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From the day I took that first positive pregnancy test I vowed to be a loving, caring, nurturing parent. I was overwhelmed, of course, but in the midst of that emotional chaos, there were so many promises I made myself. I promised myself that no matter what the future held for us, it would be filled with patience, kindness and understanding.

I promised my baby that they would grow to experience unconditional love and acceptance. That I would be an affectionate mama and a good role model. When my second child came along, the same promises flooded back to me at the hospital while I held my darling baby girl. I could see myself in her face. She was the embodiment of everything I ever wanted. A sibling for my oldest, a girl to finish off our family. The perfect ending.

(Little did I know that less than a year later I would be blessed with another surprise girl. One who completed us.)

For years I thought my family was made up of one boy and two girls. One girl who was very much into princesses and dolls, babies and glitter. And one girl who liked blue and trucks, karate and superheroes.

One night, when my middle child was four, I was laying in my bed with her listening to her ramble on about the day, discussing various events. And suddenly she stopped and crept up very close to my ear to whisper that she had a secret.

She confided in me that she is "a girl and a boy." At first, I thought she was just being silly. I knew, of course, that she preferred "boy" things. She spent more time trying to play in rocket ships and fit in with her brother than she did playing with dolls these days. She never let me brush her hair and if I got her into anything remotely "pretty" it was with a lot of bribery, and usually just as many tears.

It wasn't until she elaborated that I started to think this might be something more. She continued to explain that she felt like God had made a mistake. That her parts were not right.

She should have a different name like Brent or Jake because those names are for boys and her name is very "girl." She continued on with her reasoning and examples of her feelings.

I made sure to express to my daughter that whoever she was, she was loved. Whether she felt like a girl or a boy, that didn't matter—not to me. What mattered was that she was happy and comfortable in her own body and soul.

As I left her in bed that night and went to turn out the light, she said one more thing that I'll never forget. She asked me if in my heart I feel like a girl because in her heart she felt like a boy.

The conversation left my heart in my throat. As a mom, what do you do when your child confides in you with something so heavy, so profound? My initial reaction was—wait it out, see what comes of it. But the next day when my daughter woke up, she came into my room to give me a big hug. She then, timidly, reminded me of our conversation the night before. As if this was something she had been planning for a long time, and felt relieved to admit. And that's when I knew, this was more than a fleeting thought in a late-night chat.

The experts say the benchmarks of a transgender child are consistency, insistency, persistence. If a child expresses feelings of being trans but waivers and changes their mind day to day, that's not to say your child is NOT trans, but consistency is key.

So what did we do? We validated. We accepted. She asked for a shortened version of her birth name and so that is what we started using consistently. Within a few weeks, she asked us to change to male pronouns because, "You should be calling me 'he.' I'm a boy." And so, we did.

We agreed to take him for a short haircut. We flooded his closets with boy options to choose from. He still had his old clothes, but new ones as well.

And once my son was given more tangible and attainable options to live as his true self, that was when my daughter started to become my son.

I started learning to change my language—the way I referred to him, and the way I introduced him to new (and re-introduced him to old) people. I had to explain to his siblings what was going on and how we are a family, so that means we support each other even if we don't quite understand.

We referred to my child as he/him/his from that point on with a few mistakes along the way, but always followed by an apology and explanation that we were trying very hard. It has been HARD to change our language when we've been so used to certain words we've been using for years. Especially nicknames.

I had a thing of always referring to my two youngest as "the girls" and that was something I had to make a real conscious effort to break. It took time, but after months of consistency on our part, it's become second nature and now calling him "she" would feel very awkward.

I read and researched and called professionals and researched some more. It was as if I was pregnant with my first child all over again trying to learn how to raise a child, except I had children and had been a mom for many years, but this was so new, so unexpected and I was SO scared.

I feared for his future, for his life after reading about the scary statistics that trans kids who don't have support from their families have a 40% higher suicide rate.

Once I realized how serious the outcome could be if I didn't accept, support and follow my son's lead, I was strikingly convinced. There was no question in my mind that I would much rather have a transgender child, than one who took his own life later because of something I could control, something I could help with.

As parents, we always question if what we are doing is the "right thing." We are worried we are screwing our kids up every second of every day. Every decision we make—no matter how small—comes with a future analyzation of how we could have, should have done things differently. A situation like this that comes with such a stigma and so much judgment. I'm finding that it somehow grants even strangers permission to jump in to give their unsolicited opinion on my life and how I should raise my children. Giving me even more reason to question my decisions.

People often ask me why I'm "allowing" this. As if this was something I could choose NOT to permit. When it comes to your child understanding and identifying with their gender, it has already happened. It's not a matter of allowing them to be trans, but more a matter of whether or not you are going to choose, as a parent, to let them be who they already are.

For me, this wasn't a question. My child already had more insight into his identity than I had in 34 years of life, who was I to take that awareness away from him?

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The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).


In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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Mealtime can be one of the most stressful times for parents and kids, especially when there's a picky eater in the house. Your little might get anxious about their food touching, requesting a completely new meal. Or, they might avoid the foods altogether, leaving you concerned about their nutrition. While helping your child develop healthy eating habits is the ultimate goal, you can also incorporate products that will make mealtime more fun for everyone involved.

Here are our favorite products that help picky eaters be, well, less picky (or at least enjoy mealtime enough to not worry about certain foods!).

1. Food cubby

These silicone separates suction to the plate to keep separate foods from touching, or to keep runny foods from spreading. Say goodbye to tantrums from peas and corn touching, mama.

Food Cubby Plate Divider, Amazon, $14.99

BUY

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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[Trigger warning: This essay describes a woman's emotional journey with postpartum anxiety.]

I see you, mama.

I know you don't want to feel this way. I know you're terrified of everything in the world right now. I know you want to wrap your baby in a bubble and keep them safely in your arms forever. I know you can't "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you are too nervous to drift off in case they stop breathing. I know you don't want to let anyone near your little one because they could be carrying an illness. I know you've cried in the bathroom and begged for the voice to stop. And I know you love your child more than anything in the world.

I know because I was you.

I was in the 10% of estimated women who are affected by Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) but had no idea what I was experiencing. I worried about EVERY little thing but just brushed the fears aside, thinking this was just normal of first-time motherhood. But it was something more.

I lived in constant fear that my son was either going to get hurt or he was going to die.

It started the first week of being home from the hospital. I was so scared of SIDS that I actually googled "How much sleep do I need in order to survive?" I would only get two to three hours, not because my child was keeping me up, but because I was scared he would stop breathing and I wouldn't be awake to save him.

I would religiously wash all of his clothes with baby detergent and if I thought I mistakenly used regular detergent, I would rewash everything. I was afraid he would get a skin rash if I didn't. If my husband had the slightest hint of a cold, I would banish him to the guest room and handle all of the baby duties on my own until he was fully recovered.

I would wash and rewash bottles because I was afraid they weren't clean enough and convinced myself if I didn't then he would catch a rare illness. When we supplemented with formula, I wasted multiple cans because I was so scared I didn't measure it correctly, so I would dump it and start over.

I didn't want to be this way. I didn't want to let PPA be the thief of my joy, but anxiety doesn't care who you are or what you've been through. I knew my previous miscarriages attributed to my PTSD, which manifested into anxiety.

I knew I needed help.

I cried so many nights as my husband and baby boy slept because I just wanted to feel "normal." I didn't want to overanalyze every bump or rash or cough, I wanted to enjoy being a first time mom, but I felt like I was drowning.

On top of the anxiety was guilt. I had wanted this baby so badly—I wanted to feel joy, happiness, and gratitude, and yet I felt overwhelmed, sad, and miserable. What was happening?

I would tell myself not to worry, I'd try to convince myself a regular cold was just a cold. But then a voice would come into my head and make me second guess myself. What if it was a serious infection and became fatal if I ignored it? So I rushed my baby boy to the doctor every time I thought something was wrong.

I went to the pediatrician over 20 times in my son's first year of life. One time I went because I thought he had a cancerous mole, which turned out to be a piece of lint stuck to his hair. I felt like I was losing control of myself.

Eventually, when my son was 3 months old, I went to a therapist for help. I needed someone to hear me and give me the tools to overcome this. I am not without daily anxiety, I still have many fears and I have to bring myself back to reality, but I work on it every day. I cope and I make an effort to continue with my therapist so I can beat this.

Even though this topic is hard to write about, I have no shame in my story. Carrying a child is hard, giving birth is harder, and jumping onto the roller coaster of motherhood is one hormonal, wild ride.

Mamas, we are allowed to not be okay and we have every right to make that known. I wasn't okay and it took every ounce of strength I had to get myself out of the darkness.

If I could tell you anything about struggling with this, it is this: PPA is real, it is not normal, and getting help is okay. Do not feel ashamed, do not feel embarrassed, and don't for one second think you owe anyone an explanation.

Do not let a single person make you feel like you are less of a mother. You are a magnificent human being, a loving mama bear, and you will get through this.

I see you, and I'm holding space for you.

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Ready to bring a baby on board? Feelings of excitement can often be met with those of financial concern as you prep for this milestone. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of 2015, the cost of raising a child is $233,610—a number that can make anyone's jaw drop to the floor.

But before you start to worry, here are ways you can become more financially savvy before the baby is born:

1. Budget for healthcare costs

The cost of delivering a baby can vary by state, but suffice it to say it can be thousands of dollars. Castlight Health found that the lowest average cost of delivery was $6,075 in Kansas City, MO and the highest average cost $15,420 in Sacramento, CA. Costs are even higher for a Cesarean delivery.

The first thing you want to do is check your insurance and see what they will cover so what you will be responsible for. Then create a separate savings account so that you can cover any costs that you're on the hook for. You can set up automatic savings after each payday up until the baby is born to help assist with any healthcare costs associated with delivery.

2. Cut your expenses

Before the baby arrives, do a spending audit and see where you can slash some expenses. Free up any leftover money to help cover the increased costs that will come, such as food, clothes, and formula.

If you're struggling with how to do that, take a look at all of your expenses and write next to each either"want" or "need." Look at your "want" list and see which expenses are ones you can either eliminate or cut back on. If it doesn't bring you joy or add value, ditch it! You might even find subscriptions that you didn't know you had.

3. Go for second-hand goods

Of course, there are some things you definitely want to buy new for baby, but things like clothes and toys you can get second hand and save a lot of money. Your baby will grow so fast and buying new clothes every few months can add up. If your family members or friends have old baby clothes or toys they're willing to part with, it will save money and you can pay it forward down the line.

4. Look for sales or coupons

Clothes and toys are items that you can buy second hand, but products, like a car seat and crib are best new. You want to be up-to-date with safety and know what you're getting. Before going shopping, search for sales or coupons before you head out. A little research online can go a long way and save you hundreds.

5. Have a garage sale

If you need to make room for baby, it's time to get rid of items that you no longer use or need. Take all of the stuff you are planning to get rid of and have a garage sale to make extra money. You can also try selling online on Craigslist, Poshmark and OfferUp too.

Take the money you earn from selling your stuff and put it in your savings account earmarked for your baby.

6. Get a 529 plan

It's never too early to save for your baby's college. You can open a state-sponsored 529 plan which is a tax-advantaged savings account for education-related costs. Instead of asking for gifts or toys from family and friends, you can request money to go toward a 529 plan. It will be an impactful gift that will help your child in the future and help lessen the financial burden on you.

7. Prep now instead of later

Your whole world will change when your baby arrives, so in order to save money, time and stress, create a plan now. Is there a family or friend close by who can babysit if you need some rest or have to run an errand? Ask them now if they can help out.

Start preparing meals in bulk that can be in the freezer and easily made so you don't have to think about food. Put your bills on autopay so that you don't miss any payments and get hit with late fees. Know how long you can get maternity or paternity leave and understand how that will affect your income and budget. Getting all of this ready ahead of time can help you in the long run.

8. Purchase life insurance

While thinking about why you need life insurance can be a bit stressful, preparation is essential, especially when you're adding another member to your family. Life insurance will provide financial support if you had a loss of income due to something happening to either you or your partner.

9. Understand any tax benefits

The birth of your baby will affect your taxes, which can actually end up putting more money back into your pocket. Do some research online and see how a dependent will change your taxes in your state, such as new exemptions available. Or, find a trusted accountant or tax specialist in your area who can walk you through your options.

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