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I can't fall asleep. Today, our neighborhood was affected by the Columbia Gas explosions in Massachusetts—and I keep replaying the last few hours in my head over and over.

I'm just lying awake reading news story after news story, updating friends and family who are texting to let them know we're okay.

My babies are okay.

This afternoon, a few minutes before 5:00 pm, I heard a loud noise outside my house and a lot of commotion on our street. I smelt gas. My two big girls were watching the movie Brave and my 11-month-old was at the tail end of her much-needed cat nap. I was trying on a dress for a wedding. I poked my head out our front door to see what was going on and right before my eyes, chaos ensued.

I noticed the smoke in the air, and paired with the gas smell, I knew this wasn't good. I shouted to my neighbors next door, "Do we need to leave our home???" They shouted back, "Yes! Get out now!"

Panic.

Get the babies. Get in the car. That's what I knew I needed to do. Focus, focus, mama.

I still didn't know what was going on, but I felt it—I knew this was bad and I knew I needed to get my babies out. I, as calmly as I could fake, told my big girls that we were going to go to Aunt Megan's for a visit and to "hold hands right here" while I ran and got the baby. I ripped the dress I was trying on off, threw clothes on that were strewn about nearby and quickly pulled my sleeping, confused baby out of her crib.

I scanned the kitchen to make sure I didn't leave anything on, and we bolted out to our car—no shoes, mishmoshed clothes, and only three diapers in my purse. A police officer in front of our house shouted, "Good! Get out of here!" as I buckled the baby into her seat with shaking hands. We live in the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts and decided we'd head to my sister's home in the town next door, North Andover.

She called me on our way over there and told us they were being evacuated too. The roads were crowded. I looked to my left to see firefighters working on a house near the intersection I take to my sisters. More panic set in.

But my babies were okay.

My babies were with me.

My sister and her crew headed north to her in-laws in New Hampshire, as we headed south to my sister and brother-in-laws 30 miles from our house. They ordered pizza. I watched the news. My husband finally got to us after work. I went to Marshall's to get some clothes for us, and shoes for me. I cried as I drove by myself, finally able to break down without my kids watching.

I took a deep breath.

This is a lot. This is scary.

But my babies are okay.

I am okay.

We have what we need—we have each other.

A house two doors down from us, where a local police officer and his beautiful family live—burnt to the ground. It burned for so long before firefighters could even get to it because of all the other explosions going on. My heart breaks for my neighbors—but I'm so grateful they are physically okay.

There have been a reported 70+ homes that have been affected by gas explosions and fires in our city, and our two neighboring towns, North Andover and Andover. National Grid turned the power out and we're unsure of when we will be able to safely return to our homes.

But my babies are okay.

Today was one of those unimaginable days that then become a reality.

So far, one mama's 18-year-old baby is not okay. A boy, in a house 1.4 miles from ours, died from the explosion at his home. I can't even fathom this. My heart breaks for his family, for their unimaginable pain and shock, and every ounce of love and prayers I have goes out to them.

My love and prayers go out to all the incredible, hard-working, brave first responders who are working tirelessly to make sure this is contained. They're amazing. Firefighters from all over New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts (and likely more areas) have banded together to fight this and to keep our community safe.

To keep my babies safe.

You never really think disaster is going to happen to you. Today it brushed way too close for comfort. It has rocked me to my core.

What if it were our house? I was home with all three babies. What if something happened to them? What if it happened through the night and everyone had been sleeping?

I can't answer these what if's. And they make my stomach turn even thinking of them.

So for now, I'll thank God and my lucky stars above that my babies are okay.

Today was overwhelming. And scary. And heartbreaking. It asked me to step up to the plate of motherhood—by pretending I was calm when I wasn't, by figuring out what to do because I was the adult in charge of three tiny humans, by making sure my babies were okay.

And they're okay.

My babies are okay.

And so, for right now, I guess I am too.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

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.

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


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