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Abbie Fox is a busy mom of a three and the owner of Foxy Photography. She's a passionate parent and an artist who tells stories from behind the lens, and now, she's using her medium to bring attention to a topic that so many mothers have stories about: mom-shaming.

Fox uploaded a series of portraits of children (her own three—8-year-old Maverick, 6-year-old Georgia, and Millie, who is 7 months—and clients' kids) posed with signs spelling out messages about "hot button" issues moms are often shamed for, like sleeping, feeding, and the decision to work full-time.

The photo series, which has now gone viral, was a passion project for Fox, who knows how it feels to be judged by others when you're just trying to do your best as a parent.

"I was shamed for a lot of things, especially the feeding part," Fox tells Motherly over Facebook Messenger, explaining that when she was a first time mom her oldest, Maverick, had a hard time latching to nurse. For six weeks the family struggled, seeing doctors, nurses and specialists, and Fox cried herself to sleep at night.

"I was being told that I wasn't a good mother [unless] I could breastfeed him. And this was actually coming from people I thought were my friends," she explains. Fox had more success breastfeeding her next child, and nursed for three months, but it seemed there was always something else for people to be judgmental about.

"I also got shamed for allowing my kids to watch TV at a young age, I got shamed for being a working mom and then when I became a stay-at-home mom, just running this business [I] got shamed for that as well," she says.

Fox's children: 8-year-old Maverick, 6-year-old Georgia, and baby Millie

So the photography series, "Anti Mommy Shamers Unite" was born out of the frustration of being shamed for her parenting decisions when (like all of us mamas) Fox is doing her best, and doing what is right for her family in her circumstances. She posed her three kids with a sign noting that they don't often eat dinner as a family—something Fox has taken flack for but refuses to feel bad about.

Another photo of Fox's oldest is sparking perhaps the most controversy of the 37 portraits. In this one, Maverick poses with a sign reading: "My mom used the Cry It Out method for sleep training."

Fox believes parents should be able to talk about different approaches to parenting without putting each other down. But in training her camera's lens on mom-shaming, Fox has found herself in the eye of a major shame storm.

"I've actually been getting nasty comments, Facebook messages, and emails that I am promoting child abuse by having that picture," says Fox, who isn't suggesting that CIO is for every family, just that it worked for hers. She's supportive of whatever way parents choose to deal with sleep in their own homes, as is evident in some of the photos she captured of her clients.

Unfortunately, Fox tells Motherly her clients have been dealing with some nasty messages as well, due to the messages in their children's portraits.

Shauntelle Yount and her son participated in the photo shoot because she was always told that co-sleeping was some horrible thing, but it was what worked for her family.

"My son was 9 weeks early and had many problems. After he came home from the NICU I decided co-sleeping worked for the both of us," Young writes.

"I stayed awake for days just to make sure he wasn't going to stop breathing. Co-sleeping let us both get the rest we needed and if there was a problem I was right there to fix it. As mother's we need to stop placing shame and start standing up for each other."

Johana Decker's kids posed with signs saying that their mother used a safety leash on her toddler and doesn't stop tantrums. Together, the girls posed with another sign about their births, a choice many moms are shamed over.

"We decided for 2 elective c-sections because we were impatient to see how long labor was going to take, didn't want any disturbance to the lady bits and [were] maybe a tad bit scared of labor so major surgery seemed a better choice.............TWICE!! 🤷🏽♀️🤷🏽♀️," Decker wrote.

She continues: "My oldest would run away from me to explore the world that the only way I could turn my back on her to grab my keys, my purse, my mind etc was to leash her up."

Sara Martinez is another mother who feels birth decisions should not be judged.

"My parenting choices are my own. I don't expect others to follow me and I don't want to be expected to follow others. I'm an over thinker and take a lot of time to make decisions and research information when it's needed and then I make the best choices for my family based off of that. I believe other parents make choices that are best for their family as well. If it has no impact on anyone outside of my home, it shouldn't be judged or up for debate by others. My kids are happy, healthy, well cared for, and we are doing everything we can to live our best lives possible!" she writes.

Lakilah Bailey made a different birth choice, one that was right for her and her daughter but judged by others.

"I personally was shamed for several choices that i have made over the years. The most controversial one was my choice to have a home birth. Friends and family would call me crazy, tell me I was a hippie, say i didn't care about my child's safety, etc. At the end of the day, I knew it was the right decision for me. However, I did wish I had more support and less shaming during such a joyful time in my life. People tend to shame others because of their own lack of knowledge. As a mother, I have learned that we are all out here doing the best we can for our little ones. No mother deserves to be shamed for doing what she believes is the best for her child," she explains.

A lot of mothers feel judgment over not giving their child breastmilk, but some are judged and shamed even when they do.

Abby John exclusively pumped for her baby, but found a lot of people were critical of her decision not to nurse.

"It was super important to me personally to give him my milk at least for his first year," John writes. "I was having such a difficult time getting Carson to latch that this was the next best thing so that he could still have it. People told me it wouldn't be the same type of bond but Carson and I have an amazing connection and I am so happy that I was able to provide him with this."

Whitney Rae Hoskin says she wanted to participate in this shoot because after she had her daughter there were people who "couldn't believe that I was working and not taking care of my baby," she writes.

Hoskin continues: "My husband and I made the decision that we were both going to continue with our careers and have our good friend be Nora's babysitter. This has been such a blessing for us because Nora gets to interact with other children around her age and that greatly helps with social development and motor skill development."

She says it is "important for people to know that we as parents are making choices for our children that are good for us and that work for our family and our situation."

"Let's face it, parenting is already hard," she explains. "The judgment of others around you shouldn't have to contribute to the craziness we already face."

Desiree Deittrick Perdichizzi's boys posed with signs about hot topic issues like ADHD and essential oils.

She says "being a parent, a mother specifically, is so hard and even more so with endless judgment or shaming that goes on."

"And I feel that, mother's specifically, need that support which can bring a feeling of peace to their lives instead of the fear, doubt, insecurity or shame that the judgment fuels. We (mothers) question and judge ourselves enough as it is. We are our own toughest critic. We don't need to be told what we chose or what we do is wrong or how we should have done it better - we need to be told and reassured that we are doing ok and that we are enough," she writes.

No matter how you feed your baby, how you put them to sleep, whether your baby watches TV or has never looked at a screen, we can all agree that we are trying. One mom's best may look different from another's, but it's her life, her child and her choices. And those choices (while they may not be the ones we would make) are made from a place of motherly love.

That's what Fox sees when looking through her camera, and that's what she wants us to see when we look in the mirror.

You're doing your best, Mama, and there's no shame in that.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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