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My husband might miss the birth of our first child

I'm seven months pregnant and my husband is in a war zone—I couldn't tell you which one because I don't know.

Pregnant With child

A dear friend of mine recently used me as an example to her New York pals who were complaining about being quarantined in their tiny apartments. "At least you're not pregnant," she said and then went into detail about my life and its complex constellation of worries.

I'm seven months pregnant and my husband is in a war zone—I couldn't tell you which one because I don't know.

He's a trauma surgeon in the British Army on a mission with special forces. I have no way of contacting him other than by encrypted email. He can Skype me, but only if he can get his hands on a computer, if there's no bad weather scrambling the signal and if they're not on a communication lockdown due to a security threat.

When he left in January, coronavirus had not yet entered the lexicon or our Western environs. No one would have believed that two months later, the world would be in quarantine and that the 'safest' place might actually be on a self-contained base in a war zone.

Quarantined alone, I rattle and piddle around our house, looking for comfort. Usually, writing provides that, but not right now. Right now, I turn to ice cream most nights. Because I know that if I write, I risk exposing the parts of myself I don't want to show, the parts I'm afraid to see. And right now, I'm afraid of hearing the sound of my own whining. God knows we've all heard enough of the worries of everyone, the last thing I want is to add to the cacophony of complaints.


An acquaintance of mine who is 30 weeks along in her pregnancy posts on Instagram how sad she is to cancel her baby shower. I see her sadness, both its source and her voicing of it, as a petty luxury.

We all have our regular lives to contend with on top of the pandemic, what gives her the right to grieve so small a thing? Envy builds, bitterness grows. Then I remember something about 'comparative suffering'—the title of a Brene Brown podcast I bookmarked. Suffering is suffering is suffering. Mine isn't worse or more worthy than anyone else's.

Still, I would give anything to exchange my grief for hers. I bet my friends and loved ones with cancer or COVID-19 would, too.

It's a fascinating, bizarre, dreadful notion to know I will be giving birth to my first child during an unprecedented pandemic. But that's not really what worries me right now.

What worries me is that when my husband returns, he will go from one frontline to another. I don't know how any human can cope with that kind of pressure and stress. And because pregnant women are deemed 'vulnerable,' once he goes back to work at the hospital, he might have to be quarantined in a hotel until further notice.

What worries me is that I'll have to give birth to this baby boy without him, that I'll have to enter motherhood alone, that he won't get to hold his newborn son.

And those are the best of my worries.

My deepest, darkest worries are that he won't return at all. That something will happen to his base like it did his fellow military colleagues in Iraq just a few weeks ago. COVID-19 is a threat to my family, but so is a rocket attack.

I don't like having to admit that I currently carry a snarky sense of entitlement in the suffering department. Because no matter how bad you have it, somebody's got it worse, right? But that's dismissive and minimizing. So, how do I cope? How do I turn down the volume on my own anger and irritability? How do I let myself, and others, grieve openly for what's been lost and what's at stake here?

In the park across the street, there is a sapling all adorned in white blossoms. Its branches, aglow in the morning light, dance in the wind. Yesterday morning I watched a woman walk by, raise her phone to take a photo then quickly walk away like she'd stolen something. Did she feel ashamed to have come across something bright and promising in these so-called dark times? Dark or not, now is the time, if there's ever been one, to notice and allow for beauty. No need to feel guilty when it graces you.

That sweet sapling, an emblematic reminder of a new season and everything that comes with it, like hope. Attached to the end of each branch; a bud, a message. Life, and suffering, go on. Pandemics have the power to stop baby showers and who knows, maybe even slow raging wars. Whether I obsess about my worries makes no difference to Mother Nature, she is indifferent and unstoppable.

At seven months pregnant, my body knows this better than my brain and heart.

My baby, warm in my swollen belly, kicks, innocent and oblivious. I take a deep breath in. Tomorrow is on its way, no matter what. I take comfort in that. My hope, my out-breath, is maybe you will too.

14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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5 brilliant products that encourage toddler independence

Help your little one help themselves.

One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.

$25

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.

$29

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.

$18

Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.

$29

BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.

$20

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have kids—so here’s what I did

We asked our three most pessimistic friends who have kids whether it's worth it or not

As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

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