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To the mama battling postpartum depression: You are stronger than you realize

I think, in looking back, I’m thankful I went through postpartum depression.

It’s a strange thing to say, I know. And if you are currently going through it, please don’t hate me. But as someone who survived postpartum depression (PPD) and came out on the other side, I can honestly say that—on some level—I’m glad that chapter of my life occurred.

Today, I cherish my children in a way that I would have never thought possible in my darkest hours of PPD, when I literally wished that my now 5-year old daughter did not exist. When I would gaze longingly at my front door and fantasize that someone, anyone, would come and take her away and make this nightmare of motherhood end. When my husband would have to gently take my arm and pull me out of bed every morning before leaving for work, because I was paralyzed with dread and sadness about the day ahead.

These are the kinds of toxic and intrusive thoughts that plague your mind when you experience a perinatal mood disorder (PMD), which can include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive tendencies, rage, and posttraumatic stress, among other symptoms. And while I often tell people that I would not wish this illness on my worst enemy, at the same time—I have come to a point in my journey where I can say I am in good company of other warrior mamas who have made it through the storm like me.

To be clear: every single mom I know is amazing in their own way and loves their child unconditionally. I do not mean to imply that mothers who have experienced a PMD are somehow better or more loving than those who don’t. But we have had to fight for our love, in a way, and I think that means something.

When my daughter, Hannah, passed away from a congenital heart defect five years ago, I thought my own life was over. Not because I had any intention of hurting myself, but because I was broken inside and didn’t know how I would be able to move forward and function on a daily basis.

I all but stopped eating, because I had no appetite. I would vomit out of sheer panic and anxiety. I had to muster every ounce of energy I possessed to brush my teeth each day. Sometimes, I didn’t even get that far.

You would think I would have latched on to Hannah’s surviving twin sister, Elizabeth, but the opposite happened. I felt a complete disconnect from my daughter, and while I managed to meet her basic everyday needs—providing food via nursing, changing diapers, etc.—I loathed every second of being a mother and deeply resented my new life.

Through private therapy, medication, the support of family and friends, and my faith, I eventually got better. After enduring many months of overwhelming sadness, lethargy, and self-doubt in my role as a new mom, things started to click, and I finally fell in love with my daughter. Not quite two years later, I was blessed enough to have another child, my daughter Maggie.

Today, I am a co-founder and coordinator of a support group for women experiencing perinatal mood disorders in the Cleveland, Ohio area. We are part of a larger statewide organization called POEM, which stands for Perinatal Outreach and Encouragement for Moms. We have had tremendously positive feedback from the community.

On more than one occasion, women have told us that this group saved their life. I have witnessed incredible bonds and friendships form. A woman once shared that she cried tears of joy the entire drive home after her first meeting, because of the immense relief she felt from realizing that she wasn’t alone and that there was hope for her to come out the other side of this illness.

And so, in a way, I am glad I experienced postpartum depression. Because otherwise, I would not have had the opportunity to help lead this group of brave women. I would not have had the honor and privilege of meeting the strong, amazing women who continually come to us week after week and allow us to accompany them on their journey in becoming the mom they want to be.

Without postpartum depression, I would not know to ask new moms how they are really doing after childbirth. To not just assume that motherhood is all rainbows and unicorns.

I would not be cognizant of the fact that, so often, especially in those early days and months of sleep deprivation and hormonal fluctuations (and the general upheaval of your life) that mark the arrival of a newborn—a mom is at her lowest and frailest, both mentally and physically speaking.

Without postpartum depression, I would not have the passion and empathy I have now to serve other mothers who also experience this debilitating nightmare that is perinatal mood disorders. To raise awareness by raising my voice in order to destigmatize these illnesses. To better understand mental health in general and recognize the painful struggles and challenges faced by those courageous individuals who deal with mental illness every day.

Lastly, without postpartum depression, I would not be the mom I am today.

I would not have discovered the strength, resilience and inner warrior I had hiding within myself—ready to battle.

I would love my daughters no matter what; they are my entire world and represent a source of pure and never ending joy in my life. But without postpartum depression, I would not know what it means to have to work for that love. To claw your way out of the blackest of holes and emerge victorious, ready to give everything you have to your child.

I am a proud survivor of postpartum depression, and I have a message for any woman who is going through this illness: You are not alone. You are not crazy. You are not a bad mom. You are stronger than you think, and I promise things will get better. You will not feel this way forever. I promise.

I know it can be hard to admit you need help, but please consider reaching out to a trusted healthcare provider to start a treatment plan, whether that be counseling, medication, a support group, or a combination of all these tools.

You deserve it, and so does your family.

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna


2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna


3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95


4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna


5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna


With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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

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Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

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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Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

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When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

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The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

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