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The most surprising thing about my pregnancy was how powerful I felt

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To my daughter,
Even before you were born, you inspired me. During the first weeks of my pregnancy, I knew the enormous effort you were making—rapidly growing, building every muscle, organ and bone. It might sound silly, but I could feel your energy circulating through me—and it was both calming and reassuring.

And thus, we began a daily dialogue; one without words.

My mother gave me the name 'Bliss' as an ever-present reminder to find joy in hidden places. And—when joined with you—I instantaneously felt a new essence that was bright and palpable. It emanated a feeling that I wanted to bottle up forever, to one day share with you.

I wondered if that moment, that feeling, was felt by every future mother so I decided that those nine months—or, rather, 10 in your case—was enough time to create a collection of jewelry to capture that feeling and dedicate it to you.

I never could have imagined the energy that I felt with you inside me. I anticipated weakness, illness and slower days. Those came but were far and few between. Instead, what was most present during this pregnancy was my creativity. You, my darling, were enigmatic in the power you had. For something so small, so dependent, it was on you that I felt reliant. You were a source for me throughout those months.

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When designing before you, my process was twofold. It was introspective: I would search within myself—pose questions—to find inspiration. First, for my visual inspiration, and then again to pinpoint the feel I wished to infuse into each design. Armed with those two elements, I would then begin to sketch.

With you, though, inspiration arrived in a visceral, tangible form. I no longer needed to search for it.

The shift happened rather abruptly. One day, in our first trimester, I was walking around New York City and a stranger commented that I was smiling. There I was, incognito, walking through the city, moving with a beautiful secret only my nearest knew.

You were on your way and the world was about to feel full, the light more bright. This moment of anticipation and excitement eventually became a state of being. I wanted to remember the feeling forever.

During our second trimester, there's no better way to describe it other than having felt like a warrior. It was inner strength and vibrancy like I had never known before. Throughout those weeks and months, creativity blossomed, work flowed, conversations inspired and life seemed wholly in place.

And then, during the third trimester throughout a balmy August in New York City, your weight barely slowed us down. Up until your arrival, on the eleventh of September in the late afternoon, I worked diligently to put the pieces into place for this new commemorative collection—in which, one day, I hope you'll have so much pride.

For you, my baby, I made a gold necklace with a delicately carved half-moon pendant made of crystal quartz. I named that piece Brevity, as it was meant to represent the fleeting moment of time when we were sharing the same energy as one being.

Meticulously designed so that the stone—which is, by nature, energy neutralizing and a representation of clarity, intention, and connection—would rest upon the skin, my skin, our skin, and absorb our shared energy. A tiny keepsake of this precious time together.

I wore that necklace every day of my pregnancy with you, and while giving birth.

As I write this today, we are now two, and the tables have turned. Now, it is me who is excited to try to inspire you. We live in a world of firsts together, each new experience an opportunity to show you beauty, activate your senses, spark your curiosity and encourage your own ideas.

In your new life outside, our entire world has shifted. A new world has emerged, one where minutes are experienced with heightened clarity and sunsets represent an evolution that I could never have imagined. Shadows and light which always inspired me, are fascinating to you which then motivates me to view shapes and contrast anew. In daydreaming of what is happening inside your eyes, I have now come to a new place of inspiration.

It leaves me wondering if we'll continue our conversation without words forever.

I'm excited to find out.

Love,
Mama

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There are certain moments of parenthood that stay with us forever. The ones that feel a little extra special than the rest. The ones that we always remember, even as time moves forward.

The first day of school will always be one of the most powerful of these experiences.

I love thinking back to my own excitement going through it as a child—the smell of the changing seasons, how excited I was about the new trendy outfit I picked out. And now, I get the joy of watching my children go through the same right of passage.

Keep the memory of this time close with these 10 pictures that you must take on the first day of school so you can remember it forever, mama:

1. Getting on the school bus.

Is there anything more iconic than a school bus when it comes to the first day of school? If your little one is taking the bus, snap a photo of them posed in front of the school bus, walking onto it for the first time, or waving at you through the window as they head off to new adventure.

2. Their feet (and new shoes!)

Getting a new pair of shoes is the quintessential task to prepare for a new school year. These are the shoes that will support them as they learn, play and thrive. Capture the sentimental power of this milestone by taking photos of their shoes. You can get a closeup of your child's feet, or even show them standing next to their previous years of first-day-of-school shoes to show just how much they've grown. If you have multiple children, don't forget to get group shoe photos as well!

3. Posing with their backpack.

Backpacks are a matter of pride for kids so be sure to commemorate the one your child has chosen for the year. Want to get creative? Snap a picture of the backpack leaning against the front door, and then on your child's back as they head out the door.

4. Standing next to a tree or your front door.

Find a place where you can consistently take a photo year after year—a tree, your front door, the school signage—and showcase how much your child is growing by documenting the change each September.

5. Holding a 'first day of school' sign.

Add words to your photo by having your child pose with or next to a sign. Whether it's a creative DIY masterpiece or a simple printout you find online that details their favorites from that year, the beautiful sentiment will be remembered for a lifetime.

6. With their graduating class shirt.

When your child starts school, get a custom-designed shirt with the year your child will graduate high school, or design one yourself with fabric paint (in an 18-year-old size). Have them wear the shirt each year so you can watch them grow into it—and themselves!

Pro tip: Choose a simple color scheme and design that would be easy to recreate if necessary—if your child ends up skipping or repeating a year of school and their graduation date shifts, you can have a new shirt made that can be easily swapped for the original.

7. Post with sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk never goes out of style and has such a nostalgic quality to it. Let your child draw or write something that represents the start of school, like the date or their teacher, and then have them pose next to (or on top of) their work.

8. In their classroom.

From first letters learned to complicated math concepts mastered, your child's classroom is where the real magic of school happens. Take a few pictures of the space where they'll be spending their time. They will love remembering what everything looked like on the first day, from the decorations on the wall to your child's cubby, locker or desk.

9. With their teacher.

If classrooms are where the magic happens, teachers are the magicians. We wish we remembered every single teach we had, but the truth is that over time, memories fade. Be sure to snap a photo of your child posing with their teacher on the first day of school.

10. With you!

We spend so much time thinking about our children's experience on the first day of school, we forget about the people who have done so much to get them there—us! This is a really big day for you too, mama, so get in that photo! You and your child will treasure it forever.

This article is sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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When our babies are little, keeping them hydrated and dry is important and something many parents stress over. Trying to remember how many wet ones your little one has had in a 24-hour period is tough when you're insanely sleep-deprived, you know?

That's why this new "smart diaper" concept Pampers is launching is so interesting. The brand just announced its new high tech diaper system, Lumi, which sees sensors attached to diapers to sense wetness (it doesn't track bowel movements, just urine). The sensors work in concert with a Wi-Fi baby monitor and an app that lets parents keep track of baby's diaper situation and lets them know when the baby needs to be changed.

According to a tweet from Pampers, this is "the world's first all-in-one connected care system that is revolutionizing baby monitoring" and is in partnership with tech giants Logitech and Verily.

While wearable tech is nothing new (in the baby space alone, we've seen products like the Owlet monitor), this is the first time we've seen this sort of technology utilized for a diaper.


So how does this technology work, exactly? As Pampers explains, the sensor attaches to the front of the diaper and sends a signal to the app when a diaper change is in order—it can even tell a parent whether the diaper is merely "wet" or "very wet." The app tracks all changes, which can eliminate that whole "how long ago was the baby's last wet diaper?" dilemma new parents know all too well. The connected app also allows parents to track sleep and feedings, too, and the monitor is, well, a video monitor.

If you're squeamish about putting a piece of technology directly on your baby, we get it. This is, after all, uncharted territory—and for some parents, it may raise questions about how large a role technology should play in a child's life.

As the Washington Post reports, some privacy experts worry about putting this kind of personal data online (Pampers says the data will be secure). And as CNN reports, some experts say there can be such a thing as too much data, and are concerned that detailed tracking of data could make some parents more anxious instead of reliving stress.

If you're interested in smart diapering, you can get yourself on a waitlist right now (the product won't be available until the fall), but pricing has yet to be finalized.

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When I lost my father suddenly to a fatal heart attack four years ago, the pain of loss and subsequent grief were overwhelming. At the time, my husband and I had two little girls (ages 5 and 2), who were very attached to their PopPop Geno, and in many ways, they were my path through grief.

I had to quickly figure out how I was going to walk them through the grieving process while trying to navigate my own emotions. Loss is an inevitable part of life, and the intense sorrow that accompanies the loss of a loved one through death or separation is a normal response. These feelings can be overwhelming and confusing for children who don't quite understand death.

In preparing children for death, it's important to be honest, explicit and as concrete as possible without providing too much information. After a loss, avoid saying well-meaning euphemisms for death such as, "he's gone to sleep forever," or telling a young child that someone, "…was very sick and died," which can stoke fear of going to sleep or getting sick for children who are very literal in their thinking. It's best to have conversations that are simple, honest and developmentally appropriate.

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Here are four ways to help children deal with death:

1. Have patience.

Children younger than 8 years old don't typically understand the permanence of death unless they've experienced it first-hand. Even when they've acknowledged, "So, Grandpa isn't coming back?" they may ask days or months later when they will see their loved one again. Our brains are designed to protect us. Research shows that young children will only process loss in small chunks of time. Parents often misunderstand this as them being done with the grieving process or not really understanding what's happening. Although children grieve for short blocks of time, these can occur over very long periods of months or even years depending on the age of the child. It is important to be patient, answer questions as they arise, and pay attention to behavioral cues. Consistency and establishing a routine is the key to making sure your child feels secure during this period of uncertainty.

2. Develop a narrative.

Often, feelings of change or abandonment can surface depending on how close the friend or family member was to the child. Having a story about that person to hold on to allows them more time to fully process the loss as their capacity to better understand death also develops.

Having a narrative also helps kids understand they didn't do anything wrong and that they weren't the reason the person left.

In my case, we opted to talk about good memories and how much their grandfather loved them. Now, they will often do something they are proud of and say, "PopPop would have loved to be here for that!" It continues to let him be present and for my kids to stay in a relationship with him. Remember that if you don't help your children develop a narrative, they will develop their own.

As you develop a story with them, make sure you share your own feelings as well. It's hard for a child to understand unexpected emotions, but having a caregiver model feelings can be powerful. Children learn well when they have a vocabulary for these feelings and a model for behaviors that are appropriate expressions of grief. Seeing a parent cry can be scary for them but that experience provides a learning opportunity and therapy for you, too. So, sharing that you are okay but sad right now might help children normalize their own feelings.

3. Create a totem.

Children are such concrete thinkers, meaning they have trouble with abstract concepts, so having a tangible object, such as a picture, item of clothing or even a game or figurine from that person can help ease the transition in their absence.

By allowing a child to transfer significance to a lovey connected to a person they lost, they can also grieve in their own time. Creating a scrapbook with memories and pictures can be a powerful way to process loss together in an experiential way. Try making a game of hunting for meaningful items, pictures and items that represent good times.

4. Give children the chance to say goodbye.

You may decide not to expose your child to the funeral and that's okay. However, it's important to let them find a way to help them say their own goodbye. Funeral rituals can provide closure for family members and allow us to grieve in community. Consider having a small family memorial that allows your child to tell their passed loved one about their favorite memory, what they loved about them and what they might miss. At any age, this can be cathartic. If you decide to take your child to the funeral, make sure you prepare them ahead of time that a lot of people will be sad but they are there because they all loved the person who passed.

Above all, respect that your child is handling intense emotions the best way they can. If you don't have the perfect words, just reflect back what you are hearing your child say. The best thing parents can do is be present and empathic.

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Listen up, mamas, because we've got a doozie of a shopping opportunity for you. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is here and the discounts are major. Yes, you can score some of Zella's famous high-waisted leggings for $20 off... but really, we're just laser-focused on the baby gear and kids items right now!

Below are just a handful of the biggest deals being offered on some of our favorite brands, check them out before they're gone!

Thule Urban Glide 2 Double Jogging Stroller On-the-Go Bundle

Sale price: $598.90

Regular price: $799.85

SHOP

Nuna Pipa Lite Infant Car Seat

Nuna Pipa Lite

Sale price: $314.90

Regularly price: $419.95

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Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair, Baby Set, Cushion & Tray Set

Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair

Sale price: $253.90

Regular price: $339.00

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Freshly Picked Classic City Pack Faux Leather Diaper Bag

Freshly Picked City Pack

Sale price: $116.90

Regular price: $175.00

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Maxi-Cosi Magellan Max 2019 5-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Maxi-Cosi Magellan

Sale price: $260.90

Regular price: $349.99

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BOB Revolution Flex 3 Single Jogging Stroller

Sale price: $375.99

Reguar price: $469.99

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Nuna 2019 MIXX Stroller & PIPA Lite LX Infant Car Seat Set Travel System

Sale price: $849.90

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Hunter Buckle Strap Waterproof Rain Boot

Hunter Buckle Strap Waterproof Rain Boot

Sale price: $39.90

Regular price: $60

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See Kai Run Peyton High Top Sneaker

See Kai Run Peyton High Top Sneaker

Sale price: $31.90

Regular price: $48

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Baby Bling Waffle Bun Baby Headband

Sale price: $8.90

Regular price: $14.00

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Vineyard Vines Boys Heathered Island Polo

Sale price: $29.90

Reguar price: $40

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Little Giraffe Luxe Baby Blanket

Little Giraffe

Sale price: $59.90

Original price: $92.00

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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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I sit awkwardly with an eight months pregnant belly on a shaggy grey rug with my son's stacked towers of Lego blocks holding little plastic teeth-bearing dinosaurs cascading up and down the tower steps.

My son roars.

His T-Rex makes a big splash into the makeshift carpet-ocean. He swims like a fishy, you know, how a T-Rex would.

I have to be Scar. A smaller, grey T-Rex (definitely the lesser of the cool T-Rexes). I have to hold him and personify him and roar. And basically follow the big T-Rex wherever he wants to go, doing whatever he wants me to.

Normally, my opinions on what Scar might want to do are, well, wrong. Luckily, my exhaustion can be minimized by the fact that I can quite literally hardly move down on the floor (or in general), so Scar can only make arm-length treks. I am safe(ish) in my legs-splayed seated position that I may never be able to get up from.

"Hi," says T-Rex in a jovial voice, bouncing up and down in front of me. "Wanna play?"

I have to pick up Scar, don my enthusiastic, friendly dinosaur-voice (despite the fact that Scar has yellow eyes and gnashing sharp teeth) and reply that I do, in fact, want to play! Any variation of that is actually just incorrect.

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"Okay!" says T-Rex, "let's go over here." T-Rex takes massive leaps and practically soars in mid-air, and Scar merely scoots along behind him in little jumps. Scar pretends to fly but is quickly reminded that Scar does not fly.

I set Scar down momentarily and glance at the clock because I have now been Scar for 28 minutes and I am feeling fairly repressed creatively. I set him down carefully on the stairway we made with blocks and then subsequently made our dinosaurs climb up and down at least 200 times in a row.

T-Rex thought it was fun, and Scar was more annoyed and wondering what the point of all of it was. But if Scar stopped, T-Rex—in his ridiculously giddy, adorable little boy voice—kindly reminded him that he wanted to keep going.

It was maybe seven seconds after my fingertip left Scar—my other hand had my mug of (now lukewarm) coffee, not even at my lips yet. And there T-Rex was, right in my face, dino-nose to human-nose. "Where's Scar?"

Within seconds my son hands him back to me. "Here you go, you want Scar?"

My son is happy, smiling. T-Rex is gripped in his other hand, anxiously wondering what Scar was doing getting out of character.

"Wanna play Scar?" He keeps asking that while we are playing and my mom voice comes out.

"We are playing, sweetie. That is what we are doing right now. You don't have to keep asking…."

He looks at me with his innocent little blue eyes and doesn't even let me finish speaking before T-Rex is at my nose, "Wanna play?"

So I'm Scar again.

"Mama's coffee," he says. "T-Rex loves coffee." The little Dinosaur's face, mouth open wide, is headfirst in my coffee.

He looks over at me pensively. "Scar needs coffee too…" He doesn't know if this is a question yet. I have yet to react to the dinosaur he is swirling in my coffee. But clearly, Scar wants to play too.

My coffee sloshes onto my pants, which my son recently wiped a trail of snot on. I watch him smile as I take Scar and let Scar have a sip of my coffee too.

This is a Tuesday. Tuesdays I am home with my son. His cereal bowl is on the counter with remnants of oats and milk. My French press is half full, the cream is still out. I have yet to get properly dressed, or attempt to begin the strange battle that is dressing my son.

I am so pregnant and so tired that I am aware that I may not dress either of us today. I may not even move. The sun is shining through the windows and the dog continuously brings me a ball to throw for her. It's just after 9:30 am.

I have been up for a hundred hours, I am sure. My husband will likely be home in eight more hours. The thought of that brings a moment of panic in my chest. The exhaustion I feel, obviously exacerbated by pregnancy, tells me there is no way I will make it. Even the thought of having to get myself off this floor to make it to the couch has me procrastinating.

This is motherhood. A tiny, tiny glimpse into the job.

I am playing with coffee-drinking miniature dinosaurs. Our house is comfortable, our bellies are full, we are clothed. In this world—the world of my 4-year-old—the biggest stressors known to man are stopping playing to pee on the potty, getting dressed and not getting ice cream.

His pain is real, his stress is real. I know this. I soothe him through it in a practical way. And in the back of my head, I can't help but think of my own larger problems, the world's bigger, more catastrophic issues. They pop up in thought bubbles around me that I work to knock away. Mindfully, I tell myself. Notice it, wave it goodbye. Be here.

I glance at the clock again, and only a minute has passed. I look over at my son. He is watching me. Dinosaur clutched in hand, practicing a rare moment of patience. Eyes hopeful. I take a deep breath. I breathe out the overflow of bills, of dishes, of dog hair, of to-dos, unread-texts and emails.

His eyes are still on me, his fingers inching Scar closer to my leg. I take another breath.

Here I am, on this Tuesday, I am Scar.

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