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My Nanny Became My “Village” – And Saved My Sanity

I sat on our retro L-shaped couch in our living room, me on the shorter end of the ‘L’. “I think he’s going to divorce me,” I told my nanny, my eyes welling up with tears.


My throat felt thick with sorrow. I didn’t know whom else to turn to. I didn’t want to call my friends back home – I felt too much guilt, shame, and embarrassment about admitting this truth. After all, I lived in paradise on the North Shore of Kauai and from all accounts on social media, my life seemed pretty grand.

“Oh,” she said, quietly.

Her hazel eyes looked at me warmly, loose wisps of her reddish blonde hair framing her friendly face. “What happened?”

Just 30 minutes earlier, I had texted her to see if she had time to chat. She lived in what we called “The Love Shack” on our property, a one-time surf-quiver storage unit turned sparing abode and gladly came into the main portion of the house. We created an arrangement in which she traded childcare for rent, and it was the best partnership my husband and I created since having the baby.

My daughter had just fallen asleep. I knew I had about an hour for adult conversation, for someone other than my husband to listen to what was happening in my head.

Madeline had already been privy to our dynamic, given that she saw us throughout the days and nights. She knew that my husband and I had different approaches to life and distinct temperaments. While we were both committed to raising our daughter in the most conscious way possible, we were sometimes less committed to the evolution of our bond with one another. We felt emotionally maxed-out and I needed to vent.

“It’s going to be okay,” she reassured me. “You know that, right? Whatever happens, you are a brilliant woman. You’re strong. You’re an incredible mother to Wilder. You’re going to be okay.” I shrugged. It was rare that I let myself cry, and even rarer that I had a witness to it.

“I think that your husband really loves you, and he really just wants everyone to be happy,” Madeline observed. “But he takes a lot on and when he can’t fix it, I think it’s really hard for him.”

I listened to her words. Her observations and reassurances did not feel like hollow niceties meant to placate me, but rather insights that were coming from a woman who shared my home. She shared my life. She participated in various elements of my family.

In a way, she was more than a friend and better than family. We had just enough closeness and the right amount of emotional distance by setting up prior healthy boundaries that we could be in this space of honesty with one another. We did not have such personal ties in what the other person was thinking, because we weren’t too deeply invested the way we would be if we were family. And we didn’t have to worry about how things would ultimately pan out for one another, because it did not altogether substantially impact our own lives.

Madeline, in many ways, became a sort of life coach confidante, precisely when I needed her the most. Living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I often felt like she alone made up the tribe that so many parenting experts say women need to survive and thrive after having a child.

I could believe Madeline’s words and sentiments, because we had leaned in to so many meaningful conversations before. There were many times when I needed her help bringing Wilder to an appointment, and as we drove the half hour to get to town, I took the opportunity to talk about my feelings, my concerns, my wishes, and my challenges all while my daughter fell asleep in the backseat.

The rawness and vulnerability of motherhood meant that it wasn’t difficult for me to drop in and come from the heart, since I was perpetually living from this edge. Yet, the part of our dynamic that made it such a safe space to share was the fact that she showed up just as willingly to be vulnerable with the goings-on of her life.

We developed a mutually respectful, symbiotic, and definitely dependable relationship. I knew that when I texted her in the morning with the day’s schedule, she would show up. She knew that if she had any questions for me as a friend, an employer, and a landlord, I would show up for her. That element alone created a sense of stability in my otherwise newly chaotic life.

I started to wrap up our conversation. I knew my daughter would be waking soon and I wanted a few moments to myself before she did. I also knew that nothing in my relationship with my husband was going to be resolved that moment, or that night, or even that month. He and I would continue to have conflict, reconcile, seek support, and struggle within our own development as parents. I just needed to talk to her so I wouldn’t implode.

As I stood up, Madeline walked around the coffee table and came to give me a hug. “You’re doing great,” she said.

That simple acknowledgment, whenever it came from another soul in my life, felt so validating. These few words could fuel me forward into another day, another sleepless night, another week. Being able to be show up just as I was in that moment with another person who was not going judge me was a gift and a blessing beyond belief.

I had no idea that in hiring Madeline as a nanny, she would be nurturing me back to health.

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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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