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Once we became parents, we had to throw our old version of 'normal' out the window

My family was complete and perfect, and very far from what we first considered "normal."

Once we became parents, we had to throw our old version of 'normal' out the window

Life is seldom what is portrayed in magazines, in TV shows or on social media even. Pregnancy is not always a quick push and then boom!—seven hours later you look like you're ready for a romantic date night with your partner. Yet we are surrounded by this disillusion everywhere we turn—in both pregnancy and motherhood.

With my first child, I let the sex of my baby be a mystery which turned out to be the greatest surprise of my life. Yes, it drove everyone around us bonkers, but I didn't care. I had a well thought out birth plan all typed up. I was going to be a tough mama and power through and have my baby the "normal" way.

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That was all until I heard the words, "Heart rate dropping, C-section NOW. Dad get suited up and scrubbed in, we're taking this baby out stat." Wait—that was not typed on my plan. Did they grab another mom's printed out birth plan?

That was my official introduction to what would be my new "normal," which was very far from what I had planned.

It was time to birth baby number two, and again, the sex of my baby was a mystery. My pregnancy had gone beautifully—no issues other than a few more aches and pains, and the intense exhaustion—after all, my first little boy was very busy being a 2-year-old, running around and testing limits and boundaries.

I was able to choose when I wanted to schedule my second C-section, which was one of the few things I was able to plan for. I chose a time that was convenient for someone to look after my firstborn. The day arrived to have our second (and last) baby, and the stress level was much lower this time around. The blue tarp went up and I held my husband's hand and stared into his eyes as we anxiously waited for the sound of the first cry and for the doctor to announce the sex of our baby.

Yes, I was secretly hoping for a girl. One of each is the "normal" thing—right? Our names were ready—Oliver was our boy and Adyson was our girl. All the doctor had to do was just say the words…

Our baby's first cry was heard; Oliver had arrived. And according to my plan of only having two kids, I realized I would never be a girl mom. But Oliver was healthy, and while our emotions were all over and adrenaline was high—that was what mattered.

In the first moment that we held Oliver, we could tell something was different. There was a strange vibe in the air among the medical staff. We fell in love instantly, but we also felt something unexplainable.

While in recovery, holding my second beautiful, healthy, strong boy that a crew of white coats came in led by my OB-GYN. This was not feeling "normal." My OB sat down and confirmed that our baby was healthy, he needed a few extra labs done and at that moment she asked me if I was familiar with Down Syndrome? My answer was "no." I was then told that she believed that our son was born with Down Syndrome and that they were going to confirm with tests. She later confirmed that yes, Oliver had Down Syndrome. And we knew that, yes, we were chosen to be his parents.

Regardless of these tests, this was my son and nothing else mattered. I loved him. He was breastfeeding, we were bonding with skin-to-skin and we were a proud family of four now.

Down Syndrome was now in our lives. Sure, we were going to need to learn a few things and our journey was a little different and yes we were scared—but he was our son and our hearts were wide open.

I left the hospital and within weeks knew that I wanted to have more than two children. I didn't want my oldest to one day be the only person to look out for and make decisions on behalf of his younger brother with special needs.

I wanted to build a squad of siblings for my children to look out for and take care of each other. This time—boy or girl—it didn't matter. All visions of "normal" planning were completely in the rear view mirror.

Almost two years to the day, we went in for my third planned C-section. We walked by the exact room that we were told our son had Down Syndrome in. My husband and I stared into the room, held each other and with tears in our eyes said, "We were chosen. Thank goodness we were chosen."

It was because of that day May 14, 2013, when we welcomed Oliver that we were back in the hospital on May 29th, two years later, welcoming Adyson Maeve to this world.

My family was complete and perfect, and very far from what we first considered "normal."

Sometimes it's the unplanned things that get thrown our way and take us down a new and foreign path that make us stronger. They make us believe we can conquer things we never knew imaginable. They make us realize that the only "normal" that exists is the new normal you create with your family.

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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