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Constantly in a rush. Always running from one chore to the next. Continuously reminding myself to stop, put the phone down, stop thinking and just focus – really focus – on what she’s asking. Listen with intent to what she is saying; watch her body movements and facial expressions.

What is she really saying? How is she really feeling?

My daughter, a spirited, strong-willed, intelligent, and sassy toddler, consistently asks for my undivided attention. She craves it, especially during times when she senses that her parents are only partially paying attention.

“Mama, mama, mama,” she whines, pulling on my pant leg, “I need attention.”

Sometimes her demands frustrate me. “Why can’t she understand I’m busy? How does she expect to eat if I can’t have two seconds to cut her meat? Please give me a moment!” I want to say. And sometimes I do. My motherhood isn’t perfect. The responses I offer are not always well-thought out, but rather, reactive.

Other times her request fills me with so much warmth and love for her that it’s easy to stop what I’m doing and focus solely on her: “Of course we can play dress up,” “I’d love to draw with you,” and “Of course I want to see you do a cartwheel,” fall from my mouth without a second thought.

If only it was always that simple to stop everything and just connect with my daughter. This amazing child who evokes so many feelings, namely astonishment (as in “Did she really just come up with that all on her own?”) to unabashed pride and love, requires constant attention.

As much as I try to meet her desire for undivided attention, I fail at times. Instead of paying attention just to her I have to improvise: playing Playmobil with one hand while spooning oatmeal to my nine-month-old with the other; pulling her close to me on the couch while watching TV as the infant nurses on my lap; reading on the bedroom floor using one hand to turn the page and gesture as I act out the characters, all while using the other arm to make Elmo dance in an attempt to keep the infant happy.

During busy evenings, when the house is a blur of bath times and teeth-brushing, prepping lunches for school and outfits for work, a diaper bag for drop off, I improvise. It’s those moments, while I’m in the kitchen cutting fruit or tossing a prepackaged salad into my own lunch bag that I catch up with my daughter. My chatterbox is animated and all too happy to share her thoughts on her day, standing in the middle of the kitchen as I move around her.

Upstairs in her room we discuss the weather and what she believes is the best thing to wear on a sunny or cool day and I present her with two clothing options.

It’s in between these busy moments; our daily routine, that I connect with my daughter.

“What did you learn at school today?” I ask as we pick out clothes.

“What was your favorite part about today?” I ask as I cradle her head in my lap to floss her teeth.

“Tell me about your new friend, Lucy,” I inquire as she brings me the lunchbox.

“Okay, mama,” she responds before telling me about her schoolmate.

“Mama, are you proud of me?” She asked one recent night as we sat in the playroom at her kid-sized table – me on the floor nursing the infant with my left arm, using the right hand to help her decorate a Sofia the First coloring book page with stickers.

“Of course I’m proud of you,” I tell her, looking straight into her hazel eyes. “You’re brave and smart, and so so funny. I’m so proud of you for being nice to other kids and the way you share your toys. I am so happy that you were patient with me today when your sister was crying. You’re so amazing.”

She continues to place stickers on the page, not looking up.

“I love you forever, even when we get mad at one another,” I press on. “I love you. Always.”

The moment passes as the baby stirs; once again my attention is diverted from one daughter to the next.

“I love you always, mama,” she says.

Those five words make my day.

It’s moments like this that help me realize the importance of all those little moments that we take to connect with one another  –  no matter how brief. They mean so much to her.

And they mean everything to me.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

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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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.


Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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