How motherhood taught me to face my deepest fears

To me, courage isn’t about not being afraid. It’s acknowledging that persistent fear and shoving it aside.

How motherhood taught me to face my deepest fears

Standing on top of the hill, I attempted to secure Emy’s hood for the 5th time since leaving the car.

As the wind whipped around us, I could barely hold onto our sled, much less hear my daughter’s tiny voice over its howl.

“What’s that Em?” I asked her, lifting the edge of my hat as I leaned in closer.

“I SAID, I’m a little, just a bit scared, ARE YOU?” she shouted.

I paused before answering, trying to gain a sense of our surroundings, and a line from an Ani DiFranco song popped into my head: “The sky is grey. The sand is grey. And the ocean is grey. I feel right at home in this stunning monochrome, alone in my way.”

Every surface leading up to the hill was covered in that vaguely whitish, grayish, dull-in-color, sharp-in-texture, deeply packed, oh-how-I-miss-the-GRASS, February snow.

The sky above was layered with slowly darkening clouds as yet another snowstorm threatened.

Just enough hazy sunlight filtered through that I longed for my tinted sunglasses, carelessly left behind on the kitchen counter.

Taking this in through my damaged eyes—eyes that struggle with depth perception and definition in high-contrast environments—I immediately began to regret the decision to take my four-year old sledding.

It appeared as if we were about to plummet into a giant sea of grey nothing.

Was I scared? Damn right I was.

But fear and I are old acquaintances, and as I’ve journeyed into motherhood we’ve only gotten closer.

For years, my husband Josh and I struggled to become parents.

And at some point each month, fear would knock all the hope out of me and take up residence, right smack dab in my uterus, taunting me with the sharp dread that I would never become a mother.

Eventually I’d get sick of my unwanted guest and evict it the best I could, timidly inviting a battered and weary hope back in.

Month after month, year after year, this pattern repeated.

Until the fall of 2009, when after our second round of IVF we were finally pregnant.

As motherhood began, I knew there’d always be something to worry about.

Yet, I tentatively forged a peace treaty with fear, assuming the hardest part was behind us. I was ready to embrace and enjoy every aspect of pregnancy.

On May 27, 2010, fear ended our peaceful treaty with a vengeance. In just a few hours, a dull ache in my abdomen—which I wrongly predicted was the first sign of labor—escalated into the gut-wrenching agony of pancreatitis.

Thirty-seven weeks pregnant, fear gripped my heart when later that same day the words “placental abruption” were immediately followed by “dropping heart rate” and I was whisked off for an emergency C-section.

Upping the assault, fear had only a moment to worm its way into my brain when I briefly regained consciousness and was informed I had given birth to a daughter and was in the ICU suffering several life-threatening complications.

Terror took hold when it became clear that, while not an immediate danger, the most petrifying among these complications was sudden blindness.

In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I was encapsulated in a nightmarish world created by fear.

Solely focused on survival, one constant kept me coming back to battle time and time again, healing the best I could in between bouts.

That constant was the joy that is my daughter.

My Emeline Joy.

On the hill, cold and shivering, I looked as directly into her deep brown eyes as my scarred retinas allowed, took a deep breath, and lied.

“Am I scared? Nah, not really. I know it seems scary and a long way down, but sledding is fun. I will keep you safe.”

This is what motherhood makes me do.

I lie.

I live with fear every day. But I refuse to succumb in any way that will put fear or apprehension in my daughter.

I lie to mask my own fear, to remind myself and help Emy to see the beauty in having courage, that pushing past FEAR and trying something new is powerful.

True, there was no way I could see where we were going, no way to avoid any potential bumps or ridges as we careened down the hill.

I would need to completely surrender control to the moment—something I would have to be okay with.

I live with fear every day.

But I refuse to succumb in any way that will put fear or apprehension in my daughter.

To me, courage isn’t about not being afraid. It’s acknowledging that persistent fear and shoving it aside long enough to move forward.

Heart racing, I sat down on the pink plastic sled, Emy secured tightly between my legs.

“Are you ready?” I asked.

Nodding, she replied, “Hold on tight, Mama.” “Let’s do this.”

Pushing off the ground ever so slightly, we began our rapid descent into the great big grey nothing.

And it was exhilarating.

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

That's why we knew we had to introduce mamas-to-be to the science-backed and expertly-formulated protein collagen for pregnancy from Needed. And as one of our bestsellers, it's clear you've been looking for it, too.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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