The new Gerber Baby went viral for a very important reason

Magnolia's parents tell Motherly they are happy she's spreading joy during this trying time.

The new Gerber Baby went viral for a very important reason
Earl Family

We've seen her face and now we're hearing the story of how this beautiful baby girl became a viral sensation overnight.

Little Magnolia Earl turned one this month and she also turned the heads of an entire nation after she was named this year's Gerber Baby. The month of May meant non-stop attention for the birthday girl, who was seen everywhere from the TODAY show to the New York Times.

Motherly reached out to Magnolia's parents, Courtney and Russell Earl, to see how they feel after watching their youngest daughter become a viral sensation and baby celebrity.

"[It's been] surreal to say the least!" The Earls explain in a statement to Motherly. "It is fun to see the level of joy that she is bringing to so many people during this very difficult time. She brings us such incredible happiness, and we are so very grateful. It has been amazing to hear from so many people near and far."

Gerber chose Magnolia to be the 2020 Gerber Spokesbaby from more than 327,000 entries submitted by parents across the country, and Magnolia's story is as beautiful as her smile. The Earls have grown their family through adoption, and Magnolia joined older sisters Whitney, 12, and Charlotte, 8, one year ago.

"On May 9th, 2019 we received a call from the Adoption Agency that there was an expectant mom that was in labor and wanted to talk to us! We pulled off the highway, got a chance to connect with her amazing birth parents, and a few hours later, this sweet baby girl was born." Courtney explained when Magnolia won the contest.

The proud mama is thrilled that her baby girl's story is highlighting how families can be formed in many different ways and that family members don't always look the same.

She tells Motherly: "Adoption is such a special part of the way our family was created. We look forward to the day when adoption and the incredible selflessness and bravery of birth parents is truly celebrated. They are the real heroes in our story. Unfortunately, often when we are out and about, people will stop me and question which of the kids belong to me based on appearances. No child should ever have to hear this. We all belong to these children. All of us."

Courtney knows that Magnolia's story went viral at a time when so many of us needed a story of hope, and she's grateful her family could be that beacon during the pandemic. She tells Motherly that having Magnolia chosen to represent Gerber in the iconic contest is "a great reminder that anything is possible."

She continues: "Just over a year ago, my husband and I didn't even know if it would be possible to grow our family again, and today we are here with our three tremendous daughters. We often tell the girls, 'Trust the unfolding of your life. You have no idea what is waiting for you!'"

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

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Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

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