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It is 2am, no 3, no 2 when my bleary eyes blink at the clock. He stands at my bedside. “Mama.” he says softly. “Mama” he repeats when he sees I am awake. “I can’t sleep” I lift the blanket in an invitation and he climbs in. Within 30 seconds his long lashes are resting on his cheek and his fingers curl at his face. I, however, am up.

Between my shoulder pain, my miniature bed hog, and one and a half cats, my portion of the bed is crowded. My husband sleeps through. The one upside to being deaf in his left ear is that he can put his good ear on the pillow and stay blissfully unaware of the goings-on in our bedroom in the small hours of the morning.

I know that sleep will come slowly, so I lie in my slim slice of bed and try to make use of my extra hours of awake time. I think about what Steve and I were discussing right before we turned out the lights, whether or not to put our cat to sleep.

When my husband and I met we each had 2 cats and a dog. Mine were all boys. His were all girls. It was the furry Brady bunch minus Alice to cook and clean. Fourteen years later we have one last cat left from the original bunch. For 2 years we have been taking her to the vet twice a month to get an antibiotic and steroid shot to ease some sort of sinus situation that she can’t fight off.

Tonight I listen. She is about in the middle of her sinus cycle. I can hear her breathe as she pulls in and out with extra effort, but she doesn’t have her choking sounds that mark the worst of it. When she really needs the shot she is a mucous spewing Darth Vader who I can hear from half a house away.

She was the bottom of the barrel in our menagerie. Everyone but the Saint Bernard and the peaceful cat with dreadlocks picked on her. Her defense was to flatten herself and stay completely still while she was under attack. Her big move was making no move. I would intervene on her behalf then stay and watch her slowly rise to her feet and slink away in distrust.

For the past six months she has been dropping weight. Recently my husband and I took her into the vet together, thinking we would be getting the final answer on her health. The vet came into the room puzzled. “All of her blood work is good.” He told us. “Her kidney function is perfect, I think we just continue to treat her sinus condition and keep things going.” He went on, “as long as she continues eating and eliminating we can assume she is doing relatively well.” Steve and I looked at each other in strangled silence, her regular elimination may be a sign of health, but it is also a problem.

For years she has been peeing on our stuff. Bags, beds, towels, rugs, couches, sweatshirts, the bare floor were all regular targets. In fact anything less than 4 feet off of the floor was fair game. Three years ago we had taken her in for a medical work up that showed this was behavioral not medical. To address the situation we switched litter, added litterboxes, changed litterbox location. In case it was emotional we separated her from her worst enemy. Still she peed. Sometimes it would be weeks between incidents, sometimes hours. If you have dealt with pervasive cat pee you know our struggle.

Tonight as I think about arranging her death I go through the same calculations I have in the past. What proportion of her life is positive? She doesn’t care that her hair is greasy. She doesn’t care that half of her tail has been amputated leaving a long, strong, unattractive stump. She probably does care about her breathing difficulties. Because of treatment she only deals with them half the time, so is that enough? Is half the time not being able to breathe well enough of a reason to hasten her death? How much are we factoring in the misery of misplaced cat pee into this irreversible decision. I don’t think she is at death’s door. Maybe just on his front path. How close does she need to be to the end for this to be an act of mercy, rather than one of convenience.

Lying in my bed with my too thin blanket I look longingly across the room towards my regular quilt. It is in the wicker basket waiting to be washed. She had wet my bed just this afternoon. Steve and I stripped it together, half laughing half crying. Before we did it we lifted her so, so, gently off of the bed and placed her on the floor where she stood at a slight uneasy angle before walking slowly to the water bowl. Presumably re-loading.

As she wakes up beside me I pet her and hear her purr rise to the noise level of her breathing. She navigates over my son and makes it to my water glass. I’ve chosen the widest one so she can fit her head in it. I look at her ears nicked with years of bullying and want to take them between my fingers. I know it will make her twitch so I don’t do it. As much as her peeing makes me miserable I still want to take care of her. I don’t know whether taking care is to help her fight or to let go. I know how she would handle it if she could choose. She has never participated in a fight in her life. If death were a visible beast barreling towards her she would lie down low and wait for it to be over.

She travels from bedside table to blanket stumbling twice in her journey. As I examine her skeletal form and her crusted eyes meet mine. I wonder if she has anything to tell me. She is really just trying to find a spot to rest. I stroke her as she settles down so slowly. I can see the speed of her heartbeat in her fur. She is alive, and then she won’t be.

After we wake up I call the boys in to say goodbye. I explain that she might not be here when they get home from school. The boy that snuggled her last night meets my eyes as he reaches towards his cat.

“Rest in Peace” he tells her, kissing her bony head.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Whether you're filling out your own registry or shopping for a soon-to-be-mama in your life, it can be hard to narrow down what exactly new moms need (versus what will just end up cluttering the nursery). That's why we paired up with the baby gear experts at Pottery Barn Kids to create a registry guide featuring everything from the gear you'll use over and over to the perfect gifts under $50.

Check out the picks below, and happy shopping (and registering)!


These five gift ideas are designed to make #momlife easier while solving some of the most common parenting dilemmas.

1. Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller

One of the first things you learn when you become a mom? Those infant car seats are heavy. Which is what makes the Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller so genius. It's the world's first completely integrated mobility solution, quickly transforming from safe car seat to functional stroller without any extra parts. Simply pop out the wheels, pull up the handle bar, and you're ready to roll.

Doona All-in-one Infant Car Seat / Stroller, $499



Even the most utilitarian gift feels a little more special with some personalization. Here are some of our favorite options that can be customized with baby's name or monogram.

1. Nursery Blankets

You'll never forget the blanket you bring your newborn home in. And with Pottery Barn Kids' assortment of blankets, there's a wrap to suit every new mama's style. Choose from fuzzy neutral patterns or stylish printed options, and add baby's name for an extra personal touch.

Nursery Blankets, Starting at $39.50



Save money and space by gifting items that will last long after baby's first year. These clever gift items will have mama saying "thank you!" for years to come.

1. west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib

A convertible crib is an investment in years of sweet dreams. We love this mid-century-style option made from sustainably sourced wood with child-safe, water-based finishes. When your baby outgrows their crib (sniff!), it easily converts into a toddler bed with the matching conversion kit.

west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib, $399



Sometimes the littlest gifts mean the most. Here are our favorite gifts under $50 they'll be sure to cherish.

1. west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set

When you're raising a newborn, you can never have too many swaddles. Perfect for naptime, burp cloths, stroller covers, and spontaneous play mats, a muslin swaddle will always come in handy. And we especially love this neutral patterned collection in platinum, nightshade, and peacock.

west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set, $45.50


Learn more and explore all Pottery Barn Kids' registry must-haves here.

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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They say there's no use in crying over it, but for pumping mamas, spilled milk is a major upset.

When you're working so hard to make sure your baby has breast milk, you don't want to lose a drop, and Chrissy Teigen knows this all too well.

The mom of two posted a video to social media Wednesday showing her efforts to rescue breastmilk from a tabletop. She used various utensils and a syringe to try to get the milk back in the bottle.

"I spilled my breastmilk and this is how important it is in this house," she says while suctioning up milk with what appears to be a baster.

In a follow-up video Teigen continues to try to rescue the spilled milk.

"We're trying," she says as she suctions up a drop or two. "I got some."

Teigen is currently breastfeeding baby Miles, her son with husband John Legend, and has been very public about the fact that she pumps a lot as a working mom.

She's also been open about the fact that milk supply has always been an issue for her, not just with Miles but with Luna, too.

"I actually loved [pumping] because I'm a collector of things, and so when I found out I could pump I [did it] so much because I knew the more you pumped, the more milk you'd make," she told POPSUGAR back in March. "So I loved collecting my breast milk and seeing how much I could get, even if it was very, very little."

Like a lot of moms, Teigen did struggle emotionally when a pump session wouldn't get her the ounces she wanted.

"I wasn't producing a lot of milk, and it was frustrating. When you're frustrated, [it can also make you] not produce that much."

Research backs her up. Stress has been linked to lower milk production. Because of that, she's trying to stay positive this time around, but captioned her video post "EVERY DROP COUNTS IN THIS HOUSE" because, well, they do.

So many mothers can relate. Have you ever tried to save your breastmilk?

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What is it about networking that's just kind of...awful? Typically inconvenient and often awkward, formal networking events rarely yield the results most women (and especially mamas) are looking for.

Whether you're reentering the workforce post-baby leave or simply looking to make a complicated career switch as a busy mom (or just struggling to juggle play dates and professional meetings), making the right connections is often a hurdle that's difficult to surmount. And more and more often, networking comes up short in providing what moms really need.

When time is truly at a premium—a session swapping business cards can be hard to prioritize. Shapr wants to change all that.

Designed with busy people in mind, Shapr is an app with an algorithm that uses tagged interests, location, and professional experience to match you with 10-15 inspiring professional connections a day. You swipe to indicate interest in networking with any of them, and if the interest is mutual, you're connected. (But don't worry, that's where the similarities to that dating app end.)

It makes it easier to connect with the right people.

From there, you can chat, video conference, and even meet in person with potential mentors, partners, and investors while growing your real-life network. No more wasting hours trying to pick someone's brain only to discover they don't have the right experience you need. And no more awkward, stilted small talk—even suggests a few preset icebreakers to help get the conversation rolling more quickly.

The best part? You could do virtually all your connecting from your couch post-bedtime.

It simplifies switching careers or industries.

Sysamone Phaphone is a real mom who was fed up with traditional networking options. When she quit her full-time job in healthcare to pursue founding a startup, she quickly realized that in-person networking events weren't only failing to connect her to the right people, they were also difficult for a single mom of two to even attend. "I was complaining to a friend that I was so tired and didn't know how I was going to keep doing it this way when she recommended the Shapr app," Phaphone says. "I tried it right there at dinner and started swiping. [Later], in my pajamas, I got my first connection."

From there, Phaphone was hooked. Her network suddenly exploded with developers, potential partners she could work with, and even people to hire for the roles she needed. She was also able to connect with and empower other women in tech. Now, checking in with Shapr connections is just part of her routine. "I look for connections after drop-off at school and on my commute into the city," she says. "Then after bedtime is done, I go on to check if there is anyone I've connected with."

It helps you find a mentor—no matter where they live.

Another common roadblock Shapr removes? Location. While you probably wouldn't fly to LA from New York for a networking event, the Shapr app lets you connect and chat with the person who best meets your needs—regardless of where they're based. Even better for parents, the "mom penalty" many women contend with when trying to get back into the workforce doesn't exist on Shapr—if you have the right experience, the connections will still come.

To connect, simply create your account, enter up to ten hashtags you want to follow (either industry related like #film or #tech or by person you're seeking, such as #developer or #uxui), preset what you're looking for (investors, collaborators, etc.), and indicate how you prefer to meet. To connect with more people at once, Shapr also has community groups within the app around interest topics that you can join. And even though the connection begins in the digital space, it often results in the in-person experiences mamas crave.

"I wish I could encourage more moms and dads to use it because it has been a lifesaver for me," Phaphone says. "It empowered my career and career choices, and it provides so much convenience. I can put my kids to bed and not go to an event, but still meet 20 people in a night."

For women looking to grow their business, position, or simply achieve a little self-growth, Shapr is changing the way we connect. This powerful new app could change everything, mama. Download it today to get started.

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