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So, You Want to Have Kids: A One-Sided Story of Preparing for Parenthood

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Before you wander into lifelong parenthoodery, here are some things to consider (that maybe you’ve been told, maybe you haven’t):


There’s no such thing as being “ready”

You can’t be ready for something you can’t know. There is no ready. There is only the decision to have a child or not to have a child. That’s all the preparation you can possibly possess.

Having a pet is as much preparation for a child as watching the moon landing prepares you to be an astronaut

So don’t say it, don’t believe it, and punch anyone that does (I’m kidding, of course, don’t punch anyone, why would you take that seriously?!? We also happen to currently have 3 dogs and 2 cats – not counting the 8 animals that have died during our 20-year marriage; so I do know what it’s like to own pets before and after kids, but again these are just my opinions. You are welcome to disagree and write your own list on why owning a pet is exactly like having a child).

For fathers, the pregnancy phase doesn’t have the same hormonal, physical, or psychological effects

You will see your significant other get larger, frequently sleep, get sick, and eventually become virtually immobile, but it’s mostly just waiting and watching. It’s normal not to feel excited about having a baby. Just don’t say that out loud.

For mothers, tell your significant other what you need them to do – because we have no idea what we’re doing

Foot massages, back massages, an ear to listen, or going on late night errands to get pickles or BBQ ribs – tell us what you need and want. It’s literally the only way we can be of use. You are having a unique experience we can’t understand. We won’t have the same bonding you will have, so make us feel useful by allowing us to help you in any way we can.

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You will never be so excited and exhausted in your entire life as the day your child is born

After you meet your baby and everything gets cleaned up, (because Jesus Lord it’s a mess of sights, sounds, and smells you can’t fathom), you will settle into a nonstop barrage of tests, temperature taking, nursing, paperwork, burping, questions, diaper checking, visitors, crying, and awkward moments of adjusting to this new tiny being that is now yours to raise. You won’t sleep for more than two hours during your entire hospital stay.

Newborns are boring

Don’t get me wrong, they’re cute, but boring. I’m afraid you may think I mean that boring is bad. It’s not. Boring is perfect. Newborns just sleep, (sporadically and horribly), cry, and eat when they aren’t sleeping, and poop in between. Imagine if they could walk, talk, and eat cheeseburgers right when they were born? Boring is what you want.

Once your newborn is “sleep trained,” you won’t be

Your newborn will wake up every two hours for six months. Then move on to waking up every 6 hours for the next 6 months. By the time they are sleeping through the night, they’ll have trained you to not be able to sleep for more than four hours at a time.

Parenting doesn’t happen all at once

Luckily for you, newborns have very simple needs. They aren’t born talking, walking, and challenging your very existence at every moment. It’s hard to screw anything up first few months. Other than them almost rolling off the changing table. Not that that’s ever happened to us.

Once they crawl you will wish they would stop

You won’t be able to place them down and know they’ll stay put. And after crawling is walking, followed by running, mixed with lots of falling. So much falling.

You will get poop on you

No matter how careful you are, you will get poop on you. It’s not like the poop of a 63-year-old man. But it’s still poop. In fact, at some point, you will clean poop out of a bathtub. It’s far more difficult than you’d think.

It will take an extra 45 minutes to get out the door, no matter where you’re going or how long you plan to be gone

Diapers, bottles, clothes, blankets, wipes, butt cream, formula, pacifiers, toys, that one special stuffed animal, portable playpens (which are highly overrated), and the thing you always forget and will have to go back to get. If you have more than one child, you will have to get ready 24 hours in advance.

Get comfortable with repetition. Get comfortable with repetition. Get comfortable with repetition.

You will read the same books over and over (and you will memorize them, I still know “Goodnight Moon” by heart, 14 years later), watch the same shows over and over, listen to the same music over and over, play the same games over and over. So choose your books, shows, music, and games carefully.

Finding a babysitter is tantamount to buying a house

You’re competing with hundreds of other parents who are also trying to find that perfect babysitter, and you will have to pay for it. But it’s worth it. It’s your damn child. Don’t be cheap. And if you’re lucky enough to have family watch your child, please understand not all of us are so lucky, so please don’t act so shocked if we can’t go somewhere without at least four weeks notice.

Strangers will give you unsolicited advice

This advice will be completely comprised of horror stories that will scare you into staying indoors forever. It will always be dispensed while you wait in line for something – at the grocery store, DMV, or Chipotle. Yes, I’m well aware of the irony in that statement.

Other parents will make you feel as if you’re doing everything wrong

Other people aren’t you and their kids aren’t your kids. No one gets it all right, and no one gets it all wrong. Parents who share (on Facebook) that their kids are amazing, awesome, perfect, and every moment is a blessing, are lying (by omission) to make themselves feel better. Don’t take it personally.

The best game you can ever play is “Sleeping Giant”

Let me explain. When your child is young you will do lots of playing that involves dolls, dressing up, and pretending. You will eventually get very tired of it. So I suggest you play what I call “Sleeping Giant”, where you lie down, pretend to sleep, and your child will attempt to sneak up on you without you waking up. All you have to do it snore, pretend to wake up, lunge forward to grab them (wherein they scream and run away), and go back to sleeping. You’re welcome.

Every six months your child will switch from easy, fun, and awesome to a complete asshole

This cycle continues for years and years and years. At present my oldest child is 16, and it’s still true.

Your child will hate you

It’s fine. They will curse you under their breath. They will call you names. They will wish you were dead. You’ll be tempted to take it personally. Don’t. If they hate you, you’re doing something right. Your goal isn’t to do things so your child likes you. Your goal should be to create a person who has the ability to make wise decisions, the confidence to stand for their convictions, and the humility to admit their mistakes (and many other things, but I’m not writing a book here).

If you thought you were done with school, think again

You will have to help your child with homework and you will have forgotten everything you ever learned. Also, you will be tempted to “help” your kids with their projects – and by “help” I mean “do” – please don’t, despite the fact that most parents do and lie about it. (You’ll see a perfectly constructed solar system that you’re supposed to believe was done by a kindergartener. The parent won’t shut up about how amazed they are at their kid’s talent: “No I didn’t help him, he’s just so gifted.” But you’ll know, especially because that same kid just ate a booger).

Don’t succumb to the pressure of extra-curricular activities

As your child gets older, the world of after school activities will overcome your life. While it’s important to have your child do and learn things outside of school, don’t become so obsessed with having them participate in these that you’re forcing them into a world of responsibilities. They’re a child. Think of all the things you have to do as an adult, why does a child have to the same pressures and stresses as you? Let them be a kid.

Your kids will push you to the limit of your self-control and patience

Often you will fail, and you will feel like the worst human being alive. It happens to all of us throughout our kids’ lives, from two to 18 years old. Be quick to apologize (not just to your child, but yourself as well).

Discipline isn’t as scary as it sounds

Let’s be clear: my wife and I are not experts on disciplining our children, but I think we’ve learned a few things. Be consistent, follow through, say “no” (and mean it), be an adult (don’t let your emotions guide your actions), let the punishment fit the crime, offer occasional mercy, say you’re sorry (because you will fail at all the above).

There will be a last time you pick your child up

I heard this said once, and it affected me powerfully. Don’t merely be present with your kids, don’t just “cherish” it (whatever that really means), actively observe and participate because at some point it’ll be the last time they crawl, the last time you give them a bath, the last time they hold your hand.

There is no salary, no promotions, no vacation days, no evaluations. Being a parent is not about you at all

If you have the slightest hesitation about the long sacrifice that is parenthood, please don’t have a child. Having a child is not a requirement. It might seem like there isn’t anything positive about parenthood, but that’s because you need to adjust your expectations about parenthood.

If you want to feel good about yourself, volunteer your time helping others. Parenthood isn’t about making yourself feel good. Parenthood is not about your child becoming your identity. Parenthood is about creating a nurturing environment for your child so that they will transform into a functional adult who, (you hope) will make the world a better place. If you do this, there will come a day when your child becomes your friend.

This piece was originally published on Medium.

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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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Adele's albums have soothed many hearts through hard times, and now she's going through a big relationship transition of her own.

The singer is separating from her husband Simon Konecki, the father of her 6-year-old son, Angelo James.

"Adele and her partner have separated," Adele's people wrote in a statement to the Associated Press. "They are committed to raising their son together lovingly. As always they ask for privacy. There will be no further comment."

Our hearts go out to Adele. Of course, she doesn't owe anyone any further explanation or discussion of her separation, but by announcing it publicly, she is shining a light on a family dynamic that is so common but not talked about as much as it should be: Co-parenting.

Parenting with an ex is a reality for so many mothers. According to the Pew Research Center, "the likelihood of a child – even one born to two married parents – spending part of their childhood in an unmarried parent household is on the rise."

Angelo James' experience will be similar to many of his peers.

"Increases in divorce mean that more than one-in-five children born within a marriage will experience a parental breakup by age 9, as will more than half of children born within a cohabiting union," Pew notes.

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Adele and Konecki already know a thing or two about how co-parenting works, as Konecki has an older child from a previous relationship.

They can make this work because so many parents are making this work. The reality is, two parents can still be a family, and be a team for their child without being romantic partners.

Decades ago, co-parenting after a divorce wasn't the norm, and a body of research (and the experience of a generation of kids) has changed the way parents do things today. Today, divorce isn't about the end of a family. It's about the evolution of one.

Research suggests joint physical custody is linked to better outcomes for kids than divorce arrangements that don't support shared parenting and that divorced couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse"(so, are friends, basically) are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Co-parenting is good for kids, and clearly, Adele and Konecki are committed to being a team for Angelo James.

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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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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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