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Thank You For Not Judging Me, It Made All the Difference

It was a rough day.

I’d been up all night with a new baby and was on day 3 of a migraine. I hadn’t showered and my hair smelled faintly of the garlic chicken dinner we’d made two nights prior. My husband had just returned to work after baby bonding leave, and it was one of the first days I would have to wrangle an infant, 2-year-old, and 4-year-old all alone.

The morning started with a bang – literally – as my toddler shattered a coffee mug and my preschooler spilled milk onto the dog and the floor. The kids fought over who would get the purple plate for breakfast and this ended with tears, a time out, and me admonishing that hitting is NOT acceptable.

The baby was suffering from his first cold à la his big brothers and couldn’t quite figure out how to nurse and breathe at the same time. He cried and bit in frustration, and I responded with yelps and pleas. Meanwhile the older boys unraveled an entire roll of toilet paper throughout the house – in order to “get a tissue for the baby’s nose.”

I took a deep breath and glanced at the clock, praying that afternoon nap time was near.

It was 9am.

I decided to walk to the park. The boys needed to burn off some energy and the fresh air would be good for the baby’s cold. Thus ensued another forty minutes of finding shoes, putting them on the right feet, going potty, dressing an angry baby, and mitigating fights over who would get to bring the McDonald’s Happy Meal toy with them.

Finally – FINALLY – we were out the door. I wore the baby in an infant carrier while pushing the toddler in a stroller. The preschooler was firmly instructed to hold onto the stroller as we lumbered down the alley two blocks to the neighborhood park.

We arrived, shutting the gate behind us, and the boys let loose like released bulls. The baby and I followed them, spotting, watching, and pushing on swings. I chatted with a couple of moms and nannies and not one commented on the spit up all over my shirt. The kids all shared a snack. And it seemed like the day was getting better. I could do this!

Then. A toy stroller was brought into the park. And all hell broke loose as the kids fought over it. Guardians rushed over to intervene and it was then that I noticed my son had wet his pants. We would have to go home and change.

He didn’t want to, and made sure the entire park knew it. He howled as I tried to coax him to the stroller. Dug his heels in as I took his hand. Ultimately forced me to carry him under my arm as he screamed and flailed like a fish out of water.

The commotion woke the baby who also began bawling in the carrier. My third son decided he wasn’t going to sit in the stroller. Another meltdown as I forcibly buckled him in while all three wailed in unison.

The nannies looked at me sympathetically as I struggled with three crying boys. One of them held the gate open for me as I tried to maneuver a toddler dragging his feet beneath a stroller and a preschooler screaming under my arm – with a baby strapped to my chest. My head pounded from the migraine.

I glanced back just in time to catch a mom shaking her head and whispering something to another. My cheeks burned.

We made it out of the park and I stopped a few yards away, out of earshot. I placed my screeching son down and gripped his shoulder while I told him he needed to calm down and walk. He ignored me and bellowed louder. I threatened the loss of privileges. It didn’t work. He refused to walk.

I bent my head down and took a deep breath, tears of frustration pricking my eyes. I struggled to pick him up again and trudged slowly, awkwardly, into the alley. My toddler’s dragging shoes left skid marks on the street. The baby’s sunhat fell over his face. And the sorrowful cries of all three echoed off the walls of houses.

Then of course. OF COURSE. An SUV turned into the alley and headed our way. On a one-way narrow street. I rolled my eyes and cursed under my breath. It took all the strength I had to force the stroller and a fighting preschooler over to the side of the road. I stood there impatiently, willing the SUV to just hurry up and GO BY already.

But it slowed down. You’ve got to be kidding me. Surely the driver saw me struggling. I was standing there on the verge of losing my shit and someone was going to ask me for directions!?

As it got closer, I saw that the driver was a woman. And then suddenly it occurred to me that perhaps she was going to make a comment, a judgment, about my screaming kids. A “friendly” piece of advice about how to make them stop misbehaving. Something to make me feel like more of a failure than I already did. I remembered the mother in the park. The condescending look. The whisper.

A pit in the middle of my stomach grew.

The SUV stopped at my side and the driver rolled down the window. I turned towards her, annoyed, and lifted my eyebrows impatiently.

She smiled at me kindly. “I just wanted to tell you that you’re doing an amazing job, Mom.”

I blinked. Confused. Instinctively looked behind me.

The woman nodded. Warmly. She leaned forward and said it again. I could barely hear her over the howls of my kids.

“You are doing an amazing job. You really are. Hang in there. And know that you’re a wonderful mom.”

The pit in my stomach dissolved. I began to breathe. And I looked up at her and shook my head, wondering how to convey my gratitude.

“Thank you SO much. Thank you.”

She nodded and told me to take care. Even the boys finally took notice as their cries began to peter out. The woman rolled up the window and drove past.

I stood there. Still stunned. And a weight was lifted. I was in awe of this woman, this stranger, who took a moment to change the course of my day. I felt new resolve and new strength. Forgot about the woman in the park. Straightened up. And gathered the kids to continue the walk home.

I doubt this woman even remembers me. That she even gave the encounter a second thought. But for me, it is something I will never forget. The kindness of a stranger that lifted my spirits during an ordinary moment. But a moment when I needed it most.

And for that, I thank her.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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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).

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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.

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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.]

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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.

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