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Motherhood brings out so many fears—but you’re stronger than all of them, mama

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It's 4 am, I'm nodding off in the rocking chair as my 1-month-old baby feeds for the fourth time since I initially "went to bed," and fear sets in—morning is almost here again. Another day that's beautiful in its own right yet is packed with the worry that inevitably goes along with owning the privilege and title of "mother."

Before I had kids, I thought I was invincible. I thought I was bold and brash and so, so strong. But fearlessness just a few years ago had a much different face. It was about jumping out of airplanes. Bungee jumping. Traveling solo abroad. Standing up for myself in adverse situations. My personal fears before kids were few and conquering them mattered only to one person—me.


Those things all seem so simple now. Jump out of an airplane? Gladly. Propel my bungeed body off a bridge? In a second. Travel abroad? Yup. Try it with two tiny kids. Stand up for yourself and others? Obviously. Now teach your toddler daughter to do the same.

I now have a different definition of fearlessness. Because motherhood doesn't come with a parachute or a bungee cord. It doesn't come with a map or a guidebook. Today's fears are plentiful yet take on a much different tune.

Maybe you can relate, mama:

Fear that the baby will wake up and I, once again, won't get any sleep

After every late-night and wee-morning-hour feeding, I swaddle my baby boy, hold my breath, and ever-so-delicately place him in his crib. It's as if I'm holding lit sticks of dynamite, praying that they won't explode in my face. Because before kids I relied on a solid nine hours, and now I'm the zombie who feels good about a two-hour stretch.

But despite my exhaustion, I know this time is fleeting. That in a matter of weeks, these bleary-eyed feedings will be a thing of the past. That in a matter of months, these middle-of-the-night snuggles with the world's softest skin will be gone forever. Who needs sleep anyway? As they say: sleep is for the weak.

Fear that my body will never be the same

It's been stretched out, stitched up, scratched raw, and sucked dry. My shoulders hunch to cradle a nursing infant. My stomach's not what it was. And, while temporary, every inch of me seems to be constantly soaked in human milk.

But every imperfection is worth it. And I'm getting stronger every day. From daily trips up and down the stairs while carrying not one but two kids. I'm back in my happy place, on the ski slopes, six weeks postpartum. I make time for weekly yoga classes—they help me walk a little taller and open my heart up again. My body is by no means perfect, but it never was. Never will be. But, I'm up for the challenge.

Fear that the screaming baby will create distance between my partner and myself that we'll never be able to recoup

Screaming kids put no one at ease. Especially when it's in your home. Your safe space. At a time when it's natural to be sleeping. (Or during the day, for that matter.) Screaming is an animalistic sensibility that puts people in survival mode and when you're running on fumes while trying to appease a toddler, it creates a level of stress we didn't know existed.

But take a minute to remove yourself from the situation. Before the babies, it was just you and your love. Your sweetie. Your Valentine. The love of your life who helped create these angels in the first place, and that's still the case. When times get hard, remember to lean in, not out, and know that they need you as much as you need them.

Fear that my first baby will resent me now that I cannot give her the same constant attention

Adding another child to the mix is emotional in many ways, but, for me, I couldn't help but sob whenever someone asked how my daughter was adjusting. For two and a half years, my baby girl was my whole heart. My sweetie pie. It truly didn't seem possible that I could share that same love with another being.

But it is possible, and my daughter seems to be coping just fine. In fact, she's obsessed with her brother. My husband and I joke that our son likes his sister more than any of us. And it's probably true. Sure, it's tough to build Magna-tile towers with my little girl while the baby's attached to my breast—but, I've always been one for multitasking.

Fear that my clients will look elsewhere if I take maternity leave

As a freelance copywriter, my clients are my lifeblood. What if they need me while I'm recovering from having the baby and I can't immediately deliver? Will they see me as weak for making time for myself and my family? Will they think I'm incapable of producing the caliber of work I'm known for because they think that my mind will be preoccupied?

But my clients are more than just faceless payors—many have become my friends. They know me. They respect my work and my work ethic, and they know that having a baby won't make me any less competent. If anything, it will only make me more determined. More dedicated to maintaining our professional relationship. More driven to do great creative work that provides for my family. More passionate about my writing because I have that much more love in my heart.

Fear that my friends without kids will never want to hang out again now that I have a growing family

Social media has a ruthless way of letting you know that your single and kid-less friends went out this weekend—and that you weren't invited. These friends innocently assume that you're content staying in with your kids. And while that may be true sometimes, you automatically assume you're no longer fun or cool. For a moment you believe that you're officially a boring parent and that your social life is over.

But your true friends will always be there, and you know that. You've always known that. But now you find it truer than ever. Having a kid doesn't make you any less cool, if anything, it gives you a force of nature you never knew you had. Along the way, you'll also make new parent friends. Men who can share a sanity-saving beer with your husband after the kids go down, and women who can truly understand your hopes and fears as a mother because they openly share many of the same.

Fearlessness isn't about the complete absence of fear—and neither is motherhood. It's about exercising courage in spite of your fear. It's about mastering your fear. Motherhood isn't for the faint of heart. It's for those who look fear straight in the face and say, yeah, I've got this. And you do. You've 100% got this, mama.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"

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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)


Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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