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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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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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