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When I decided not to return to work after having my first child, a trusted colleague advised me to still “do something” while I was home. She suggested I work part-time, attend conferences, or volunteer – really, anything that would fill the unsightly gap in employment on my resume.

While she supported and respected my choice to be home, she warned that many of her friends who made the same decision struggled to re-enter the workforce. They had to take steps back in their careers and salary because employers found their break from the paid workforce unattractive. She wanted me to avoid this, advising that my skills and time are valuable, and I should be paid accordingly, even if I’ve chosen to exit the fast track for a while.

With this in mind, I took a big gulp and pressed pause on my career, and I don’t yet know how my personal story will go. I hope, when I’m ready, I’m able to press play right where I left off, but I know I may have to rewind to a more junior role to get my foot back in the door. I also know that my situation is not unique.

Paying the price for exiting the fast track

According to the Harvard Business Review’s widely circulated 2005 study “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps:  Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success,” over a third of “highly qualified women” reported voluntarily leaving their careers at some point, and the number increases to 43% among women with children. Almost all of the women surveyed (93%) intended to re-enter the workforce, but only 40% found full-time employment. Others worked part-time or became self-employed.

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The authors concluded, “The implication is clear: Off-ramps are around every curve in the road, but once a woman has taken one, on-ramps are few and far between – and extremely costly.” Even with a relatively short break of one to two years, women lost, on average, 18% of their earning power. Unsurprisingly, the longer women stayed out, the larger the penalty. The authors updated the study in 2010 and did not find significant differences in their results.

So, my colleague’s advice to me was sound. As I enter my third year out of the workforce, I can’t help but take another big gulp, wondering just how much money I’m leaving on the table and just how hard it will be to get back to work when I’m ready.

Of course, having a choice of whether to work is a privilege that few American women have. Nonetheless, there’s a group of us who put our professional careers on hold, only to find that the years we invested in schooling and work don’t help very much when we want to get back in the game, and that’s pretty frustrating.

But, employers are feeling pain, too, in the form of talent shortages and the desire to balance gender representation in their workplaces, so they’re taking notice of the “roughly 2.6 million educated mothers of prime working age who are not in the labor force.”

On-ramping with a returnship

The Chicago Tribune reported in February 2016 that seven STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) companies are set to launch re-entrance programs this year for professionals who want to get back into the workforce after taking an extended career break (usually two or more years). These paid internships serve as an outreach opportunity to a pool of talent that, until recently, may have been overlooked because of their break from work.

IBM, GM, Booz Allen Hamilton, Intel, Johnson Controls, Cummins, and Caterpillar committed to pilot programs in cooperation with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the consulting firm iRelaunch, which calls itself “the return-to-work experts.” The hope is that more companies in STEM will sign on to start programs of their own in the coming years.

The concept is not new. Goldman Sachs led the pack in 2008 with its Returnship program , and Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and JPMorgan followed with similar programs. Several big law firms started their own, too, and some companies have expanded their programs globally. According to iRelaunch’s comprehensive list of re-entry programs, there are about 90 active programs across industries.

The details of the programs vary by company, but they generally offer paid internships that last anywhere from nine weeks to an entire year and rotate participants through various departments or roles. Participants receive support through mentorships and workshops, have opportunities to network with other professionals, and adapt their skills for a work environment that may have changed since they’ve been gone.

The programs are competitive and do not guarantee a job offer at the end. At Goldman, 1,000 applicants vied for 19 spots in 2013, and about half of all graduates of the program have received job offers.

The highest users of these internships are women who stepped out of the workforce to raise families, but it’s not exclusively for them. As adults have the burden to care for their aging parents or take leaves of absence for other personal reasons, these programs offer a way to re-adjust to life at work, as The New York Times highlighted in 2014.

Are they really necessary?

Since my background is in human resources, when I first learned about these programs I was intrigued, but as a stay-at-home mom who assumes she’ll have a career again one day, I was miffed. Had I really become so untouchable that I’d need a special program to get back to work? These internships validate the assumption that candidates with a gap in employment are less capable than candidates who’ve continuously worked, and I’m not convinced that’s fair.

In that Harvard Business Review study, women lost earning power after one or two years out of work. How much does one’s professional skill set really diminish over two years, and does it actually justify putting them in a more junior role than the one they left? Does it really take longer to bring them up to speed than any new employee on-boarding into a company?

I was chatting with a friend from my old job, and she filled me in on the latest news from our company. It was kind of like watching a soap opera that I hadn’t seen in a few years. Things had changed, but I could still follow the storyline pretty easily. Surely, I could jump back into my old role after three years of being away. So, then, how big of a disadvantage would I really have at a different company compared to any other new hire?

I channeled my grad school research days and scanned through hundreds of studies on JSTOR looking for data on this — the success and turnover rates of people re-entering the workforce after a career interruption compared to new employees with no such break. I couldn’t find any research on the topic. If you have facts on this, please share them because I really want to know whether the perception is justified that job candidates with a break in service are a high risk hiring decision.

I want more than anecdotes of a mom getting cold feet as she starts a new job. Because for every one of those, I know a woman who hit the ground running at the same speed as any other new employee. Sure, these ladies found the transition mentally taxing at first, but this didn’t diminish their contributions to their new employers. Everyone starting a new job has a learning curve and no one has an absolutely perfect skill set. We all have strengths and weaknesses, regardless of whether we’ve always worked or took a break.

If such research doesn’t exist, then I know what I’ll study for my PhD dissertation when I can’t get a job due to my apparently unbridgeable gap in employment. Because, I actually think I’ll be a better employee than when I left. Motherhood has made me an all-around more competent person. I’m a better advocate for others and a better leader, more mindful of when and how to steer the ship where it needs to go.

In fact, another friend of mine, who’s an attorney, said that early in her career, the lawyer interviewing her noticed she had been a preschool teacher in college. The lawyer told her that if she could successfully negotiate with two- and three-year-olds, then she would have no trouble arguing with opposing counsel. She got the job.

On top of the professional skill set that I’ve retained (and still use, just in different ways), I’m bringing an entire set of experiences that people who’ve always worked don’t have. I may have unique and beneficial insights to share with my new company, and it’s disheartening that it’s not always looked at this way.

I’m not alone in taking offense. Stacey Hawley’s article on WorkingMother.com called returnships a “bad idea” that “take advantage of women who feel less confident after being at home for a few years.” She argues that companies “PLAY on this PERCEIVED lack of expertise or skills. They promote the low self-confidence some people feel after being out of the workforce and use it to their advantage. Under the guise of helping people get up to speed and allowing employees to ‘see if it is the right fit,’ they get a no-risk trial and can fire you.”

Certainly things change over time. New technology, industry innovations, and workplace trends create a learning curve that steepens the longer one’s been gone, but lumping everyone with a gap of two or more years into one group, assuming they need extra help just to function in a workplace, and then funneling them into highly competitive programs that don’t guarantee employment lets companies off the hook of evaluating resumes of career re-launchers in an unbiased way.

But maybe they’re helpful

As I worked myself up into a lather over these re-entry programs, I reached out to my former colleagues still in the trenches of human resources at a variety of well-known and respected companies. They calmed my righteous indignation because they’re not only skilled professionals but also young mothers who know what it feels like to actually make that transition back to work (something I have yet to do). 

They know firsthand how hard it is to transition their mindsets back to work after time off, even if it’s only a four-month maternity leave. “It’s still a very big mental shift to get your brain re-trained to be focused on the business, strategies, etc. To go from family being the number one, to family being one of a few different priorities, it’s a juggle,” Kelly Jones, an HR Business Partner at The Clorox Company explains. Re-entrance programs offer less of a commitment on both sides, which is good if the candidate decides she’s not quite ready to go back to work.

I also talked with Estrella Parker, Chief Human Resource Officer at Satellite Healthcare WellBound, for her take on these initiatives. Her company does not have a re-entrance program, but she sees value in them as an opportunity to rebuild the confidence of people coming back to work, not to take advantage of them.

She explains, “It’s all about transition. How do you support them to prepare for a competitive environment, so they can reintegrate into those [higher] level positions [that they left]?” Even more importantly, she says, these programs offer access to professional networks that may be hard for individuals to tap into on their own. The old adage of, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know” often still holds true for career progression.

Getting your foot back in the door

Whether you think a re-entrance program is right for you, or you want to find other ways to get back to work, think first about what you really want to do. “When you take a break, it changes you, and you might not want to get back into work where you left off,” Parker notes. You’ll be most successful if you find the right fit, even if it’s in a different company, industry, or profession than where you were before. IRelaunch offers numerous resources to get you prepped for returning to work.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

Introducing the concept of re-entrance programs to desired employers may be tough.

Developing and running programs like these takes time and money, and employers aren’t likely to do it for a single job candidate. Your best bet is to convince them that you already have what it takes to be hired straight away. If you’re set on getting one of these schemes in place, work with current employees inside the company to develop a business case for it. You’ll need to understand where they have talent gaps, demonstrate how these programs can help close those gaps, offer suggestions for program design, and estimate the return on investment the company can expect.

That’s a lot of work, so maybe… 

Consider contracting assignments to ease back in.

Often, companies need extra help from experienced, highly-skilled professionals for specific projects or seasonal work and will contract with temporary agencies and consultants to fill this need. It’s a common re-entry point that provides flexibility and less commitment, but gets a foot in the door and can lead to full-time employment.

Networking is the key.

It really is all about getting that chance to prove you’ve still got it, and often that’s about who you know. Make it vocal to anyone who will listen that you’re ready to return to work. You may be surprised at your own connections.

Bottom line

I’m not convinced that everyone who takes a break from work requires a special set of hoops, like these internships, to prove that we’ve retained our business acumen, technical, and communication skills. I’m afraid that, with the creation of these programs, companies are never challenged to examine their bias against career re-launchers as already-legitimate job candidates. However, since I haven’t transitioned back to work, I don’t fully understand what it takes, and I have to trust my colleagues who have done it.

I do believe these programs were designed to be mutually beneficial to companies and career re-launchers alike, so I support them. Because, really, whenever a company invests time and money into people, it’s a good thing.

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There are certain moments of parenthood that stay with us forever. The ones that feel a little extra special than the rest. The ones that we always remember, even as time moves forward.

The first day of school will always be one of the most powerful of these experiences.

I love thinking back to my own excitement going through it as a child—the smell of the changing seasons, how excited I was about the new trendy outfit I picked out. And now, I get the joy of watching my children go through the same right of passage.

Keep the memory of this time close with these 10 pictures that you must take on the first day of school so you can remember it forever, mama:

1. Getting on the school bus.

Is there anything more iconic than a school bus when it comes to the first day of school? If your little one is taking the bus, snap a photo of them posed in front of the school bus, walking onto it for the first time, or waving at you through the window as they head off to new adventure.

2. Their feet (and new shoes!)

Getting a new pair of shoes is the quintessential task to prepare for a new school year. These are the shoes that will support them as they learn, play and thrive. Capture the sentimental power of this milestone by taking photos of their shoes. You can get a closeup of your child's feet, or even show them standing next to their previous years of first-day-of-school shoes to show just how much they've grown. If you have multiple children, don't forget to get group shoe photos as well!

3. Posing with their backpack.

Backpacks are a matter of pride for kids so be sure to commemorate the one your child has chosen for the year. Want to get creative? Snap a picture of the backpack leaning against the front door, and then on your child's back as they head out the door.

4. Standing next to a tree or your front door.

Find a place where you can consistently take a photo year after year—a tree, your front door, the school signage—and showcase how much your child is growing by documenting the change each September.

5. Holding a 'first day of school' sign.

Add words to your photo by having your child pose with or next to a sign. Whether it's a creative DIY masterpiece or a simple printout you find online that details their favorites from that year, the beautiful sentiment will be remembered for a lifetime.

6. With their graduating class shirt.

When your child starts school, get a custom-designed shirt with the year your child will graduate high school, or design one yourself with fabric paint (in an 18-year-old size). Have them wear the shirt each year so you can watch them grow into it—and themselves!

Pro tip: Choose a simple color scheme and design that would be easy to recreate if necessary—if your child ends up skipping or repeating a year of school and their graduation date shifts, you can have a new shirt made that can be easily swapped for the original.

7. Post with sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk never goes out of style and has such a nostalgic quality to it. Let your child draw or write something that represents the start of school, like the date or their teacher, and then have them pose next to (or on top of) their work.

8. In their classroom.

From first letters learned to complicated math concepts mastered, your child's classroom is where the real magic of school happens. Take a few pictures of the space where they'll be spending their time. They will love remembering what everything looked like on the first day, from the decorations on the wall to your child's cubby, locker or desk.

9. With their teacher.

If classrooms are where the magic happens, teachers are the magicians. We wish we remembered every single teach we had, but the truth is that over time, memories fade. Be sure to snap a photo of your child posing with their teacher on the first day of school.

10. With you!

We spend so much time thinking about our children's experience on the first day of school, we forget about the people who have done so much to get them there—us! This is a really big day for you too, mama, so get in that photo! You and your child will treasure it forever.

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

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In America, mothers have the right to breastfeed their child in public, but what about when you're on an airplane? That's the issue one California mom, Shelby Angel, brought to light after she had a bad experience on Dutch airline KLM.

In a Facebook post that has gone viral Shelby explained:

"Before we even took off, I was approached by a flight attendant carrying a blanket. She told me (and I quote) "if you want to continue doing the breastfeeding, you need to cover yourself." I told her no, my daughter doesn't like to be covered up. That would upset her almost as much as not breastfeeding her at all. She then warned me that if anyone complained, it would be my issue to deal with (no one complained. On any of the flights I took with my daughter. Actually, no one has ever complained to me about breastfeeding in public. Except this flight attendant)."

Shelby's post gained traction but soon the conversation spread to Twitter, where another woman, Heather Yemm, asked KLM to explain its breastfeeding policy.

The airline responded, "To ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this." Twitter users didn't like this response and even started asking other airlines about their breastfeeding policies.




British Airways confirmed it welcomes breastfeeding onboard and a Delta rep tweeted that the airline's policy is to "allow a breastfeeding mother to feed her child on board in a manner she feels comfortable with."

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That sounds like a good plan to us. Southwest was also questioned by Twitter users and confirmed that "Southwest does indeed welcome nursing mothers who wish to breastfeed on the aircraft and/or within our facilities".

This important online conversation underscores how vital it is for airlines to have supportive policies in place and train staff on those policies. Back in March, a Canadian mom made international headlines after an Air Canada call center representative told her to nurse in an airplane bathroom (a suggestion that is contrary to Air Canada's own policies).

It's time for every airline to recognize that breastfeeding needs to be welcomed and that all staff members need to understand this. Whether a mother uses a cover or not needs to be up to her, not a flight attendant or other passengers.

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News

I grew up with three brothers and yes, it was loud, crazy, chaotic, but also so much fun. We had vacations where we laughed a lot, Christmas Eves full of staying up late to listen for Santa, and inside jokes that made me feel like I had my own little secret club. What I really loved about being in a big family was that it gave me a sense of community, so when I came home and the outside world had been cruel or harsh I had my people.

People always gasped when I said I had three brothers and no sisters like they weren't sure how I survived around so many barbarians. I never felt like I was missing out. My brothers are caring people, my mom was always around, and we all got married young giving me three sisters-in-law who I call close friends.

Now we all have our own families and we live 30 minutes from each other. We still manage to get together with all 12 of the cousins (all under 12, yes it's chaos) and laugh and make memories. My oldest brother has four kids, my second oldest has three, I have three, and my youngest brother has two and we pretty much all had them at the same time. We are also a very girl heavy bunch, only four boys total in the whole mix.

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Recently we were all on a family vacation and I was sitting around with my sisters-in-law and we were talking numbers, who was done having kids. My sister-in-law with four said she was overwhelmed, my other one said they were adopting one more and my other sister-in-law and I just said, we don't know. We both have three and four feels like a big jump.

It's funny how everyone talks about how you know when to start having kids but no one tells you how hard it will be to decide when your family is done. I know that's not true for everyone, I have lots of friends that just knew. Others never had the luxury of deciding and then some are like me living life on the fence hoping the fertility fairy will drop an answer in your lap.

I have to admit, I don't know if I'm done having babies. All these questions keep popping in my head.

If I have two girls and one boy should we go for the fourth and try for a brother?

Or if we have three girls will the level of drama be too high?

Or if one kid really likes one of their siblings and not the other should we have more?

Should we factor in age?

Should they be two grades apart or three or four?

Should we give up if it's too hard or will we regret it?

Should we adopt if we can or have another biological?

Should we close up shop and enjoy the kids we have?

Will our marriage survive another newborn season?

What is the perfect number?

There are a thousand possible scenarios and the questions just eat away at my brain. They keep me up at night. I'm not even kidding. I have laid in bed and played out every scenario and the possible outcome.

I do this because my childhood in all of its loud glory was the greatest gift my parents ever gave me. My brothers, our friendship, my parents' choice to fight for close-knit relationships, all of it was what gave me the foundation I needed.

So now as a parent myself, I want to give that same gift to my own kids.

What if there is no perfect number? What if you just choose to make family a safe, secure place, where your kids can feel valued and loved? Does it matter then if you have one, two, three, four or whatever number you have? Will the effect still be the same?

I think so.

The reality is though, I want what I had. I want a family where my kids feel this sense of community they might not get anywhere else and that's not a numbers game that's a culture thing.

I have had to come to accept that I have no guarantee and that there is no perfect number. Each family comes with its own set of complications, joys and strengths. The uniqueness is actually part of the fun.

We have two girls and a boy now and I watch my girls bond as sisters and think, oh this is what people were talking about. Sure, I wish my son had a brother but he has two amazing sisters that love on him and will even dress up like superheroes sometimes.

We still don't know if we are "done" but we do know our family is already great and the number isn't as important as what we choose to make important.

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Life

My darling,

I'm not entirely sure why I do things like this to myself, but tonight, as I rocked our night-before-turning-1-year-old daughter to sleep I closed my eyes and, for about 10 minutes, I pictured what our life will look like in 10 years.

(You're probably reprimanding me for doing that in your head right now. 😂)

In 10 years, our three daughters will be almost 15, almost 13, and 11—not a single-digit in sight. We'll be dealing with high school and middle school and hormones and the start of love interests and things that aren't diaper changes and baby proofing and teething.

We won't be rocking them to sleep anymore or cutting up their food. And I'm sure we'll miss the validation of being the ones who keep their world turning because simply put—we won't be the center of their Universe anymore.

Instead of them needing us to lay with them until they fall asleep, they will need us to remind them that it's bedtime at 9 pm, 10 pm, then again at 11 pm.

Instead of tripping over dolls strewn about the floor, we will be tripping over lacrosse sticks and backpacks and bras.Instead of needing our help to break up fights over magnatiles, they'll need us to break up fights over who stole who's shirt.

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Instead of wiping tears from a meltdown over receiving the "wrong" dinner plate, we will be wiping tears from a heartache over a fight with a friend.

Instead of needing us to carry them around when they say they're too tired to walk, they will need us to pick them up from after-school activities and drive them around town.

Instead of teaching them how to tie their shoes or say "thank you," we will be teaching them how to drive and how to stay safe and be a respectful member of our community.

It will be a whole new world.

I will become the woman who looks at a baby and can almost feel her ovaries ache. We will hold new nieces and nephews and wish that we could relive that high of meeting our child for the first time again—just one more time. We'll say things like, "Wow, it seems like just yesterday our kids were this small…"

This past weekend, when we were hosting our third first birthday party, we reminisced on when each of our children were born and how it seems like they are growing up so quickly. Because they are. It seems like we blinked, and now our newborn from last year is a walking, chit-chatting, climbing, busy toddler.

I started to cry during my little torture-myself-10-years-ahead-meditation tonight. (Not totally surprising, right?) Because 10 years down the line—while I am certainly confident we will be happy and fulfilled—everything will be different. There will be new milestones to be proud of and new adventures to embark on, of course. But it won't be like it is now.

These—right now—are the good ol' days of our future.

The stories we will reminisce on are happening now... when we discover that our toddler knows how to climb on the kitchen table and laughs at us when she sees us see her… or when we watch our preschooler tie her shoes for the first time courtesy of the bunny ear method... or the million times our heart bursts when our middle kiddo busts out her signature move of sticking her hand down her shirt and asking for a pacifier when she's tired.

The moments we will never forget are happening now… the sound of the high pitched sing-song voice belting out "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid… the giggles when we're all running around the house… the way they look when they're sleeping—so peaceful and angelic—even if they were going buck wild 10 minutes prior.

The "remember whens" we will laugh about when our kids seem too grown up and the parenting challenges seem too serious—are happening now...

Like when one of our children poops in the backyard playhouse (I won't name any names)... or how another one of our children "bakes" concoctions that consist of garlic powder, chili powder, vanilla, ginger, water, baking soda and salt (and yes, also how I try them because she always asks me to and because I always feel bad not supporting her baking endeavors).

We will look back, and we won't necessarily focus on the blood, sweat and tears that we have poured into raising young children together. Sure, we will remember how hard it was—but I really think we will look back on these physically and emotionally taxing years with rose-tinted glasses.

The feeling of utter overwhelm and constant chaos will have dimmed. The sleep struggles and multiple meltdowns will pale in comparison to the relationship drama and social media worries of the pre-teen and teenage years. We will have more time for conversation and date nights instead of often feeling like ships passing in the night.

And so my hunch is this: We will faintly remember the hard times down the line. But, in 10 years, when we look back—we will let the good times shine.

In 10 years, I'll be sad—in a happy way—looking back on the beginning stages of the life we've built together.

The days when happiness was measured in how many twirls one could do before collapsing into laughter.

The days when love was measured in sloppy, peanut butter covered kisses.

The days when peace was measured in how calm bedtime could be and how quiet the house could get post-bedtime.

The days when we were their everything; their Universe.

The good 'ol days.

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Instead of needing our help to break up fights over magnatiles, they'll need us to break up fights over who stole who's shirt.

Instead of wiping tears from a meltdown over receiving the "wrong" dinner plate, we will be wiping tears from a heartache over a fight with a friend.

Instead of needing us to carry them around when they say they're too tired to walk, they will need us to pick them up from after-school activities and drive them around town.

Instead of teaching them how to tie their shoes or say "thank you," we will be teaching them how to drive and how to stay safe and be a respectful member of our community.

It will be a whole new world.

I will become the woman who looks at a baby and can almost feel her ovaries ache. We will hold new nieces and nephews and wish that we could relive that high of meeting our child for the first time again—just one more time. We'll say things like, "Wow, it seems like just yesterday our kids were this small…"

This past weekend, when we were hosting our third first birthday party, we reminisced on when each of our children were born and how it seems like they are growing up so quickly. Because they are. It seems like we blinked, and now our newborn from last year is a walking, chit-chatting, climbing, busy toddler.

I started to cry during my little torture-myself-10-years-ahead-meditation tonight. (Not totally surprising, right?) Because 10 years down the line—while I am certainly confident we will be happy and fulfilled—everything will be different. There will be new milestones to be proud of and new adventures to embark on, of course. But it won't be like it is now.

These—right now—are the good ol' days of our future.

The stories we will reminisce on are happening now... when we discover that our toddler knows how to climb on the kitchen table and laughs at us when she sees us see her… or when we watch our preschooler tie her shoes for the first time courtesy of the bunny ear method... or the million times our heart bursts when our middle kiddo busts out her signature move of sticking her hand down her shirt and asking for a pacifier when she's tired.

The moments we will never forget are happening now… the sound of the high pitched sing-song voice belting out "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid… the giggles when we're all running around the house… the way they look when they're sleeping—so peaceful and angelic—even if they were going buck wild 10 minutes prior.

The "remember whens" we will laugh about when our kids seem too grown up and the parenting challenges seem too serious—are happening now...

Like when one of our children poops in the backyard playhouse (I won't name any names)... or how another one of our children "bakes" concoctions that consist of garlic powder, chili powder, vanilla, ginger, water, baking soda and salt (and yes, also how I try them because she always asks me to and because I always feel bad not supporting her baking endeavors).

We will look back, and we won't necessarily focus on the blood, sweat and tears that we have poured into raising young children together. Sure, we will remember how hard it was—but I really think we will look back on these physically and emotionally taxing years with rose-tinted glasses.

The feeling of utter overwhelm and constant chaos will have dimmed. The sleep struggles and multiple meltdowns will pale in comparison to the relationship drama and social media worries of the pre-teen and teenage years. We will have more time for conversation and date nights instead of often feeling like ships passing in the night.

And so my hunch is this: We will faintly remember the hard times down the line. But, in 10 years, when we look back—we will let the good times shine.

In 10 years, I'll be sad—in a happy way—looking back on the beginning stages of the life we've built together.

The days when happiness was measured in how many twirls one could do before collapsing into laughter.

The days when love was measured in sloppy, peanut butter covered kisses.

The days when peace was measured in how calm bedtime could be and how quiet the house could get post-bedtime.

The days when we were their everything; their Universe.

The good 'ol days.

Life

There are a lot of points during labor when mothers do not have any control over what's going on with their body. The one thing they usually have, if giving birth vaginally, is their ability to push. But a recent report by Vice highlights the fact that in some hospital delivery rooms, women are being told to stop pushing, even when the urge is nearly irresistible. And in some cases, this may be happening for some very troubling reasons.

"If a woman's cervix is fully dilated and she has the urge, she should be allowed to push, barring some unusual complication with mother or baby," Dana Gossett, chief of gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center, told Vice.

Writer Kimberly Lawson gathered anecdotal evidence suggesting that in many situations, hospital nurses are telling women to stop pushing because the doctor or midwife isn't available to deliver the baby. In some cases, women even report nurses forcing a baby's crowning head back into the birth canal.

"I've never felt a more painful experience in my life [than] being strapped down and forced to hold a baby in," says Elaina Loveland, a mother who was told to stop pushing because there were no beds available at the hospital when she arrived. "It was almost worse than the pushing. It was horrible."

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In addition to pain, women made to resist the urge to push may experience other complications. Delayed pushing sometimes causes labor to last longer, puts women at higher risk of postpartum bleeding and infection, and puts babies at a higher risk of developing sepsis, according to a study released last year. One midwife explained in the article that holding the baby in can damage a mother's pelvic floor, which might later cause urinary incontinence.

In one extreme case, Caroline Malatesta, a mother of four in Alabama said that when a nurse forced her baby's head back in, she caused permanent damage. After four years of chronic pain from a condition called pudendal neuralgia, she won a $16 million lawsuit against the hospital.

Nurses aren't necessarily being cruel when they instruct mothers to stop pushing, by the way. They may be hoping to prevent other complications, such as problems with the umbilical cord or shoulder dystocia. A doctor or midwife is better trained to correct such situations, and can also help prevent perineal tearing.

If hospital staff are instead making these decisions because of a shortage of obstetricians or hospital beds for expectant mothers, there's a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. As people have grown increasingly aware of the high rate of maternal deaths after childbirth, issues like these could point out where there's room for improvement.

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