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I am willing to admit that new motherhood left me grappling with a bit of an identity crisis.

I remember looking at my darling new baby and thinking, "Who am I?" and "Is this my reality?" People told me so many times that my whole life was about to change when I became a mother, but hearing those words and experiencing those words were two very different scenarios.

In an instant, motherhood turned my reality upside down. All of the elements of "self" came into question: my body had changed. Relationships were changing. I questioned my place in society, my work, contributions, decisions and balance.

I would lie awake at night and examine the course of my life: its twists and turns, ups and downs. My thoughts and emotions entered uncharted territory, and strangely enough, all of this upheaval seemed to be naturally part of the process.

Three years later and postpartum doula training underway, I came to the understanding that for some new mothers an identity crisis is completely natural. This is motherhood doing its work—destroying the ego and birthing the heart.

Motherhood forces a woman to question her identity because truthfully her identity was never her entirety; this identity she is grappling with, it is a persona, an ego, a limited version of self that she is now outgrowing. The unwavering truth of her being lives beyond these falsehoods of identity—motherhood brings a woman past the dimension of the ego into the realm of an awakened heart.

She moves into a place of love, and in that place exists the female capacity for compassion and wisdom.

This is not to suggest a woman must abandon her worldly aspirations in motherhood, but more to say that becoming a mother may impact her contributions in some capacity. It would be unrealistic to think that a transformation as powerful as motherhood would not in some way change a woman's approach or offering to the world.

Navigating the identity crisis of new motherhood is a personal process, but in retrospect, there are a few things I wish I could tell my pre-mom self before going through this 18-month postpartum adjustment.

1. This will take time.

A woman becomes a mother in an instant, but the transformation into motherhood is gradual. You do not need to have all of the answers at once in this phase of monumental change.

I would tell myself to try to take as much time off as possible postpartum. There was no way I could anticipate how I would feel as a mother, and I needed plenty of time to sort out my new reality with minimal pressure to return to my outside responsibilities.

2.  Appreciate the silence when you get some.

Hear the still silent voice within. In the silence of your own heart, you'll find your unique calling, your balance. No one can answer your questions but you.

3. Find your mom village.

This is tricky because I just told you to be silent, BUT—communing honestly with other mothers can help bring to articulation or validate some of the complex feelings you'll experience postpartum.

4. Learn about your authentic self.

It is going to be crucial for you to be unapologetically honest and comfortable with your decisions. Authenticity seemed to be the only route that would not bring conflict into my life. If you are not honest with yourself, all your decisions are going to be laced with either guilt or denial which will ultimately bring conflict.

5. Accepting your “new normal” will happen.

It will be easier for you along the way if you accept this new reality, your "new normal." Not instantly, but over time.

You'll need time for adjusting, but try to be cognizant of the fact that you are adjusting into your present life and not trying to hold on to your pre-motherhood self. Motherhood is all about growth.

6. Aim to be in alignment.

Use the time, silence, communion, authenticity, and acceptance to begin to recognize what it feels like to be in alignment internally. When your internal is aligned, your external will mirror. In authentic alignment, the right circumstance will present themselves to you.

7. Don’t be afraid to course correct if needed.

Don't be afraid to redirect if a scenario you thought may work, but clearly isn't going to. Motherhood holds the potential for major growth—and in growth we must expect change.

8. Remember to breathe.

Take deep breaths. They are meant to fill you. They are always with you. Free and available. Invigorating and calming. A reminder that you are life and you are living.

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

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.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.

Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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