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We know back-to-school season is emotional. No matter how many times you’ve gone through it (and especially if you haven’t yet), seeing that pint-sized baby of yours all cleaned up, dressed up and packed up for school (or preschool...or daycare) will get you teary-eyed every. single. time.

Making sure your baby has everything she needs for that first day of school can really help. So we’ve made you a nice list of all our very favorite back-to-school necessities, and we’re giving $1,100 of them away to one lucky parent. Enter here, then scroll down to see our picks (and you’re prizes!) for back-to-school.

Skip Hop Zoo Collection Owl Set. There’s nothing like a toddler backpack to help your little one feel confident and independent. And when it comes to bags (yours and your kiddo's), Skip Hop makes some of the best. Win Skip Hop’s Zoo Collection owl set, including a Zoopack, Lunchie, Rolling Luggage, Stainless Steel Straw Bottle, Lunch Kit, Bookends and Umbrella ($150 value).

 

Get your baby (ahem, we mean big kid!) dressed in style for his first day in some beautiful clothing from A Gifted Baby. We love that everything in this NYC-based online shop is from socially and ecologically responsible small designers, curated by a team of mamas who love their babies as much as they love their business. Win a $250 gift card to buy anything you want! ($250 value)

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SoCozy Hair Care Suite. You buy special clothes, gear and food for your kid….you should buy special hair care too! SoCozy’s products are made especially for the daily grind of being a kid, free from chemicals and preservatives and focused on things you know your kid needs, like detangling, lice prevention and even post-pool care. Win the entire SoCozy product line. ($200 value)

 

. The best way to get ready for school is to...play school! Eeboo’s got the very best, educational high-quality toys that you’ll love as much as your kiddo does. Win a back-to-school toy bundle that includes eeboo’s USA 20 Piece Geography Puzzle, Tell Me A Story Back to School Cards, Back to School Pretend Play Set, Trucks and a Bus Memory Game, Before and After All Learning Levels Activity, What Do I Do Flash Cards ($75 value)

 

Keen Shoes. When it comes to our kiddos footwear, fit and function are just as important (ok, maybe more important) than fashion. Keen’s got fit, function AND fashion in all its baby, toddler and kids shoes. From high performance sneakers to high-tops to boots, you can rest assured your baby’s feet will be taken care of in Keen. Win a pairs of kids shoes. ($65 value)

 

The transition of lunch at home to lunch at school is a big one, mama! OmieBox has got you covered with its stylish and smart bento-box style lunch boxes. We’re talking two types of insulation (pack hot and cold food!), lots of compartments, easy to customize, assemble and wash parts, and its BPA and phthalate-free. Win two lunch boxes (one for him and one for you?). ($80 value)

 

Stasher Bags. You cannot possibly imagine how many plastic sandwich bags you will go through once you send your kid to school. Save your sanity (and, um, the Earth) with Stasher’s self-sealing, reusable silicone bags, which are freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe. Win 7 Stasher bags (3 print, 2 clear, 2 aqua) to cover all your school time needs. ($75 value)

 

Sure, kids sunglasses are super-cute, but they’re also super necessary to protect those delicate little eyes! Real Kids Shades are 100% UV protective sunglasses designed specifically for kids, and manufactured using the most durable materials available so they will last. Oh, and did we mention they’re super-cute too? Win 4 pairs to match every back-to-school outfit in your kiddo’s wardrobe. ($100 value)

 

. Now you’ve got all the best stuff for your kid for back-to-school. Don’t lose it! Put a Name Bubbles label on everything, mama! Personalize your labels with your kid’s favorite colors and designs, then stick them on and wash them, microwave them, dishwash them and more. Don’t worry, we promise they’ll stay put. Win a $100 Gift Certificate to cover label packages for all your kiddos. ($100 value)

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As mamas, we naturally become the magic-makers for our families. We sing the songs that make the waits seem shorter, dispense the kisses that help boo-boos hurt less, carry the seemingly bottomless bags of treasures, and find ways to turn even the most hum-drum days into something memorable.

Sometimes it's on a family vacation or when exploring a new locale, but often it's in our own backyards or living rooms. Here are 12 ways to create magical moments with kids no matter where your adventures take you.


1. Keep it simple

Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but―trust us―your most magical memories don't require perfection. Spend the morning building blanket forts or break out the cookie cutters to serve their sandwich in a fun shape and you'll quickly learn that, for kids, the most magical moments are often the simplest.

2. Get on their level

Sometimes creating a memorable moment can be as easy as getting down on the floor and playing with your children. So don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees, to swing from the monkey bars, or turn watching your favorite movie into an ultimate snuggle sesh.

3. Reimagine the ordinary

As Mary says, "the cover is not the book." Teach your child to see the world beyond initial impressions by encouraging them to imagine a whole new world as you play―a world where the laundry basket can be a pirate ship or a pile of blankets can be a castle.

4. Get a little messy

Stomp in muddy puddles. Break out the finger paint. Bake a cake and don't worry about frosting drips on the counter. The messes will wait, mama. For now, let your children―and yourself―live in these moments that will all too soon become favorite memories.

5. Throw out the plan

The best-laid plans...are rarely the most exciting. And often the most magical moments happen by accident. So let go of the plan, embrace the unexpected, and remember that your child doesn't care if the day goes according to the schedule.

6. Take it outside

There's never a wrong time of year to make magic outside. Take a stroll through a spring rainstorm, catch the first winter snowflakes on your tongue, or camp out under a meteor shower this summer. Mother Nature is a natural at creating experiences you'll both remember forever.

7. Share your childhood memories

Chances are if you found it magical as a child, then your kids will too. Introduce your favorite books and movies (pro tip: Plan a double feature with an original like Mary Poppins followed with the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns!) or book a trip to your favorite family vacation spot from the past. You could even try to recreate photos from your old childhood with your kids so you can hang on to the memory forever.

8. Just add music

Even when you're doing something as humdrum as prepping dinner or tidying up the living room, a little music has a way of upping the fun factor. Tell Alexa to cue up your favorite station for a spontaneous family dance party or use your child's favorite movie soundtrack for a quick game of "Clean and Freeze" to pick up toys at the end of the day.

9. Say "yes"

Sometimes it can feel like you're constantly telling your child "no." While it's not possible to grant every request (sorry, kiddo, still can't let you drive the car!), plan a "yes" day for a little extra magic. That means every (reasonable) request gets an affirmative response for 24 hours. Trust us―they'll never forget it.

10. Let them take the lead

A day planned by your kid―can you imagine that? Instead of trying to plan what you think will lead to the best memories, put your kid in the driver's seat by letting them make the itinerary. If you have more than one child, break up the planning so one gets to pick the activity while the other chooses your lunch menu. You just might end up with a day you never expected.

11. Ask more questions

Odds are, your child might not remember every activity you plan―but they will remember the moments you made them feel special. By focusing the conversation on your little one―their likes, dislikes, goals, or even just craziest dreams―you teach them that their perspective matters and that you are their biggest fan.

12. Turn a bad day around

Not every magical moment will start from something good. But the days where things don't go to plan can often turn out to be the greatest memories, especially when you find a way to turn even a negative experience into a positive memory. So don't get discouraged if you wake up to rain clouds on your beach day or drop the eggs on the floor before breakfast―take a cue from Mary Poppins and find a way to turn the whole day a little "turtle."

Mary Poppins Returns available now on Digital & out on Blue-ray March 19! Let the magic begin in your house with a night where everything is possible—even the impossible ✨

The hormones surging through your body. The milk leaking through your shirt. The sleep deprivation. There are so many physiological factors that make postpartum depression (PPD) different than other types of depression, but the treatments are still the same, and unfortunately, they're slow. Traditional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can take weeks to start working, and for new mothers who are being crushed by PPD, that might as well be a century.

But this week the FDA approved a new treatment for PPD, an intravenous treatment that can have mothers feeling better within just 24 hours.

The good news is this drug can give a mother back all the joy and meaning and hope that PPD can steal within 24 hours.

The bad news is it costs $20,000 to $35,000 per treatment and at that price will be out of reach for most mothers who need it.

It's called brexanolone, (although the manufacturer, Sage Therapeutics, plans is marketing the drug under the brand name Zulresso) and it treats PPD by treating hormonal changes, specifically those related to allopregnanolone, a metabolite of progesterone.

Allopregnanolone has been called the “anti-anxiety" hormone, and studies have linked lower levels of allopregnanolone in pregnancy to an increased risk for PPD. Typically, women's allopregnanolone levels are highest in the third trimester, but after you give birth the levels go down quick, and it's believed that crash is what causes some women to sink into depression.

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Brexanolone, which is administered intravenously, is a formulation of allopregnanolone, and trials of the drug were extremely promising.

An initial proof-of-concept study led by perinatal psychiatrist Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody saw four women with severe PPD given an infusion of the drug over 60 hours. They all felt better in fewer than 24 hours.

“The first patient we infused was someone who was extremely depressed, had lost 20 pounds in a short period of time postpartum because she wasn't eating at all, was very sad, didn't want to interact with the baby — didn't want to interact with anyone — and the family was extremely concerned," Meltzer-Brody told The Huffington Post. “Twenty four hours after the infusion, she came out of her room, was smiling, ate her whole lunch, was talking to everyone. It was dramatic."

Larger studies followed the first, and on Tuesday Dr. Tiffany Farchione, the acting director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, announced the FDA approved the drug as the first treatment for postpartum depression.

"Postpartum depression is a serious condition that, when severe, can be life-threatening. Women may experience thoughts about harming themselves or harming their child. Postpartum depression can also interfere with the maternal-infant bond. This approval marks the first time a drug has been specifically approved to treat postpartum depression, providing an important new treatment option," Farchione said in a press release.

As CNN reports, some mothers who have struggled with PPD, like Stephanie Hathaway, found nearly instant relief thanks to brexanolone trials.

"It was a 60-hour infusion and in the first 12 to 18 hours I felt the biggest difference," the mom of two explains. "Those intrusive thoughts that played on repeat in my head, those went away and didn't come back."

It's estimated that 400,000 babies are born to depressed mothers in America every year. This drug could be a game changer for women and their families if the cost is lowered.

Right now, the treatment is only available through something the FDA calls the Zulresso Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program, which requires the drug be administered by a health care provider in a certified health care facility, but someday we could see wider use and hopefully, insurance coverage.

[A version of this story was published February 20, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Whether you're a new parent or have multiple little ones running around, we all know parenthood is busy. To add one more thing to your list, the tax deadline—April 15—is quickly approaching. Having children changes multiple parts of your filing process, especially when it comes to new deductions and credits.

Here are what credits and deductions you may qualify for and how tax reform could impact your family's tax situation so you can save money this year.

Let's break down the deductions + credits:

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

One significant credit that taxpayers sometimes miss is the Earned Income Tax Credit. According to the IRS, one out of five taxpayers who are eligible for the EITC fail to claim it. The credit is based on your earned income from working and can be worth up to $6,431 for a family with three kids so there is no reason to miss this credit if you are eligible.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

You should qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit if your kids are under the age of 13 (no age limit if disabled) and you regularly pay a caretaker to watch them so you can go to work. The credit can be up to 35% of dependent care costs of $3,000 ($1,050) for one child and up to 35% of dependent care costs of $6,000 ($2,100) for two or more children.

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You may even be eligible for the Child and Dependent Care Credit if you dropped your kids off at summer day camp or sports camps as long as it was so you could work—overnight camps don't count. One last thing to keep in mind when considering this credit: the caretaker of your children cannot be someone that you claim as a dependent on your return.

Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax Credit allows parents a credit up to $2,000 for each qualifying child in 2018. Some basic requirements need to be met in order to take this credit.

In order to qualify, the child needs to:

  • Be a citizen of the United States, U.S National, or U.S. Resident Alien
  • Under the age of 17
  • Filed as a dependent on your taxes
  • Receive more than half of their financial support from you
  • Have lived with you for more than half a year

What about the new tax reform law?

Passed in December 2017, the new tax laws impact the majority of taxpayers beginning with their 2018 taxes and there are a few important updates for families you should know.

  • Five of the seven tax rates were lowered beginning in 2018 so you may have already received more money in your paycheck throughout 2018.
  • The standard deduction has increased to $24,000 married filing jointly, and $12,000 for single or married filing separately so you may benefit from a bigger deduction if you were already taking the standard deduction.
  • Some deductions were either eliminated or reduced. TurboTax estimates that about 90% of taxpayers will now claim the standard deduction instead of itemizing their deductions as a result of the changes.

The tax credits above are designed to ease parents' tax bill and may even end up getting you a bigger refund. If you are still unsure about what credits you may qualify for and how best to navigate taxes as a parent, check in with your accountant or tax professional. If you're looking to file online, TurboTax blog has a built a robust Tax Reform Hub, with a wealth of helpful information on what's changed with the new tax law.

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Our biology and its baby-making capabilities shouldn't be a surprise when life gives the green light for reproduction, and we should feel confident talking with our medical professionals when the time comes, but it can often feel overwhelming or uncomfortable to ask in person.

Here are the top 10 questions about fertility I feel my patients are often hesitant to ask.

1. Can I get pregnant?

The answer is truly you don't know until you actually conceive. We can do tests for many aspects—are you ovulating, are the tubes open, does the mucus in the cervix like your partner's sperm? Does your partner have enough sperm? And all those questions can have positive results, and still one may not conceive.

2. What about freezing my eggs when I am young? Will that guarantee a baby later when I am older?

The answer here is similar to the question above: You.don't know until you try. So you can have lovely eggs retrieved and frozen but when they are unfrozen, there is a chance that they may not be able to be fertilized. So that's why I am hesitant to reassure women that it'll guarantee pregnancy in the future. The good news is yes, in general, it does work, but not 100% of the time.

3. How does age affect fertility?

We are born with all our eggs and they get older with us, and alas harder to fertilize. Fertility starts to decline beyond age 35, not precipitously there, but substantially, with a more marked decline at age 40 or so. If a woman is under age 35, we encourage women to seek medical attention if she has been trying to conceive for a year or more and hasn't been able to conceive. If a woman is 35 or older, we encourage her to check in with us after about 6 months of trying.

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4. What can I do on my own, health-habits wise, to increase my fertility?

There are a few tried and true ways to remain healthy. Try to achieve your ideal body weight as both being underweight and overweight can impact fertility. Stop smoking as it can age the ovaries, causing earlier menopause and can even increase the rate of SIDS in children. Limit your drinking and avoid drugs—a good habit to get into before conceiving. You can start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid—having folic acid on board when you conceive reduces the risk of a number of birth defects, including neural tube defects, like spina bifida.

5. What at-home tests can I do on my own?

There are a couple that are very easy. You can pinpoint your ovulation with ovulation predictor kits, such as the First Response ovulation predictor kit. They're very reliable and will guide you when to have sex with the most likelihood of success in conception. And if it looks like you are not ovulating, check in with your provider. You can also check up on your ovarian reserve at home to see how "zippy" your ovaries are (are there lots of eggs left?). These tests can serve as a guideline to how vigorous you should be acting on your fertility and when to speak with your doctor.

6. What specifically can men do to help with fertility?

A few things could be helpful. If he is a big drinker, encourage him to take it easy since alcohol isn't great for healthy sperm production. And if he loves to sit in a hot tub, you might "cool him down" as sperm don't like hot temperatures. If you have concerns, he can also be tested to determine his sperm production.

7. If you are having problems as a couple conceiving, should you have your partner tested?

Absolutely! About 50% of infertility is due to male factors and fortunately, it is really easy to test. They'll collect a sperm sample by masturbation, and it's off to the lab and you will get a quick answer.

8. How soon can I find out if I am pregnant?

I wouldn't test 10 minutes after having sex, but indeed, an early pregnancy detection test such as the First Response test, will turn positive as early as six days before the first day of the missed period (and to think of how long women had to wait in the past!).

9. If I am having problems conceiving, do I have to start IVF?

Not necessarily. There are many simple medications that can help women ovulate, and if the fallopian tubes are blocked, sometimes even the test can detect that. There are various procedures that can help open the tubes so don't fear that you are automatically in need of IVF. Speak to your doctor with about your specific concerns.

10. If I do need IVF, will it break the bank?

Again, not necessarily. Many states mandate insurance coverage for infertility therapy so that depends on where you live and what kind of insurance you have. Do check with your provider who can give you the information you need.

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The NICU is not the place you go to meet people. It's an intensive care unit, not a party. Chances are, if you're here, it's a high-pressure situation. The background noise is beeps and buzzes and the whooshing of air in and out of ventilators. There's a clicking, too, a “tck, tck, tck" of the feeding, pumping, counting down the milliliters of milk and vitamins dripping down tubes and into bellies.

This is not the soundtrack for small talk.

And yet, when my son, born prematurely at 30 weeks, was one month into his NICU resort stay and clearly thinking he was on sabbatical and would return shortly to the womb, I met the woman who would become my best friend. I met her on the worst day of my life.

Brain scans are funny. Dots on black and white and gray delineate good from bad, solid from liquid, tissue from bone. On the day in question, my son had a 30-day brain scan, unbeknownst to us. Apparently, this is standard procedure. (Over the next few months—how long it took us to graduate—we would come to learn all the procedures much better than we would have liked.)

It was a sunny and warm day in April, the kind that makes all the kids in all the classrooms stare out the window and wish for summer. Of course, inside the NICU the weather is irrelevant behind tinted windows and fluorescent lighting. But I carried the mood in with me, a spring breeze along with my pumped milk in its little cooler.

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The nurse in my son's room was new. They always were. I never could learn them all. She informed me that the head of the NICU would like to see me. She'd page him, she said. And then she looked at me three seconds longer than was normal. That's how I knew something was up.

When he entered, the big man himself, he spoke a great many words I did not hear while pointing to gray spots on a picture of my son's brain. I looked at the scan, and then I looked at my son in my arms, awake and eyeing my like, “You, hey you, I see that milk there. What's the hold up, lady?"

And then I heard the doctor say, “periventricular leukomalacia." Eleven syllables to tell me that my child had damage in all four quadrants of his brain. Very gently, I kissed him on his head, which smelled of hand sanitizer, and handed him to the nurse so I wouldn't drop him. Then I walked out and lost it – lost all control of my body and words and thoughts. I cried and shook and tore at my clothes a little.

Hours later, I went back in and sat in the hospital-issued rocker and held my son again. We looked at each other. He sized me up with an owlish stare and then stretched and pooped, very casually, like he was The Big Lebowski and I, his bowling buddy. No biggie, man. The nurse laughed from her corner where she'd been charting stats. We got to talking.

Five years later, this nurse is in my contacts under “family." She has a husband and a house and a dog and a mother, and I've seen it all. It sounds weird to refer to your “best friend" when in your 30s, like you're one mall trip away from buying matching necklaces at Claire's. But she is.

After we came home from the NICU, finally, she called to check in. Nobody actually uses the numbers they swap on the way out the door, but she did. She came over a week later. And she's been coming over ever since, swapping quips and bringing iced coffee and all the good magazines for the pool.

We've celebrated birthdays and Thanksgivings and drunk wine at vineyards and made our husbands watch Katherine Hepburn flicks. She's the one I call when I'm losing my mind over insurance battles with my son's wheelchair or swim therapy. She's also the one I call when I watch the newest episode of “Game of Thrones."

She's my person. She's my best friend. She would roll her eyes at this. This is why we work.

You don't expect to make new friends at my age. You've got your standard go-tos locked in, the ones that don't require effort. You've already dated and wooed them. But I wooed a new one. I met the best friend I'll ever have on the worst day of my life, which I guess moves it up a notch.

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