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Laura Veirs has been making good music for a long time. Over a span of 14 years, she’s released nine albums. She is also a mom of two boys, Tennessee (five years old) and Oz (two and a half).


I was lucky enough to see her open for the Decemberists in 2009, before either of us were mothers. I’ve followed her career ever since. To this day, she gives me hope that creativity and the creation of art can expand and grow along with, well, the birth and creation of small humans (I have two young daughters).

For Laura Veirs, that evolution is clear through her music and the projects she continues to pursue.

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You can literally “hear” her perspective change as her path through motherhood unfolds. After releasing TumbleBee, a children’s album of folk songs in 2012, she said “I had just had a kid, and I was trying to find a way to be creative but also to not put too much pressure on myself to write because I was so tired. It was a fun way to collaborate with Tucker Martine (husband and producer) and also to do something at the house.”

Laura’s album, Warp and Weft, was released in August of 2013 while she had a toddler and a newborn in tow.

Around that time, she said “I think my scope has gotten wider now, and I can look at things with more compassion, and more empathy…I guess you come to realize the enormity of having these two people that you’re basically responsible for, for the rest of your life. I’m looking at the world now as if the camera’s panning wide, and I think you can hear that in the lyrics.”

Later that same year: “Art is such a solace. Without it, life would be pretty bleak, don’t you think? I think good art comes from other good art. I love reading great fiction writers; they inspire my songwriting deeply. I couldn’t do it myself. It seems like such a lonely job. But they provide such a light for humanity.”

I couldn’t agree more. Particularly when the initial isolation of having little ones sets in, art and music is a great comfort.

Artists generally do interviews when there is an album to promote, but I wanted to speak with Laura about what she is up to now – in the time when the magic is actually happening or, more accurately, when the work is getting done – about how she is able to keep up with her creative life while being a mother. I also just wanted to say thanks, all the while hoping I’d sound somewhat coherent after a night of little sleep with my five-month old daughter the night before.

Maybe she heard my exhaustion or maybe not, but she had “been there” and she made it to the next phase. It was reassuring to hear the passion in her voice when talking about the children’s book she is finishing and the enthusiasm about her latest collaborative project with other female musicians, but perhaps more importantly, I was grateful for her sincere compassion when sharing some advice with another mom and artist:

“The most important thing to do is to carve out some time for yourself,” she said. “To remember that ‘this too shall pass,’ and in the meantime, ‘to try to stay awake.’”


Shannon Hawley for Parent.co: How are you, Laura? So good to speak with you.

Laura Veirs: I’m good. It’s beautiful in Portland right now, very sunny. It’s great. I love living here.

I have a two-and-a-half-year-old and a five-month-old. I’m also a singer-songwriter, so I’m interested in talking with artists like you who can balance their creative lives with their lives as parents.

Yeah, well you’re thick in it! Have you done any touring with your kids?

No, I haven’t. I’m kind of at the beginning of my singing and songwriting career and that seems overwhelming. But you did do some touring with your boys, didn’t you?

I did both times – yes. I toured more with the first one. I toured, I think, like maybe three or four weeks in the States and three weeks in Europe with the little one. Tennessee was our first, and I didn’t really know what to expect because I’d toured for many years, DIY – like just get in the van and go.

I would train the tour manager to be the nanny or I would manage the tour and we would just work it out. Although, in Europe on that first one, I remember we had a real tour manager and sound man, and that was great because my parents came along, and they were the nannies. They called themselves the “granny nannies.”

Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. How did it work out?

We were in two separate cars, which we didn’t need to be. The baby was four months old, and I thought, “oh the baby’s going to be crying the whole time,” because I had never had a baby before. I didn’t know anything about parenting. I had been a nanny once but only like for four months when I was like 25. I really didn’t even know what babies were like. They usually don’t cry that much, especially if you’re staying on top of basically feeding them.

That’s the whole thing about being a working mom on tour. When you’re on the road like that, you can breastfeed whenever you want. You’re with them all day and then you have chunks of the night where you’re away from them, and I would just pump once at the club or I’d pump in the van. Then the babysitter or the grandparents would take them back home. Or sometimes we’d just keep him at the venue the whole time.

Had you talked to other musicians who were moms before you went out and did that?

Yeah, I talked to Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond, who I met on the Decemberists tour. Also, I’m friends with the Decemberists – none of those band players are breastfeeding moms but some of their wives are. They would come on tour, so they knew a little bit about how to describe what was going on. Shara was good to talk to, because she’s at my level as far as budgets go. You end up spending eight or nine hours driving, then eight or nine hours at the gig playing your show and then going to bed as soon as possible to get up and start over again. It’s pretty brutal. It’s really hard.

Sounds hard, but you did it!

My point is that I learned so much just being out there doing it! And realizing … well, my main advice for people who do want to tour with their children is to do it! But maybe do it before they are two.

Luckily my sister-in-law had told me that because she’s a mom and she’s got two kids. She said that, at 18 months they get their own agency. They get their own ideas. They get their own words. They get their own bodies and they want to run around and they do not want to sit and be stuck in the van next to mom for eight hours a day. That was really great advice, so I did tour with both of them when they were infants. Now I don’t know what to do, because one of them is in kindergarten and the other one is two and a half. I don’t know. I guess I’ll just wait and see.

Any plans for what’s next in terms of musical projects and touring?

I’m going to record a record in November. We’re going to do it at my husband’s place [Tucker Martine]. He’s the producer and he’s made all my other records. The machine will get going again. I know a lot of women have had school-aged children and gone out on the road. Do they bring those school-aged children or not? That’s the question I need to start asking. I always just try to find someone older and more experienced and ask them what to do.

I think it’s really brave to do that, and also so smart to think to ask other people that have done what you’re trying to do. What else have you been working on?

I actually wrote a book for kids. It’s called “Libba, Elizabeth Cotten.” It’s about her life. It will be coming out on Chronicle Books in two years, which seems like a really long time away, but I’m just finishing that, which is really fun.

Then this other project is just working with these other two musicians, and we’ve been co-writing which has been fun because I’ve been working on music for so many years as a solo writer. It’s really neat to share that experience of sitting down and writing with other people.

You’re busy – how do you stay inspired or get inspired to work on something new?

I think it’s kind of neat after so many years to switch it up and do different things. It was really fun to write a book for kids because that’s just totally a different muscle [than songwriting]. I’ve never exercised that muscle before, and now co-writing. I’ve been doing that more with people.

It is interesting as you live a long life as an artist to find ways…I think for me it’s a combination of sometimes

just not doing art, like taking a few months off. Sometimes that means changing the format like I’m going to write a book for kids. What’s that like? Sometimes it means – okay, I’m going to collaborate with a new band. I’m going to make a new band or I’m going to totally play a different style of music …

It takes a lot of discipline, I think, in my case. There is this African guitarist I recently heard – I was like, “I should learn that.” I haven’t done it yet, but for me, it’s a matter of a balance between taking it seriously and really pushing and then also sometimes, it’s about backing off. We are so busy as moms and parents and there are two million things pulling at us. Sometimes the artistic person just needs to chill.

For an outsider reading interviews and listening to your music, it all seems pretty seamless – how you have found your own voice and unique style and you seem follow your own curiosity about things and ideas that inspire you, which I think makes your art feel really authentic.

Thank you for being brave and steadfast in making music that way. Do you remember what inspired you to write Libba?

Thanks, that’s really sweet. I made the record for kids, TumbleBee, and from that research we discovered that Elizabeth Cotten, who I had been a fan of for years, was the maid of the Seeger family. I had no idea that she worked in their house.

Then I discovered the story of how she was found by them. She was working as a doll clerk in this department store in the 50’s in DC. Peggy Seeger, who’s Pete Seeger’s half sister and a renowned songwriter in her own right, she got lost in the store. She was a little girl, and Elizabeth Cotten found her and returned her to her mother who happened to be this total bad ass, avant garde composer lady and also classical piano teacher, archivist and folklorist – this amazing musician, named Ruth Crawford Seeger.

Ruth Crawford Seeger and Elizabeth Cotten struck up a conversation and they became … I don’t know what exactly went down, but Elizabeth Cotten ended up being their cake baker and she did ironing and all kinds of cooking, basically their domestic helper. I think she was in her 60’s when she started working for them.

Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie would come through the house and have these crazy house shows.

She had been playing when she was 13, she taught herself how to play upside down and backward. I had always known about her and I’d always studied her music and I’m left handed and I had watched her play and it’s like what the fuck, she’s playing upside down and backwards it makes no sense to my brain.

All the dots had never connected for me. I didn’t realize she also was connected to the Seegers that they were the ones who gave her the springboard, the platform to launch her career pretty late in life. She toured into her 90’s.

Anyway, I was like that’s a story worth telling. I think kids would like that. Then I got the idea, the seed sort of simmered around for several years until I actually just buckled down and wrote it. It only took a few months of research and writing to get that down but I think half of a thing is a good idea and people should know about her. She’s a folk treasure of our country.

Yeah, as an artist it’s like you get to be a curator too in some ways to share what you’re inspired by and what you believe is an important story.

Yes, exactly.

You also said you were going into the studio with collaborators in November to work on a new record?

It’s this project that I was invited to be a part of with two high-profile women singers/musicians. We’ve been writing for a while, more intensively in the last six months. It’s very three-part harmony centric, which you would imagine because we’re all singers. Then it’ll have a band … it’ll be a band record. It won’t be totally stripped down. It’s neat. It’s very unclear to me what it will actually sound like, but I’m really grateful that they’re inviting my husband to be the producer, because I just trust him and I relax with him. It feels very homegrown.

How do you get through the early phase of writing songs, where you want them to be great? What advice do you have about “putting in your time?”

Writing an abundance of songs is not really that difficult, but getting good songs is difficult. In some ways, I was a little bit naive but also over confident at the same time. My first record was super bad but I thought it was cool. Then I learned through that.

I thought, “this is worth sharing.” I think a lot of it is about curiosity and hard work, but a lot of it’s just about confidence, just having the confidence that your ideas are worth talking about. Otherwise, why would you get up and subject yourself to the pain of whatever it is – the torture of performance, or touring, or bad reviews, or whatever?

You’ve got to be confident that what you’re doing is worth sharing. Anyway, I had that confidence [with the first record], but the next record I did was better.

Where do you think you got that confidence? Now that I’m a parent, I’m really interested in how the way we were parented affects our creative life, and also how we can affect our children’s creative lives.

I think every parent wants their child to feel that they can do whatever they want to do. That’s certainly what I want to instill in my boys – that kind of confidence like “you can do it. Take the world by the horns, you can do whatever you want to do.” I really feel like my parents did that with me. I don’t know how they did it.

I think it’s because they are very positive and they go through their days knowing what they’re doing and enjoying being really present in the world and engaged and active in doing things. My brother and I just must have seen that and been like “if they can do it, we can do it.” You know?

Are there any mantras that help you in this specific phase of parenthood and staying creative?

My goal is just to stay awake. That can be hard, because I’m tired but awake on multiple levels. Awake to the pain of the world. Awake to the joy of the world. The children bring both.

I just try to stay awake, and some days it’s easier than others. I also try to realize, even when things are really hard – and this really pertains to parenting – that it’s going to pass. Your toddler’s screaming in the airplane, and you’re just like “oh my God, okay this is going to pass,” and then the airplane ride ends.

In your position, with such young kids, find time to carve out for yourself because that’s the most important thing for your art. Make time for yourself.

How do you find time for your art?

Childcare! My Mom and Dad swoop in for tours. My husband and neighbors and sitters and friends are all wonderful.

All of this is really making me feel hopeful and relieved as a mom (in a very exhausting phase) and an artist. You go be with your boys and I’ll go be with my girls. Thanks again for all of the work you are doing and for taking the time to speak with me.

My pleasure. Yes, carve out time for yourself. Good luck to you.

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 21, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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

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If I ever want to look alive before dropping my son off to school, there are two things I must put on before leaving the house: eyeliner and mascara. When using eyeliner, I typically use black liner on my top lid, a slightly lighter brown for my bottom lid, and then a nude liner for my water line. It works every time.

My mascara routine is a bit different. Because my natural lashes are thin and not the longest, I always opt for the darkest black I can find, and one that's lengthening and volumizing. For this reason, I was immediately drawn to It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara. The new mascara is developed in partnership with Drybar (the blow dry bar that specializes in just blowouts) and promises to deliver bold and voluminous lashes all day long. I was sold.

Could this really be the blowout my lashes have been waiting for? It turns out, it was much better than most volumizing formulas I've tried.

For starters, the wand is a great size—it's not too big or small, and it's easy to grip—just like my favorite Drybar round brush. As for the formula, it's super light and infused with biotin which helps lashes look stronger and healthier. I also love that it's buildable, and I didn't notice any clumps or flakes between coats.

The real test is that my lashes still looked great at dinnertime. I didn't have smudges or the dreaded raccoon eyes I always get after a long day at work. Surprisingly, the mascara actually stayed in place. To be fair, I haven't compared them with lash-extensions (which are my new go-to since having baby number two), but I'm sure it will hold up nicely.

Overall, I was very impressed with the level of length and fullness this mascara delivered. Indeed, this is the eyelash blowout my lashes have been waiting for. While it won't give you a few extra hours in bed, you'll at least look a little more awake, mama.

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara
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Here's how I apply IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara:

  1. Starting as close to lash line as possible (and looking down), align the brush against your top lashes. Gradually turn upwards, then wiggle the wand back and forth up and down your eyelashes.
  2. Repeat, if needed. Tip: Be sure to allow the mascara to dry between each coat.
  3. Using the same technique, apply mascara to your bottom lashes, brushing the wand down your eyelashes.
Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Life

Having children isn't always as easy as it looks on Instagram. There's so much more to motherhood than serene baby snuggles and matching outfits. But there's a reason we've fallen so deeply in love with motherhood: It's the most beautiful, chaotic ride.

Every single day, we sit back and wonder how something so hard can feel so rewarding. And Eva Mendes just managed to nail the reality of that with one quote.

Eva, who is a mama to daughters Esmerelda and Amada with Ryan Gosling, got real about the messy magic of motherhood in a recent interview.

"It's so fun and beautiful and maddening," the actress tells Access Daily. "It's so hard, of course. But it's like that feeling of…you end your day, you put them to bed and Ryan and I kind of look at each other like, 'We did it, we did it. We came out relatively unscathed.'"

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And just like that, moms all over the world feel seen. We've all been there: Struggling to get through the day (which, for the record is often every bit as fun as it is challenging), only to put those babies to sleep and collapse on the couch in sheer exhaustion. But, after you've caught your breath, you realize just how strong and capable you really are.

One thing Eva learned the hard way? That sleep regressions are very, very real...and they don't just come to an end after your baby's first few months. "I guess they go through a sleep regression, which nobody told me about until I looked it up," she says "I was like, 'Why isn't my 3-year-old sleeping?'"

But, at the end of the day, Eva loves her life as a mom—and the fact that she took a break from her Hollywood career to devote her days to raising her girls. "I'm so thankful I have the opportunity to be home with them," she says.

Thank you for keeping it real, Eva! Momming isn't easy, but it sure is worth it.

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My labor and delivery was short and sweet. I started feeling contractions on Monday morning and by Tuesday night at 8:56 pm my handsome baby boy was born. Only 30 minutes of pushing. Afterward, I was still out of it, to be honest. I held him and did some skin to skin and handed him off to my husband, my mother held him next.

When he was in my mother's arms, I knew he was safe. I started to drift off, the epidural had me feeling drowsy and I had used up all my strength to push this 7 lb baby out. My son's eyes were open and then I guess he went to sleep too. My mother swayed him back and forth. The nurses were in and out, cleaning me up and checking in on us.

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When yet another nurse came in, my mom said to her, "He wasn't latching because he wanted to sleep."

The nurse yelled, "He's not sleeping!"

The next 25 minutes happened in slow motion for me.

After the nurse said these words, she flung my son onto the little baby bed. I looked over and he looked a little blue. Then I heard the loud words of CODE PINK. In matters of seconds about 30 nursing staff descended into my room and crowded around my baby.

I couldn't even see what was happening. I tried to get out the bed but they wouldn't let me and after a couple of failed attempts one of the nurses look at me and said, "He's fine, he's breathing now."

Breathing now? He wasn't breathing before? Again, I tried to push my way to my baby, but once again I was told to not move. They had just performed CPR on my 30-minute old newborn and I couldn't understand what was happening even after a pediatrician tried to explain it to me.

I just started crying. He was fine in my stomach for 39 weeks and 6 days and now I bring him into this world and his heart nearly stops?

I was told he needed to go to the neonatal intensive care unit. I was confused, as I thought the NICU was only for preemies and my son was full term.

After what felt like an eternity we were finally allowed to see our son. My husband wheeled me there and we saw him in the corner alone. I saw the incubator and the wires, he's all bundled up.

The nurse explained all the beeping and showed me the heart rate monitor. He's doing fine. We go over the feeding schedule. I'm exhausted still. I stay with him until about 1 or 2 am. They all suggest I get some sleep. There's no bed in the NICU, so I head back to my room.

The next day was better, he doesn't have to be in the incubator anymore, but the wires remain. By that night or early the next morning, the wires in his nose come out and I try feeding him. I try pumping. It was painful.

He gets his first bath and he loves it. The nurse shampoos his hair (he had a lot!) and he seems so soothed. The nurse explains that because he's full term he doesn't need the same type of support in the NICU. She tells me my baby's strong and he'll be fine.

I look around. I see the other babies, the other moms. They could be there for weeks. And unlike me, the moms have to go home—without their baby.

Friday comes and by now he's done all his tests, blood work came back normal, all tubes have been removed and I get it. I get my going-home package. Finally. I get my instructions on doctor follow-ups and we finally get to go home.

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Life

There have been a lot of iconic entertainment magazine covers featuring pregnant women over the years. Who can forget Demi Moore's bare baby bump on Vanity Fair or Britney Spears' similar nude pose on Harper's Bazaar?

Pregnant women on a magazine covers is nothing new, but a visibly pregnant CEO on the cover of a business magazine, that's a first and it happened this week.

Inc. just put The Wing's CEO Audrey Gelman on the cover and this is a historic moment in publishing and business.

As Gelman told Today this week, "You can't be what you can't see, so I think it's so important for women to see that it's possible to run a fast-growing business and also to start a family."

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She continued: "It's so important to sort of burst that bubble and to have new images of women who are thriving and working professionally while balancing motherhood … My hope is that women see this and again feel the confidence to take greater professional risks while also not shelving their dreams of becoming a mother and starting a family."

The Wing started in 2016 as a co-working space for women and has grown rapidly. As Inc. reports, The Wing has eight locations in the U.S. with plans for more American and international locations by 2020.

Putting Gelman on the cover was an important move by Inc. and Gelman's honesty about her early pregnancy panic ("I can't be pregnant. I have so much to do." she recalls thinking after her pregnancy test) should be applauded.

Gelman says pregnancy made her slow down physically, and that it was actually good for her company: "I had this realization: The way to make my team and my employees feel proud to work for me and for the company was actually not to pretend to be superhuman or totally unaffected by pregnancy."

We need this. We need CEOs to admit that they are human so that corporate leadership can see employees as humans, too. Humans need things like family leave and flexibility, especially when they start raising little humans.

There are a lot of iconic covers featuring pregnant women, but this one is different. She's wearing clothes and she's changing work culture.

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