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It was 2 am when I heard it—it was faint at first. Her little whimpers began to lull me out of a deep sleep. I tried to pretend I was dreaming— that the baby I just rocked to sleep two hours ago wasn't already hungry again. But as the whimpers turned into full-on cries, I pulled myself out of bed.

I walked to my daughter Adeline's crib with an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. I looked down to see her staring back at me with one of her famous grins and instantly, I felt giddy. No matter how tired I was—I still had so much love for this little bundle who had yet to learn the value of a full night's sleep.


As I fed her a bottle, I watched her start to close her eyes, beginning to fall asleep in my arms. I glanced over at my husband sleeping so peacefully beside me and I was overcome with the joy of motherhood. This moment—this picture-perfect moment of my little family—was what life was all about.

That was hard to envision when I was pregnant—what life would be like, as much as I tried to, or as much as other people told me how it'd be.

Because when I was pregnant, I heard it all. The good, the bad, the...things I didn't want to hear at all…

I received warnings from veteran mothers advising me to sleep as much as I could, to take care of as many loose ends as possible and to enjoy a final vacation with my husband as if it would be my last. They shared stories about their children's arrival into the world, their first words, their first steps.

Above all, I was told time and time again about the incredible love I would feel for this little baby I had yet to meet.

I believed every word but that did not prepare me for the actual experience of it all. Upon Adeline's birth I truly felt this all-consuming love for my baby who I literally just laid eyes on. As she lay on my chest looking up at me, my heart's ability to feel complete became dependent on her.

When Adeline was a few weeks old, my mom graciously offered to keep her overnight so that my husband and I could go on a day trip together and get a good night's sleep. I so looked forward to our mini vacation but when we were there, I struggled to enjoy our time because I missed my baby so much.

I woke up every couple hours thinking I had a baby to feed, only to realize that she wasn't in bed with me. Again I felt a pang of heartbreak from this small separation from my baby. At 8 am the next morning, I was at my mom's—ready to get my baby back. Even though it was only one night we were away, it was almost unbearable.

Every feeling I had about motherhood in general was so big. I felt so deeply, it felt as though my heart was cracked open. I experienced plenty of moments where I've been so consumed with exhaustion, I had to just hold my daughter and cry. Days where my hormones were so jumbled that my poor husband got the lash that came from my irritability.

In the very beginning I often felt like I was losing my mind. I didn't have all the answers. I didn't know why my baby would cry for what seemed like hours on end, I didn't know if she was warm enough or too warm. I didn't know if I was giving her enough time on her tummy or enough time sitting up.

One day it all clicked. I didn't always know what I was doing and I didn't want to drive myself crazy pretending that was the case. If someone had a parenting tip for me, I would actually consider it and decided if it made sense to apply to our lives rather than immediately write it off.

Motherhood, I'm realizing, has humbled me. I am able to listen and learn from those who have raised babies before me. I've allowed myself to be vulnerable and have accepted help from others.

Giving up on the need to have control over every aspect of my daughter's life helped me calm down and accept that no one expected me to be perfect, so I shouldn't put that pressure on myself. My husband can vouch for the fact that when I lessened my grip on trying to control everything and I let go of the unrealistic need to do everything just right—I became more pleasant to be around, and I actually enjoyed motherhood more.

So, my friend, if you're feeling overwhelmed, or like these new mama feelings are all just too big—hang in there.

The hard moments will pass as quickly as they came and will be replaced with a darling smile or a sweet babble that will make you forget it happened. I can finally say after three months that I am beginning to feel like myself again. It took me a while to fully understand, but I've finally accepted that I am not able to run on a perfect timeline now that I have a baby.

I am now comfortable with the fact that my daughter determines the course of our days, at least for now. And I am okay with the fact that we're figuring this out together, as we go.

Motherhood is one of those "you don't know until you know" type of things. And now that I know, it's way better than I could have ever imagined.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

This article was sponsored by Pipette. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"

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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)


Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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