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Today is an “I hate Kevin” day. I have those a lot. Mommy says it’s okay. She has them too. You can’t control how you feel but you can choose how to act in response to your feelings. The behaviorist says that’s the biggest difference between me and Kevin. I can make sense of my feelings, all he can do is react.

The penis grabbing is getting worse. He’s doing it in school now. Today at lunch he stuck his hand down his pants and started doing the humping thing. I said, “Kev hands up, okay?” Then he started to cry, and everyone saw what he was doing, and I just wanted to disappear. Leela tells him everything is okay but he screams and throws his salad all over the floor. Before the aides even realize what’s happening my friends have cleaned up the mess, taken Kev to the bathroom, and calmed him down. Sharfa has taken something from everyone’s lunch so he has something to eat.

“Everything is just fine now isn’t it Kevin?”

No one ever asks ME if everything is fine. No one asks me if I’m okay after my brother sticks his hand down his pants in the middle of lunch and then throws his food all over the floor. You’d think, just once, someone might say, “Wow Kayla, that must have been embarrassing. Are you okay?” But they never do. I’m invisible, and today I’m letting myself be mad about it. I hate Kevin. I wish he had never been born. He wasn’t supposed to be born. I’ve heard the story. Mommy’s body knew he was broken and took away his air. Mommy’s body is smart.

I don’t have a normal life. I don’t have a normal family. I’ve had enough sleepovers to know how normal people live, and we don’t live like they do. I wish we could.

Take tonight for example. It’s a typical night in our house. 9:30 p.m. is bedtime, Mommy and Daddy say so, and Kevin starts screaming and thrashing. I go to my bed, because I’m the “good” one and just wait for it all to be over. Crying, counting, more crying, time out, Mommy and Daddy arguing because this one or that one always gives in, blah, blah, blah.

Tonight it only takes 15 minutes and Kevin’s in the bathroom. He can’t pee alone. Bob (his stuffed elephant) and Kevin Owens (the plastic wrestler) have to pee with him. Daddy stands at the toilet making the “pssss” sound, praising Bob and Kevin Owens for pointing their penises at the water and getting all their tinkle in the potty. Other daddies don’t have to do this.

Now Kevin is in our room and Mommy has to get him in his pull up and pajamas. 10-year-old boys aren’t supposed to wear pull ups and they can dress themselves. He lies down, and even though the tucking in routine has been the same for the past year, he recites the steps and makes Mommy repeat them.

Kevin: Cover me.

Mommy: Cover you.

Kevin: All way end.

Mommy: Pull the blanket all the way to the end.

Kevin: Kevin Ownens head here.

Mommy: Kevin Owens head goes here.

Kevin: Bob go here.

Mommy: Bob goes here.

Kevin: Need pink book.

Mommy: You need a pink book.

Kevin: Goes here.

Mommy: It goes here.

Kevin: Night night see moanin.

Mommy: Night night see moanin.

Now Mommy comes to me to sing our song but she’s not really here. Sometimes she is. Sometimes she looks right in my eyes and sings all the words to the song and she’s all with me, but tonight she’s somewhere else. She sings the words and looks right at me but she’s somewhere else in her head. Maybe she’s at work. Maybe she’s thinking about laundry. Maybe she’s in the other world she’s made for herself where Kevin doesn’t live.

I love that place. I go there sometimes too. I think it’s hard to pretend you’re in a place when you’re not in that place.

It took me a lot of growing up to realize Mommy isn’t here when she’s here. You have to pay really close attention because Mommy is good at pretending. You can have whole conversations with her and it seems like she’s paying attention but the next day she won’t remember a thing you said. Tonight is like that. She’s singing to me, making all the right faces in all the right parts but tomorrow morning she’ll ask me, “Did I remember to sing our song?”

I wonder if other mommies can do that: leave their body to sing all the words with all the right faces while they’re somewhere else. I wonder if other mommies HAVE to do that. I don’t think so. I think it’s just the mommies with broken children. I think when a child is broken the mommy breaks too and that’s how they’re able to be in two places at once. I wish Mommy was here with me, the song just isn’t the same without her.

Kevin: Kaya scatch my back?

This is the part of the routine no one knows about. It’s our secret. After Mommy and Daddy leave Kevin says, “Kaya scatch my back,” and I crawl into his bed with him. I have to repeat the steps too.

Kevin: Get under covers vis me

Kayla: I know I’m under the covers with you

Kevin: Put you hand up back my sirt

Kayla: I’m putting my hand up the back of your shirt

Kevin: Don’t ickle me

Kayla: I’m not tickling you

Kevin: Now you scatch

Kayla: I’m scratching

I scratch and scratch and just before he falls asleep Kevin says, “Night night Kaya I yuv you.”

Then I say, “I love you too Kevin.”

Sometimes, not all the time, maybe just on nights he needs to be sure he asks, “You yuv me?”

“Yes,” I say, and he says, “Awe! Gank goo.”

Tonight is one of those nights. He needs to be sure, so I stray from the routine a little bit and say, “Yes yes yes yes yes I love you,” and he smiles a little bit just before he falls asleep.

I feel so guilty. I’m a horrible sister. He knows. He knows about the world where he doesn’t live. He knows Mommy has to go there sometimes and leave the pretend Mommy to sing my song and now he knows I go there sometimes too. If I was a better sister I wouldn’t have to go.

Usually I go back to my bed once he’s asleep but tonight I’ll stay. I’ll stay all night long until the early morning so Mommy doesn’t see me here and it stays our secret.

It’s nice watching Kevin sleep. He has a really cute snore. I wonder if I did this when we were in Mommy’s tummy. Mommy says no. She says we each grew in our own bubble and when you’re in someone’s tummy you can’t leave your bubble to go visit someone in theirs but I think she’s wrong. I bet I left my bubble all the time to visit Kevin in his and scratch his back. I imagine the two of us growing just like this, face to face, hand in hand, but Mommy says that’s not right either. Once we got really big and ran out of room in her tummy my head was right at Kevin’s feet. That’s why I’m so goofy. I spent that last month in Mommy’s tummy getting kicked in the head all day.

I can’t sleep so I play with Mommy’s favorite part of me. It’s the little roll of fat at the bottom of my tummy. Mommy calls it a little extra Kayla and you can never get enough Kayla. I don’t like the roll of fat. It hangs over my bikini bottom and I’m afraid people are going to call me fat.

I told Mommy this one day and she got really mad and said, “Don’t you ever call yourself fat. You’re beautiful, you have a beautiful figure you’re perfect just the way you are.” But she says the same thing to Dana and she doesn’t have a little roll of fat that hangs over her bikini bottom. We can’t both be perfect we look completely different. I think Dana’s the perfect one. Dana is perfect at everything, Kevin is broken and I’m just … me.

I’m not even supposed to be here. It was just supposed to be Kevin. He zoomed down from Heaven too fast, crash landed into Mommy’s tummy and a piece of him fell off. That’s me. Mommy says that’s just a story I made up in my head but it’s not and I know it. I’m the piece of Kevin that fell off which is why neither one of us is whole or right without the other one. No one knows what if feels like to be a piece of somebody else. I’m the only one.

Do you know when Kevin is sleeping or smiling you can’t see the facial dysmorphia? He looks perfect. He is perfect. He isn’t destroying the makeup counter at MAC or throwing books at us in Barnes & Noble. No one is staring at us with pity or just ignoring us. He isn’t grabbing his penis and humping the floor in full view of my friends. I can have sleepovers like other girls because he doesn’t wander the house naked and flap like a bird until his medication kicks in. I have the life I see when I sleep over other people’s houses. Mommy says they have problems, too – we just can’t see them. Sometimes, when I sleep over other people’s houses, I walk around opening closets looking for their problems but I’ve never found any.

I feel better. Mommy is right about letting yourself be mad. If you don’t give the mad thoughts a voice they get louder and louder until that’s all you can hear. I’ve said the angry thoughts out loud like Mommy taught. I told God I hated Kevin and I wish he wasn’t here and God said “Okay,” took the bad words away, and replaced them with good feelings. I can look at Kevin and feel love again and I don’t need the world where he doesn’t live. I never stay long anyway. I feel peaceful when I’m there but here, I feel whole.

Tomorrow is going to be better. I’ll remember that Kevin and I are the most special twins in the world because the piece of him that’s missing grew into a whole person who wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him flying down from Heaven too fast. I will lie here all night with him and Mommy won’t know. It’s not like Mommy still creeps downstairs to make sure we’re breathing. We’re 10 for God’s sake. She won’t see us curled up together hand in hand. It will still be our secret.

I’ll have to set the alarm for 5:30 a.m. because Mommy’s been getting up at 6 a.m. Daddy says she’s finally gone off the deep end. She says she’s quitting her job to become a professional beaver trapper. There’s a Mommy beaver named Becky living in our backyard with her five babies. They’re sooooooooo cute but don’t say that in front of my mom. They’re eating all her plants and trees so she goes out there every morning around 6:30 to yell at Becky and throw sticks at her. She thinks this will make Becky want to move but I don’t think it’s working. We can’t even call her Mommy anymore. She wants to be called Rachel The Great Beaver Slayer. I’m not allowed to tell Dad because he’ll say she’s being obsessive but Mom says she’s going to disguise herself as a rhododendron bush and stake out the beaver. She needs evidence. I think she’s taking Becky to court.

Yeah, I don’t have a normal life. I don’t have a normal family. I’ve had enough sleepovers to know how normal people live, and we don’t live like they do. But then again none of them have beavers, or a mother in the backyard disguised as a rhododendron bush, and that must be boring.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.


A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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