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The sun shone strongly through the windows of my classroom on a typical Tuesday, distributing unwelcome late-summer heat over my students. It was just the second week of school, but it felt like a continuation of the year prior in some ways as I had moved up along with my students after our first year together at Kenmore Middle School.

Within a matter of seven hours, we would be bonded in trauma, as the school day ended in eerie silence. No planes passed overhead, hardly a car on the road, and most people shuttered in their homes, glued to their televisions and computers.

Ask any American about September 11th, and the overwhelming majority can tell you exactly where they were, how they heard the news, maybe even what they were wearing, and to what extent their life and the lives of their loved ones were affected.

I am no exception to this. I was leaving the library wearing one of my more professional outfits of a blouse and slacks along with a pair of platform sandals which my students always referred to as my Frankenstein shoes. As I passed the checkout desk, Mrs. Stump, our head media specialist, turned from the television strapped to the library cart and calmly stated, “A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.”

“Was it an accident?” I asked.

“That was the second one,” she said quietly, yet insistently.

I was incapable of appreciating just how devastating this really was. I did not consider the sheer magnitude of casualties and certain death. The World Trade Center towers were up 100 or so stories. Planes were big. This was not something small or recoverable. But I was young and distracted, and so I merely nodded and continued out of the library, shifting focus toward my third period class.

That didn’t last long.

The timeline here is hazy in my recollection, but at some point that hour, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, less than five miles from us. Later, some would recall hearing rumbles caused by the low-flying aircraft as it approached its target. Loudspeaker announcements were made. Every television turned on. Parents began arriving at school to scoop up their children, while other students sat in panic because their mothers or fathers worked at the Pentagon or the airlines. 

I was 25-years-old and responsible for keeping an agitated herd of seventh graders calm, all the while wondering if my own friends and family members were safe. Cell phone calls weren’t going through, thanks to a lack of necessary cell towers to handle such a catastrophe. I watched my colleagues valiantly stuff their own emotions way down as we all distracted ourselves with helping our students. I saw more than a few pre-teens holding on for emotional dear life, understandably terrified. One particular teacher heroically organized the dismissal procedure, not knowing if her husband who worked at the Pentagon was alive or dead.

After the last student had been claimed, the teachers and staff followed closely behind, anxious to get home to our own people. By that time, no planes were left in the air. No more would be weaponized, at least on that day. It was a small comfort.

There was no school the next day. I’m pretty sure the entire world, save the first responders digging through the rubble and searching for signs of life at both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, had hit a giant pause button, desperately searching for rewind and praying to erase the previous 24 hours.

As school resumed, the world knew that the attacks had been orchestrated by Al Qaeda and carried out by several of its members. And soon we would learn that the attackers lived in an apartment complex a few doors up from our school and attended the same mosque as several of our students. Many students were recent arrivals to the United States and worried about the status of their visas. Would they be forced to leave? Would their asylum status be revoked? Not being born in a country that supports religious freedom, many expressed concern that their house of worship would be closed or that they would no longer be permitted to practice their faith. Even those families in our community who were from parts of the world other than the Middle East were concerned about their ability to stay in the U.S.

Our school grew closer that year as we mourned together. While some students did lose family friends, all parents and other family were safe. We grieved the losses of our community, the loss of security, and we learned from each other: teachers, staff, students. Adults and children. Citizens, veterans, undocumented immigrants, Muslims, Christians, Jews.

Two months later during Ramadan, a group of Muslim students spent their lunch hour in my classroom fasting and praying. Not once did their classmates criticize them or mock them for their beliefs. No one told them to go back to their country. These middle schoolers modeled the ideal response to tragedy and did not allow fear to dictate their treatment of their friends. We were a microcosm of the outside world, and while not perfect, we were a model worth emulating.

That was 16 years ago. My then-students are now older than I was on 9/11. They are teachers, doctors, lawyers, mothers, fathers. I keep up with them on social media, impressed by the men and women they’ve become while realizing how quickly time passes. Just one year after we watched planes fly into buildings together, we spent a month ducking and weaving our way into the school building, afraid of being shot by the DC Snipers. When they graduated high school, some chose to attend Virginia Tech, in spite of the fact that, months prior, a student had shot and killed dozens of people. To say they are survivors is an understatement.

Since 9/11, the world has changed irrevocably. Although still the most destructive act of terror, many others have occurred both abroad and in the United States. Wars have resulted. Post-traumatic stress disorder runs rampant in our soldiers returning from the Middle East. An entire generation is now entering high school having never known the excitement of meeting a loved one at the arrivals gate of an airport or even attending schools with unlocked doors. By age five, our children know how to hide from a gunman. We sit in our churches, our mosques, our temples, and our meeting houses, wondering what the best course of action would be if someone bursts through the doors shooting at us. We go to the movie theater with escape plans.

We have been holding our collective breath for 16 years, and the lack of oxygen is causing significant damage. No longer united through our grief, we are lashing out at one another in fear. So few seem interested in finding common ground.  

And now, a presidential candidate is cheered for suggesting the answer to all of our woes is a giant wall and mass deportation. I think of my students on that day 16 years ago, their terrified faces indistinguishable from the terrified faces of their citizen classmates. I think of all they endured and what they’ve accomplished; the ways in which they’ve made this country their home, and how America is better for their presence and contributions.

Yes, much has happened in these 16 years to cause these fears and doubts. But in order to return to the unity we felt following the unthinkable, we must cast them aside. As the sixteenth anniversary of that day arrives, I vow to do my part. I will try to understand “the other” instead of disregarding him. I will listen instead of react. I will breathe deeply, and I hope you will, too.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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