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I sit at the computer scanning photographs that cover 25 years, hoping to give my two young adult children a digital record that will be the insect in amber, preserving a bit of who they were and what we all did together in those years we thought would go on forever.

A pile of pictures slips from my lap to the floor, fanning out into a kaleidoscope of faces that stare back at me. If the mouths in those photos could move, I think they would speak two truths I already know.

One is that of course it would end, those chaotic years under one roof. And it would end sooner than anyone in the throes of homework (that no one in the house knew how to do), temper tantrums (the parents’), swim practice, stomach viruses, broken arms, broken hearts, driver’s ed, head lice, and shopping for prom dresses ever thinks it will.

The second is that, when we look at any one of those photographs, the unspoken story therein will be read differently by each of us.

How and why we remember things fascinates even the experts in the field of psychology. Ask any two siblings about their childhood and you’re likely to get two vastly different accounts of the same town, same house, same parents. It’s the Rashomon effect, whether it’s about witnessing a crime or sharing a family story.

Will my two kids recall how I pretended to love sleeping on the ground, cheering from the sidelines, and waking at 2 a.m. to go out in the bitter cold so they could experience camping, soccer, and shooting stars? (For that last one, I grumbled a lot about the ungodly hour and the freezing temperature, but I now concede that nothing compares with lying on your back in a dark field with your kids, watching for the Leonid meteor showers.)

They both possess literally volumes of reminders that I had to quit my bookstore job after Michael was born, not because a second child was time-consuming, but because I had bought so many children’s books, I always owed more than I earned. “The Little Engine That Could”, “The Snowy Day”, “Miss Rumphius”, “The Runaway Bunny”, “Curious George”, so many others. Even when we weren’t reading them, they were crammed into bookcases or piled like teetering cairns to silently beckon or simply reassure.

As for music, I wonder if in some future moment of sleeplessness, they will stumble upon the ballads of Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell and be taken back to the nights they nodded off while those exquisite old folk lyrics rose up from a CD player wedged in the narrow hallway space between their bedrooms.

Our rituals were few and uncomplicated, but I’ve got pictures that reveal their essence. How I treasure (do they?) the snapshots of the birthday girl, boy, mom, or dad, basking in that singular moment of attention while balancing the breakfast-in-bed tray on his or her lap, trying not to spill orange juice all over the bedspread.

The juice spilled many times, of course. There were yellow stains on the blankets to prove it. Even Goodwill didn’t want them. The wooden breakfast tray will never be tossed, wobbly though it is. It is a family icon.

Enshrined in their memory better be how I rarely required them to do dishes or rake leaves if such banal chores interfered with scholarly pursuits. This is set in stone. No matter what they say. How could they ever forget that instead of assigning mundane tasks, I took them apple picking or bike riding? Oh, wait…that was their dad. I was probably reading on the porch, modeling scholarly behavior.

They may not recall serving food in a soup kitchen in one particularly dicey city neighborhood. Marita was about four and Michael was still crawling (I remember this well because he would nosh on whatever fell from the trays of the hungry). I hope they have absorbed the spirit of those activities.

Seder meals shared with friends, a Mass celebrated by a radical woman priest, blissfully quiet Quaker Meetings, poetry readings, and political protests. I hope their memories of these are visceral but also intellectual. It is clear that these experiences have shaped their desire for peace and their love of justice.

I doubt they remember their very first museum visits, each child, in turn, swaddled in a sling across my chest, mother and baby one amorphous being, contemplating serene Hudson River School landscapes or provocative Andy Warhols.

Recently, I crossed paths with a young dad strolling his baby through a gallery. I warned him that if he made a habit of it, the kid just might grow up, as one of mine did, to become an art history major with meager job prospects.

One story that gets recounted with unassailable veracity and needs no embellishment is Michael’s early sex ed lesson, though he didn’t know it then. A late start and then a detour en route to a vacation spot landed us in a cheap motel for a night. As we settled in for the unexpected layover, telltale sounds from the next room became louder and louder.

What was unmistakable to us was at first mysterious, and then disconcerting, to a six-year-old. We turned up the volume on our television and tried to distract him with marathon games of Uno, accompanied by our own inordinately loud conversation. Soon we couldn’t contain our laughter.

When the headboard on the other side of the wall began to bang, Michael’s eyes grew wide and he said, “Daddy, I think someone’s being killed in there!” Finally, we convinced him that it was a very rowdy movie on the TV in the next room. “Oh, like Jurassic Park?” He seemed relieved. Yes, we agreed, must be something like Jurassic Park.

So what do I wish them to erase from the magic lantern of the mind? When I yelled too much or too long. Worse, when I made my displeasure known with silence and pursed lips. When I said “No, you can’t” instead of “Yes, go ahead.”

How I hope Marita and, more importantly, her friends have forgotten a certain long-ago Dave Matthews Concert. Surrounded by the gaggle of sixth grade girls, I fist-pumped in the dark auditorium and (cringe) swayed. Then I put us on the wrong return train back to the suburbs. Yep, I did that. At least I wasn’t wearing mom jeans. I’m sure I wasn’t wearing mom jeans.

Recalling a gaggle of a different sort – real geese this time – I hope Michael has no flashbacks of the slow moving birds I hit on a rural road one bright morning rife with sun glare. Who screamed loudest as blood, bone, and feathers flew across my windshield? Me, the doomed flock, or the boy in the back seat? Better to forget.

Let’s forget, too, all the times I fussed over baking a perfect cake for company instead of allowing two curious kids to make a happy mess of measuring and stirring and letting flour dust down on us like snow.

Here’s a tough one: Do I want them to remember, or forget, or at least understand the times I searched their backpacks, smelled their coats and their breath, and eavesdropped on a few of their conversations. All I can say is I breathed a huge parental sigh of relief every time my worried sleuthing turned out to be unwarranted.

My very first memory of my father is a vivid one. I am sitting on his shoulders holding a light bulb that he is about to exchange for the burned-out one in the ceiling lamp of our front entryway. (He was tall enough to forgo a step stool.) With one upstretched hand keeping me steady and the other deftly replacing the old bulb, he brought light to the darkness that moments earlier had threatened to engulf my three-year-old psyche in fear.

The scene made an indelible imprint on me, but my father has no recollection of it. I suppose for him it was one of a million times he had changed a light bulb, and I am one of 10 children he had held aloft, no doubt, for one reason or another. What parents dismiss as quotidian, children, for better or worse, often elevate to something momentous. Ask any therapist, or any poet.

In the years to come, when my children reminisce together for laughs – and I hope the laughs are abundant – I want them to agree on one thing only: that the parenting patchwork of bright silk and rough edges, missteps and triumphs, was sewn together with one unbreakable thread of love.

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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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