You will not have the children you wanted to have

You will not get the baby you think you deserve. Or the baby you think deserves you. You will just get the perfect baby.

You will not have the children you wanted to have

You will not get pregnant at the exact time you wanted to. Your child will not be born under the star sign you wish he had. Some of us will get pregnant after a one-night stand, some through IVF; some will make love and then keep their feet up the wall while others will transform baby-making into their job—complete with charts, ovulation kits and strict orders for their partner to stay out of the hot tub. Some will try many times. As many as it takes.

Pregnancy will not be blissful the entire time. There will be moments when you understand why it feels the way it does. But most of the time is just life doing life’s job. Day by day, moment by moment of mundane while your body is creating the biggest miracle of them all, without you having to do anything special or different. You will be uncomfortable, feel huge, need to pee constantly and sleep poorly. Some days you will glow. Others you will hope the baby is glowing while you are shading.

Birthing will hurt. Whether in a birth pool, operating table, a bed, the floor, or by the river, you will be in pain. All of it meaningful. All of it necessary.

“What if” becomes the biggest question of your life now. Sometimes it’s for good, sometimes it’s not. Most of the time it is the fear of not loving the tiny human like you wished you were loved when you were small and helpless.

You will not get the baby you think you deserve. Or the baby you think deserves you. You will just get the perfect baby. Even when you don’t understand how this happened.

You will make many mistakes. Most of them will not be traumatizing your child for life. Some of them will haunt you and bring back many memories you wanted gone. Very few of them will trigger massive, life-changing transformations. Don’t try to resist them; they will all come back eventually until you are ready to listen to what they have to say.

You will cry. A lot. It’s not a weakness. It’s just a release. You’re a good mom! Your kid will cry. A lot. The number of tears she will shed is not an indication of how good of a mom you are. Your kid is good!

You will judge other mothers. You will measure up or down based on their choice of food, parenting style, accepting, rejecting or asking for help. Everything you see in them is a direct reflection of something you lack within yourself. You will be judged by other mothers. What they see in you is a direct reflection of something they lack in their own life.

Either way, breathe. Each and every one of us struggles.

If you decide to stay home, you will miss your work accomplishments. If you decide to go back to work, you will feel guilty for leaving your kids. If you decide to work from home, you will constantly hope to find the balance you think should be there. (That balance is a myth.)

Nobody has it easy. Everybody thinks others have it easier.

You will need help. Loads. It doesn’t make you a bad mom or a poorly organized person. Why you have a hard time asking for help is what deserves a closer look.

You will relive your childhood and finally understand your parents. You will either want to be more like them or go the exact opposite direction. You will experience both every day.

Your child will trigger the absolute best and absolute worst in you. All these emotions are relevant. Not all deserve to be followed. Let them go.

The intensity of everything in your marriage will increase—more vicious fights, more passionate sex, more distance, more proximity. It’s just a new season. Worry less. Nurture more. Every tiny bit of love and kindness count.

You will do things you swore you would never do. You will say things you never thought you could say. You will consider options you never knew existed.

You will worry. You will sweat. You will imagine the worst possible scenario. You will see the danger in everything. You’re not losing your mind. It’s just nature trying to protect the human species.

You will want to change the world. You will want to scream your newfound truths from the top of the mountain. You want to hide your shame in the deepest cave. Eventually, you’ll find the flat, open space where you can safely do both.

You will fiercely protect what you think is the most important thing to do for your child: on-demand breastfeeding, sleep schedules, co-sleeping, organic veggies, reusable diapers, Montessori, baby classes, free play, sunscreen, probiotics or vaccinations. Only to realize there is no universal recipe for successful child rearing other than “make peace with yourself so you can parent without bringing your expectations into who your child is supposed to become.”

But mostly, you will learn that life, kids, relationships, failures and accomplishments, decisions or lack of them, all of it happens FOR you—not TO you.

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These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

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I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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