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If You Should Do It For Your Kid, You Should Do It For Yourself

I recently dealt with an extremely difficult phase of separation anxiety with my three and a half-year-old. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without her running behind me and pounding her fists against the door, while in tears.

There were a lot of changes in our home all at once, so some type of reaction was to be expected. But, this was far beyond anything I had ever imagined. I had no idea what to do and felt incredibly overwhelmed from the moment I woke up each day to the moment I retired my exhausted mind and body back to bed.

I tried being more present by spending additional quality time with her while our new nanny watched my infant. I thought that perhaps the strain was coming from the presence of her new sibling, and the time that the baby was taking away from my interactions with her. That didn’t help… One day I foolishly listened to the advice of a friend who allows her child to scream through every situation, and swiftly exited her camp room after drop off. That definitely didn’t help.

The teachers called me back within 15 minutes and suggested I sit down on the floor with the rest of the class until she calmed down. (Side note here: If you don’t agree with the way someone else parents their children, don’t take their advice. Every child is different and only YOU know what is best for your child.)

Then I tried working from home while the nanny was there, but all my daughter did was cry and tell me over and over again that she wanted ‘Her’ to ‘go home now.’ It was a complete disaster.

I eventually found the right balance and saw my daughter turning a corner. She was playing with our new nanny, she was looking forward to seeing her friends at camp, and she was letting me use the toilet without screaming on the other side of the door or bracing my leg while I tried to have a bowel movement. Things were looking brighter, and I could tell that we were getting over a huge hump. But, were WE really getting over it?

Why was I still feeling tightness in my chest in spite of her achievements?

This is what I was working towards for weeks! Why was I still feeling sad and heavy now that I was finally able to take a step back from constantly having to work through every step of the day with her?

Well, one morning while rushing through another mediocre shower it hit me. It was because I had forgotten about doing things for myself.

I am not just talking about forgetting things like showers, getting dressed properly or throwing some makeup on. I am talking about forgetting to nurture myself on a much greater and deeper level. The way I had been nurturing my daughters. I didn’t need a new pair or jeans or a piece of jewelry. I didn’t need a manicure that would chip within two days or an expensive pair of shoes. I needed some reassurance and love.

Don’t get my wrong, I never underestimate the power of a nice manicure or massage, but we parents need to realize that true self-nurturing doesn’t come in the form of material things. It comes from giving ourselves the same type of love and reassurance that we give to our children each day.

So, one morning I stopped and looked at myself in the mirror. I leaned in with my hands on the counter and gazed into my own, tired eyes. I saw a ‘girl’ who had been neglected. I saw a lonely, and sad girl who was giving all of herself to everyone around her just to make others happy. The same girl I see in my daughter’s eyes when she has done every dance possible to get my attention, and sings every song she can think of when the baby’s demands are taking me away from her. I almost cried.

If I wouldn’t allow my daughter to suffer this way, then why was I allowing it to happen to myself?

Of course, I needed to be their caretaker. But, It was without question that I was fulfilling that role. I was also being the best wife possible with whatever energy I had left at the end of each day. But, there was another lonely person in the house, one who needed love and attention, or just needed to hear that she was important and that person was me.

In that moment I made the decision to find a way to nurture my own soul and give myself some needed and deserved attention. I praised myself. I acknowledged all of my strengths. I allowed myself to feel proud and take the credit I deserved for taking such good care of my family.

I also unapologetically allowed myself to feel great about the way my body had recovered after having two children. I told myself that I deserved complete showers and the time to shave my legs, even if that meant leaving my daughter with the television for an extra 15 minutes (they were always safe). I scheduled some plans with friends who I enjoyed being around, instead of just making obligated play dates with other parents I hardly knew.

Most importantly, I embraced that moment of praising myself and I didn’t feel guilty for any of it.

I made a pact with myself to give my own spirit the TLC it deserved, and realized that if I found these things to be essential for my daughters each day, then I should value them the same for myself. I would take the time to ‘check in.’ I would tell myself that I was doing a great job, and that it was completely normal to feel overwhelmed.

I would recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect parent, but that I was doing a fantastic job as a mother of two young children. I would take showers and brush my teeth without feeling guilty for it, and I would love my body. The same body that now has some stretch marks and cellulite. The very same body that carried my two beautiful children inside of it for 40 weeks each and then brought them into this world, and the same body that finds the daily strength, in spite of aches and pains, to nurse, carry, cuddle, hug and hold my children when they need it. I worship that body.

To all of the parents out there and, mainly to all of the moms: If you feel you should do it for your children, you should do it for yourself. You deserve to feel good each day. You deserve some praise for the things you do, even if they seem small in comparison to other things. We praise our kids for taking poops, don’t we? You owe it to yourself to love yourself, and you should never feel guilty for this. Especially if you are doing the best you can for your children.

Happiness won’t come in the form of a new purse or a fancy manicure, just like it doesn’t truly come in the form of a new toy. Those things will make anyone feel good in the moment, but at the end of the day, when the bag or the ‘Barbie’ is away in the closet, you will still be with yourself and the emptiness, afraid of the dark…. You must go deep.

You must nurture your soul.

Go for walks, exercise or stretch, take a shower, love your body, love yourself, and don’t feel guilty for saving a little bit of time and energy each day to do so. Just like children need to get out and go to the park with friends, adults need to escape from home and burn off steam too.

I know that free time comes few and far between when you are a parent, so I do not suggest that you will have hours at a time to do these things right away, but start with a minute here and there just to check in with yourself and say ‘Hey beautiful, I am proud of you. You are doing a really great job.’

The same way you always manage to find the time to say something like that to your kids.

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Going back to work after having a baby is hard. Regaining your footing in a world where working mothers are so often penalized is tough, and (just like most things during the postpartum period) it takes time.

The challenges we face as working women returning from a maternity leave can be so different from those we faced before, it can feel like we're starting over from scratch. But mothers will not be deterred, even if our return to the working world doesn't go exactly as planned.

We are resilient, as Serena Williams proved at Wimbledon this weekend.

She lost to Angelique Kerber in the final, just 10 months after welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia and recovering from a physically and emotionally traumatic birth experience.

Williams didn't get her eighth Wimbledon title this weekend, but when we consider all the challenges she (and all new moms) faced in resuming her career, her presence was still a huge achievement.

"It was such an amazing tournament for me, I was really happy to get this far!" Williams explained in an emotional post-match interview.

"For all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried. I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

The loss at Wimbledon isn't what she wanted, of course, but Williams says it does not mean there won't be wins in her near future.

"These two weeks have showed me I can really compete and be a contender to win grand slams. This is literally just the beginning. I took a giant step at Wimbledon but my journey has just began."

When asked what she hopes other new moms take away from her journey, Williams noted her postpartum recovery was really difficult, and hopes that other moms who face challenges early in motherhood know that they don't have to give up on whatever dreams they have for themselves, whether it involves working or not.

"Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it. I'm just that person, that vessel that's saying, 'You can be whatever you want to be.' If you want to go back to workand to me, after becoming a mom, I feel like there's no pressure to do that because having a child is a completely full-time job," she said.

"But to those that do want to go back, you can do it, you can really do it."

Thank you, Serena. You may not have won, but this was still a victory.

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Since baby Crew became the newest member of Chip and Joanna Gaines' family three weeks ago, his proud parents have been keeping the world updated, sharing sweet snaps of their youngest and even giving us a glimpse into his nursery.

Now, Chip Gaines is showing off a pic that proves there is nothing cuter than a floppy, sleepy baby.

"My heart is full..." the proud father of five captioned the photo he posted on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

Earlier this week Crew's mama shared how she gets him so sleepy in the first place, posting an Instagram Story showing how she walks around the family's gardens on their Waco, Texas farm to lull her newborn boy to sleep.

The couple are clearly enjoying every single moment of Crew's babyhood. As recently as 7 days ago Chip was still sporting his hospital bracelet. Joanna says with each child he's worn his maternity ward ID until it finally wears off. We can't blame Chip for wanting to make the newborn phase last as long as possible.

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It was a changing table must-have a generation ago, but these days, many parents are forgoing baby powder, and now, the leading manufacturer of the sweet smelling powder was dealt a big financial blow.

Johnson & Johnson was just ordered to pay almost $4.7 billion to 22 women who sued, alleging baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.

A St. Louis jury says the women are right, but what does The American Academy of Pediatrics say about baby powder?

It was classified "a hazard" before many of today's parents were even born

The organization has actually been recommending against baby powder for years, but not due to cancer risks, but inhalation risks.

Way back in 1981 the AAP declared baby powder "a hazard," issuing a report pointing out the frequency of babies aspirating the powder, which can be dangerous and even fatal in the most severe cases.

That warning didn't stop all parents from using the powder though, as its continued presence on store shelves to this day indicates.

In 1998 Dr. Hugh MacDonald, then the director of neonatology at Santa Monica Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn, told the Los Angeles Times "Most pediatricians recommend that it not be used," adding that the consensus at the time was that "anybody using talcum powder be aware that it could cause inhalation of the talc, resulting in a pneumonic reaction."

Recent updates

A 2015 update to the AAP's Healthy Children website suggests the organization was even very recently still more concerned about the risk of aspiration than cancer risks like those alleged in the lawsuit. It suggests that parents who choose to use baby powder "pour it out carefully and keep the powder away from baby's face [as] published reports indicate that talc or cornstarch in baby powder can injure a baby's lungs."

In a 2017 interview with USA Today, Dr. David Soma, a pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children's Hospital, explained that baby powder use had decreased a lot over the previous five to eight years, but he didn't believe it was going to disappear from baby shower gift baskets any time soon.

"There are a lot of things that are used out of a matter of tradition, or the fact it seems to work for specific children," he said. "I'm not sure if it will get phased out or not, until we know more about the details of other powders and creams and what works best for skin conditions—I think it will stick around for a while."

Talc-based baby powder is the kind alleged to have caused ovarian cancer in the lawsuit (which Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal), but corn starch varieties of baby powder are also available and not linked to increased cancer risks as alleged in the case.

Bottom line: If you are going to use baby powder on your baby's bottom, make sure they're not getting a cloud of baby powder in their face, and if you're concerned, talk to your health care provider about alternative methods and products to use on your baby's delicate skin.

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In the days since a The New York Times report revealed a resolution meant to encourage breastfeeding was blocked by U.S. delegates at the World Health Assembly, breastfeeding advocates, political pundits, parents, doctors—and just about everyone else—have been talking about breastfeeding, and whether or not America and other countries are doing enough to support it.

The presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians say the controversy at the World Health Assembly reveals that mothers need more support when it comes to breastfeeding, while others, including The Council on Foreign Relations, suggest the national conversation needs more nuance, and less focus on the "breast is best" rhetoric.

The one thing everyone agrees on is that parents need more support when it comes to infant feeding, and in that respect, the controversy over the World Health Assembly resolution may be a good thing.

In their joint letter to the editor published in the New York Times this week, the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians, Dr. Colleen Kraft and Dr. Lisa Hollier urge "the United States and every country to protect, promote and support breast-feeding for the health of all women, children and families."

The doctors go on to describe how breastfeeding "provides protection against newborn, infant and child infections, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and sudden infant death syndrome," and note the health benefits to mothers, including reduced risks for "breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

"Helping mothers to breastfeed takes a multifaceted approach, including advancing public policies like paid family leave, access to quality child care, break time and a location other than a bathroom for expressing milk," say Kraft and Hollier.

Certainly such policies would support breastfeeding mothers (and all mothers) in America, but some critics say framing the discussion around domestic policy is a mistake, because the World Health Assembly resolution is a global matter and women and babies in other parts of the world face very different feeding challenges than we do here at home.

In an op-ed published by CNN, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations suggests the laudable goal of breastfeeding promotion can backfire when mothers in conflict-riddled areas can't access formula due to well-meaning policy. Lemmon points to a 2017 statement by Doctors Without Borders calling for fewer barriers to formula distribution in war-torn areas.

"International organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) promote breastfeeding ... and provide infant formula, but only by prescription. We believe that distributing infant formula in a conflict situation like Iraq is the only way to avoid children having to be hospitalized for malnutrition," Manuel Lannaud, the head of Doctors Without Borders Iraq mission wrote.

The various viewpoints presented this week prove that infant feeding is not a black and white issue, and policy debates should not be framed as formula versus breast milk—there is more nuance than that.

A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found opting to supplement with formula after first breastfeeding improves outcomes for infants and results in higher rates of breastfeeding afterward, and while the benefits of breastfeeding are numerous, they are sometimes overstated. Another recent study published in the journal PLOS Medicine found breastfeeding has no impact on a child's overall neurocognitive function by the time they are 16. Basically, parents should not be shamed for supplementing or choosing to use formula.

This, according to Department of Health and Human Services says national spokesperson Caitlin Oakley is why the HHS opposed the original draft of the breastfeeding resolution at the World Health Assembly (although critics and the initial NYT report suggest the United States delegation were acting in the interests of infant formula manufacturers).

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies," Oakley said in a statement.

That's true, but so is everything the presidents of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians presented in their op-ed, and that's why the U.S. should support breastfeeding policy.

Here's another truth: This is an issue with many perspectives and many voices. And we need to hear them all, because all parents need support in feeding their babies, whether it's with a breast, a bottle or both—and we're not getting it yet.

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