Motherhood transformed my marriage

Why was new parenthood so hard on me and my husband? Because we just didn’t know what we were doing.

Motherhood transformed my marriage

I reflected on how much I missed “Us” (me and my husband) in this article, just a few weeks after our daughter was born. It was a whirlwind of change that knocked the wind right out of me.


I missed my pre-baby life and I was racked with guilt because of it.

It’s taken over a year, but I’m finally able to put some definition around why that season felt so. . .clunky. And it comes down to this: We didn’t feel like a family yet.

Before Ella, we were a couple. A group of friends may or may not have given us the nickname “Niclicia” (Nick + Alicia). Running errands felt more like a fun outing with my husband. We loved brunch on the weekends and spontaneous weekend trips to nearby destinations. And we loved dreaming together about the future—where we would live, what we would do … and of course, how many kids we would have.

In the time immediately following Ella’s birth, we no longer felt like a couple—it was more like two adults playing some sort of tag-team game of caring for our precious baby and helping the other one stay sane and/or get some sleep.

It felt like a 24/7 job with no real breaks.

In my rawest moments, I felt threatened that our marriage would dissolve into an endless list of things to do, chores to complete, bills to pay. Bye-bye, spontaneous life of adventure and fun. See you later, weekend brunch. Bye-bye, best friend and love of my life. See you when we retire.

My breaking point came on a Saturday morning when I said goodbye to my husband as he left for the grocery store. That was something we did together before a baby. Now it was one more thing among many things that completely changed. It became a chore. At the time, we felt like couldn’t bring our newborn outside of our home because she was so very tiny.

But looking back, I think the reason we struggled was much bigger and simpler than that: We just didn’t know what we were doing.

And we were scared to death we would mess it up.

Any veteran parent will recognize that we were in the throes of the 4th-trimester. Baby blues, mama’s recovery, and zero sleep for everyone makes your heart raw and vulnerable at depths you didn’t know were possible. Your emotions run wild and you find yourself ugly crying for things as strange as your mother-in-law showing your son the basement for the first time and you didn’t get to (true story of a friend of mine).

My body had adapted and grown and shaped itself to forming my daughter while my husband cheered me on. Now, it was both of us adapting and growing and being shaped into parents. It’s a shaping of the soul and one that stretches you to the brink of yourself, only for you to find more strength than you ever thought you had. It’s a sweet and difficult transformation.

And make no mistake—it is a transformation. Before I became a mother, I thought it just happened like a light switch. Poof, hello mama! Poof, hello daddy! In retrospect, it seems laughable—how can the deep and holy calling of parenthood happen with the flick of a switch? How can a marriage of two souls shift to become the foundation for a new life in an instant? Like so many beautiful things in life, these things can only happen over time. With lots of mistakes and learning, tears and laughter.

And the component I was missing the most when this crazy journey began: grace and patience with my husband and myself.

Fast forward to this past fall: my newborn baby girl has evolved into a little toddler, with a handful of teeth and an ever-emerging personality. My husband and I are slowly bringing back date nights. We are watching the Mommy and Daddy emerge within the other, which brings a new depth of love and appreciation to our marriage.

And we've learned that there's no fight worth having when the baby wakes up at 1am screaming—each of us (baby and parents) are monsters in the wee hours in the morning.

My husband and I just power through with silent determination, knowing we'll all wake up human in the morning.

The other Saturday, we woke up early (because toddlers don’t know how to sleep in) and made coffee. We let Ella stay in her pajamas and play on the floor while we piled onto the couch, chatting about the week that was. Then we stuck her in the stroller and walked 2 blocks to the grocery store. Ella coo’d and watched us as we picked out produce, bread, and eggs. We packed up our groceries in the stroller and headed back home. She insisted on helping carry the load, so she held onto one of her new food packets.

It was an autumn morning and there was a breeze that kicked up the golden leaves that blanketed the sidewalk. We were going in and out of chatting with each other while baby-talking to Ella when my husband paused, looked at me with a smile, and said, “Can you believe it? This is our family. This is our life."

This is the New Us.

Ella belongs to us, we belong to her. We are a family.

And I write this knowing that this family thing is an ever-evolving process. We will evolve again with each milestone, and we will remold ourselves when another little one comes along.

The greatest victory in it all was learning that there is no finish line, no way to check all the boxes that I've “made it” in motherhood. My mom always says “As soon as you figure something out about your baby, they change on you.” That’s still true—but we’ve gotten better at adapting. Or at least, not being as surprised when the changes come along.

It isn't a light switch, it's a potter’s wheel.

One that will shape what we know as Us again and again and again.


Photo credit: Sri & Jana Photograpy in Chicago.

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    The HATCH Mama collection is everything your pregnant body needs right now

    Their oil is the only thing that stopped my belly from itching as it grew bigger.

    Conz Preti

    Let me start by saying I'm not a fan of moisturizing. I hate being wet and sticky and after applying product to my body, I have to stand around awkwardly until I'm fully air-dried—a practice that is not compatible with having three kids under the age of 3. However, as someone who has carried three children in her body, I also know how much your belly needs hydration as the baby grows.

    This was especially true with my second pregnancy. My belly popped way sooner (a thing that happens with subsequent pregnancies) and on top of that, I was carrying twins, which meant I became super pregnant super fast. My belly was itching constantly from the skin stretching (I checked with my doctor to make sure I didn't have Cholestasis) and there was no scratching in the world that could ease my discomfort. My doula recommended the HATCH Mama belly oil and changed my life. The oil is nourishing—but more important to me, quick-drying—so I could apply it all over my planet-sized twin belly and get dressed immediately after without having my clothes ruined nor stuck to my body. Because of how much I loved the oil, I tested other products, and let me tell you, they're all equally amazing.

    Curious about the HATCH Mama collection? All of their products are non-toxic and mama-safe, designed to help pregnant people overcome the challenges unique to pregnancy. As their website claims, "from stretch marks to thinning hair, to sleepless nights, we're helping you tackle every prenatal and postnatal beauty issue head-on so you can continue to feel like the best version of you." I'm here for all of this. For the entire Hatch Beauty collection click here.


    Here are my favorite products from HATCH Mama:


    Belly oil

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Oil

    Intensely hydrating + fantastic at reducing the appearance of stretch marks and scars, this will be your favorite through pregnancy + beyond.

    $58

    Belly mask

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Mask Set

    Not only does it help to minimize the appearance of stretch masks + scars during pregnancy + postpartum, but there is a little non-toxic wink (and that's to you, mama.)

    $42

    Nipple + lip ointment 

    HATCH COLLECTION  Nipple + Lip

    Calming + soothing, this magic sauce is lanolin-free & made of tropical butters and super fruits. I'm not lying when I say you will not want to stop using this, even way after birth.

    $28

    Belly tattoos

    HATCH COLLECTION  Belly Tattoos

    A very rock and roll way to honor your bump. And non-toxic + plant-based at that!

    $18

    This article was originally published in March 2021. It has been updated.

    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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    Motherly created the flexible online birth class moms need

    The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.

    Taking a birth class is a pregnancy milestone. Whether you've been excited to take a birth class for a long time or have just recently decided that you wanted to take one, sitting down for that first lesson feels big—spoiler alert, this is really happening! But finding time for a birth class isn't as easy as it would seem.

    We know new parents are busy (hello, understatement of the year). Between diaper changes, pediatrician appointments, healing from birth and the general adjustment to #newparentlife, the days can fill up quickly. But a lot of people are caught off guard by how busy pregnancy can be, too! That first trimester is so often full of symptoms—like nausea and fatigue—that can make previously easy or simple tasks exhausting. The second trimester begins and (usually) we start to feel better. But then our days get filled with planning out baby registries and deciding on questions like, "Where will this tiny new human sleep?" And before you know it, it's the third trimester—and, well, then you're in the home stretch. Plus there are so many appointments!

    All this to say that we get how busy you are—and how hard that might make it to fit in a birth class.

    And that's why we created The Motherly Birth Class. The Motherly Birth Class is completely online, which means you can take the class at your own pace.


    Think you'll want to watch each lesson a few times over? Great!

    Due date's next week and you need the option to take a birth class very quickly? No problem!

    Like everything at Motherly, we designed this class with you in mind.

    Taught by Certified Nurse-Midwife Diana Spalding (who also wrote "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama"), this class is broken into 12 lessons—and you get to control how and when you watch them. We'll teach you about what your (amazing) body is up to in labor, how to decide when it's time to head to the hospital or birth center (or when to call your home birth midwife), what your options are for coping with pain and so much more.

    When you sign up for The Motherly Birth Class, you'll get access to a downloadable workbook and meditations. Plus, you'll be invited to join our supportive private online community (where you can chat with the class instructor!)

    Oh, one more thing: Your insurance or flexible spending account might even able to able to cover the cost of this class.

    Pregnancy is wonderful—but it's a lot. You deserve a birth class that works for you and empowers you to have your best birth. Because vaginal or Cesarean, unmedicated or medication, birth is incredible. And you are the star of it all.

    You've got this.

    Sign up for The Motherly Birth Class today!

    The Motherly Birth Class

    pregnant-woman-looking-at-her-belly

    Take our completely digital birth class from the comfort of your living room. We'll help you have your best birth—because you deserve it.

    $79

    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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    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    Keeping kids entertained is a battle for all seasons. When it's warm and sunny, the options seem endless. Get them outside and get them moving. When it's cold or rainy, it gets a little tricker.

    So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the best toys for toddlers and kids that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, many are Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these indoor outdoor toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.


    Secret Agent play set

    Plan-Toys-Secret-agent-play-set

    This set has everything your little secret agent needs to solve whatever case they might encounter: an ID badge, finger scanner, walkie-talkie handset, L-shaped scale and coloring comic (a printable file is also available for online download) along with a handy belt to carry it all along. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Stepping Stones

    Stepping-stones

    Kiddos can jump, stretch, climb and balance with these non-slip stepping stones. The 20-piece set can be arranged in countless configurations to create obstacle courses, games or whatever they can dream up.

    $99.99

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Sensory play set

    kidoozie-sand-and-splash-activity-table

    Filled with sand or water, this compact-sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $19.95

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Foam pogo stick

    Flybar-my-first-foam-pogo-stick

    Designed for ages 3 and up, My First Flybar offers kiddos who are too young for a pogo stick a frustration-free way to get their jump on. The wide foam base and stretchy bungee cord "stick" is sturdy enough to withstand indoor and outdoor use and makes a super fun addition to driveway obstacle courses and backyard races. Full disclosure—it squeaks when they bounce, but don't let that be a deterrent. One clever reviewer noted that with a pair of needle-nose pliers, you can surgically remove that sucker without damaging the base.

    $16.99

    Dumptruck 

    green-toys-dump-truck

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyard or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? It's made from recycled plastic milk cartons.

    $22

    Hopper ball

    Hopper ball

    Burn off all that extra energy hippity hopping across the lawn or the living room! This hopper ball is one of the top rated versions on Amazon as it's thicker and more durable than most. It also comes with a hand pump to make inflation quick and easy.

    $14.99

    Pull-along ducks

    janod-pull-along-wooden-ducks

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $16.99

    Rocking chair seesaw

    Slidewhizzer-rocking-chair-seesaw

    This built-to-last rocking seesaw is a fun way to get the wiggles out in the grass or in the playroom. The sturdy design can support up to 77 pounds, so even older kiddos can get in on the action.

    $79.99

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $79.99

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

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    Mom relieves baby's gas like a pro in viral TikTok

    "How was he not floating around like a balloon?!" asked one commenter.

    @kaseybuscemi/TikTok

    We all know the struggles of having a gassy baby. It can be rough—for baby and for you! Since babies don't actually come out of the womb knowing how to pass their own gas without a little assistance, there are so many different techniques and tips out there to help your baby feel more comfortable when they're a little...flatulent.

    "Bicycle legs" is one common technique that can help get things moving for baby gas relief, and no one does it better than this mom on TikTok.

    Her video has more than 10 million likes, and it's not hard to see why—it's mesmerizing, informative, and, of course, downright hilarious!


    Her little baby has a wicked case of the toots and even mom cracks up by the end.

    Someone give this mom, @kaseybuscemi TikTok, a gold medal, because she just placed first in the Farting Your Baby Olympics. No joke. When I first learned about the "bicycle legs" technique (after my baby spit the gripe water right back at me and, I kid you not, laughed in my face while making direct eye contact), I felt awkward and had no idea what kind of rhythm was required to effectively fart my own baby.

    This mom? TOTAL PRO.

    The comments on this video are as funny and entertaining as you'd expect them to be, too:

    Never in my 30 years of living have I ever seen someone fart a baby. This is so cool.

    TWIST IT! PULL IT! BOP IT!

    *baby all grown up* "So what's a fun fact of yours?" "Oh 6 million people saw me fart."

    How was he not floating around like a balloon??

    Farting a baby is just as important as burping a baby!

    As far as the importance of farting a baby goes, yes, in case you're wondering, it is important. Some gassiness in babies is totally normal—just like with adults. Regular farting and burping are a sign of good gastrointestinal health, according to Healthline. In addition to bicycle legs, changing the baby's position, gently massaging the baby or bouncing the baby a little bit can also help alleviate trapped gas.

    Your baby could also be intaking a tad too much air from your nipple or the nipples of a bottle if they're extra gassy. If you're concerned about your own baby's gassiness, contact your pediatrician or healthcare provider for more information.

    If you're looking to master the bicycle legs technique, though, look no further than this video right here!

    News + Trending

    Coco Austin on breastfeeding her 5-year-old: 'Why take it away from her?'

    Coco says breastfeeding her daughter is more about comfort than anything else, and she's totally unapologetic about it.

    Coco Austin/Instagram

    Lots of moms continue breastfeeding their kids as they grow from babies to toddlers, and some continue doing it for longer than that. Coco Austin, wife of Ice-T and mom to 5-year-old Chanel, is one of those moms—and she's totally unapologetic about it.

    In a new interview with Us Weekly, Austin says she still nurses Chanel in small spurts throughout the day and doesn't play on stopping anytime soon.


    "Chanel still likes my boob. She's five years old," Austin said. "A lot of people are like, 'Oh, you're not getting the nutrition after 2 years old. Why do it?' And I'm like, My child's eating steak and hamburgers. She just likes a little snack every now and then and more of the bonding between the mother. Why take that away from her?"

    She says breastfeeding is more of a nighttime comfort for little Chanel—as it is for many babies and toddlers, too. I know I nursed both of my own babies to sleep every night until they self-weaned.

    "She loves on it and it's not like she's getting milk from it," Coco said, "but she's getting her little snack and it's kind of soothing her to sleep."

    Coco also says that she'll stop breastfeeding on her daughter's timeline—when she's ready to be done, then they'll be done. "I don't want to deprive her of something she wants," she said, "just because society says you need to stop after two."

    Chanel herself even spoke up about her love for breastfeeding during the interview, saying, "You know what? The boo boo makes me sleep."

    Can't argue with that! Whatever works for you and your little one is all that ultimately matters.

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