time motherhood and you have a cocktail for a lost identity.

I was laid off during my maternity leave—this is what I learned

I lost my job.

It's the first time I have ever been laid off and when I heard the words "we are letting you go," my body froze. Somehow, a layoff implies a degree of blindness but this felt more personal, more emotional than my postpartum mind could process. We hung up the phone and I sat at my kitchen counter silently. My body didn't move for several minutes, almost physically rejecting the brief words it just heard.

I was 75% of the way through my maternity leave and the thought of not returning to work was beyond comprehension. As my body and mind started to reconnect, I wondered, "Could this be a good thing?"

Losing a job is never an easy experience, toss in a global pandemic, first-time motherhood and you have a cocktail for a lost identity.

Am I a working mother, something I always assumed I would be?

Am I a stay-at-home mom, a role postpartum has taught me I may not be able to handle?

Or am I something in-between, such as an unemployed working mom, trying to find an employer who understands I don't have childcare during a global pandemic?

These were all questions racing through my head that were not easy answers.



As I started to process the reality of being laid off, I straddled between denial and anger for several days. I had been at my company for six years and seen it grow from a 30-person start-up to a 300-person global brand. It felt like home or at least, my work home. As the company had grown up over the years, so had I. Yet no change was as profound as becoming a mother and I was beyond excited to return to a familiar place as a better version of myself. It was hard to grapple that a place that had been my professional home for so long was not allowing me the opportunity to return.

It was important that I didn't wallow in these feelings. I told myself that the past was the past and out of my control. Instead, I promised to practice gratitude and quickly found a memory that grounded me.

The day I was let go was the one-year anniversary of when I started the fertility treatment that got us pregnant. Conceiving was not easy for my husband and me. If I had to choose, I would easily pick 2020 and being laid off with our son rather than 2019 and going through IVF. Infertility has nothing on losing a job—a thought that has kept things in perspective, especially when the world is going through so much.

As the days went on, I felt fine and even upbeat. I would think to myself "what an amazing time to dream, be creative, there is so much opportunity for disruption and change right now." Yet, slowly my sleep started getting worse. At night, my son would wake up and while he would go back to sleep, my mind would race. I would wonder back to the day that it happened, think ahead five years and worry I didn't cherish this time with my son enough. My desire to keep things in perspective was prohibiting me from properly grieving. My mind desperately needed to process the emotions that come with experiencing a loss.

So, I did what any logical person would do.

I played Taylor Swift's, I Forgot You Existed, every night for a week (or maybe longer) while bathing my son and afterward, would hold him and dance around our family room singing.

I wrote down my emotions and asked my husband to read them and talk through it with me.

I let myself cry more than I want to admit.

I did my best to not judge what I was feeling and only share my emotions with my most inner circle.

Eventually, my mind calmed down and I started processing the next step. Updating my resume was a big confidence boost, reaching out to my network and asking about jobs reassured me that if I wanted a place in the working world, I could find one. When my son wakes up in the middle of the night, I remind myself there is nothing more important than being his mom. I know that while this virus has impacted me, there are so many bigger challenges happening in the world. My identity is still evolving, but I'm having more fun now applying to roles and imagining what life may look like down the road for our family.

To answer my question: Yes, being laid off will be a good thing, but not for the reasons I initially thought.

It is an opportunity to be more intentional about how I connect my new mom self and old professional self together. An opportunity to decide how I want to reinvent myself, what to shed and what to build upon. There is still a lot to figure out about how this will happen, but I am choosing to make it a positive transition. I'm excited about what is next, both as a mother watching my son grow every day and as a woman discerning my vocation as a whole person.

These new arrivals from the Motherly Shop are *so* good you need them all

Noodle and Boo, Mushie and Plan Toys—everything you need, mama.

Motherhood is hard work—finding great products and brands to make the journey easier doesn't have to be. Each week, we stock the Motherly Shop with brilliant new products we know you'll need and love from brands and makers that really care.

So, what's new this week?

Noodle and Boo: Holistic baby skin care

Through working with chemists who specialize in natural and holistic skin care, Noodle and Boo has developed exclusive formulas that nourish, replenish and protect especially delicate, eczema-prone and sensitive skin—including laundry detergent. Their signature, obsession-worthy scent—which is subtly sweet, pure and fresh—is the closest thing to bottling up "baby smell" we've ever found.

Mushie: Kids' dinnerware that actually looks great

We're totally crushing on Mushie's minimalist dinnerware for kids. Their innovative baby and toddler products leverage Swedish design to marry both form and function while putting safety front and center. Everything is created in soft, muted colors from BPA-free materials.

Plan Toys: Open-ended toys that last

Corralling and cleaning up the toys becomes less stressful when you bring home fewer, better, more beautiful ones. Plan Toys checks all the boxes. Made from re-purposed rubber wood, they're better for the planet as well.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Mushie silicone baby bib

Mushie silicone baby bib

There's no going back to cloth bibs after falling in love with this Swedish design. The pocket catches whatever misses their mouths and the BPA-free silicone is waterproof and easy to wipe down between uses.

$13

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

Mushie kids' square dinnerware plate set

We're totally crushing on the soft muted colors that flow with our table aesthetics and the thoughtful high-sided design that helps babies and toddler who are learning to feed themselves.

$15

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Noodle and Boo nursery essentials kit

Stocked with everything a new mama needs to care for her little one's delicate skin, Noodle and Boo's nursery essentials gift set is the perfect way to create a holistic and natural skin care routine from day one.

$45

Plan Toys doctor set 

Plan Toys doctor set

Ideal for quiet time and imaginative role play, we love the gorgeous planet-friendly doctor kit from Plan Toys. The rubber wood stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, thermometer, syringe and reflex hammer pack up neat and tidy into the red cotton case should they need to dash off on a rescue mission.

$30

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Noodle and Boo instant hand sanitizer

Since we're buying and using hand sanitizer by the truckload these days, we're thrilled Noodle and Boo has made one we can feel good about using on little ones who cram their hands in their mouths 24/7. Not only does it kill 99.9% of germs, but it also leaves hands moisturized as well.

$10

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

Plan Toys natural wooden blocks set

A toy box isn't complete without a set of blocks—and this set is one of our new favorites. The sustainable, re-purposed wood is eco-friendly, comes at a relatively affordable price point and are certain to last well beyond multiple kids, hand-me-downs and even generations.

$30

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Noodle and Boo family fun pack cleansing set

Because their products were developed for delicate and eczema-prone skin, Noodle and Boo's full line of skin care has become a favorite among those with sensitive skin of all ages. This set is the perfect way to pamper the entire family.

$48

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

Mushie kids' round dinnerware bowl set

No need to sacrifice safety or design with the sustainable dinnerware from Mushie. Their minimalist, functional dishes are perfect for serving up meals and snacks to your tablemates who might hurl it to the floor at any point. They're made in Denmark from BPA-free polypropylene plastic mamas can feel good about and dishwasher and microwave-safe as well.

$14

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

Plan Toys geo stacking blocks

The best engaging, open-ended toys are the ones that are left out and available, inviting little (and big!) ones to play. These beautiful gem-like blocks make for addicting coffee table play for the entire family.

$30

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Plan Toys wooden green dollhouse

Energy-efficient design isn't just for grown-up real estate. This green dollhouse includes a wind turbine, a solar cell panel, electric inverter, recycling bins, a rain barrel, a biofacade and a blind that can adjust the amount of sunlight and air circulation along with minimalist furniture we'd totally love to have in our own houses.

$250

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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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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The new top 100 American baby names, according to the Social Security office

Did you have a baby in 2018? Did your name make the top 10?

kasietannerphotography.com

[Editor's note: We know that being pregnant can be, well, a lot. And understanding what you really need versus what's just a nice-to-have takes time . With your needs in mind, we've selected the best products for pregnancy in The Motherly Shop. We've got you, mama.]

No one can beat Emma when it comes to naming babies in America. This week the Social Security Administration announced its annual list of the most popular baby names in America and Emma has the top spot on the girls' side for the fifth year in a row. On the boys' side Liam took the top spot for a second consecutive year.

According to the Social Security Administration, these were the top 20 baby names in America in 2018:

Girls: Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Charlotte, Mia, Amelia, Harper and Evelyn

Boys: Liam, Noah, William, James, Oliver, Benjamin, Elijah, Lucas, Mason and Owen

How do those top 10 lists compare to the top baby names of 2017? Well, the girls' list is nearly the same except that Mia and Charlotte switched spots, and Harper (a name that fell out of the top ten the previous year) is back and has ousted Abigail. On the boys' side, Lucas kicked Jacob out of the top 10.

The real changes happened lower down in the data. Let's take a look at the popular baby names that were trending hard in 2018:

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