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To the mom who stays up (way) past her bedtime

Ah, another night, another midnight bedtime, I think to myself (again) as my head hits the pillow.

I have always been a night owl, and you'd think since becoming a parent I would have switched from night owl to early bird...but...I haven't.

I mean, I still have to get up early with my children. But, I also still go to bed late—for a variety of reasons. The desire to get time to myself almost always beats out getting a great night's sleep.

But, why?

Why, when Arianna Huffington has proclaimed sleep to be the key to success? If sleep is her superpower, mine must be surviving daily on 6 hours of sleep and lots and lots of coffee. (I mean, isn't that why there are so many coffee/mom memes out there?)

Why, when the Public Library of Science Journal tells us that people who sleep around 6 hours a night have a waistline that's 1.2 inches larger than those getting around 9 hours? (So, if I sleep more does that mean I don't have to exercise then? Because maybe I can get down with that...)

Why, when we are told that our sleep schedules are just as important as our children's?

Why, when we KNOW we are working around 98 hour weeks and absolutely could use any extra rest we can get?

Why, when the mental load of motherhood is exhausting and I know that but yet I continue to push 'rest' down to the bottom of my to-do list?

Well, let me tell you...

I stay up late because the allure of peace and quiet—while everyone else sleeps—is too appealing to miss out on.

I stay up late because the desire to have time to myself—to do whatever I want, without answering to anyone else—is too precious to pass up.

I stay up late because I want time to zone out and binge watch Parenthood without feeling like I need to be doing anything else.

I stay up late because my passion for my work runs deep, and sometimes I just can't seem to switch it off.

I stay up late because I want to finally start that book I bought a month ago.

I stay up late because I want to do a face mask and sit in the tub without feeling rushed.

I stay up late because I want a sliver of time to feel like "human-adult-me." Not "mom-wife-me." Just me.

I stay up late because I want time to let my brain think and process—without distractions and noise.

I stay up late because at 11:00 p.m. toddlers aren't asking to go to the park or to make waffles. (Usually.)

I stay up late because I am mildly addicted to technology and often find myself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram to catch up on what's going on in the world before I give in to sleep.

I stay up late because I can't seem to be okay with the fact that I don't get any time to myself during the day. Does time while sleeping count as "time to myself?"

(I don't think I can survive on my "me time" also being my sleep time...)

I stay up late because I always have. And my life as a mother has changed enough for me. I want to keep this part of my past non-mom life in tact. (I'm stubborn like that.)

I stay up late because even the "you need to go to bed earlier!" talks I get from my husband don't make me feel bad enough to stop this addiction.

I stay up late because no matter how many times I go to bed late, then wake up and swear "I'm going to bed at 9:30 tonight no matter what!"—I literally never do.

These late night hours are my time to be selfish. To think of me—and me only. In this world of motherhood, we don't often get time or space to put our needs first. Because throughout the day, the needs of others must be filled. But late at night, my people are all safely, peacefully sleeping, and I can focus on whatever is calling to me in the moment.

It's my time to be choosey in a life that consists mostly on making choices for and on behalf of other people.

Every time these free, peaceful hours are calling to me, I try to tell them I need sleep. That sleep is good for my brain and my body and my soul. But they always counter argue with the fact that staying up late and fitting "me time" in is even better for me. And they usually win.

Mostly, I stay up late because it is one way I stay sane in this very intense life of mothering young children. This quiet, uninterrupted time to myself fuels me in a way sleep can't right now. (And yes—I'm sure sleep experts out there would argue otherwise!)

So maybe when my kids are a little older, I'll get more sleep...maybe not.

Either way—for now—you can find me wide awake at that alluring, quiet midnight hour happily doing, well...whatever I want!

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Your yogurt smoothie is questionably balancing on top of your toy truck. It's only a matter of seconds before the whole concoction falls apart and you'll either belly laugh or face plant on the dirty rug in total despair.

My sock is on the mantle, chocolate is smeared all over your chair that I just washed and 9,000 colorful straws are currently decorating the floor. You just recovered from a meltdown because the dog ate the food you gave him (okay, more like shoved at his nose) for the seventh time today.

I stare into space—totally and completely overwhelmed—on the verge of losing it.

You go scurrying through the house, a 2-year-old pantsless ball of energy, as I slowly rock your newborn baby brother. You begin telling me a story, something about snakes, rocket ships, peanut butter sandwiches and lightning—and my mind shifts from the (almost hilarious) mess.

I start to think about how just weeks ago, you and I were two inseparable best friends taking on the world together. We raced, played race cars and made Target runs like it was going out of style.

Then I brought home your baby brother, a tiny and perfect little boy who I was immediately immensely in love with—just as I was you when you were born. But, to you, he's probably more like a screaming alien that just popped into our home and zapped 75% of my attention away from you. And you're still probably trying to figure out why the heck you're supposed to love him.

So I sit and I rock and I let all the guilt creep in as I watch you play alone—something you never used to do. Something you never used to have to do.

Sometimes I feel like all I've said to you lately is, "Hold on, I'm feeding your brother" or "In just a little bit" or "Not right now" or "Maybe later."

These feelings make me feel inadequate—like no matter what I do, I'm neglecting one of you. You see, when your baby brother was born, my heart didn't split in half in order to love you both—it doubled. But my arms, my lap and my time? None of that doubled.

I wish there was a way to clone myself so I could give you each 100% of me all the time.

You crawl in my lap, smothering me, hitting your baby brother in the head with your knee. You both start crying. I breathe in deep and hold you both so close.

Eventually, our day draws to an end, the sun goes down and the world is quiet and dark. I sit in silence feeding your brother, and just like I've always done, I replay our moments together in my mind.

Today might have been long and messy, but it was perfect.

Today I was your "best boy" and when I tried to explain that maybe I could be your "best girl" instead, you cried. So today, I was your best boy.

Today I was your "superhero" and your "best sweetheart."

Today I was your "best friend" and for months now you haven't let 15 minutes go by without making sure I know.

Today, you even told me that I'm your "best pizza." And that's everything.

Today, you loved me in the middle of all the mess—regardless of the lack of attention that I gave you. You loved me when I gave you Goldfish for breakfast, forgot to brush your teeth, made you wait 76 hours for your milk and didn't race around the hall with you like I said I would.

Today, you loved me when I lost my patience, put you to bed at 6:30 pm and failed to take you to the park. Today, just like yesterday, you loved me through my failures as if you didn't even know I'd let you down. Because, to you, maybe I didn't let you down after all. To you, I was still the "best" everything.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your 2-year-old unwavering grace.

And for the record... you're my best pizza, too. Forever.

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Most baby showers don't make the news, but when you're Meghan Markel, everything you do makes the news. This week it seems like the whole world is talking about the shower friends of the Duchess are throwing for her in NYC.

As Vanity Fair reports, while there was much speculation that the shower was happening on Tuesday, it's actually going down on Wednesday afternoon and Serena Williams is the head shower thrower behind this luxe bash.

The Duchess, the GOAT and other friends including Markel's Toronto-based stylist Jessica Mulroney, actresses Abigail Spencer and Priyanka Chopra, and Markle's college pal, author Lindsay Roth, are reportedly enjoying the Mark hotel's penthouse (and all its five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms and two powder rooms) but you don't have to have Serena's bank account to shower a mama-to-be with gifts fit for a royal.

Here are six Meghan Markle-inspired baby shower gifts between $8 and $300.

1. Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib 

As Hello! reports, one of the gifts brought to the Mark for Markle's baby shower was hard to miss. Cameras were snapping as a box labeled "Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib" was rolled into the hotel this week.

The convertible crib retails for $379 on Amazon. The mid-range price point means it's within reach even for those who don't live in a palace.

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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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My dearest Bee,

Here we are, it's your birthday. You're a year old today! Happy birthday, my beautiful little girl.

Two years ago, if someone had told me that I'd be celebrating my first child's first birthday today, I would have laughed. Me? Having a child? It's not that I didn't want to be a mom, or that I didn't want you, it's that I didn't think I could have you.

During the eight years leading up to your birth, I had five miscarriages. I went to multiple doctors and nobody could tell me what was wrong. After months of tests and all the money we spent, we had no answers. The doctors could only tell us to keep trying, and hope for the best.

But it's hard to hope for the best after so many years and so many lost babies. Your daddy and I had resigned ourselves to believing that we would never meet you. That we would never be blessed with your presence in our lives. You were all we ever wanted, and we thought we wouldn't get to have you.

I remember the day I realized I was pregnant with you. After five previous pregnancies, I could just tell. It was right before Thanksgiving weekend, and your aunt and uncle were coming to visit us.

I was terrified to take a test. I knew that if I took a pregnancy test and it came back positive, I'd lose you. Just like I lost your five older siblings. So, I didn't test for a while. I quit drinking alcohol. I quit drinking caffeine. I quit my addiction to Mountain Dew. I lost 10 pounds those first few weeks.

I wasn't sick, I just had a change in taste. I started eating less of the fatty, unhealthy foods I normally ate, and started eating fruits, salads, and whole grains! I waited until eight weeks before taking the pregnancy test that would confirm what I had already knew.

Reaching the beginning of my second trimester was easily one of the happiest days of my life. During prior pregnancies, I'd never made it through the first trimester. At 13 weeks, an ultrasound told us you were healthy, and growing normally.

My pregnancy was relatively uneventful up until the last couple days. I had a mild case of gestational diabetes which was extremely easy to manage as long as I didn't drink soda and I avoided fast food.

The Wednesday before you were born, I went in to see my doctor and my blood pressure was sky-high. I was immediately sent to the hospital for a non-stress test. You were fine, my blood pressure decreased, and I was sent home on bed rest pending the results of a urinalysis that would tell us whether or not I had pre-eclampsia.

Thursday evening we learned I did have a mild case of pre-eclampsia. My doctor sent me in for another non-stress test on Friday morning. My blood pressure was high with no sign of it coming down again. Between the pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, my doctor and I decided the best option was to induce me that day, one week before your due date.

I spent the first 12 hours laboring slowly and uneventfully. It wasn't until about 1 AM Saturday morning—after 14 hours of labor—that the pain became too intense. I received an epidural a half hour later (and just about fell in love with the anesthesiologist that administered it).

After 30 hours of labor I was only 6cm dilated, with a full fever, and it was recommended I have a C-section.

You were born at 4:38 PM that Saturday. And you were smallest, prettiest little baby I'd ever seen, weighing in at just 5 pounds, 15 ounces.

The day you were born was, and will always be, without question, the happiest day of my life. It was a day I didn't expect I'd ever get to experience. A day I thought was nothing but a pipe dream.

And now here we are, one year later. You are my first child, my first daughter. The first person to poop on me, the first person to projectile vomit all over me. You're the first baby I've nursed, the first baby that's slept on my chest. You're the first person to teach me what unconditional love is, and the first person that I'd die for, no questions asked.

Little Bee, you are all my firsts. And you may also be all my lasts. Whether Daddy and I can give you a little brother or sister is unknown to us. Giving you a sibling would be one of the greatest gifts, but nobody knows if we will be able to have more children.

I'm completely happy with the thought of only having you. You're the child I thought I'd never have, you are my world, my everything. Life without you seems unfathomable now, when just a couple years ago life with you seemed impossible.

You turning a year old is bittersweet. That sleepy little infant I had is long gone, replaced by the cutest, funniest little girl I know. I miss the infant you once were, but I adore the wonderful little girl you are becoming. You are the child I've always wanted, and I'm so thankful that I have you.

So happy birthday, Bee. You're the greatest thing that has ever happened to us. I hope you know how wanted, and how loved, you really, truly are.

Even before they reach my bed, I know they are there. The sound of small, soft feet on the carpet of our bedroom pulls me from my always light sleep, although my eyes remain tightly shut.

I can already tell from his gait that it's my son. He gets to the side of my bed. I feel a tender hand rest softly on my face. "Mummy," he says in a loud whisper, not old enough yet to have perfected an actual whisper, "Mummy. Wake up!"

I gather all the strength in my exhausted body and use it to prop open one eye. "What is it, Bubba?"

"I want go in Mummy's bed."

"Okay."

He stretched out his arms and in the darkness I can see his chubby hands grasping at the air near my face. I pick him up awkwardly, my shoulder twinging painfully as I lift his ever-growing body, and plop him next to me in between my blissfully snoring husband and myself.

He immediately burrows down under the covers and I feel two icy feet shove themselves in between my knees. "I loves you Mummy" he loud-whispers and wraps his arm around my neck pulling our faces so close his breath warms mine. His big eyes close and within a minute his breathing has become slow and regular, timing itself with his father's rhythmic snores.

I stare at the roof, so awake. I bump the phone on my bedside table so the screen wakes up: 2:07 am. I groan inwardly, squeeze my eyes shut and will myself to sleep, but my brain is having none of it. It starts racing at near light speed despite my whole body crying out in tiredness at it. I mentally shout the word 'SLEEP!' over the sound of my rushing thoughts over and over.

Finally, my whole being starts to give in and I relax, beginning to drift, my body humming with gratefulness.

"MUMMY! MUUUUUUUUUUUUMMYYYYYYYY!" I jerked quickly out of my fugue state from the sound of my daughter yelling. I rush to her room. She is sitting up in bed, eyes pink and shining.

"Mummy I woke up and I'm all alone." I wrap her in a big hug, kiss her hair and run my fingers down her soft, damp cheek. She lays back down and starts to relax as sit on the edge of her bed.

I wait until her eyes close and then rest my head in my hands. I am so tired I feel like I may throw up. After what seems like a week, but was actually probably closer to 20 minutes, she is settled, so I get up—my whole body cold, stiff, protesting. I look at her. She is softly lit by the light of her bedroom lamp and with her golden hair spread out on her pillow, she looks angelic. My heart swells so much I feel like my chest may burst.

I walk back to my room, to my sleeping boys.

My son has fashioned himself into a convoluted L-shape, allowing me only a thin strip of my bed. I try to pull the blanket over myself, but my husband has one leg tossed onto it, so it won't budge, so a third of my body is exposed. My son dreamily digs his small feet into my back and I hover precariously on the edge of the bed.

I am so tired. So tired. But I could not be more awake. I move my phone once more, and a dim, blue-tinged light glows as the screen illuminates: 3 am.

I lie there, desperate for sleep, but it is too late. I sit on the edge of my bed and gaze at my peacefully sleeping son. He is exquisite. Emotion rises in me again. I feel my eyes prickle. And then, before I can stop myself, my anxiety sees an opening and begins to speak in rapid-fire bullet points.

There is so much hate in the world. Why would you bring children into this? What are you subjecting them too?

Imagine people broke into your house and stole your sleeping children.

Imagine if a bomb went off next door.

You can't always protect them. They are going to get hurt one day, and you might not be able to protect them.

It goes on and on. The fear feels like it's choking me. The dog needs to be let out, so I walk to the living room to bring her outside; grateful for the distraction.

As I step outside, I smell the grass, I feel the cool earth on the soles of my feet, and I look up to the big, dark sky. I notice the sprinkle of twinkling stars.

A light breeze washes over me and I suddenly feel small, and therefore, so do my worries. I begin to feel peace wash over me. I stretch my arms above my head and feel my muscles lengthening, sore but thankful. I am calm.

I go back inside. The green numbers on the microwave inform me it is after 4 am: time to get ready for work. I dress, too slowly, my entire being wistful for the sleep that never was. I make coffee in the biggest cup I can find and toast some bread.

I finish our morning routine and eventually walk out to my car, turn on an audiobook, and drive away from my world for the day.

When I get to work, I am bright and smiley, but some notice my tired eyes. I shrug and say, "Kids kept me up" They smile and say, "Still? By that age, my kids only woke up once a night, if at all!" They tell me that surely, one day, my kids will sleep.

But if only they knew that although it's the kids keeping me awake, they themselves are asleep most of the time they are doing it.

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