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When I got pregnant with my second baby, I wasn't really worried about anything.

I'd been so fortunate with my first baby―I had gotten pregnant quickly and without incident. My pregnancy was a dream (yes, I was one of those annoying women who loved being pregnant). And I'd gone into labor the day before my daughter's due date, and had an unmedicated midwife birth in a hospital after a steadily progressing 13-and-a-half hours of contractions and 20 minutes of pushing.

So when my second midwife asked if I had any questions or concerns going into my second pregnancy, I often just shrugged. Nope.

I didn't think I was being overconfident. I was still very aware of my pregnancy and watched for any signs of distress, but I wasn't scared. I wasn't worried. I trusted my body and the process, and I felt good.

My husband and I had decided to let this second baby's sex be a surprise. In all likelihood, it would be our last child, and I thought it would be fun (and provide good labor motivation) to have this different experience after finding out the sex of our first, Vivian, at around 20 weeks.

The pregnancy itself was fairly uneventful―I had more nausea this time around, and I felt more exhaustion, though that could probably be attributed to the fact that I was pregnant with a toddler this time. I was surprised to find that it did not drive me wild not knowing what I was having. (Who knew this Type-A planner could learn to let go a little?)

Then I hit my 36th week. I've often said that pregnancy would be great—if only it was a month shorter. I felt similarly this time around, but I was optimistic that this second baby might come early (as second-time moms are so often told), so I tried to keep my impatience in check.

Sure enough, I started to experience contractions a couple of weeks before my due date, and my husband, friends and family all started checking in regularly to see if it was time.

Prodromal labor

But something weird started happening. Every night, at around 9 or 10 pm, I would start getting contractions. And not just the odd Braxton Hicks contractions now and then, but real, consistent, every eight to ten minutes contractions. After the first half-hour, I would usually look at my husband and say, "This might be it."

While they came consistently, the contractions never built into anything. Eventually, we'd go to bed (me always with the lingering hope that I'd wake in a few hours in full-blown labor), only to open my eyes the next morning, the contractions gone, my baby firmly in my belly.

I did some research and learned that this was, in fact, a thing. It was called prodromal labor, a form of false labor that is essentially your body practicing―and that typically feels like the very real thing.

Each night of "useless contractions," as I started to call them, began to take a toll on me. I started to doubt myself―did I even know what labor actually felt like? Would I recognize the real thing if it were happening?

The next thing I knew, it was my due date. As my nightly contractions built into a steady rhythm, I thought, this has got to be the real thing. But, again, I awoke without having gone into labor. My midwives would check me (at my repeated request), but I hadn't dilated even a centimeter.

​Going past my due date

Soon, I was a day overdue. Then two days. Then a week.

My mother had come into town for the birth a week before my due date, and she did her best to distract me from my discomfort and frustration. But every time her phone would ping, it was almost always a friend or family member with the same question: Did Justine have the baby yet?

My in-laws visited. My dad and sister flew in as planned, a week after my due date, only to spend the week with a very pregnant me.

I started to feel like a watched pot. #StillPregnant became my personal hashtag.

The truth is, I was scared. I was worried that something was wrong―that my body was broken. That I was failing at this thing I had felt so confident about in the beginning. I was worried I wouldn't have the labor and delivery I had wanted and prepared for (an unmedicated birth at a birth center with my midwife).

And because my first daughter's birth had gone so smoothly, I felt guilty at the thought that I would look back fondly on her birth and regret anything about my second child's.

And then I got scared.

If I went more than two weeks overdue, my midwives would need to send me to a nearby hospital for delivery. The thought terrified me―even though I firmly believe there is no wrong way to bring a baby into the world, I was scared. I was scared of getting pushed into an unneeded intervention. I was scared of major surgery. I was scared of complications. I was scared of regret.

"What is wrong with me?" I would wail to my husband.

A week before our deadline, my midwives and I started trying anything and everything to get labor started. I ate pineapple and spicy food, had sex (though I felt anything but sexy), walked for miles, and even drank castor oil. Two days before the deadline, I asked my midwife if she knew of a local acupuncturist who specialized in stimulating labor. She didn't know of anyone nearby, but she did have the number of an amazing chiropractor I could try. I hadn't heard of an adjustment helping kickstart labor, but clearly, I was ready to try anything. I made an appointment for later that afternoon.

The chiropractor was wonderful. He listened to me complain, assessed my spine, and found that my pelvis was pretty significantly out of alignment. (I wasn't surprised―this pregnancy had come with a lot of sciatica, and I basically couldn't move without waddling uncomfortably.) He adjusted me, and I noticed immediately that I walked without the waddle. He had me walk around the block and then come back to check the adjustment.

"Did your water break?" he joked as I came back in the office. "It wouldn't be the first time!" I laughed wistfully and told him that if it had, I probably would have named the baby after him. We made an appointment for a couple of days later ("in case you don't have the baby tonight!"), and I started driving home.

Within minutes, I felt the contractions start up again.

By now, I felt like the pregnant lady who cried wolf. I was nervous to say anything to anyone because, well, hadn't I thought I was going into labor a dozen times before this? I was starting to seem ridiculous.

Our birth

Within half an hour, though, I immediately recognized that these contractions felt different. They were much more intense than the prodromal contractions, and within an hour, I couldn't talk through them. I called my husband, who worked an hour away.

"Should I get in the car?" he asked.

"Let's wait another hour to make sure they keep progressing," I told him.

Within another half hour, I was bent over double with each contraction and texted him to get in the car. Next, I called my midwife and told her to meet me at the birth center, 20 minutes away from me.

The contractions were different from my first pregnancy in that I didn't get that pain-free break in between them. With my first, I had even been able to sleep a bit between contractions. This time around, my entire pelvis felt like it lit up during the contraction, and then just slowly burned in between. My midwife thought it might have to do with the adjustment, but there wasn't anything to be done about it now.

By the time I got to the birth center with my mom and two best friends, the contractions were coming fast and intense every four to five minutes, and I was almost six centimeters dilated. It was different from the slow, steady build of my first labor―it was much more sudden and painful, and I remember praying that it would be a fast labor because I wasn't sure I could get through it.

An hour later, my husband walked in the door, much to my relief. (I'm pretty sure I dilated a full centimeter when I saw him.)

I decided to get in the shower because that had brought me a lot of relief during my first pregnancy. But no matter how I tried to point it directly at my pelvis, there was still little to no break between the contractions. Eventually, I gave up and got out so I could move to a more comfortable position than sitting up.

Shortly after getting out of the shower, I felt the distinct urge to push. I laid back on the bed, and my midwife checked my cervix. Ten centimeters! I felt elated—and extremely relieved that the pain would end soon.

I waited for a contraction and then pushed tentatively once―and my water broke.

I pushed again―the baby's head popped out.

I pushed again―out came the shoulders, and I reached down and grabbed around the baby's middle and pulled it onto my chest.

Before anyone could do anything, the baby suddenly propped itself up on its arms and stared long and hard into my face while I gaped on. After about 10 seconds, it flopped back down, took its first breath, and let out its first cry. Apparently, I had been deemed worthy.

I felt my body flood with relief―relief that the baby was fine, that my body was fine, that labor had gone how I wanted, that I was finally #NOTPREGNANT. A full minute went by before someone said, "So...what is it??" I lifted up my tiny, perfect baby to check.

"It's a girl!" I cried happily. She had a head of jet-black hair and long, spidery fingers. We named her Juliette.

All in all, I was pregnant for 42 weeks―and in labor for four hours (including those five minutes of pushing).

Watch the moment I met my daughter: 

Justine Lorelle LoMonaco

Our perfect story

Going overdue was hard on me, mentally and emotionally, but it taught me important lessons. It meant relinquishing control, something I've always found challenging to do. It was a firm reminder that my baby was a person all her own―and sometimes that would mean coming with her own timetable.

It was a reminder that the "perfect" pregnancy doesn't exist―but no matter how difficult it can feel in the moment, any way you bring your baby into the world just becomes your story. The first story the two of you ever write together―and one you'll tell over and over again for a long time to come.

And when you get to the happy ending, you realize―nothing was ever really wrong. Not with her. Not with me. It was just ours — our frustrating, amazing, breathtaking story. And nothing is wrong with that at all.

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It's time to go shopping for your little ones mama. Not long ago we shared the super sale on Hunter boots for us moms, and now the super colorful and water proof boots are on sale for kids! Perfect timing as Spring is approaching and there will be a lot of puddle jumping in our futures.

The sale is up to 50% off in select styles, but in all the colors of the rainbow! We don't know how long the sale will last so act fast because some sizes are already on low stock!

Here are our favorite styles to shop from the sale:

The original grab handle boot in light blue

Original Kids First Classic Grab Handle

Originally $55, the original Grab Handle boot is 50% off right now.


The classic gloss boot in blue

Original Kids First Classic Gloss Rain

Originally $55, the original Classic Gloss boot is 40% off right now.


Chelsea boot in yellow 

Original Big Kids' Gloss Chelsea Boots

Originally $75, the Chelsea boot is 40% off right now.


The original grab handle boot in pink

Original Kids First Classic Grab Handle

Originally $55, the original Grab Handle boot is 40% off right now.


The classic gloss boot in yellow

Originally $55, the original Classic Gloss boot is 40% off right now.


The camo boots

Original Little Kids Storm Camo Rain Boots

Originally $75, the camo boot is 50% off right now.


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


Jessica Simpson's life seems perfect. She has three beautiful kids, a wildly successful career, a seemingly solid marriage...she has it all, at least as far as we can see. But recent revelations prove that no one really knows what anyone else is secretly dealing with—and Jessica, by her own admission, has been struggling with alcohol issues.

The singer-turned-business-woman recently sat down with TODAY's Hoda Kotb, and it will air on NBC's TODAY Wednesday morning.

"I had started a spiral and I couldn't catch up with myself…and that was with alcohol," Jessica explained. "I would say it openly to everyone. 'I know. I know, I'll stop soon. I'll cut back'," Jessica continued when asked if she realized things were getting out of control. "For me to cut back, like I'm an all or nothing girl, and so I didn't know it was a problem until it was...I completely didn't recognize myself…I always had a glitter cup. It was always filled to the rim with alcohol."


She's hardly alone. The rise of #winemom phenomenon is well documented and many parents struggle with substance abuse problems. But Simpson's story proves there is a way to get your life back.

Simpson quit drinking in 2017 after she found herself unable to get her kids ready for a Halloween party. She says she'd started drinking before 7:30 in the morning, before accompanying her husband, Eric Johnson, to a school assembly for their oldest daughter. Later that night she was unable to get her kids dressed in their Halloween costumes. The next morning she was so ashamed. Feeling like she had failed her kids she slept until they left the house, then got up and drank some more.

That episode was her tipping point. She quit drinking (as did her husband, Eric Johnson, who supports her in her sobriety.)

As parents, we know how overwhelming the demands can be...and how easy it is to sink into habits that don't ultimately serve us well. For Jessica, the way to heal was to sever her relationship with alcohol.

"I had to give [drinking] up," Jessica said. "I'm not going to miss another day. I'm not going to miss another Halloween. I'm not going to miss another Christmas. I'm going to be present."


Babies come with a lot of stuff. And when you're out and about, a roomy, comfy diaper bag is the place for everything you need to be prepared for whatever the day throws your way. But is a cute, trendy diaper bag that doesn't scream, well... DIAPER BAG, too much to ask? It's not, mamas.

We've rounded up our favorite diaper bags that don't actually look like diaper bags, but instead like the cute, super stylish bags you might have carried before the days of finding crushed up puffs at the bottom of your purse.

These bags prove you can get the job done, mama—and look darn good while doing it.

Freshly Picked City Pack

Freshly Picked City Pack

This simple, modern backpack can easily take you from a day at work to dinner with the kiddos. We love the hardware details, the lightweight design, and the hidden back pocket.


Vogshow Waterproof Bag

Vogshow Waterproof Diaper Bag

A sleek look, plus a padded laptop compartment, anti-theft and insulated pockets and magnetic buttons instead of zippers. 🙌


Skip Hop Travel Bag

Skip Hop Travel Bag

With a large zippered main compartment, there's plenty of room to keep all of the things. We love the adjustable straps—you can wear as a backpack, cross-body, messenger bag, or attach to the stroller.


Companion Quilted Backpack

companion quilted backpack diaper bag

Are you off to sit on the beach for a few hours, or taking your toddlers to the zoo? No one will be the wiser, mamas. We love the quilted look, padded straps, and roomy interior.


Mommore Diaper Backpack

Mommore Diaper Backpack

With a water resistant exterior, wet clothes pocket and a main compartment that completely opens up, you'll love having this to tote around.


JJ Cole Brookmont

JJ Cole Cognac Diaper Bag

As stunning as it is functional. It has 15 pockets and a removable liner on the inside so you can easily clean up messes in no time.


Little Unicorn Boardwalk Tote

If you're looking to keep things simple + stylish, mamas, this is the bag for you. It's versatile, functional, and will get tons of use well past the diaper days.


Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

This stunning tote would make the perfect on-the-go bag. It comes with a changing page and a couple pockets on the inside to keep everything organized. Don't forget to personalize it!


Ticent Tote

Ticent Diaper Bag

With nearly 500 reviews, this one has incredible ratings. It offers multiple pockets, including an insulated one for snacks or bottles. The waterproof cotton material is ideal for those inevitable spills.


Fawn Design Original

Stylish and versatile, this bag can be worn as a cross body or as a backpack. It's roomy without being bulky, and has a total of 10 pockets for awesome storage.


Skip Hop Greenwich Backpack

No one would ever know this bag is packed full of baby's items. 😉


Rosie Pope Highbury Hill

Highbury Hill Diaper Backpack

If you're looking to up your style, this chic backpack will help you get there. Lots of inner pockets and zippered compartments make it simple to organize your stuff, and the top flap and wide opening make for quick + easy accessibility.


Babymel Robyn

Babymel Robyn Diaper Backpack

We love everything about this effortlessly stylish faux leather backpack. It's easy to wipe down, converts to a cross body bag, and even comes with a changing pad and drawstring bottle holder.


Petunia Pickle Bottom Pathway

Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Tote

This two-tone canvas bag could not be prettier. We love that it easily stands upright when set down, and that it's super functional as a diaper bag yet super stylish as an everyday purse.


Skip Hop Duo

Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag

The timeless stripes on this 11-pocket bag means it will never go out of style, and the durable cotton canvas means it will stand up to years of use.


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


Frustrations and emotions were at an all time high for both us. I was worried that my lack of patience would get the best of me, leaving her feeling let down and frustrated with me on her new journey of becoming a “big girl." And selfishly, I was tired of washing wet underwear. For her part, my daughter was tired of being asked for the hundredth time if she needed to use the potty.

We both were feeling a little defeated in this new adventure.

I have found too often as a mother that I expect my child to respond new things, like to potty training, as fast and as close to the last blog post, book or opinion I heard or read. What I have learned is that no two children are alike and the moment I release my expectations for where mine should or should not be, we are both brought back to peace and patience.


So maybe a break was all we needed to start fresh the next day. We headed to our favorite spot by the lake and had a picnic. My daughter munched on popcorn and chatted away about the weather and pinecones, and listened for the sounds of helicopters—which you hear quite often living on an aviation military base.

Sometimes in the daily struggles of motherhood I have noticed that I can forget who I am and the strength we possess as mothers. It may not come easily at first, but I grow with each new day. Even potty training—this mundane human activity that is emotional and (quite literally) messy, teaches me much about the meaning and purpose of motherhood.

Potty training has taught me a huge lesson on patience. Patience to be present, to pay attention to what is right in front of me. To be encouraging, to not rush the process, to not place expectations on timing or play the comparison game we often play as mothers.

Patience is needed in every area of parenting and potty training is just one way where we can see as parents where our patience is wearing thin.

I have found that it's when I come from a place of patience and presence that I can then glean wisdom from those messy, mundane, time-consuming tasks of potty training, and find that the waiting, sitting and hours of time spent in the bathroom gives me an opportunity to be present in my child's world.

Whether it be the grocery line, a traffic jam, or cleaning up wet bedding, I learn the art and joy in the small and big moments in motherhood. Giving our children space to fail and try it again as many times as it takes encourages them that they too can cultivate the gift of patience in there own tiny lives.

My daughter speaks to me everyday, inviting growth that sometimes feels really hard and frustrating, she provokes patience to be felt and sensed through every minute of the day. And for this I am grateful. Because to truly live and be present in my child's world means “I learn from her, and she learns from me." Even in potty training.

Our children have so much to offer to who we are as individuals and they have so much to teach us. In fact, I have come to live for these exhausting, beautiful, and downright messy moments in time. When I push myself to embrace them, rather than just find them frustrating, I stretch and grow and evolve. I become the mother I hope to be.

And to you mama, whether in the midst of sleepless newborn nights or toddler tornados or the midst of potty training, may you find strength as a mother, as a wife, and as a person to let go of any expectations or judgements you place upon yourself.

May love and gratitude fill our hearts and peace be with all of us on the journey that motherhood is.

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