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[Trigger warning: This essay covers one mother's experience with postpartum psychosis.]

We all remember those first few months after our baby is born—the fourth trimester— where a flurry of wondrous firsts happen, like their first smile, first laugh, first blowout diaper, first time you fell asleep while breastfeeding and awoke with a gasp to check that everything was okay.

Those months are splendid, exhausting, momentous.

I remember watching my partner rock our baby in the wee hours of the morning, both of us half-asleep, catching micro-naps as we'd attempt to calm our tiny babe. Staring at him—at my love—bleary-eyed while he cradled a small version of us, I often found myself getting lost in a deep, intense feeling of love.

It was as if the heavens had fallen into our bedroom and I was suspended among the stars, with the most beautiful star of all right there in my partner's arms. Motherhood is joy and heartache existing simultaneously—and I have felt it all.

What I don't really remember feeling is a creeping sense of dread as I stared at my husband, on a day which, until 10 am, felt like I was finally settling into my new normal. There was nothing frightening in his gait or profile when I woke up that day—he was simply himself, the man I knew and loved.

He frustrates me occasionally but I love him fiercely. On this day in particular, he made me a coffee while I breastfed the baby. He made our 5-year-old breakfast and afterward, he sat eating his cereal in his pajamas, staring fuzzy-eyed into his phone as he mindlessly browsed Reddit. It should have all looked normal, felt normal.

But it didn't.

Then, little things started to become strange. Words and lyrics began repeating in my mind, soft at first, and then loudly. Colors seemed more vivid—as if the world was bursting and swelling with new light—and photos seemed to be shifting. Bulging, I thought. I was tired, though. So, so tired. Bone tired. I tried to normalize my changing vision—tired, stressed, hungry, I told myself. Nothing to worry about.

Then, suddenly, the panic set in. Deep panic. Anxiety lurking beneath the surface and pulsating saying to me, something is wrong. Something is wrong. Something is WRONG.

I called my mom. I told her I didn't feel right—that I felt trapped in a panic attack that wouldn't subside. My brain was glitching, tripping over words. Colors didn't look right. My husband, Matt, didn't look right. He had changed.

My mom came over. I didn't want to let her inside at first—I had visions, over and over, of hiding under the table and barricading the door. My world was splintering, coming apart at the seams. I was terrified and wanted to stop all of it.

By late afternoon, my husband had gone. Completely. In his place, a stranger stood—a stranger who looked and behaved just like my husband, only he wasn't. He was an exact copy, I reasoned. I knew this because when I Iooked at his face, something was off. It unnerved me, it made me feel frightened.

Every movement he made looked disjointed and overly pronounced. I had lost him, and I was devastated. And confused. He made silly jokes, tried to make me laugh—he danced around and his long, gangly limbs were so unknown to me I wanted to scream. Nothing made sense.

This was not my husband. Reeling, I tried to piece my world back together. I tried to fight off the persistent thoughts and the words that repeated internally. The noise felt as if a record was playing in my head, skipping every few seconds.

As tightly as I attempted to cling to reality, it slipped through my fingers like sand. After my husband, I lost my mom. Then my sister. And finally, my daughter—my beautiful 5-year-old was gone. Who were these copies? What were their intentions? I held onto my baby boy for dear life—the only one who hadn't left me.

What I was experiencing, as I eventually realized, was postpartum psychosis.

Postpartum psychosis is rare, and this was my second go at it, having first experienced psychosis after the birth of my daughter. Capgras Syndrome is also rare too, which is when sufferers are struck with the conviction that their loved ones (or pets, even) have been replaced with identical copies—doppelgängers. My previous bout of psychosis never presented this way.

I saw my psychiatrist that very afternoon, an emergency appointment. She looked immensely worried and I remember thinking that she never worried lightly. She told me if I had private health insurance she would admit me to hospital right away, but because I didn't, that she wanted me on meds right away and that a CAT (Crisis and Assessment) team would visit me daily at home.

That night, I took a shower and I wept. I felt as if my whole family, save for my baby boy, had been stolen. Earlier in the evening I was concerned that if they had any time with my baby they would have switched him for a doppelgänger also. As time wore on, I began to trust that these imposters were benevolent. They held him while I showered, they rocked him when he cried. They wouldn't hurt my baby. But of course they wouldn't, said the psychosis. They want to stay in this world.

When I laid next to my husband that night, I cried for hours. I missed him so desperately. I didn't know where the "real" Matt was. A few days later, I told him "It's like you've all gone missing, and I need to find you." He looked at me gently and said, "You're the one who's missing. And I promise, we will bring you back."

Six months, three different medications and 22 pounds gained (as a side effect) later —and I have arrived back home. My husband is no longer a stranger—my family has returned. Or, as Matt would say, I've found my way back... mostly. It hasn't been easy, by any means—I have my good and bad days.

This has tested our relationship and my own personal strength more than I ever could have imagined. There were times I teetered on the edge, times the postpartum psychosis wanted to drag me under, and I somehow managed to pull back because I had hope—hope that the real world was still waiting for me. It was, and I am here. I was lost but I found my way back—and we are okay. We survived.

Next step: thrive. Starting with one hour at a time.

If you look closely, there are small pockets of joy scattered throughout our days—it might be that first sip of hot coffee or the toothy grin your baby gives you during a game of peekaboo. I search for those moments and I take joy where I can find it.

I practice mindfulness. I keep up with my medication. I find things to be grateful for, every day. I look at my family and I delight in their familiarity and warmth. I remind myself, nothing worth having is ever easy—and my children, my family, are worth any hardship.

I'm not alone. And mama, if you're going through this too—please know you are not alone either. I hear you, I am with you, and together we will thrive. Hold on.

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Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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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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