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The first clue that I might be pregnant again began with the delivery of the wrong sleep sack. I had ordered one for my seven-month-old. Bouncing my son on my knee, I stared at the opened package. Instead of blue race cars, pink flowers decorated the sack.


I heard what sounded like a ping, and the ping planted the seed.

Could I be pregnant? I thought. No. No, I can’t.

I shook off the crazy feeling. There was no way I was pregnant. My son was a miracle IVF baby. The doctor told me that the chances of conceiving naturally at the age of 40 were slim to none.

I silenced the ping.

A few days later, I returned to work after seven months of maternity leave. When I dropped my son off at daycare, I cried. Naturally I was emotional; my tears couldn’t possibly be prompted by hormones.

In the past four months, I had lost 30 pounds. There was no way that I was pregnant my first week back at work after losing all the baby weight and more, especially after being told becoming pregnant would be close to a miracle. Miracles like this didn’t happen to someone like me.

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The second clue came when I threw up at lunch. I chalked it up to first-day-back nerves. I had returned to a promotion, and my new role was unclear.

Still, the ping persisted.

I picked my son up from daycare, his round face all aglow when he spotted me.

I’ll just take a quick pregnancy test, I thought. Then I can put it out of my mind.

I strapped my son in the Ergo and walked a mile to CVS.

Back home, I peed on the stick. I glanced away. I looked back. Already two little lines had appeared. I threw the stick under the sink and slammed the cupboard door.

I was in shock. It was impossible. I couldn’t be pregnant. I wasn’t ready for another child. I could barely handle one. I was 40 after all. Two under two would be the death of me. I didn’t have enough love in my heart for two. How would my body handle it? My husband would leave me. What would my boss think?

I strapped my son back in the Ergo and walked back to CVS. I would splurge on the digital tests that were more accurate. I’ll get a bunch, so I can test again and again to make sure. I won’t cry. Everything will be okay.

I continued like this for the next eight weeks. I told no-one except a close friend who’s like a mother to me. When I told her, she said, “I’m so sorry.” She knew what I must be feeling. Hearing her mirror my own thoughts gave me some strength. Perhaps I could handle having another baby so soon.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want another child. I did. I wanted my son to have a sibling. I’d always imagined two, but now after becoming a mother, I understood that motherhood is as hard as it’s beautiful. I understood that having children is an all-consuming lifestyle change. I knew that raising kids really did take a village.

Perhaps the feeling of doom had to do with how tired I felt. Or that I wasn’t ready for the labor, the breastfeeding, or the late night awakenings. The memory of all these realities were still fresh in my mind. After all, the time between pregnancies had only been a few months.

After eight weeks of hiding my nausea, I began to slowly accept that I would be a mother of two under two. I felt guilty every time someone complimented my weight loss. I knew I needed to tell my husband. The weight of becoming parents had put stress on our marriage, but in the past few weeks, we’d settled into a routine. We’d found happiness again. I didn’t want to jeopardize this new-found place of peace.

I wanted to enjoy my growing son. I wanted to enjoy my new job. I wanted to wear a bikini again. I certainly didn’t want to worry about swollen ankles and stretch marks, or where we’d put the baby in our tiny apartment. I didn’t want to worry about divorce.

Around 18 weeks I started to tell people outside of my family. I began to show quicker this time, and my weight loss only further emphasized my swollen belly. I found out the baby was a girl. I cried then. At least it would be a girl, I thought.

I wasn’t alone in this pregnancy. Two other women at work were pregnant and due around the same time. My boss was surprisingly supportive. Acceptance settled in. My daughter was coming, regardless of how much I wanted to put her off for at least one more year.

People asked, “Aren’t you excited?”

I responded, “Of course!”

Inside though, I wasn’t so sure. I was frightened. I had no family close. I was over 40. The list went on. My friends at work seemed to be less worried and more excited. I was the one who wondered if I was up to the changes that were approaching so quickly.

Then my daughter arrived.  The doctor gently placed her on my chest. I stroked her cheek with my finger. She was mine. My husband remarked on how calm she seemed. Being in her presence was a tonic, her eyes already seemed wiser than mine.

My son’s birth was traumatic and long. Hers was normal and short. We still struggled to breastfeed, but this time I had the knowledge and tools to overcome our difficulties. With your first, you have the lifestyle change. With your second you have this sensation of same, same but different. At first, I found diaper changes hard to manage. I went from two different size diapers to two different body parts. I couldn’t put the newborn down for the fear that the rhino-toddler would sit on her. When would they nap at the same time?

However, it really wasn’t the diaper changes or synchronized naps that worried me. Not really. I was really afraid that I wouldn’t be able to love both of them enough.

Then, three months into two under two, I heard what sounded like another ping.

The sound vibrated as I played and sang “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” with my children. It was one of those moments when motherhood seems like you imagined it before you had children. In that moment, I accepted I was raising two children. Not perfectly or not 1950s-well, but we were surviving. I would be able to get them both to bed by seven. I would be able to find ten minutes to myself. I would be able to love them equally but differently.

My life changed in other ways as well. In fact, having a second child opened up new possibilities. I viewed my time differently. With two children, every second counts. Accomplishing your dreams requires even more determination and resilience.

Everyone says nap when the baby naps, but what happens if you have two? Instead, you wake up early or go to bed late. You prioritize what’s important in your day. I was writing again. I started to become published. I lost 30 pounds. My husband decided to specialize in a new area of his field. He woke up at 3:30 every morning to study. One day he exclaimed, “I’m learning a lot.” He picked up our daughter. Love encircled them. I wasn’t the only one our daughter had transformed. We wouldn’t have made these changes without her. Her presence in our life had pushed us to make better decisions, to be resilient.

My son loved her too. There were moments of jealousy, but he was constantly hugging and kissing her. The first thing he did when he woke up was to ask for her. When I was pregnant, people used to tell me how close they would be, close as Irish cousins. I can see this now. He can make her laugh more easily than anybody. When he hugs her, he doesn’t want to let go.

Before you have children, the phrase, “They grow up so fast” sounds cliché. When you have children, you realize how true it is. I’m now continually reminded of the podcast “The Longest Shortest Time.” The title reflects my life beautifully. Time does stretch out and snap back.

One day, I heard another ping. The sound vibrated as I dropped them both off at daycare. I had arranged with their daycare provider to not linger. It was better to leave before one of them cried. I snuck away. But I wasn’t ready to let go, so I watched them through the window. My son stood guard by her carrier. The ping hummed. Only a short amount of time had passed raising two under two, yet so many things had changed.  Somehow we survived. We’d thrived. As I turned and walked away, I was already missing what had already passed.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


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


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Learn + Play

If you've had a baby in a hospital you know that those first few nights can be really hard. There are so many benefits for babies sharing rooms with their mamas (as opposed to being shipped off to those old-school, glassed-in nurseries) but tired mamas have a lot of conflicting messages coming at them.

You're told to bond with your baby, but not to fall asleep with them in the bed, and to let them rest in their bassinet. But when you're recovering from something that is (at best) the most physically demanding thing a person can do or (at worst) major surgery, moving your baby back and forth from bed to bassinette all night long sure doesn't sound like fun.

That's why this photo of a co-sleeping hospital bed is going viral again, four years after it was first posted by Australian parenting site Belly Belly. The photo continues to attract attention because the bed design is enviable, but is it real? And if so, why aren't more hospitals using it?

The bed is real, and it's Dutch. The photo originated from Gelderse Vallei hospital. As GoodHouskeeping reported back in 2015, the clip-on co-sleepers were introduced as a way to help mom and baby pairs who needed extended hospital stays—anything beyond one night in the maternity ward.

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Plenty of moms stateside wish we had such beds in our maternity wards, but as but Dr. Iffath Hoskins, an OB-GYN, told Yahoo Parenting in 2015, the concept wouldn't be in line with American hospitals' safe sleeping policies.

"If the mother rolls over from exhaustion, there would be the risk of smothering the baby," she told Yahoo. "The mother's arm could go into that space in her sleep and cover the baby, or she could knock a pillow to the side and it's on the baby."

Hoskins also believes that having to get in and out of bed to get to your baby in the night is good for moms who might be otherwise reluctant to move while recovering from C-sections. If you don't move, the risk of blood clots in the legs increases. "An advantage of being forced to get up for the baby is that it forces the mother to move her legs — it's a big plus. However painful it can be, it's important for new moms to move rather than remaining in their hospital beds."

So there you have it. The viral photo is real, but don't expect those beds to show up in American maternity wards any time soon.

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News

A new study has some people thinking twice about kissing their bearded partners, or maybe even letting those with beards kiss the baby—but there's a lot to unpack here.

According to Swiss researchers, bearded men are carrying around more bacteria than dogs do. A lot more. But read on before you send dad off to the bathroom with a razor and ask him to pull a Jason Momoa (yes, he's recently clean-shaven. RIP Aquaman's beard).

As the BBC reports, scientists swabbed the beards of 18 men and the necks of 30 dogs. When they compared the samples, they learned beards have a higher bacterial load than dog fur.

Dudes who love their beards are already clapping back against the way the science was reported in the media though, noting that the sample size in this study was super small and, importantly, that the scientists didn't swab any beardless men.

The study wasn't even about beards, really. The point of the study, which was published in July 2018 in the journal European Radiology, was to determine if veterinarians could borrow human MRI machines to scan dogs without posing a risk to human patients.

"Our study shows that bearded men harbour significantly higher burden of microbes and more human-pathogenic strains than dogs," the authors wrote, noting that when MRI scanners are used for both dogs and humans, they're cleaned very well after veterinary use, and actually have a "lower bacterial load compared with scanners used exclusively for humans."

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Another important point to note is that most bacteria aren't actually dangerous to humans, and some can be really good for us (that's why some scientists want us to let our kids get dirty).

This little study wasn't supposed to set off a beard panic, it was just supposed to prove that dogs and people can safely share an MRI machine. There is previous research on beards and bacteria though, that suggests they're not all bad.

Another study done in 2014 and published in the Journal of Hospital Infection looked at a much larger sample of human faces (men who work in healthcare), both bearded and clean shaven, and actually found that people who shaved their faces were carrying around more Staph bacteria than those with facial hair.

"Overall, colonization is similar in male healthcare workers with and without facial hair; however, certain bacterial species were more prevalent in workers without facial hair," the researchers wrote.

A year after that, a local news station in New Mexico did its own "study" on beards, one that wasn't super scientific but did go viral and prompted a flurry of headlines insisting beards are as dirty as toilets. That claim has been debunked.

So, before you ban bearded people from kissing the baby (or yourself) consider that we all have some bacteria on our faces. Dads should certainly wash their beards well, but they're not as dirty as a toilet.

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News

New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo is on a mission to level the playing field for young women and provide them with the tools for success. In 2017, he implemented free two- and four-year public colleges for New Yorkers, and now Cuomo is adding a budget proposal that would provide on-site childcare at community colleges.

Under the proposal, single parents participating in the program would also have access to tutoring and help when applying to four-year schools. It's the kind of idea that could be a game changer for parents in New York state.

Currently, childcare centers are subsidized for student-parents but can still cost parents $50-$60 a week; under Cuomo's budget proposal, childcare would be free. Students who are already enrolled in similar programs acknowledge that the benefits are enormous.

"As a single parent of two children going to school full time, I wouldn't be able to come to school and afford for childcare," says Michelle Trinidad, a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and parent to a 4 and 5-year-old. "Thank goodness for BMCC Early Childhood Center that is very much affordable. It gives me the opportunity to advance my career and be confident that my son is in good hands. School is hard enough on its own, having reliable child care means a lot to me and my children."

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The plan is a part of Cuomo's 2019 women's justice agenda, legislation that addresses the gender wage gap, as well as economic and social justice for all New York women. According to a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, 11% of undergraduates, or 2.1 million students, were single mothers as of 2012, which has doubled since 2000. Additionally, that same study found that 4 in 10 women at two-year colleges say that they are likely or very likely to drop out of school due to their dependent care obligations.

"This is an exciting initiative for New York that addresses a critical need, and if implemented, will have a far-reaching impact on various aspects of society, especially for the next generation," says Ryan Lee-James, PhD an Assistant Professor at Adelphi University. "I view this initiative as both a direct and indirect pathway to address the well-documented achievement gap between children reared in poverty and those growing up with higher income families, as it provides moms, who otherwise may not have had the opportunity, to further their education and thus, afford their children more opportunities."

Additionally, many view campus childcare as a safe haven for college students. "During my 18 years working in campus childcare, I have witnessed how the student-parents can complete their courses and stay focused by having childcare on campus," says Sori Palacio, a Head Teacher at BMCC Early Childhood Center. "Parents usually express how thankful they are for having their children traveling with them to school as well as having their children nearby while they complete their degree. They concentrate in academic work without worrying about their child's wellbeing. This service helps the entire public by preparing more people to serve the community."

Parents have so many barriers when it comes to accessing higher education, but free childcare could be a game changer that benefits multiple generations.

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News

Anthropologie is one of those stores you can browse around forever. From beautifully curated clothing to dreamy home items (if you don't already have this Capri Blue candle in your life, you *need* it). But sometimes the items can come with a hefty price.

This weekend only—from 4/18-4/21—, they're offering an extra 50% off sale items and 20% off furniture on sale. 🙌 (Note that all sales are final.)

Here's what we're adding to our carts:

1. Gwendolyn diaper bag, $69.96 (was $98.00)

Anthropologie diaper bag

Beautiful and functional—what more could you ask for in a diaper bag?

BUY

2. Tough as a mother graphic tee, $38.40 (was $48)

Tough as a mother tee

Who else is tougher than a mother?

BUY

3. Monogram candle, $14.95 (was $24.00)

Anthropologie monogram candle

You can never have too many candles. Once it's done, clean out the wax and use it to store smaller items around the home!

BUY

4. Baby bella bunny,  $9.95 (was $16.00)

Anthropologie stuffed bunny

This would make a gorgeous gift for a newborn, or a sweet surprise for your own little.

BUY

5. Splendid sincerity slides, $69.96 (was $118.00)

Anthropologie slides

Say hello to your go-to summer shoe for all of the activities on your list.

BUY

6. Voilette canister, $19.95 (was $28.00)

Anthropologie canisters

We all have items that we just can't seem to find a home for (looking at you Q-tips).

BUY

7. Karuna cleaning mud mask, $4.95 (was $8.00)

Anthropologie mud mask

For when you sneak away for a few minutes in the bathroom—multitask, mama.

BUY

8. Charming critter piggy bank, $24.95 (was $38.00)

Anthropologie piggy bank

Littles can never start saving too early—would make an adorable gift for your favorite little one.

BUY

9. Stateside terry cloth joggers,  $69.95 (was $126.00)

Anthropologie joggers

Lounge in style.

BUY

10. Chalkboard calendar, $144.95 (was $228.00)

Anthropologie chalkboard calendar

The perfect item for an entryway to keep *all* of the things together.

BUY

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