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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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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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