To all the mamas going through a rough patch, I see you

There have been moments when it was so hard that I've wanted to run away. I know I'm not alone. I'm sure every parent has been there.

To all the mamas going through a rough patch, I see you

It's times like these that I question my parenting abilities.

My daughter is 9 months old and not sleeping well at all. I'm told she's likely teething or getting ready to crawl. Every night she wakes up at 2 a.m. and none of the usual methods soothe her back to sleep. The only thing that seems to work, is to drag her into our bed and let her sleep between us.

I never thought I would co-sleep and yet, nine months in, here we are. I have nothing against co-sleeping in theory, it's simply that I like having the space to toss and turn.


After weeks of bad sleep, I am exhausted and irritable. I don't feel like a good mother when I can't soothe my own baby. I turn to Google late at night, asking it why, why is this happening? I read too much. I read about how we may be creating new, long-term habits when we bring the baby into our bed every night.

Oh no, I think, we've messed up. She'll never go back to sleeping in her crib. She'll never sleep well again, and consequently, neither will we.

But looking back at all the other times I've worried—through colic, sleep regressions, growth spurts, reactions to vaccines, jet lag—it's always been temporary, always just a phase. I'll bet a large sum of money that this current situation is also just a phase, one that may end tomorrow, for all we know, and she'll return happily to her crib.

Then why do I worry so much, every time, to the point where I am questioning whether or not I am a good parent? It seems ridiculous now that I've put it down on paper.

When you're in the thick of it, the middle of the rough patch and things are difficult and frustrating and exhausting, it feels like slowly walking through a pitch black room searching for a light switch. Both your energy and patience running thin but all you can do is keep moving, blindly, in what feels like the right direction.

And then, just when you think you might never find it, a window appears, letting the sun stream in.

That's what the hardest part of parenting feels like, to me. The part where you have no control over when things will get better, and you just have to hold on, believing that this, too, will pass. Committing, with all the fibers in your body, to standing by your child, through whatever gets thrown at you.

That takes courage.

There have been moments when it was so hard that I've wanted to run away. I know I'm not alone. I'm sure every parent has been there.

And I'm certain that the rough patches get rougher, that the problems get more complicated, and the heartbreak more painful as our children grow older and figure out who they are and where they belong. Teething must feel like a dream compared to teen angst.

But through it all, amazingly, we never question our commitment to our children. We never turn our backs, and we don't budge, even a little. We can cry out in frustration, we can walk away and take deep breaths, but we always come back, no matter what.

When I think about that, I feel immensely proud of all the parents out there. Especially the ones currently wading through the muck. Never wavering.

Our children make it easier by being the most remarkable little humans we've ever known, but it doesn't make parenting less hard.

Tonight, I'm going to bed early. Need to get in some hours of rest before the 2 a.m. wake-up call. It's just a phase, it's only temporary, and I'm a good parent.

That's what I'm going to tell myself, and you should, too, mama.

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My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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