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I still shower every day, and 5 other things becoming a mother hasn’t changed

It was 3am, and I was standing in the shower, hunched over my big pregnant belly, sobbing. I had been in labor since 1:30 and the contractions were getting more intense, but that wasn't the reason I was crying.


I was freaking out because I kept thinking, “What have I done? Is my life about to change forever?"

All of the mom blogs I'd read and stories I'd heard emphasized one thing: After you have a baby, your life completely changes. But what if you really liked your pre-baby life?

If that sounds like you, I have good news—your life doesn't completely change. A lot of things change, and you might not recognize yourself or your life from time to time, especially during the early days. However, overall you remain you and the important things in your life stick around.

Here are some things in my life that have remained constant in the nine months since my son was born:

1. I still shower every day

There's a stereotypical image of the new mother—sleep-deprived, dirty hair up in a messy bun, covered in spit-up, etc. Well, my messy-bun game sucks, and my body has a finely-tuned ability to feel like a complete greaseball after exactly 24 hours without bathing, so this wasn't going to work for me. I vowed that I would shower every day, and unlike most of my resolutions, this one stuck.

Granted, I can't remember the last time I used my blow dryer, and my yummy salon-quality shampoo and conditioner has been replaced by some fancy Suave 2-in-1. I do usually manage to put on mascara though, because I don't enjoy being spooked by a lashless ghoul every time I walk past the mirror (Curse of the Blonde Eyelashes!). Sometimes I even dance with the Devil and attempt some liquid eyeliner. You don't know an adrenaline rush until you're trying to finish the perfect cat eye while your baby screams in the other room. (I jest, of course. I've never actually achieved the perfect cat eye.) I tell myself that I'm going for the beachy, natural look. If you see me in person, please don't destroy my delusion. My hair may look like crap, but at least it's clean.

2. I keep in touch with friends

A good Bluetooth is a lifesaver for the stay-at-home mom. My best friend recommended getting one after her husband bought one as a last-minute Mother's Day gift for her. She said, “I acted mad because it seemed like a poor gift that he clearly found at the pharmacy while he was buying the card. However, it's actually incredibly useful." (We're never admitting that to him, of course—solidarity, sister!)

Babies take at least two hands (sometimes three or four) to wrangle, so a Bluetooth means that you can keep discussing the latest episode of The Great British Baking Show while changing diapers or lassoing a toddler. Genius, I tell you.

It also does away with your friends' pesky excuses to get off the phone once you've overloaded them on baby details for the day.

“Oh man, it sounds like you need to go feed Ben!"

“Nope, don't worry, I have my Bluetooth and this puppy has an eight hour charge on it. I can keep talking all day!"

Mwahaha!

3. I still have time for my marriage

Obviously, when baby first comes home, your partner will take a slight backseat. This is okay, because shaving and wearing normal underwear also take a backseat for a few weeks. Nothing says romance like a nice pair of granny panties and prickly legs.

Newborns take a huge amount of time and energy, but here's the great news—they only stay newborns for a few months (this is also sad news because they're so sweet and squishy and sleepy as newborns *heart eyes*). After that, their sleep starts consolidating and you get lovely three-or four-hour chunks of time to hang out with your partner, get in some hanky-panky, hire a babysitter and go out for the evening, or just stare off into the distance together in a tired stupor.

Things do change in your relationship, but you don't have to lose each other. My son now goes to bed at 7pm and generally sleeps through the night, so my husband and I get to take off our “Mom and Dad" hats and just be partners again. Usually this just means we get to watch TV together, but that's enough sometimes.

4. I get plenty of sleep

A few disclaimers on this one. My definition of “plenty of sleep" has definitely changed since becoming a mother, and much to my eternal gratitude, my son is generally a great sleeper (so I have it pretty easy here). Also, this isn't true of the newborn stage for anyone. Ever.

Yes, for the first few months, you will probably feel like a zombie. There are days when you're so tired that you'll cry. You will think you can't survive. You will regret all of your life decisions that led to this point, and you will vow to never have another child. (I'm very dramatic about sleep, if you couldn't tell.) BUT: This. Will. Pass.

Babies do learn to sleep. They do. I promise. Even “bad" sleepers learn to sleep. You can survive this and someday, sooner than you think, you'll feel rested again. You may not recognize the feeling, but then your baby will start teething or hit a growth spurt or something and you'll remember what tired really felt like. You will then vow to never take sleep for granted again, but you will, because humans have terrible memories.

5. I still have time for myself

I firmly believe that naps are the universe's way of saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful Mother, here is your reward!"

I use my baby's nap times to chill out, take a nap, read, write stuff, clean the house, or do whatever I need to reset or put my little world in order. Oh yes, I still even have time to clean! I'll admit that vacuuming is tricky, but that's mostly because my dog decides that the sleeping baby needs to protect her from the scary vacuum and barges into his room. The vacuuming he can sleep through, the 80-pound panting beast in his room, he cannot.

I'll admit, there are days that my son decides that he's so over naps and will no longer sleep for more than 20 minutes. Those days are awful. For those moms of babies who always nap like that: God be with you. I don't know how you do it.

You can't actually leave the house during nap times, but luckily, I'm an introvert and my social needs are blessedly low. What I need is lots of alone time to putter around the house and do whatever I want, and naps are perfect for that.

6. I exercise

Strength training: 40 reps of carrying squirming baby up and down stairs, 20 reps of going back up the stairs to grab the thing you forgot because you're a mother now and your memory isn't 100%, five reps of holding squirmy baby in one arm while preparing a bottle with the other because he believes life will end if you put him down for two seconds, 100 reps of fending off surprisingly strong baby from whatever you have in your hand that he wants: phone, remote, food, coffee cup, shoe, etc. Ten reps of carrying 35 pounds of dead weight in one hand (infant carrier plus a baby) and a million pounds of groceries in the other because only suckers take more than one trip to unload the car.

Cardio: Five sprints to finish unloading groceries from car because you are, in fact, a sucker and there's no way you can carry a box of diapers, laundry detergent, a gallon of milk, a bunch of fresh fruit for baby food and a jumbo-size box of cookies for yourself all at the same time. Five more sprints to the door per nap to quiet the dog before she wakes the baby. Bonus points for silent ninja running. Extra bonus points for running so quietly that the dog doesn't hear you.

Your boobs, belly, skin, and idea of appropriate small talk may permanently change after you have a baby, but the important things stick around. If you're currently pregnant or thinking about having a baby, and you find yourself panicking about what life with baby will look like, slow down, take a breath, and remember that there will be a period of upheaval, but things will normalize again. You will still be you, and your life will still include the things that are important to you.

Babies change a lot of things, but they don't change everything. You might even have time to blow dry your hair again (eventually).

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I can vividly remember the last time I remember feeling truly rested. I was on vacation with my family, and my dad and I had started a tradition of going to sleep at 10 p.m., then waking up at 10 a.m. to go for a run. After five days of twelve hours of sleep a night, I remember actually pausing and thinking, "I am truly not at all tired right now!"

That was probably 15 years ago.

Of course, being tired pre-kids and being tired post-kids are two entirely different beasts. Pre-kids, tiredness was almost a badge of pride. It meant you had stayed up late dancing with friends or at a concert with your boyfriend. It meant you had woken up early to hit a spin class before gliding into work, hair still damp from your shower, for a morning meeting. Being tired meant you were generally killing it at life—and I was still young enough that, with a little concealer, I could look like it.

Tired post-kids is a whole other animal.

Tired post-kids means you probably still went to bed at a reasonable hour, but you're still exhausted. Maybe you even slept in past sunrise... but you're still exhausted. You may not have worked out in weeks... but you're still exhausted. And staying out late dancing with your girlfriends? (I mean... is that real life? Was it ever?) Nope, didn't do that. But—you guessed it!—you're still exhausted.

Sometimes I look at my husband and say, "I think if I could sleep for about five days, then I would feel rested again."

But considering the average new mom loses almost two months of sleep in her child's first year of life, even that is probably a low estimate of what I really need.

Because being a mom is exhausting.

It's exhausting always putting someone else's needs above your own. I often find myself actually giving my daughter the food off my plate (because, when you're two, mom's meal must be better even if you're eating the exact same thing).

Or I'll sacrifice sneaking my own nap to lie uncomfortably with her on the couch because it means she sleeps an extra 30 minutes.

Or I'll carry her up and down flights of stairs she is perfectly capable of scaling on her own because, well, she's tired or it's just quicker than nagging her to hurry up all the time.

I often end the day bone-tired, shocked at the physical exertion of just keeping this little person alive.

It's exhausting remembering all the things. The mental load of motherhood is so real, and sometimes I'm not sure it won't crush me.

I schedule and remember the doctor appointments, keep the fridge stocked and plan the meals, notice when my husband is low on white shirts and wash and fold the laundry, add the playdates and the date nights to the calendar, and add any assortment of to-dos to my day because, well, I'm the parent at home, so I must have time, right?

And when I drop one of the thousand balls I'm juggling, I writhe under the guilt of failing at my responsibility.

It's exhausting not getting enough sleep. The sleep gap doesn't end after baby's first year.

Studies have shown that parents lose as much as six months of sleep in their child's first two years of life. That sounds unbelievable at first...but I completely believe it.

Because sometimes I stay up later than I should just to get a few minutes of "me" time. Because sometimes my sleep-trained daughter still wakes up in the middle of the night with a nightmare or because she's sick or for no real reason at all and needs me to soothe her back to sleep.

Because sometimes I'm so busy trying to keep it all together mentally that I don't know how to turn my own brain off to get to sleep. And because sometimes (almost always) my daughter wakes up earlier than I would like her to and the day starts over before I'm ready.

It's exhausting maintaining any other relationship while being a mom. I try not to neglect my marriage. I try not to neglect my friendships. I try to make time for friendly interaction with my coworkers. I try to be there for my congregation. I try to keep all these connections alive and nurtured, but the fact is that some days my nurture is completely used up.

It's exhausting doing all of the above while being pregnant. Okay, this one might not resonate for every mom, but we all know being pregnant is hard. Being pregnant with a toddler? I'm shocked it's not yet an Olympic event. (I'm not sure if we'd all get gold medals or just all fall asleep at the starting gun.)

Most days, I'm so tired and busy I honestly forget that I am pregnant, only to be reminded at the end of the day when I finally collapse on the couch and the little one in my uterus wakes up to remind me. My body is doing amazing things, sure—and I have the exhaustion to show for it.

Of course, I know that this is just an exhausting season of life. One day, one not-so-far-off day, my children will be a bit more grown and be able to get their own breakfast in the morning. One day, they'll actually want to sleep in, and I'll be the one opening their curtains in the morning to start the day (maybe before they're really ready).

One day, they'll always walk up and down the stairs themselves and will stop stealing my food and I'll be able to nap without making sure they are asleep or with a sitter. One day, they won't need me to remember all the things.

And the really wild part? Just thinking about that day makes me miss these days, just a bit.

So, yes, I'm tired. I'm always tired. But I'm grateful too. Grateful I get to have these days. Grateful I get to have this life.

But also really grateful for those days I get to nap, too.

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For the first couple years of a child's life, their feet grow so rapidly that they typically need a new shoe size every two to three months (so, no, you're not imagining how many shoes you've been buying lately!).

Fortunately, things tend to slow down as they start walking and hit school age. Even so, it's important to make sure they're wearing the right size for maximum comfort and healthy development.

That's why we teamed up with the experts at Rack Room Shoes for tips on helping the whole family get back to school on the right foot.

1. Get professionally fitted at least once a year.

We love online shopping as much as anyone, but for the health of your child's feet, it's worth it to make at least an annual trip to a store to get them properly sized on a Brannock Device (yep, those old-school sizers you remember as a kid are still the most reliable indicators of foot length and width!). Back to school is a great time to plan a visit to a store with trained associates who can help ensure your little one is getting the right fit.

2. Remember not all feet (or shoes) are created equally.

Most babies have naturally pudgier feet that thin out as they get older, and many kids need a wider or narrower shoe than their peers. Visiting a store and speaking with a trained associate can help you gauge which shoe brand will best suit your child. Once you have that benchmark, shopping online will be easier.

3. Get good closure.

Shoe closure, that is. Nowadays, there's a variety of ways to fasten kids shoes, from slip-ons to velcro to elastic laces. Provide your child with a few options to find the closure that works best for you both.

4. Watch for tell-tale signs your child has outgrown their shoes.

Children will often be the last ones to tell you their favorite shoes are uncomfortable. If your child is tripping or walking funny, it may be time to size up.

5. Try the push-down toe method.

Think your kid has outgrown their kicks? Push down on the toe of their shoe with your thumb to see how much wiggle room they have. The ideal size is to have about half a thumb's width between the tip of the toe and the end of the shoe. (That space equates to about half a size.)

6. Pick a style they'll want to put on. (Here are some of our favorites!)

Most moms know the struggle of getting kids out the door in the morning—the right pair of shoes can help cut down on the (literal) foot-dragging. Opt for a fun style (consider shopping for their favorite color or a light-up design) that they'll be begging to wear every day. (But feel free to buy a second pair that's more your style too!)

You'll love that they're classic converse. They'll love the peek of pink.

Converse Girls Maddie, $44

BUY

7. Don't forget the sneakers.

Whether they're running through the recess or racing in P.E., school-age children need a pair of well-fitting, durable sneakers. Be sure to get them professionally fitted to ensure nothing slows them down on the playground.

8. Understand the size breakdowns.

Expert retailers like Rack Room Shoes break up sizing by Baby, Toddler, Little Kid, and Big Kid to make it easier to find the right section for your child. For boys, there's no size break between kids shoes and men's shoes. Girls, though, can cross over into women's shoes from size 4 (in girls) on—a girl's size 4 is a women's size 5.5 or 6.

Looking for more advice? Step into a Rack Room Shoes store near you or shop online. With a "Buy One, Get One 50% off" policy, you can make sure the whole family will put their best foot forward this back-to-school season. (We had to!)

Who knew Amazon had so many dreamy nursery must-haves? Maybe you have a friend or family member about to have a baby or you're preparing for your new bundle of joy—either way, you can save tons on grabbing some essentials on Prime Day.

We've rounded up our favorite nursery items from basics, like cribs and changing tables, to the essentials you never knew you needed (hint: lots of storage!).

1. 6-drawer dresser

This gorgeous dresser has plenty of space for baby's clothing and accessories—and will transition seamlessly to a big kid room one day. Even better? The top is large enough to be used as a changing table. The shade of white is great for any gender, too!

Dresser, Amazon, $239.99 ($329.99)

BUY HERE

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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Neve Campbell recently went from a mama of one to two when she and her husband, JJ Feild, adopted a baby son they named Raynor.

Raynor is a super unique baby name. While Neve's son shares his name with a garage door manufacturing company and a character from the Starcraft video game, he probably won't share it with anyone in his future elementary school.

So why did Campbell and Feild pick a name that's literally off the Social Security Administration's baby name chart? Well, because his 6-year-old brother's name isn't very common either.

"Our son Caspian has a unique name, I like having a unique name," Campbell explained on a recent episode of Live with Kelly and Ryan. "So we weren't gonna call him Bob because you can't be Bob and Caspian."

Baby name experts agree with Campbell

Linda Rosenkrantz of Nameberry.com previously offered this advice to Motherly readers:

"If you already have children, consider how the new baby's name would blend with the others. I can't imagine Kendyl and Keeley with a brother named Ezekiel."

The Kendyl and Keely in Rosenkrantz's example are the daughters of country star Jason Aldean, whose wife Brittany was expecting this time last year (and is again now).

The Aldeans ended up choosing Memphis as the name for their now 7-month-old baby boy, and while it's not as matchy-matchy as Kendyl and Keely's are, it does seem to flow well alongside them.

The same can be said for Raynor and Caspian.

Campbell was totally right. 'Bob' just wouldn't have been a good fit.

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