How self-love saved my marriage—and myself

The bullet train of my life was speeding ahead, and I wasn’t on it.

How self-love saved my marriage—and myself

The crying was relentless. And it kept getting louder. I pulled myself out of bed and shuffled myself downstairs, disoriented and angry. Why is she still crying?

I found him in the kitchen. Calmly stirring the milk on the stove and tasting it with a spoon like he was Julia Child. Violet, then six months old, was in her vibrating chair on the floor, deeply offended and bawling her brains out.

“Couldn’t you hold her while you were making the milk?”

“Can’t you make the milk a little faster?”

I wish I could say these were thoughts. They weren’t. They were statements I made out loud to my husband, who was simply doing his best. It was 3 a.m. And he was trying to let me sleep. My perfectionism wouldn’t allow it.

It took me over two years to be able to look back at this event, and many others like it, with a fresh perspective. It took nearly breaking up my home, destroying my marriage and obliterating myself to see what was right in front of me; to see what was there—all the abundance—instead of all that was missing.

And why did it take so long?

Because in becoming a wife, entrepreneur and mother to twin girls in the span of three years, I had left myself back at the train station.

When you give birth to twins, one of the most common expressions you hear is, “But you had twins!” Still overweight by fifteen pounds two years later? “But you had twins!” Struggling to have intimacy with your spouse? “But you had twins!” Unable to get your business to grow beyond its plateau? “But you had twins!” The magic excuse for everything. And so for a while, I accepted it all, not realizing that the problem wasn’t that I had twins—the problem was me (or the lack of me, I should say.)

When I was younger and free from responsibility, the through line that connected everything was passion. I was passionate. I knew what I loved, what made me come alive and I pursued these things on a daily basis. From making music to traveling and writing—I did what my soul needed to do. And I didn’t need perfection. I simply needed experience. Rich imperfect experiences.

As I grew older and responsibilities mounted, two things started to happen—I became a perfectionist (which means I was not only hard on myself, I was extremely hard on everyone else), and I became a self-sacrificer. Now, neither of these things was a stretch. I am the latest in a long line of superwomen who are adept at martyring themselves in service to others.

Take my genetic predisposition and pair it with my inherent tendencies as an empath, and I really didn’t stand a chance. I went to law school because it was the right thing to do. I stopped going to concerts because it didn’t make sense to spend on them anymore. I had the girls and suddenly stopped doing anything that wasn’t in service to them. “But I had twins!” I exclaimed to myself. I may have gained two babies, but I wasn’t doing them any favors by completing losing myself.

The worst part about this new me, this perfectionist self-sacrificer, is that it made me an awful wife.

I didn’t trust my husband to do anything right, despite needing him so fiercely. I stopped bringing myself, the vibrant passionate woman he married, to the table. I was a million shards of glass held together by a thin skin. One wrong move and I would cut you, and at the same time cut myself.

Eighteen months ago, I reached my limit. I decided to treat myself to a piece of jewelry I would wear to remind myself that I’m still here, despite the glass. And despite the lack of passion. And despite the extra fifteen pounds. I put a ring on my pinky and took a vow—I promise to choose myself, to honor myself and to remember myself on a daily basis.

The change didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen without support.

A personal trainer got me to connect with my long forgotten body. A therapist helped me connect with my long abandoned mind. Friends who understood sent me reminders to get blowouts. Friends who didn’t receded. My parents babysat every Friday night and my husband let me back in without question despite being shut out for years. And my daughters recognized that mommy is happier when she comes back from the gym or after a date night with dad.

And so I began to shed the weight—both physical and emotional—and used that freed up space to get to know myself again. Turns out I’m not the same woman I was six years ago when I got married. I look different (I prefer my hair to be short and blonde and my clothes to be black) and I read different books (more light fiction and less literary fiction) and I listen to different music (okay maybe not all that different since the music of my twenties is so much better than what is out there now.)

The important thing is—I’m getting to know her.

I’m finding my ‘me.’ And I’m honoring her through self-love and self-care. I’m on my priority list—each and every day. And I’m excited to have partnered with my best friend (The Far in Fred+Far) to create a company that helps other women make the same shift.

Loving yourself has an incredible impact on your ability to know and love others. It’s really an amazing thing. Self-love for so long was associated solely with narcissism. You would think self-love makes it harder for you to love others. But it doesn’t. Exactly the opposite. When you are full, you have a well to pull from in service to others. You’re able to listen, really listen, instead of controlling every conversation. You allow others to be—because you finally allow yourself to be—exactly as they are.

If I have another child—and I hope I do—the next time I hear the baby crying at three a.m. and notice the bed is empty, I will smile. He is there. He is handling it. He is letting me rest. Everything is okay. I am okay. I am lucky.

This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.

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These are the best bath time products you can get for under $20

These budget-friendly products really make a splash.

With babies and toddlers, bath time is about so much more than washing off: It's an opportunity for fun, sensory play and sweet bonding moments—with the added benefit of a cuddly, clean baby afterward.

Because bathing your baby is part business, part playtime, you're going to want products that can help with both of those activities. After countless bath times, here are the products that our editors think really make a splash. (Better yet, each item is less than $20!)

Comforts Bath Wash & Shampoo

Comforts Baby Wash & Shampoo

Made with oat extract, this bath wash and shampoo combo is designed to leave delicate skin cleansed and nourished. You and your baby will both appreciate the tear-free formula—so you can really focus on the bath time fun.

Munckin Soft Spot Bath Mat

Munchkin slip mat

When your little one is splish-splashing in the bath, help keep them from also sliding around with a soft, anti-slip bath mat. With strong suction cups to keep it in place and extra cushion to make bath time even more comfortable for your little one, this is an essential in our books.

Comforts Baby Lotion

Comforts baby lotion

For most of us, the bath time ritual continues when your baby is out of the tub when you want to moisturize their freshly cleaned skin. We look for lotions that are hypoallergenic, nourishing and designed to protect their skin.

The First Years Stack Up Cups

First year stack cups

When it comes to bath toys, nothing beats the classic set of stackable cups: Sort them by size, practice pouring water, pile them high—your little one will have fun with these every single bath time.

Comforts Baby Oil

Comforts baby oil

For dry skin that needs a little extra TLC, our team loves Comforts' fast-absorbing baby oil aloe vera and vitamin E. Pro tip: When applied right after drying off your baby, the absorption is even more effective.

KidCo Bath Toy Organizer

KidCo Bath Organizer

Between bathing supplies, wash rags, toys and more, the tub sure can get crowded in a hurry. We like that this organizer gives your little one space to play and bathe while still keeping everything you need within reach.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

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

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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