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Here’s how our nightly boob-fest goes down.


Rachel cuddles up in the crook of my arm and starts her drift off to sleep. Her breathing slows. Her thumb sucking ceases. And then I feel it. The familiar pull at the top of my shirt before she slips her tiny hand inside and begins her descent down. There’s a brief stroke of my right boob, a slow hover over my nipple and then she reaches her final destination, cupping the bottom of my breast in her hand. And a squeeze.

At first our struggle is silent. I pull my two-year-old’s hand out of my shirt and lay it back on her belly. But she soon returns. I remove her hand once again and gently roll her so she’s facing away from me. This move rouses her and she turns her body into me again and, this time more forcefully, thrusts her hand down my nightshirt.

“No,” I hiss at her, once again removing her hand from my boob.

“Fop,” she yells and rubs the last bit of sleep from her eyes.

“You stop,” I say louder.

“Both of you stop,” my husband yell-whispers from across the bed while holding our five-year-old. “Joy just fell asleep.”

Rachel and I lock eyes. It’s on.

She reaches and I block her. Again, she reaches and I block her. Reach and block. Reach and block. I’m pretty sure we look like two guys imitating a girl fight, but I don’t care. Finally, I cross my arms over my chest. But Rachel won’t be broken. With a surprising near-herculean surge of strength, she pries my arms off of my chest and finds my boob. She has won. Squeeze.

I’m not sure when the “cup and squeeze” started. My guess (that I loosely validated with a cursory google search for “toddler grabbing boob”) is that it has to do with breastfeeding. I weaned Rachel when she was a year old, but the “cup and squeeze” has persisted.

Rachel’s grab business is unfortunate because she really is an otherwise charming child. She welcomes me home by racing into my arms and yelling “Mommy came back” (which, by the way, makes me wonder what Daddy and Rachel talk about when I’m gone). She “dances ballet” for anyone who inadvertently glances in her direction and she can belt out the chorus of “Country Roads” like a miniature Taylor Swift. When she’s tired or stressed or overwhelmed, though, my little princess turns into a gropey 14-year-old boy.

“Is this normal?” my husband asks as Rachel and I duke it out in bed next to him.

“Some kids use a teddy bear to comfort themselves. Others have a blankie. Rachel uses my boob.”

“Maybe she’s gay. I mean it’s fine if she is, but maybe…” he trails off.

Silence.

“Anyway, she’s too attached to you. You’re going to lose your mind.”

“You think?” I say while wrapping the sheet around my chest like Saran Wrap as Rachel snatches at it.

“Maybe you should start wearing turtlenecks.”

“It’s July.”

“Well, they’re your boobs,” he says. “Do what you want.”

I explained my predicament to our pediatrician and she said that I needed to be clear that the groping makes me uncomfortable and not to cuddle with Rachel when she does it. “She’ll learn that in order to be close to you, she can’t do that anymore.”

That night, I put her down when she snuck her hand inside my shirt after dinner. “Mine! Mine! Mine!” Rachel wailed at the same pleasant tenor of a car alarm. I picked her up and put her hand on my boob to make her stop.

My mother suggested a soft doll.

After I let Rachel choose the doll she wanted to sleep with, we cuddled up in my bed and I placed Funshine Bear in her arm closest to me. “Thank you, Mama,” she said. Her eyelids fluttered. I’m free! I thought. And then she deftly switched hands and found my breast.

When we found out that my older daughter would have to spend an evening in the hospital, my husband and I strategized about who would stay with which kid. I was the obvious choice for Rachel, but we thought (maybe) we could break her of this habit if my boobs were not available. I kissed Rachel goodbye that afternoon and hoped that I would return to the house the next day with liberated breasts.

The following morning, my husband reported that he had been jolted from a deep sleep by Rachel slipping her hand down his shirt. “Then her head whipped around like a spinning top, her pupils flashed red and she started talking in a creepy Darth Vader voice.”

“Is this your way of telling me that she tried to grope you and lost her mind when she realized it wasn’t me?”

“Yes.”

As I laid in bed that evening, with one boob in Rachel’s hand, I wondered how I let this get so out of control. Is this my fault? Am I enabling an unhealthy attachment between us? I decided to take this to the next level – and get a psychologist’s opinion.

I asked Dr. Rika Alper, a developmental psychologist in my hometown of Montclair, NJ, who specializes in children and families. “Most kids get very attached to something sensory that is comforting to them,” she explained. “It can be an elbow, an upper arm that’s soft, an earlobe…. Your breast combines food with softness.” As soon as she said this I remembered stroking the inside of my mother’s wrist when I was Rachel’s age. It made her nuts.

“So what should I do about this?” I asked.

“Substitute. Substitute. Substitute,” she said. “Introduce something else, but together with your breast. She can cuddle both and then you transfer both of her hands to the object as she falls asleep.”

It’s worth a shot, I thought. I never tried the “together with” part.

It took two nights, but Rachel finally took Funshine Bear from my hands, cuddled him, rolled over and fell asleep. I laid next to her in her bed and stared up at the ceiling – in shock.

It hasn’t been like that every single night since. But it happens more and more often. And, in general, she has graduated to stroking my chest rather than cupping my breast. I have considered telling my husband that my breasts are once again “up for grabs,” so to speak.

But, for now, I think I’ll keep them to myself.

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Whether you're filling out your own registry or shopping for a soon-to-be-mama in your life, it can be hard to narrow down what exactly new moms need (versus what will just end up cluttering the nursery). That's why we paired up with the baby gear experts at Pottery Barn Kids to create a registry guide featuring everything from the gear you'll use over and over to the perfect gifts under $50.

Check out the picks below, and happy shopping (and registering)!

MUST-HAVE BABY GEAR

These five gift ideas are designed to make #momlife easier while solving some of the most common parenting dilemmas.

1. Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller

One of the first things you learn when you become a mom? Those infant car seats are heavy. Which is what makes the Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller so genius. It's the world's first completely integrated mobility solution, quickly transforming from safe car seat to functional stroller without any extra parts. Simply pop out the wheels, pull up the handle bar, and you're ready to roll.

Doona All-in-one Infant Car Seat / Stroller, $499

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GIFTS THAT CAN BE PERSONALIZED

Even the most utilitarian gift feels a little more special with some personalization. Here are some of our favorite options that can be customized with baby's name or monogram.

1. Nursery Blankets

You'll never forget the blanket you bring your newborn home in. And with Pottery Barn Kids' assortment of blankets, there's a wrap to suit every new mama's style. Choose from fuzzy neutral patterns or stylish printed options, and add baby's name for an extra personal touch.

Nursery Blankets, Starting at $39.50

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GIFTS THAT GROW WITH THEM

Save money and space by gifting items that will last long after baby's first year. These clever gift items will have mama saying "thank you!" for years to come.

1. west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib

A convertible crib is an investment in years of sweet dreams. We love this mid-century-style option made from sustainably sourced wood with child-safe, water-based finishes. When your baby outgrows their crib (sniff!), it easily converts into a toddler bed with the matching conversion kit.

west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib, $399

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GIFTS UNDER $50

Sometimes the littlest gifts mean the most. Here are our favorite gifts under $50 they'll be sure to cherish.

1. west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set

When you're raising a newborn, you can never have too many swaddles. Perfect for naptime, burp cloths, stroller covers, and spontaneous play mats, a muslin swaddle will always come in handy. And we especially love this neutral patterned collection in platinum, nightshade, and peacock.

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Learn more and explore all Pottery Barn Kids' registry must-haves here.

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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They say there's no use in crying over it, but for pumping mamas, spilled milk is a major upset.

When you're working so hard to make sure your baby has breast milk, you don't want to lose a drop, and Chrissy Teigen knows this all too well.

The mom of two posted a video to social media Wednesday showing her efforts to rescue breastmilk from a tabletop. She used various utensils and a syringe to try to get the milk back in the bottle.

"I spilled my breastmilk and this is how important it is in this house," she says while suctioning up milk with what appears to be a baster.

In a follow-up video Teigen continues to try to rescue the spilled milk.

"We're trying," she says as she suctions up a drop or two. "I got some."

Teigen is currently breastfeeding baby Miles, her son with husband John Legend, and has been very public about the fact that she pumps a lot as a working mom.

She's also been open about the fact that milk supply has always been an issue for her, not just with Miles but with Luna, too.

"I actually loved [pumping] because I'm a collector of things, and so when I found out I could pump I [did it] so much because I knew the more you pumped, the more milk you'd make," she told POPSUGAR back in March. "So I loved collecting my breast milk and seeing how much I could get, even if it was very, very little."

Like a lot of moms, Teigen did struggle emotionally when a pump session wouldn't get her the ounces she wanted.

"I wasn't producing a lot of milk, and it was frustrating. When you're frustrated, [it can also make you] not produce that much."

Research backs her up. Stress has been linked to lower milk production. Because of that, she's trying to stay positive this time around, but captioned her video post "EVERY DROP COUNTS IN THIS HOUSE" because, well, they do.


So many mothers can relate. Have you ever tried to save your breastmilk?

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What is it about networking that's just kind of...awful? Typically inconvenient and often awkward, formal networking events rarely yield the results most women (and especially mamas) are looking for.

Whether you're reentering the workforce post-baby leave or simply looking to make a complicated career switch as a busy mom (or just struggling to juggle play dates and professional meetings), making the right connections is often a hurdle that's difficult to surmount. And more and more often, networking comes up short in providing what moms really need.

When time is truly at a premium—a session swapping business cards can be hard to prioritize. Shapr wants to change all that.

Designed with busy people in mind, Shapr is an app with an algorithm that uses tagged interests, location, and professional experience to match you with 10-15 inspiring professional connections a day. You swipe to indicate interest in networking with any of them, and if the interest is mutual, you're connected. (But don't worry, that's where the similarities to that dating app end.)

It makes it easier to connect with the right people.

From there, you can chat, video conference, and even meet in person with potential mentors, partners, and investors while growing your real-life network. No more wasting hours trying to pick someone's brain only to discover they don't have the right experience you need. And no more awkward, stilted small talk—even suggests a few preset icebreakers to help get the conversation rolling more quickly.

The best part? You could do virtually all your connecting from your couch post-bedtime.

It simplifies switching careers or industries.

Sysamone Phaphone is a real mom who was fed up with traditional networking options. When she quit her full-time job in healthcare to pursue founding a startup, she quickly realized that in-person networking events weren't only failing to connect her to the right people, they were also difficult for a single mom of two to even attend. "I was complaining to a friend that I was so tired and didn't know how I was going to keep doing it this way when she recommended the Shapr app," Phaphone says. "I tried it right there at dinner and started swiping. [Later], in my pajamas, I got my first connection."

From there, Phaphone was hooked. Her network suddenly exploded with developers, potential partners she could work with, and even people to hire for the roles she needed. She was also able to connect with and empower other women in tech. Now, checking in with Shapr connections is just part of her routine. "I look for connections after drop-off at school and on my commute into the city," she says. "Then after bedtime is done, I go on to check if there is anyone I've connected with."

It helps you find a mentor—no matter where they live.

Another common roadblock Shapr removes? Location. While you probably wouldn't fly to LA from New York for a networking event, the Shapr app lets you connect and chat with the person who best meets your needs—regardless of where they're based. Even better for parents, the "mom penalty" many women contend with when trying to get back into the workforce doesn't exist on Shapr—if you have the right experience, the connections will still come.

To connect, simply create your account, enter up to ten hashtags you want to follow (either industry related like #film or #tech or by person you're seeking, such as #developer or #uxui), preset what you're looking for (investors, collaborators, etc.), and indicate how you prefer to meet. To connect with more people at once, Shapr also has community groups within the app around interest topics that you can join. And even though the connection begins in the digital space, it often results in the in-person experiences mamas crave.

"I wish I could encourage more moms and dads to use it because it has been a lifesaver for me," Phaphone says. "It empowered my career and career choices, and it provides so much convenience. I can put my kids to bed and not go to an event, but still meet 20 people in a night."

For women looking to grow their business, position, or simply achieve a little self-growth, Shapr is changing the way we connect. This powerful new app could change everything, mama. Download it today to get started.

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