Am I ready for motherhood?

“I didn’t know I was ready. . . I still don’t. But here we are.”

Am I ready for motherhood?

“How did you know you were ready?” my friend asked, her gaze traveling past the piles of folded laundry and settling on the fuzzy head of the baby sleeping on my chest.

I was deep in the newborn haze, the fog you exist in when the baby takes up so much of your time and brain and heart that you actually forget the rest of the world exists. (My husband commented on the state of my prickly legs a few days after we got home from the hospital, lovingly of course, and I told him that I had forgotten I had legs.)


I wanted to tell my friend about the all-important moment, the awakening of my biological clock, the time my husband and I locked eyes and declared in unison that we were ready, but I couldn’t. The only conversation I could tell her about was the one we had multiple times, in which we glanced at each other doubtfully and said things like, “I don’t know, do you think we should do it? Are we really capable? How will we know? We want a family at some point, so should we just dive in? Are we ready?”

I wasn’t ready when I held the positive pregnancy test and was suddenly aware of the rapidly growing responsibility inside my womb. I could hardly comprehend what I needed to do; my body was keeping her alive in that very moment, all on its own.

This body that I had never paid much attention to, aside from picking apart what was reflected back in the mirror, had always done what bodies were supposed to do. It had seen and heard and thought and loved; it had carried me through life one foot in front of the other. This body had been good to me, I suddenly realized, and I had hardly given it a second thought. I wasn’t ready for the fear that came with expecting so much of my body, as I held the pregnancy test with a shaking hand. There I was, asking it to grow and sustain a life.

It felt like too much to ask.

When the first contractions came, I wasn’t ready for them, either. For the feeling of being trapped inside of myself, unable to escape the pain, pacing back and forth in our apartment at 4 in the morning. Deciding to wake my husband for no reason other than to tell someone how I felt, even though it would be hours or even days before the pain brought forth life. Wishing he could help somehow, but knowing that all he could do was hold my hand and look on with those eyes of his, those deep brown eyes that gave me the peace of a thousand oceans. And finding that it was enough, that peace and that hand holding. It was enough to get me through.

And when labor stretched on, and on, and on, I wasn’t ready to be wheeled down hospital halls to the operating room, counting the fluorescent lights flying by above me like clouds on a breezy spring day. The surgeons stood around me. Gloves were pulled on, tools laid out on sterilized tables. I was ready to feel fear, but was instead surprised by the peace that came over me, the comfort spreading through my body, a feeling so out of place in an operating room. I had done all I could do, pushed as hard as I could push. It was the calm of knowing that it was all of out my control. It was the peace of finally trusting and believing that I never had any control to being with, that nine months of eating well and treading lightly and limiting caffeine were lovely gestures from a body that was merely a vessel.

A vessel with a captain that I had spent my whole life talking to, never fully realizing just how large He was and just how small I was until that moment.

When the surgeon lifted her up, and my husband declared, “She’s a girl,” as tears ran down his cheeks, I wasn’t ready for the shift inside of me. It was so monumental that I could practically hear the creaking and groaning of things moving aside in my heart to make room for her. I wasn’t ready for the way I felt when I looked into her eyes, like I was somehow looking at a tiny piece of my soul come to life.

I wasn’t ready for the sleepless nights, the exhaustion so deep that it felt like my brain was made of fluffy marshmallows. Or the first smile. Or the surprise of missing her when she finally went to sleep after hours of rocking and pacing and shushing. Or the realization that she was already growing up, one day at a time, and this perfect, chubby, gummy version of her would one day morph into a walking, talking person just like the rest of us.

My little girl shifted against me, her eyes opening slowly. She blinked and took in the stream of sunlight flooding our living room. Her eyes met mine, and I felt that familiar jump, that unique combination of love for her, fear for her and a million hopes and dreams for her.

I looked back at my friend with a soft smile. “I didn’t know I was ready,” I told her. “I still don’t. But here we are.

This story was originally published on Coffee + Crumbs. Check out their book, The Magic of Motherhood, for more heartwarming essays about motherhood, love, and the good kind of heartache.

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These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

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 support Motherly and mamas.

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Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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