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Shortly after I found out I was pregnant the very first time, I experienced an early miscarriage. My doctor explained that sometimes these things happen. Although I love my partner and I was devastated by what happened, I knew it wasn’t the right time.


Months later, we decided the time was right and we were ready. After three months of trying we were lucky enough to have a viable pregnancy.

Despite it being exactly what I wanted, I worried about everything. Every cramp, ache, movement, or lack thereof, I imagined there was a problem.

By the third trimester, the stress of overthinking had taken its toll mentally and I’d fallen into a deep depression. I eventually spoke to my physician and revealed the truth of the emotional burden I felt. With the help of counseling, medication, emotional support, and time, I was able to address the issues that lead to my pre and postpartum depression.

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Through talking about what was going on I connected a lot of dots.

After experiencing unviable pregnancies over the two and a half years since my son was born, I finally reached a point where I thought, maybe this just isn’t going to happen. When I recovered from the emotional toll of my final miscarriage, I made plans to adopt a dog, take snowboarding lessons, and finally schedule that tattoo I’d been putting off for years.

Shortly after my dog arrived (and I was steadily falling down at lesson number three), I began to notice pregnancy symptoms. I waited as long as I could, spoke with my doctor, and booked an ultrasound appointment.

I remember anxiously shifting while laying on top of a crinkling paper sheet as the technician searched the screen. In an otherwise quiet room, I heard the heartbeat of the baby I’d been hoping and wishing for. As the rhythmic beat filled the room, I began to cry.

Through sobs, I explained to the ultrasound technician with worried eyes that I was surprised just as much as I was relieved. As soon as I left the office with the sonogram in hand, I knew I had to make some changes in order to have a more enjoyable pregnancy this time around.

I’m not going to pretend that having a (relatively) worry-free pregnancy was easy. It wasn’t. Worrying is something that comes naturally to me—I’ve done it all my life in all aspects of it. I knew I would have to work hard at pushing the negative thoughts out of my mind and keeping my focus on the positives.

There are a few things that really helped me while I was expecting my rainbow baby.

I tried focusing more on the changes happening to my body at each moment and the things it needed. I focused on things like taking care of my body and embracing the knowledge that my body was changing, growing, and doing its best every day.

I made space for self-care. For me, this meant taking the time to write or enjoy a nice hot bath. I spent time writing about my depression, my family, or my dogs. It's important to remember who we are, how strong we are, how far we've come, and what we're capable of.

Knowing the experience of pregnancy, particularly after a loss, I knew I shouldn't taken this experience for granted. And it didn’t mean it couldn't be enjoyed. I allowed myself the freedom to be afraid of the future and to be excited for what was to come; I felt safe embracing my body's changes.

Knowing the memories of this time were sometimes daunting, I'm so glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone by taking maternity photos (in a canola field!) and have the physical proof of how wonderful most of it was.

Carissa Marie Photography

Most importantly, I kept talking. I talked about my feelings, my fears, and my hopes. So talk to someone loving and supportive.

Time can almost feel tangible when waiting for a baby after experiencing loss. The feeling of not knowing what could happen during pregnancy is overwhelming and stressful, no matter how long the journey. In my third trimester, I recognized I was struggling with managing the depression I carried since my teenage years plus the worries of waiting for my baby. Knowing I needed to get a handle on these feelings, I received help from my understanding health care provider and loving partner.

There’s so much waiting when it comes to babies, rainbow or not. Waiting for results, waiting for stages to pass (hello, morning sickness), and waiting for your precious baby to arrive. Whether it be your first, sixth, or last; the wait is never easy.

And while it’s not easy, the payoff is so worth it.

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Let the games begin! Thanks to improved hand-eye coordination and growing curiosity, your baby is probably starting to show an affinity for certain toys and activities. Embrace that love of play, mama—if you use the right items (more on that below!) playtime isn't just fun, it's also great for development.

Speaking of development, you probably know by now that every baby is unique and progresses at a different rate—so don't stress about when those milestones are hit.

What matters is that you feel confident in empowering yourself with knowledge and advocating for your child. And don't forget to have fun! Exploring new concepts alongside that sweet baby is downright magical.

There are so many changes on the horizon, but you've got this, mama. Here are a few of our favorite items to help you tackle this exciting stage:

For jumpstarting that vocabulary: Readerlink First 100 Words

first 100 words

Although babies build their spoken vocabularies gradually, research shows infants aged 6 to 9 months already understand a good number of words. This book is a great tool for encouraging language development, as it allows them to learn the names of things they regularly use.

$4.99

For soothing tender gums: Itzy Ritzy teething mitt

Ritzy teething mit

Fact: A mama can never have too many tools to help her babe ward off teething pains. This mitt helps relieve soreness… and it doubles as a fun little toy, too.

$7.19

For a fun way to learn: Infantino balls, blocks and buddies

Infantino balls and blocks

As basic as it may seem to us, the act of stacking and sorting toys helps babies build the fine-motor and problem-solving skills they'll use throughout their lives. The benefits are immediate as well: These activities build concentration skills that'll serve them well today.

$16.99

For the bottle-to-cup transition: MAM trainer cup

MAM trainer cup

Drinking from a cup may seem like second nature to you, but there's definitely a learning curve involved for an infant. Help smooth out that transition from bottle/breast to cup by offering small amounts of water in this trainer cup. It mimics the feel of a bottle while introducing babies to the concept of sipping.

$4.99

For brushing those bitty teeth: FridaBaby smilefrida toothbrush

Fridababy

Did you know dentists recommend brushing your child's teeth from the time that very first one emerges? This brush was designed especially for those teeny mouths and boasts a brilliant BPA-free design. You simply slip the brush onto your finger and go to work on those pearly whites.

$7.99

For making chores more fun: More Than Magic bluetooth speaker

More than magic speaker

By necessity, mamas are masters at multitasking. But who says there can't be something in it for you? We recommend streaming your favorite podcast or book on tape while taking care of chores around the house

$19.99

For your new nightly routine: Target book club subscription

Target book club

If you've officially stashed the bassinet and moved your little one into the nursery, your nights might be feeling very different these days. Embrace it by implementing a nightly reading routine (because you can finally turn on your bedside lamp without fear of waking that sweet baby!). This subscription program makes it easy and affordable to tackle new books.

$13.90

For those frame-worthy photos: Fujifilm instax mini 9

Fuji Instax

Only a tiny fraction of the pictures on our phones ever get printed because, well, mom life is busy. This camera, which makes printing mini Polaroid pictures a total cinch, may change that.

$69.99

For easy cleanup: Dyson cord-free vacuum

Dyson

Now that you have a baby playing on your floors, you're probably ultra aware of every little crumb. Welcome to motherhood—when it's totally acceptable to get really excited about a great vacuum.

$299.99

For easy cooking: Rubbermaid food storage container set

Rubbermaid storage

Simplify meals by prepping all your ingredients before you start cooking (if you want to get fancy, you can call this process "mise en place" a la a professional chef). When everything is chopped and stored in these handy containers, getting dinner on the table becomes easier than ever.

$9.99

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

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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