When I was diagnosed with cancer, my fierce motherly instincts kicked in

I am Mommy. And Mommy crushes cancer. ?

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my fierce motherly instincts kicked in

I had always wondered what you do when you leave the appointment where someone tells you, “You have cancer.” Something horrible must happen to your body immediately, right? Like, you probably just crumple up into a ball of anguish on the pavement outside the doctor’s office. Or you become so overwhelmed with the horror of the situation, you basically have to go straight to an ER to be assured you are still alive, right?

Well, on March 7, 2017, I found out.

You go home and take your shoes off in the back hallway.

You change the water in your kids’ humidifiers and turn the light on in their bathroom.

You put a new Paw Patrol on the television.

You change into pajamas and wash your face.

Because, first of all—you are Mommy. And Mommy has responsibilities and bedtime routines. And cancer. And she is going to probably completely freak out at some point, but first, Mommy refills humidifiers.

That night, I wait for the news to sink in. It sort of does, though it just skids off the surface of my brain. But already my body is in fight mode.

The adrenaline is pumping and my heart is wide awake in the darkness. And it does seem pretty dark. I want a light on all through the night—there are plenty of things to be scared of, and tonight, darkness doesn’t need to be one of them.

I wait to cry. I wait to freak out. Nothing happens. So I sleep. And when I do wake during the night, the light is there, and so is my husband, and my children peacefully slumbering down the hall, and the tiny one kicking inside me.

And I am okay. And I will be okay—because I am Mommy.

So. It is time to shake off the darkness and fight for what I love.

So, Mommy gets up and makes coffee and school lunches.

Mommy makes sure everyone’s shirts are tucked in and their hair is just so.

But, I am thinking about cancer.

I can’t help but think about the rogue cells that lay just beneath the skin of my neck, where those chubby little arms are wrapped tight in a goodbye hug.

I press my fingers on the swollen lymph nodes along my collarbone and decide not to even allow myself to wish they weren’t there. There is no point in that.

I have lymphoma. And something inside of me won’t allow me to give in to thoughts that give cancer the advantage.

I breathe deep and stand up tall with my head held high.

Nothing will stop me.

I made a promise to each of my children before they were even born. I told them I would love them, protect them, and nurture them with every shred of my being, forever and ever and ever. And last time I checked, forever was a very long way away.

I have a mountain to climb in the weeks and months ahead, and there is no room in my bag for desperation—I have packed faith, and strength, and determination.

I must keep the promises that will not—cannot—be broken.

And that is why losing this fight is not an option. Because, my heart may be pounding against my ribs, but it lives outside my body in the four little people I will tuck in each night. Nobody better even think about messing with me or a promise I have made. Because I am Mommy. And Mommy crushes cancer.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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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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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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