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What’s a Perfect Pregnancy?

I always imagined my first pregnancy to be nine months of looking and feeling my best ever. I fantasized about flaunting my bump in beautiful, form-fitting dresses and rocking that quintessential glow. When I got pregnant with my daughter, Emma, I had totally mastered the art of bringing order to chaos. My life was finally a well-oiled machine, and I worked my ass off to get there. I was as mentally, physically, and practically prepared as I could ever be. So, of course my pregnancy would be perfect, right?

Uh, nope. As it turned out, that fantasy was a far cry from what really went down. I was so sick I could barely work, which really shook me to my core.

I was nauseous, constipated and fatigued (among other things), and the all these physical symptoms took a serious toll on my psyche. There were days I spent crying in bed, in part because I couldn’t stand the way I felt physically, but also because I knew I was being ungrateful. I couldn’t turn off my complaints even though I had this incredible blessing growing inside me. Bringing a child into the world is arguably life’s greatest gift, but this was no picnic.

I eventually realized that everything I was going through was re-shaping me in preparation for being a mother. From what turned out to be the most physically and emotionally stressful time of my life, I’ve learned the value of slowing down, of trusting, and of being able to ask for help (which was not my strong suit). And while viewing it all from a different context didn’t make the pain go away, it did allow me to feel empowered and deal with it more actively.

I called upon the resources that had helped me before. I seeked the support of my friends and family, worked hard to stay as healthy as possible throughout my pregnancy, and took the time to unwind through meditation and prayers. I learned to surrender to the uncontrollable and discovered that self-acceptance isn’t a state of being, but a practice. On particularly rough days, I cultivated the discipline to live in the moment. Every moment of physical and emotional pain yielded patience or flexibility or gratitude—invaluable things I now know I need to access on the daily as a new mom.

Emma was worth every bit of pain and discomfort it took to get her here—and to learn these powerful lessons. She was the inspiration and driving force during my pregnancy, and now as my little girl, she continues to be the shining star guiding me through life’s unknowns. When everything seems to be falling apart, I look to her innocence in awe and gratitude, and I just breathe.

Photography by Amy Frances for Well Rounded NY.

Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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My belly has been through some things.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum (yep, severe debilitating pregnancy-related vomiting), the pregnancies of each of my four kids, the 65 pounds of weight gain I have endured with each pregnancy, stretch marks, Occupational Therapy for pregnancy pelvic pain, unmedicated childbirth, and of course, postpartum recovery.

It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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