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My phone lives just inches from me. And yet, my fingers still fidget with the screen; concerned I may have missed something. This waiting game is the hardest part of a doula’s work. I’m anticipating a call from a client who’s in early labor. I wonder how she’s doing, what she’s doing. In fact, I have a hundred questions. But I have to hold back and not intrude in her story. Like a sprinter who doesn’t know when the gun will sound, I wait for this call, rehearsing my readiness on repeat. The empathic journey of doula work has begun. From here, I cannot consider myself separate. I am joined to her and her metamorphosis from one being into two.

***

I hear her baby’s steady heartbeat on the monitor as I approach her hospital room. She is moored to a stretcher, coiled in wires and cables. Her face is crumpled. She looks like a gull that had become knotted up in the detritus of sea waste that gets washed ashore. I lock eyes with her and help her redirect her focus inward to her baby and the calm waters that surround him. I encourage her to stay there, where it is safe, and to allow her body to sway with the ebbs and flow of her inner current. Her breathing deepens. Her shoulders give way. The fluorescent lights, beeping, electrical hums and footsteps all recede. In this space with a laboring woman, time stands still. There is no phone, schedule, or any connection at all to the world outside this room. My purpose here is breathtakingly simple: to be attuned and inseparable from this woman who is transforming. This singular focus is deeply liberating. I don’t feel spread thin from worry, wonder and the trappings of my own life. I relish these days I spend outside of my life, perfectly present, in this utter clarity. To enter someone’s world and enmesh so intimately in their experience is not just an honor, it’s also an escape. She stands and holds her partner, head on his shoulder, her giant belly between them. I squeeze her hips and sacrum from behind. Her partner and I are her buttresses. We hold her hands, her feet, her face, whatever part feels as though it’s sinking. “You will not break”, I remind her. “You can let go completely. This is the power that is needed to bring your baby to you. Let him go. Let your baby go.” I am with her for every breath. We move, drift and dip along. I suggest different breathing techniques and position changes. I guide her through visualizations and help her find rhythms and rituals that provide comfort for a spell and then cease to. The urgency of her body is building. She tries to fight off the deluge of sensation and then spirals into panic. I massage her back and whisper: “What you are feeling cannot be stronger than you, because it is you.” She doubts herself and then plunges. No hands or words can reach her. This is part of the surrender and the relinquishing of control. “Your body was wise enough to have created a baby, trust that it knows exactly how to release him”, I remind her. “You are doing everything right.” She’s in my arms, the whole of her weight descending on me. I hold her like a mother holds her baby. Then she finds my eyes and with heavy, desperate breaths tells me “I can’t do this anymore.” I know that her admission is the key to accepting what’s before her. I see so much strength in her, so much deep-seated courage. And so I become her mirror and beam it back to her. She takes me in. She trusts my trust in her and allows herself to let go with new resolve. I try to act as invisibly as possible in the labor room, to be indistinguishable from her awareness of herself. To feel I’ve truly succeeded as a doula, my measure is that she is unaware of her dependence on me: my strength becomes her strength; my guidance pours into her; the affirmations I whisper are beliefs she already holds. And all this feels for her as though it is spouting from her deepest well. And it is, because I am her shadow, and we’re locked in this intuitive dance.

***

Amid a burst of low, guttural howls, her baby is born. She wails with relief and ecstasy at his departure and simultaneous arrival into her arms. She takes him in and beams. Her joy expands the room. We all feel a lightness overtake us. The privilege of observing a birth is unlike any other. It is to watch a woman undergo the greatest transmutation possible next to being born and dying: to leave behind her former self and emerge anew as a mother. Birth is the closest I’ve ever felt to something truly holy – something so vast and endearingly mysterious. I’m stricken with awe and wonder every time. And so I return, again and again, hooked. So at the end of it all, mom receives her baby. What does the doula receive and why am I committed to this work? I get to be liberated from my own life and get to be needed and essential to someone in a state of intense empathy. I get to experience the pure honor and privilege of being present for something in-expressively profound. I get to feel depleted and empty because I have given all I have and all I’m made of to this work. And in this giving over and stepping out of my own way, I feel full of purpose, exquisitely strong and profoundly connected with this world and humankind. I leave this new family after a few hours. They are lost somewhere in a sleepy reverie: warm, comfortable, fed and dozing. I feel I have to sort of peel myself away and reacquaint myself with my own body. I stagger home, feeling the first tingling sensations of the birth-room high beginning its inevitable fade. By the time I reach my apartment, the full weight of postpartum descends. I cry. I always cry. I need this purge, to release all of the magnificent intensity of what I just witnessed. It’s my letting go, from two beings, three actually, into just one again. Written by Sasha Weigel, a doula with Doulas of North America (DONA), Certified Lactation Counselor and Registered Nurse. For the past three years, Sasha has been employed as a full-time nurse on the Labor & Delivery and Mother-Baby (Postpartum) units at NYU Langone Medical Center/Tisch Hospital. She is currently enrolled in the Masters of Midwifery graduate program at NYU College of Nursing.
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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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