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The other night I sat around the dinner table with my husband and four of our closest friends—two other couples who welcomed babies shortly after we did. Being all about a year out from childbirth, I asked my two girlfriends what stands out to them as the most impactful thing anyone did for them during the early days of parenthood.

Immediately we began reminiscing about the late-night text messages with other new moms, the ongoing support from our friends, the love and encouragement we received from each other, the care packages left on our doorsteps, the lactation support groups that gave us hope, and so much more. While no one at the table had it easy—far from it most days—there was no denying that we had a village to support us and that we returned the love tenfold.

I then asked the men at the table the same question. Aside from them all appreciating an extra hand to wash dishes or to cook dinner, there wasn't much else. No supportive text messages. No one checking in on them. No one leaving them care packages. No support groups. Nothing. And up until this conversation, they'd never even thought twice about it.

These men—my husband top of the list—are three of the best dads I know. They are phenomenal husbands, amazing fathers, successful professionals, and outspoken about how much they love their families.

In fact, our friend and family group is composed almost entirely of this type of man. And yet, even in the strongest circles, we—the collective we of society—aren't even coming close to supporting and acknowledging fathers in a way that recognizes their important and irreplaceable role in the family structure.

Yes, we as moms undeniably have the hardest and arguably the most important roles throughout pregnancy and the early years and we deserve every bit of the support we receive and so much more. And now more than ever, we are finally being surrounded with platforms of empowerment that should've been given to us long ago.

But to my husband, and every partner out there whose actions go unseen or are marked as less important, I want you to know that you are seen too. Your role, no matter how small, tedious or repetitive it seems some days, matters significantly.

So to my husband who has sacrificed so much, I see you.

I see the thankless hours you've spent staying up late sanitizing bottles and the coffee you leave on my nightstand every morning so I can have my first sip without getting out of bed.

I see the loads of laundry you've folded and the dinners you lovingly make every night.

I see the smoothie you leave for me in the fridge before you leave for work at 6:15 am and the full tank of gas in my car each Sunday.

I see the late nights you've spent staying up with me while I nurse our daughter and the back tickles you still give me every night as I fall asleep.

I see the trips up and down the stairs at all hours of the day to refill my water and the smile on your face when I ask for the millionth time.

I see the way you loved over me while I carried our baby and how you genuinely would've done anything to make me comfortable.

I see the doctor's appointments you never missed and the way you teared-up every time you heard our daughter's heartbeat.

I see the fire in your heart that shows me there is nothing in this world you wouldn't do for our family.

I see the way you love our daughter, and the way you give her all the good in you and so much more.

I see your silliness and sweetness, and I see your childlike spirit and fierce protective nature in all that you do for her.

I see the way you see me. From baby bump to stretch marks, I've doubted myself plenty but I've never doubted that you love me for me and that you find me irresistible—even in the rawest of moments. I see your compassion toward me and the tenderness in which you have embraced this beautiful, emotional, and messy stage of life together.

I see your commitment to supporting your family and the pain you experienced when you had to return back to work just days after our daughter was born. I see the letter you wrote your company advocating for a paternity leave policy and how eloquently you expressed the importance of fathers being present in their children's lives from an early age. I see that despite a broken system, you won't let anything get in the way of what you value most.

I see your loneliness, and your longing to find connection in parenthood outside of just our relationship. I see a husband and father who does not fit media's mediocre standard of fatherhood—you are a person who has risen above any and all societal expectations to put family on the highest pedestal and to flip the conversation. I see you lead others in making the exception the norm and I see you wear fatherhood as a badge of honor.

Partners, I see you.

While not every father is deserving of praise and many mothers take on the role of mother and father, the picture of fatherhood is changing for the better. In a world that is giving moms a voice and long overdue support and recognition, let's not forget to empower fathers too. The emotions and experience may be different, but the importance is the same and our children will be better for it.

To my husband, I am strong on my own, but I am so much stronger with you by my side.

I see you, my love.

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Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

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Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

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.

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


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