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One of the hardest parts about giving birth is that you don’t know how long it’s going to go on for.


If someone could look into a crystal ball and say, “Okay. You are going to have 56 more really tough contractions, but then it will be over and your baby will be born,” it would be so much easier to wrap our minds around what needed to happen, steel ourselves for the challenge, and just do it.

But that crystal ball does not exist. When we’re in labor we theoretically know that it will end at some point and the baby will be born, but it’s really hard to believe it when we’re in the throws of this indefinite, painful process.

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And that’s what makes motherhood so hard—it is relentless and filled with unknown.

Let me be clear—it’s worth it.

It's not a question of it being worth it. OF COURSE it's worth it. If you give us a choice between anything and our children, we will always choose our children. Always.

But that doesn't mean it's easy.

We know every single day how incredibly fortunate we are to get be their mother, and to have the life that we have. But that doesn’t make it easy either.

We know it's all worth it, but in those exhausting, bleary eyed moments, “worth it” is just too abstract to understand—because in that moment, it is just so hard.

Pulling an “all-nighter” is actually not that bad when you know that the next night you can get a good night’s sleep.

Remember during college finals, you knew it was going to be a really tough week, and you probably weren’t going to get much sleep? But it was manageable because you also knew that after that tough week, you were going to go home to your parents’ house and sleep in your childhood bed for five days straight, waking up only to go to the bathroom and eat the occasional Hot Pocket.

That rest never comes in motherhood—though there are still a lot of Hot Pockets, thank goodness.

Just when the baby (FINALLY) starts sleeping through the night, he gets a cold so he’s up again, and then he gets over the cold but his molars start to come in, and then you have to transition him to his big kid bed... and then his little sister is born and it starts all over again.

We start to really doubt that we will ever actually sleep again.

And we have this moment—the moment where we slump down onto the floor next to our (momentarily) sleeping child, wrap our arms around our legs, and cry.

Cry because we don’t know what else to do.

Cry because we are more exhausted than we ever thought possible.

Cry because we truly believe in our core we will always just be this tired.

And in that moment, we are more motherly than we have ever been.

Because in spite of not knowing how many more contractions we’re going to have, we keep going.

In spite of not knowing how many more sleepless nights (or years) are in front of us, we keep going.

In spite of so much challenge and unknown and relentlessness, we keep going.

If that isn’t worth it, I don’t know what is.

Staying up for a night takes caffeine.

Staying up for a week takes determination.

Staying up for the unknown takes a mom.

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My official title at home is Mom, but my unofficial title is CEO of Family Operations. Parenting is a team effort, sure, but I tend to take on the largest share of responsibility for keeping everything in the household afloat. It's theoretically possible to tackle the daily demands of motherhood, marriage and work as an army of one. It's also highly unpleasant. The key to preserving a shred of sanity? Learning to delegate.

Accepting or asking for help is something many moms, myself included, struggle with, but the most effective corporate CEOs do it every day without guilt or apology.

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Delegating seems easy enough in the instances when handling something yourself isn't an option. If you work full-time, for example, then, of course, you need outside help with childcare. If a pipe bursts in your house, you hire a plumber. If you forget you volunteered to make cookies for the school bake sale, you turn to the good folks over at your local bakery and call it a day.

Delegating gets trickier, however, when you know you're able to take on a certain task, but only at a significant cost to your already limited time and energy.

One of the biggest traps I fall into is the idea that "If I can do it, I should do it." That attitude often leaves me feeling overloaded, frazzled and generally frustrated. For instance, I have three kids who need to bathe on a semi-regular basis. I am usually home in the run-up to bedtime, and I spent years feeling as though I should be an active participant in bath time while also getting dinner on the table and trying not to snap at everybody.

But why? I have a perfectly capable husband who is home most evenings, and two of my kids are old enough to handle turning on a shower and opening a shampoo bottle. I'm sure bath time in some houses is full of laughter and bubbles, but at my house, it usually turns into whining and splashing as I think longingly ahead to the hour when all the non-grownups will be in bed.

This was clearly a situation that called for delegating, and I finally got over my irrational guilt and did just that. Everyone gets clean just fine on their own (or with the help of another competent adult), and I am happier every evening because of it.

When Facebook experiences a technical glitch, Mark Zuckerberg could likely write the code to fix it, but instead he delegates. Shonda Rhimes could conceivably come up with every new romantic plot twist in Grey's Anatomy, but she has a Shondaland empire to run, so she delegates. There is no reason the rest of us should behave any differently.

Once I stopped equating "can" with "should," and once I started accepting a helping hand and figuring out alternative solutions, I was able to devote more time and energy to the parts of parenting that are the most meaningful to me and my kids. To be clear: that doesn't mean I now simply delegate all the hard, exhausting and painful stuff—or even most of it. But I'm less often sidetracked by the things that really aren't that important. Slowly but steadily, I'm getting better at sharing the load.

Moms are CEOs of a nonstop, extremely demanding and unpredictable operation. By opening up a little bandwidth, we're able to remember that it's also the best job in the world.

Life

Winter is here, mama, full of snow days, toasty fireplaces and yummy hot cocoa. But the colder temperatures can bring an onslaught of hair issues, like split ends and hair breakage. Your hair can actually accumulate a lot of damage in this season. Sure, most breakage is from the cold temperatures, but wool hats and scarves can also leave your strands pretty wrecked, too. Add in an itchy scalp that follows because of the lack of moisture in the air and you're in need of a little hair care.

So if you're making seasonal swaps with your skincare, home decor, and kid essentials, follow suit with your hair routine. That's why we asked Linsey Barbuto, artistic director and founder of Perlei salon, and Judy McGuinness, stylist at Mizu Licari Hair salon, for their top tips mamas can use to protect hair from the winter elements.

Here are their go-to tips for healthy, frizz-free, shiny locks:

1. Skip parabens + sulfates

We always make sure to protect our little ones from harsh ingredients, so why shouldn't we protect ourselves, too? When choosing a product to use on your hair, whether it be a shampoo or a styling product (a good go-to is Oribe shampoos and conditioners), always check the label, says Barbuto. If the product contains parabens (a preserve used to keep cosmetics fresh), sulfates (chemicals used as cleansing agents) or phthalates (chemicals used to soften solvents in cosmetics) stay away. Some studies have suggested that these ingredients are hormone disruptors, and many have been linked to cancer.

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2. Create a washing routine

Not all hair is created equal so the overarching rule of washing your hair twice a week might work for some, but it can be damaging for others. To determine the right amount of washing for your mane, identify the type of hair you have. "Here's my rule—if you have curly and coily hair, wash it once a week; if it's frizzy, wash it every three to four days; if you have fine hair, opt for every other since it gets super oily," says Barbuto.

Editor pick: Eufora urgent repair shampoo

3. Avoid using a bath towel to dry your hair

Wrapping your hair tightly with a bath towel causes stress and damage to your hair. The friction can cause breakage, knots and eventually lead to split ends. But, if you've been using a towel, don't stress it—simply switch to an old t-shirt or a microfiber towel instead, says Barbuto. And, if you must use a bath towel, pat, don't rub your hair.

Editor pick: Aquis hair towel

4. Try a nourishing hair oil

Simply put, hair oils coat the outer cuticle of the hair shaft, leaving it protected from harsh winter elements. "I've played around with a few different brands, but end up going back to Oribe's gold lust oil to preserve my hair," says McGuinness. It's not too heavy, can be used on wet or dry hair, and prevents and helps to heal damaged ends."

Editor pick: Amika glass action universal elixir

5. Use a hair mask weekly

For busy moms, a shower can feel like an indulgence, so why not add in some hair love?

"Simply run a generous amount through your dry hair, focusing on the ends," says McGuinness. "Wait 5 minutes then hop in the shower and shampoo and conditioner as usual! I've found this to be the easiest way to treat my blonde ends, without feeling like I'm wasting time." McGuinness' pick? Jess & Lou's 5 minute resq hair therapy.

Editor pick: Briogeo don't despair, repair! deep conditioning mask

6. Back off on the heat

In the summer, it's much easier to just let your hair dry naturally, but there are a couple ways to get the benefits of no heat in the winter as well. "I like to take a shower at night and air dry my hair before bed. If necessary, in the morning I'll quickly run a large curling iron through my hair to give a little undone texture," says McGuinness. "Once you're happy with your style, apply dry shampoo to extend your style. Each day add in a bit more, massaging in with your fingers to absorb excess oil." Her current favorite is Dry Bar's detox dry shampoo—"a little goes a long way, and I don't have to wash my hair for at least two or three days," she says.

Editor pick: Cake Beauty the 'do gooder volumizing dry shampoo

7. Maintain haircuts

Even if you're growing your hair out, it's important to get a trim or dusting to remove split ends about every two months, says McGuinness. This keeps the split ends from traveling further up your hair shaft, leading to a bigger cut in the future.

8. Swap shampoo for a cleansing creme

Instead of using a shampoo, try a cleansing creme instead. "It doesn't have to be for every wash, but every time you choose to use a cleansing conditioner in place of regular shampoo, it adds much more moisture without stripping the hair at all," says McGinness. Try Oribe cleansing creme for medium to thick hair, and R+CO analog cleansing foam conditioner for fine to medium hair, says McGinness.

Editor pick: AG Hair texture cleansing cream
Life

Parenthood has a way of making table talk out of otherwise taboo subjects. Case in point: You will likely keep a subconscious log of your child's bowel movements for several years—and for good reason. Although constipation is relatively common with up to 30% of children experiencing it, parents who understand the triggers and best treatment methods can help reduce discomfort and avoid recurrences.

When trying to find relief for constipation, the very first step should be determining the cause, says Dr. Latha Vrittamani, MD, a pediatrician with Stanford Children's Health. The challenge here is that there are multiple possibilities, including both physical and psychological triggers.

That said, the majority of pediatric constipation cases Dr. Vrittamani sees at her Bayside Medical Group practice are associated with three transitions: when an infant is starting solids, when a toddler is toilet training and when a child is starting school.

Unfortunately, as diets become more processed and lives become busier, research shows rates of constipation are increasing among the general population—and the issue can compound when a child begins to associate pain with going to the bathroom.

"When there is constipation, try to tackle it early because chronic constipation comes from not intervening at the right time," says Dr. Vrittamani.

Here is what parents should know about pediatric constipation so there can be peace at potty time once again:

Identifying constipation

For the most part, constipation is easy to identify: A child is uncomfortable while unable to pass a stool, experiences minutes of straining and pain while attempting a bowel movement, or goes three or fewer times per week with hard, dry stool. Other side effects may include a distended belly or, in more serious cases, vomiting, fever or bloody stool—which Dr. Vrittamani says are good cues to call a doctor.

Although some children are more prone to constipation due to genetic causes, dietary or psychological factors can be the difference between relatively easy bowel movements or chronic struggles. A smaller number of constipation cases may be related to other causes, such as spinal abnormalities, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or other conditions diagnosable by a physician.

But there are some misconceptions about constipation that can throw off parents. It's common for breastfed newborns, for example, to go days between stools and they may even appear to strain in order to have a bowel movement because of immature abdominal toning. The difference in these cases is that the babies don't experience the more tell-tale signs of constipation, such as belly distention, irritability or hard stools. (It is best to trust your own gut if you're concerned or call your family pediatrician!)

Dietary causes + cures for constipation

More typically, constipation challenges coincide with the introduction of solid foods—especially as highly starchy, processed or dairy-rich foods enter the baby's diet. Some culprits may even be surprising, such as apples, sweet potatoes and bananas. Rather than banish these foods from the home altogether, Dr. Vrittamani suggests "mixing and matching" at mealtime with foods that can help keep the digestive system moving along.

A few good examples she points to include…

  • "P- fruits," such as prunes, plums, pears, peaches, papaya and pineapple
  • Avocado
  • Berries
  • Lentils
  • Flaxseed for babies over 8 months
  • Brussels sprouts or broccoli
  • Prune juice

If diversifying your child's diet isn't working or you're eager for a short-term solution, Dr. Vrittamani also suggests offering small amounts of a concentrated apple juice. Even in a small dose, the pectin naturally found in apple juice can help stimulate the digestive system—and the encouragement to drink extra fluid can help, too. In fact, limited fluid intake is a commonly overlooked cause that may contribute to constipation. But, thankfully, it is just as easily fixed by encouraging water consumption throughout the day. (A good reminder for us all!)

A few more remedies include…

  • Moving baby's legs in a bicycle motion or encouraging older kids to play.
  • Taking a baby's temperature rectally, which can loosen stools.
  • Giving your baby a warm bath.
  • For older children, drinking warm lemon water.
  • Offering a probiotic supplement or food, such as yogurt.

If the constipation persists, a physician such as those at Stanford Children's Health would be able to offer advice on the proper course of treatment. Dr. Vrittamani says this should always be done before drastic, potentially dangerous steps are taken.

Specifically, she would advise against…

  • Stimulating laxatives
  • Milk of magnesia
  • Changing a baby's formula preparation to include more water
  • Switching to a low-iron formula
  • Mineral oil for children under age 2

Common psychological triggers

Although dietary changes may benefit anyone struggling with constipation, the cause isn't always dietary in nature: Especially in situations like toilet training or going to school for the first time, a child may end up "holding it in" out of fear or anxiety. This can be avoided or minimized by reading a child's cues about how he or she is feeling before sending the child into uncomfortable new territory.

Looking at potty training, parents should look for readiness signs, such as vocalizations about wet diapers and an interest in using the potty that is encouraged with books and videos on the subject. "What is important is for us to realize that when parents do start toilet training they want to do it in a way that is non-threatening so the child is involved in it," says Dr. Vrittamani, adding parents should use "encouragement rather than punishment" and employ non-food rewards.

Like the rest of us, children are also beings of habit, so it can help to create a routine out of potty time. Dr. Vrittamani suggests encouraging a child to sit on a toilet after breakfast each day for no more than 10 minutes, but without distractions from books or videos.

For school-aged children, the same kinds of stress may contribute to constipation, which can be compounded by anxiety about cleaning themselves or having to tell a teacher when they need to go. "All of this becomes a self-esteem issue eventually," says Dr. Vrittamani, explaining parents should work with children before school on having bathroom confidence and independence.

Just as constipation triggers can vary from child to child, the right solution may require a bit of time and experimentation to pin down. But with these best practices in mind for a solid starting point, you can minimize the struggle—and hopefully prevent constipation from making a return to your home anytime soon.

This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's finally 2020. It's hard to believe but the old decade is over, the new one is here and it is bringing a lot of new life with it. The babies born this year are members of Generation Alpha and the world is waiting for them.

We're only a few days into the new year and there are already some new celebrity arrivals making headlines while making their new parents proud.

If your little one arrived (or is due to arrive) in 2020, they've got plenty of high profile company.

Here are all the celebrity babies born in 2020 (so far):

Ashley Graham is a mama! 🎉

A new chapter is unfolding for model and podcaster Ashley Graham, who just announced she and her husband Justin Ervin have met their baby.

The baby arrived Saturday, according to a post made on Graham's Instagram Stories.

"At 6:00pm on Saturday our lives changed for the better," reads the Story. "Thank you for all your love and support during this incredible time."

Graham previously announced that she and Ervin were expecting a son. They initially announced the pregnancy on their ninth wedding anniversary.

Congratulations to Ashley and Justin!

Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden just welcomed a baby girl! 🎉

Surprise! Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden are ringing in the New Year as first-time parents!

"Happy New Year from the Maddens!" reads a birth announcement posted to both Diaz and Madden's Instagram accounts. "We are so happy, blessed and grateful to begin this new decade by announcing the birth of our daughter, Raddix Madden. She has instantly captured our hearts and completed our family."

Raddix Madden is the first child for Diaz, 47, and Madden, 40.

The couple say they won't be posting any pictures of their daughter on social media as they "feel a strong instinct to protect our little one's privacy."

Congratulations to the Maddens! 🎉

Dylan Dreyer of 'Today' is a mom of 2! 

Today meteorologist Dylan Dreyer and her husband Brian Fichera, welcomed their second child, Oliver George Fichera, the first week of January 2020. Oliver joins his big brother Calvin to make the family a foursome.

Dreyer is still recovering from birth but her voice was on TV this week when she called into her show with an update on her new family. "I feel good," Dylan told her colleagues. "I just feel so happy and so blessed."

Caterina Scorsone of 'Grey's Anatomy' now has 3 girls!

Caterina Scorsone of Grey's Anatomy has so much to be thankful for in 2020: She's now a mom of three! The actress announced the birth of her daughter via Instagram, noting that her baby's name is Arwen.

Arwen joins big sisters Eliza, 7, and 3-year-old Paloma, who has Down syndrome. Speaking on The Motherly Podcast last year, Scorsone explained how Paloma's diagnosis made her "whole concept of what motherhood was had to shift."

It is likely shifting again, as any mama who has gone from two kids to three knows.

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