A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

The Parenting Regret That Caught Me by Surprise

I took away my son’s pacifier when he was four years old, and I still regret it.

It seemed like the perfect time. We’d just watched “Toy Story 3,” in which Andy sorts through his childhood belongings before heading to college. He decides to store the important ones, including Buzz Lightyear, in the attic.

My son James, who has autism, took an interest in our attic. What was up there? What could we put up there?

I jumped at the chance. From his toddler years, I’d done my best to restrict the pacifier to his bed. I was a child psychologist and the very thought of running into one of my patients around town, pacifier-sucking behemoth in tow, made me want to hide my head.

Plus, everything I’d read cautioned about pacifier use once kids started getting their permanent teeth.

The pacifier was a sign of weakness, of immaturity, of difference. I knew James had some developmental delays, but when he was four, the idea that he had autism was relatively new. James was attending a regular pre-Kindergarten, and I thought he needed to look like a regular pre-Kindergartner. Even in bed.

So James and I packed his few remaining pacifiers into a Ziploc bag and made a trip up to the attic. “Where do we put them?” he asked, looking around at the vast, dusty, hot, mostly empty space.

I suggested a ledge near the attic entrance, “so we can visit.” He set them down, gave them a little pat, and said, “Bye, pacis.” He climbed down the attic stairs and headed to the playroom, seeming none the worse for wear.

James never asked for his pacifier again, but that didn’t mean he didn’t miss it. Like lots of kids with autism, he had uneven language development. At that point, he’d still never told me he was hungry, never told me he was thirsty, but he could give the proper technical name for any construction truck he might spot around town.

When he had a strong need he’d have a tantrum, and I’d have to figure it out.

I have a family history of premature pacifier disposal. My older brother loved his pacifier, but my mother decided he needed to give it up very soon after he turned two. A friend suggested she take my brother to the zoo and feed it to the baby raccoons, reasoning that they needed it more than he did. My brother had nightmares about the baby raccoons for months afterward.

I knew all about the raccoons. Letting James use a pacifier for two extra years was my way of learning from my mother’s mistake. If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have let him keep it as long as he wanted and use it whenever and wherever he wanted.

The pacifier wasn’t a problem, but a solution.

Looking back through home movies recently, I confirmed something: James’ younger sister started sucking her fingers before she was an hour old.

“Wow, look at her,” I say in the video. “So strong.” Seeing the video reminded me of how competent infants can be.

I saw an infant at a Mardi Gras parade, which is not at all unusual or frowned upon here in New Orleans. The baby girl rubbed her forehead against her mother’s chest in the Baby Bjorn, soothing herself to sleep as the marching bands blared. It was 1 p.m., after all. Naptime.

That kind of self-regulation is so hard for people with autism. So hard for James. He used the pacifier in his bed, to help him cope with the stress of being tired and of being alone in his room. With all that was going wrong with James – everything that led to his autism diagnosis – his self-soothing with the pacifier was something right.

What’s two extra years? If James had done as his sister did with her fingers, kept sucking his pacifier for comfort until age six, then given it up on his own, the whole thing would’ve been a success story for James. I shouldn’t have butted in.

I’ve developed a rule of thumb. It started with my acceptance of James’ autism and my own limitations in coping with it, even though autism was my specialty for 10 years before his birth.

My first choice is always to find what James is doing right, and bolster that. Tackling a problem – which might exist only in my mind – is always the last resort.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

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).

You might also like:

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.

You might also like:

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.]

You might also like:

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.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.