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We all have that one friend. You know—the one who has been through everything with you. She is the one who has seen you at your worst and loved you anyway. She’s gotten you through bad breakups, held your hair back for you after you indulged in five too many cocktails and laughed about all of it with you the next day. She has also encouraged you to be your best. She has congratulated you on your first “real” job after you both waited tables through college, and she was on the other end of the phone smiling from ear to ear when you told her you were pretty sure you had met “the one.”


She’s your go-to girl.

Lifelong friends know more about you than you even want to admit. They are the friends you have fought with, laughed with, and cried with. They have been there for all the big moments in your life, and while life is constantly changing, there is probably no bigger change than having your first child. If you have a friend who tells you that having a child will not change things, you might want to look for a new friend. Having a child changes all the things. ALL. THE. THINGS.

A photo posted by Nataly (@natalydavies) on

I know this because I was the person who thought that having a baby was not in any way, shape, or form going to change my friendships. Let me tell you something—having a baby changes your friendships. Some friendships grow stronger and others become weaker. Some become so weak that you wind up losing them forever, while others become so strong you know they will last a lifetime.

My visions of bringing home my first baby were just that—visions!

I had no idea how difficult those first few weeks were actually going to be. There was the sleep deprivation, the sore, cracked nipples, the inability to pee without wanting to cry, the sleep deprivation, and did I mention the sleep deprivation? I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that if someone ever crosses my family, I would wish sleep deprivation and sore, cracked nipples on them for all of eternity. Let that be your warning.

When I came home, I was beyond overwhelmed. I had been one of those pregnant women who went on and on about my birth plan and the fact that I would only breastfeed. Here is another warning for you. Try not to scream these things out loud too much, because I can promise you the universe is listening and laughing. You know that saying about the best-laid plans? Yeah. That.

Breastfeeding was anything but easy for me. I had a hard time making milk and I tried everything. My nipples were so cracked and raw that I was certain they were actually going to shrivel up and fall right off my breasts. My sore, hard-as-a-rock breasts were going to be nipple-less for the rest of my sleep-deprived life.

A photo posted by Nataly (@natalydavies) on

To make matters worse, my son had acid reflux, so getting him to latch on was beyond difficult. My husband worked 24-hour shifts as a fire lieutenant, and despite the fact that he was given a decent amount of time off after the baby came, once he went back he was gone A LOT. I was lonely. Not just “Hey, I’m bored, where are all my peeps?” lonely. No.

I was cry-by-myself-and-wonder-how-on-Earth-I-am-going-to-survive-this lonely.

One night, as I sat in my living room with my screaming newborn and my dog staring at me with what I can only describe as a ‘Lady, you have no clue what the hell you are doing’ face, I knew what I had to do. I picked up the phone and I dialed as fast as I could. When I heard her say hello, all I could do was cry. The only words I got out through the tears were, “This is so much harder than I thought it would be. I am so lonely and he won’t eat, sleep or stop crying.

Ten minutes later, there was a knock on my front door. There she stood with a bottle of wine, nipple cream, a smile and wide-open arms. I am going to tell you something—there is no one who could have made me happier at that very moment in time. Had I opened the door to find Publisher’s Clearing House announcing I was the winner of the big prize, there is a good chance I would have slammed the door and cried on the floor. Instead, it was her, my lifelong friend, ready to show me that having a baby changes a lot of things—but that is not always a bad thing.

She came in, took my son, calmly swaddled him, and somehow got him to fall asleep in his crib. She opened wine and passed me the nipple cream. She sat there while I cried until the crying turned into laughter. We laughed about the fact that out of all the things we had been through together in our lives, this was by far the craziest of them all.

I learned two things that night. I learned that wine and nipple cream are like gold, and that babies really do change everything. Change is not always negative, though. That night I learned that my friendship with my lifelong friend was never going to be the same, and for that, I am forever grateful.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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