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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.

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.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98

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3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99

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4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95

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7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99

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11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99

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

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While you're gearing up for (or in the middle of) back to school season, Halloween may seem like it will never get here, but it's only a couple of months away. And if you can barely wait for the leaves to fall and temperatures to drop, Disney and Amazon are here to get you in the spooky spirit.

Enter: Disney's Halloween shop on Amazon. 🎃This curated collection features tons of items for the season and we love that many are nods to some of our favorite festive movies. Think: Hocus Pocus and A Nightmare Before Christmas.

From Halloween costumes for kids to ghostly mugs for mama, these are the best items for the entire family:

1. Disney Jack Skellington Mug

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If you're a fan of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, this will be your favorite mug to sip your coffee or tea from.

Price: $12.99

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2. My First Halloween Board Book

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Halloween doesn't have to be scary, mama. This touch and feel board book introduces baby to the season.

Price: $8.99

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3. Anna + Elsa Costume

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Get a head start on your costumes by adding this one to your cart. Bonus points for having accessories that can be used for playtime year-round.

Price: $16.01-$28.99

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4. Minnie Mouse Sequin Ears

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If you don't want to fully dress up to trick or treat, add on these ears to feel festive for less.

Price: $11.99

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5. Hocus Pocus Women's Tee

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Hocus Pocus will always be a favorite. For a humorous take on being a mama, add this one to your wardrobe.

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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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Ashley Graham is having a baby! The supermodel recently shared the exciting news on social media — and it didn't take long for her to make an important statement about pregnant bodies.

Ashley shared a beautiful photo featuring something nearly every woman on the planet has: stretch marks. The photo, which features Ashley nude and seemingly unfiltered, is kind of revolutionary—because while it's completely normal for a woman to have stretch marks (especially during pregnancy), we don't often get to see celebrities rocking this reality on magazine covers or even in social media posts.

That's probably why Ashley, who will welcome her firstborn with husband Justin Ervin, is earning so much praise for the photo, which she posted on Instagram. The images shows the model's side with the caption "same same but a little different".

One follower who is loving this real look at a pregnant body? Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who writes "My Lord, THANK YOU for this."

Ashley's post touches another user in an unexpected way: "I'm such a wimp. I'm pregnant, hormonal, and going though so many body changes. This made me tear up. I really needed this today," she writes.

Another user adds: "I showed my husband this photo and he said, 'See! She's just like you' I am almost 21 weeks pregnant and I've been struggling with my changing body. I love how much you embrace it. I've always looked up to you and your confidence. ❤️ Congratulations on your babe!"

Yet another follower adds: "This is what girls need to see. We need this as a reference for real and relatable. Women young and old. Thank you!"

Of course this is social media we're talking about so a few hateful comments make their way into the mix—but Ashley's many advocates shut that down. We have to applaud this stunning mom-to-be for showing the world how pregnancy really changes your body.

Women everywhere can see themselves in this photo of a supermodel (and how often does that happen?). That's powerful stuff—and it just might make it a little bit easier for the rest of us to embrace the changes we see in our own bodies.

One follower sums it all up best, writing: "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be a mother and teach another human being that ALL bodies are beautiful. You're going to be such an amazing mother."

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For a lot of families, summer is a season where rules relax and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting, weekday mornings are about to start a lot earlier for many kids, and parents might be wondering how to reset the clock on bedtimes.

According to Terry Cralle, an RN, certified clinical sleep expert and the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, a new school year is a good opportunity for families to get a fresh start on sleep routines.

"We have to start with really making sufficient sleep a family priority [and] having some discussions about the importance of sleep with our children," Cralle tells Motherly. "It shouldn't be at bedtime when everyone's cranky and tired. It should be during the day that families really discuss the importance of sleep for all family members."

If you need to have a conversation about getting enough sleep for school, try the following tips from Cralle.

1. Be positive about sleep

Make sure that younger children, especially, understand that sleep is a positive, not negative thing, and don't use the threat of bedtime as punishment.

"What we want to do is, ideally, change how children perceive sleep because children can see sleep as a great big timeout where they're missing out on things," Cralle explains, suggesting that parents instead try to present sleep and bedtime routines as "with positivity and as just a non-negotiable part of our lives."

Cralle wants parents to make sure they're talking with their kids about how a lack of sleep can impact one's mood, health and academic ability. Just as we teach our kids about the importance of eating healthy, we should be teaching them about the importance of sleeping healthy, and from an early age.

2. Empower your children with choices

According to Cralle, it's really important to empower children with choices around bedtime, because the one thing they can't have a choice in is the fact that they do need to go to sleep.

"They're going be more accountable, more responsible, and hopefully, develop good sleep habits and practice good hygiene early in life," if we empower them through simple choices, Cralle suggests.

"So we can say, what pajamas do you want to wear to bed tonight? What book do you want to read? Let them participate. If they can pick out their color of their pillowcase, let them do it. Whatever's age appropriate."

3. Let them do their own bedtime math

Instead of just telling kids when they need to go to bed, involve them in figuring out an appropriate bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists how much sleep kids need depending on their age. Have them look up how much sleep a kid their age needs, and then show them the National Sleep Foundation's online bedtime calculator. Kids can choose how many hours of sleep they need and when they want to wake up, and it will show them when they need to go to bed.

It's not an arbitrary decision mom and dad made, it's science and math, and you can't argue with that.

4. Add one sleep item to the back-to-school shopping list

Cralle says adding one sleep-related item to the back to school shopping list can really help children understand the importance of sleep as they head back into the classroom. A conversation about how getting a good night's sleep is important for school success, combined with a shopping trip for a new pillowcase or comforter can really help children see sleep as an important priority, and give them something to look forward to using at bedtime.

5. Provide an environment conducive to sleep

When our kids are infants we're really good at setting up rooms that can help them sleep. But as our children age out of cribs and start to accumulate a lot of possessions and playthings, their rooms can become a less ideal sleeping environment.

According to Cralle, it's not uncommon for kids to get up after bedtime and start playing with toys in their room. She recommends removing stimulating toys or storing them in another area of the home, and never putting televisions, tablets or smartphones in a child's room.

6. Enact a media curfew

At least an hour before bedtime, screen time should come to an end and other, more relaxing activities can begin. Cralle says families can designate a certain hour as DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, or move from away from brightly lit screens and towards a board games or puzzles, "things to do to get that blue light out of their eyes."

A family-wide media curfew can be a good thing, says Cralle, as it helps parents "walk the walk" when it comes to sleep hygiene. "Don't be looking at your iPad and tell your child to put it away," she explains.

7. Remember: It's never too late for good sleep habits.

According to Cralle, age 3 is the ideal time to start reinforcing the importance of sleep for a child's health, but older kids and even mom and dad can reverse bad bedtime habits if the whole family buys in. That may mean curtailing your kids' (and your own) caffeine consumption, says Cralle.

"We're seeing younger and younger age groups of school children walking around with their Starbucks cups, with coffee, late in the afternoon," says Cralle, who thinks a lot of parents just don't have good information on how caffeine consumption can impact sleep—for our kids and ourselves.

She recommends limiting the number of caffeinated beverages available in the house if you've got tweens and teens at home, and watching your own consumption as well.

"We have to say 'Here's how we're all going to approach it.' It's sort of like seat belts with children, we never would buckle them in and get into the car, and not do it ourselves."

This may be the season to tweak your own sleep habits mama. Here's to a well-rested September.

[Correction: August 24, 2018: The sleep calculator was created by the National Sleep Foundation, not the Better Sleep Council.]

[A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Learn + Play

Finding out that you are having multiples is always a surprise, but finding out that you're in labor with triplets when you didn't even know you were pregnant, well that's the mother of all surprises.

It happened to Dannette Glitz of South Dakota on August 10. The Associated Press reports she had no idea she was pregnant and thought the pain she was experiencing was kidney stones.

"I never felt movement, I never got morning sickness, nothing!" Glitz explains in a social media post.

"Well this was a huge shock"

When Glitz posted photos of her triplets to her Facebook page last week one of her friends was confused. "What? You really had triplets?" they asked.

Glitz (who has two older children) started getting pain in her back and sides in the days before the birth, but it felt like the kidney stones she had previously experienced so she brushed it off. Eventually, she was in so much pain all she could do was lay in bed and cry.

"It hurt to move and even breath[e]," she wrote, explaining that she decided to go to an Urgent Care clinic, "thinking I'm going to have to have surgery to break the stones up."

A pregnancy test at Urgent Care revealed Glitz was pregnant—that was the first surprise. The second surprise happened when a heart monitor revealed the possibility of twins.

'I need another blanket, there's a third'

Glitz was transferred to a regional hospital in Spearfish, South Dakota. "And in about 2 hours they confirmed twins as there was 2 heart beats," she writes.

Glitz was 34 weeks along and four centimeters dilated. She was transferred again, rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Rapid City and prepped for a C-section. When the C-section was happening she heard the doctor announce that Baby A was a boy and Baby B was a girl.

"Then [the doctor] yells 'I need another blanket, there's a third' ....I ended up having triplets, 1 boy [and] 2 girls," Glitz writes.

Glitz and her husband Austin named their surprise children Blaze, Gypsy and Nikki and each of the trio weighed about 4 pounds at birth. Because the couple's older children are school-aged, they didn't have any baby stuff at home. Friends quickly rallied, raising over $2,000 via a Facebook fundraiser to help the family with unexpected expenses.

A family of seven 

The family is getting used to their new normal and is so thankful for the community support and donations. "It's amazing in a small town how many people will come together for stuff that's not expected," Glitz told KOTA TV.

Her oldest, 10-year-old Ronnie, is pretty happy about a trio of siblings showing up suddenly.

"One time I seen a shooting star and I wished for a baby brother, and I wished for like two sisters for my little sister because she always wanted a little sister, I knew this day was always going to come," Ronnie told TV reporters.

Ronnie may not have been surprised, but everyone else in this story certainly was.

Congratulations to Danette and her family! You've got this, mama.

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