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When I was pregnant with my second child, I had one and only one ultrasound, early in the pregnancy, in an attempt to establish a due date. I couldn’t bring myself to schedule another. You could blame crunchiness (I birthed both of my kids at home) or craziness (where to begin?). I blame fear.

I pace my kitchen with the phone cradled between my ear and my shoulder. My eyes are red from crying and staying up googling “echogenic bowel.” I know I’m going to cry when the doctor answers. I’m going to ask him for more information about the ultrasound but what I really need to know is whether I’m carrying a baby who is healthy or a baby who won’t survive a day outside my body. I cry because no one can tell me the one thing I need to know: what to do next.

Up until now, my pregnancy has been normal. I’d left my 18-week ultrasound knowing the baby had all its vital organs, ten fingers, ten toes, and that the femur measured relatively long. On that cloudless summer day, I’d wondered aloud to my husband whether our little miracle would be a talented cyclist with my scrappiness and his natural athleticism. I stuck the black and white image to the fridge, not knowing that at our next prenatal appointment we’d learn our perfect bean was maybe not perfect after all.

The radiologist’s report reads, “Echogenic bowel is identified, which is frequently a benign finding in the second trimester. However, there is an association with increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities, trisomy 21, cystic fibrosis, IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction) and other abnormalities.”

I’m sitting on my couch, my legs tucked underneath me, a glass of water on my left, and my husband on my right, when the midwife’s apprentice presents our options.

“You could get genetic testing. There’s a great clinic we can refer you to. Another option is to get an amniocentesis. You could do a follow-up ultrasound in a few weeks. Or you could do nothing.”

I don’t feel like crying. I’m not scared or overwhelmed. That will come later. “What do you recommend?” I ask.

“My job is just to educate you and let you make the best decision for you.”

“I know, but what would you do?” I press her.

“Like I said, the midwifery model of care is about educating you and letting you choose for yourself.”

But I want someone to choose for me. I turn to Google, which confirms that in most cases, this is a benign situation. But Dr. Google also says a follow-up ultrasound could appear normal when the baby is not actually normal.

Google has also informed me that certain ultrasound operating frequencies are more likely to produce false positives. I am obsessed with finding out the operating frequency my ultrasound technician used, which is why I’m tolerating the interminable hold music, waiting for the radiologist to answer.

When he finally does, I can’t speak without crying. I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, the way my mom told me to whenever she tended to a skinned knee or a splinter. It occurs to me that she must have learned that when she was pregnant with us in the ‘70’s.

When I regain my composure, I ask about the operating frequency. He tells me which one they use. It’s the one with a higher rate of false positives.

“What should I do?” I don’t care if he can hear the desperation in my voice.

“Schedule a follow-up ultrasound at the high-risk clinic in about two weeks. It will be normal, and you can relax.” His voice sounds like kindness and confidence.

“But what if it doesn’t? I’ll be at least 21 weeks along by then.”

“Just come into the high-risk clinic. You’ll get another ultrasound, it’ll be clear. You’ll see.”

“If you’re so sure it will be clear, what’s the point of even doing it?”

“It will ease your mind.”

When there’s nothing left to say, I thank the doctor for his time and hit End. Questions flood my mind. What would my options be if the ultrasound were abnormal at 21 weeks? Would I have any options?

I return to Google, re-reading the same articles, literature reviews, and blog posts I’ve already devoured. I cling to the hope that an answer is buried somewhere online. If I just use slightly different search terms or wildly different search terms, or perhaps if I dig deeper into the discussion forums, someone will tell me what to do. But no one does.

On my lunch break, I step out of earshot of my co-workers, call my mom, and vomit up the whole story.

“Slow down,” she says.


She cuts me off. “When you were about six weeks old, we had to take you to the hospital because you were turning blue. All the doctors could come up with was you were constipated. But maybe it was echogenic bowel. Maybe it resolved on its own. We didn’t have all this imaging back then. We never would have known. But you were fine.”

Whether she meant to or not, my mom gave me permission to stop worrying. There would be no genetic testing, amnio, or high-risk evaluation. My husband was on board for waiting and hoping for the best. It would be weeks until I’d find out he’d cried his own private tears.

By the time our baby was born, beautiful, pink, and perfect, the intensity of my worries had faded to the point where I hardly remembered worrying about her vitality.

Pregnant again less than two years later, I’d forgotten nearly everything I knew about babies. I (mistakenly) remembered babies being easy, that all they do is sleep. Yet, I remembered the anguish my husband and I experienced in the aftermath of that ultrasound with painful accuracy. The anxiety of skipping the ultrasound and letting our second baby remain a mystery until the day of her birth was nothing compared to that.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Dear Jeff Bezos and all who have anything to do with Amazon Prime Day,

I just want to start by saying—I know you are trying to be helpful. I love you all for that. I honestly do. But, you are kind of making me feel a lot of pressure today. Like, in a good way, but also, in an anxious way.

Let me explain…

On any given day, as a mother to three children, I have a certain level of anxiety. While it's not constant, I do have my anxious moments. Why? Because there are various versions of the following: Me asking my two older daughters to get their shoes on what feels like 500 times as I am changing my 9-month-old's very, very, very messy diaper while I am trying to figure out what I can throw on to wear in about five seconds while I am repeating brush your teeth, brush your teeth in my head so I, in fact, don't forget to brush my teeth.

Not even to mention the mental load that weighs on my mind every single day. Remember to flip the laundry, fill out the school forms, cancel that appointment, reschedule this appointment, order more diapers, figure out what we're having for dinner, squeeze in a shower, lock the basement door so the baby can't get down the stairs, find better eczema cream for my middle daughter, get more sunscreen...the list goes on and on and on.

But then you Amazon Prime Day me and I'm having a lot of feelings about that.

Because you're reminding me of things I need to order, to think about, to be on top of more.

The little potty that's on sale reminds me that I need to step up my potty training game for my 2-year-old. That super cute dollhouse reminds me that I need to think about my daughter's first birthday in two months (WHAT!). That face mask reminds me that I need to remember to wash my face before bed because I forget waaaay more than I remember which is terrible.

But then I realize, these deals are going to save my mental load by fixing my life. Right?

Like, I never knew I needed an Instant Pot until you told me it was only $58. Now I am scouring Pinterest for meals I want to prep in my own. THIS POT IS THE TICKET TO GETTING MY LIFE IN ORDER.

Do we need more plates and cups for the kids? I mean really they only probably need about two plates and two cups each but YES. Yes I do need more cute kids kitchenware. THESE PLATES ARE THE TICKET TO BEING A GOOD MOM.

What would I do if I had five Echo Dots? I don't know, but let's find out because they're only $29! THESE DOTS ARE THE TICKET TO EFFICIENCY.

If I order a Vitamix at 30% off, I know I'll lose the baby weight. Think of all the smoothies I'll mix up! I mean, I just lost a pound even thinking about the smoothies that thing can whip up. THIS VITAMIX IS THE TICKET TO A SEXY BOD.

Buying this trendy, floral dress will step up my mom style significantly. THIS DRESS IS THE TICKET TO KEEPING MY COOL.

Okay, then after I add all the fixers to my cart, I realize… I have 99 things, but necessity ain't one.

I mean, I have everything from waterproof band-aids to bras to dresses for myself and my kids to an alarm clock and books. I basically feel like Oprah—You get an Audible subscription! You get an Audible subscription!—but instead of these products magically being paid for by Queen O herself, the money is coming from my bank account, which is a lot less fun of a game, TBH.

And if I am being honest, I don't need much help with my order-things-from-Amazon-and-pretend-it's-being-paid-for-with-Monopoly-money game as I am quite often coming home to an Amazon package wondering what it could be, opening it with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning—even though I am the exact person who ordered whatever is inside of that Amazon box.

But today, on Amazon Prime Day, you tempt me with all the deals. And yes, my anxiety, blood pressure and adrenaline rise. And yes, my bank account might temporarily decrease—BUT if we are being fair, with the savings I'm getting on things I would buy anyway, I am basically making our account increase overall. Right?

And while these things aren't going to make me skinnier, or cooler, or more put together—I'm okay with that. I am doing a pretty good job on my own. But some of them will actually help my life in a few different ways at a reasonable price, and I am grateful for that—for real.

Now, Bezos, please end this 404 error nonsense and let me purchase all the things!

Thank you for all the savings and excitement,

Mamas everywhere

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Usually when celebrities post swimsuit photos on Instagram they don't exactly look like your average beach-going mom, but former Bachelorette (and mom of two) Ali Fedotowsky posted a series of bikini photos on Monday that are both beautiful and relatable.

"This might be my most vulnerable post on Instagram ever," she wrote in the caption for the photos which show a postpartum belly that looks like a real postpartum belly.

"At the end of the day, I know it's important to be open and honest about my postpartum body in hopes that it helps even one person out there who is struggling with their own body image," Fedotowsky (who just gave birth to her second child in May) wrote.

In the first photo of the series she's wearing a sarong around her stomach, but in the second and third photos Fedotowsky reveals the kind of stomach many mamas sport: It's not perfectly taut, she's not showing off any abs, but it is definity beautiful.

"If you swipe to see the second photo in this post, you see that my body has changed. My skin around my stomach is very loose and stretched out, I'm 15lbs heavier than I used to be, and my cup size has grown quite significantly," Fedotowsky writes.

The photos are a sponsored post for Lilly and Lime Swimwear (a line made for women with larger busts) but that doesn't mean it wasn't brave. In fact, the fact that it's an ad makes it even more amazing because research shows that when advertising only shows us bodies that don't look like our own, women become "generally more dissatisfied with their body and appearance".

Ali Fedotowsky

On her blog Fedotowsky notes that a lot of comments on her previous Instagram posts have been followers remarking how slim she looks, or how much they wish they looked like she does postpartum. By dropping that sarong and showing her tummy Fedotowsky is showing other mothers that there is nothing wrong with their own.

"While I appreciate the positive comments, you guys are always so good to me, I keep trying to explain that I'm just good at picking out clothes that flatter my body and hide my tummy," she wrote on her blog.

"I bounced back pretty quickly after I gave birth to Molly. But things are different this time and I'm OK with that. I'm learning to love my body and embrace how it's changed. I hope I get back to my pre-pregnancy shape one day, but that may never happen. And if it doesn't, that's OK."

Ali Fedotowsky

It is okay, because our bodies are more than our swimsuit selfies. They the vessels that carry us through life and carry our children and provide a safe, warm place for those children feel love.

Loose skin is a beautiful thing.

Thanks for keeping it real, Ali.

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Amazon shoppers were anxiously awaiting the countdown to Amazon Prime Day, but when the clock struck one, er three, the website went down.

On Monday afternoon shoppers were trying to get their hands on the much-hyped Prime Day deals but instead of low prices, many users just saw 404 errors, continuously refreshing pages, or had issues keeping or adding items to their shopping carts.

CNBC reports shares of Amazon were down during the shopping glitch, and many shoppers took to Twitter and Instagram to discuss how all they could see on Amazon were the dogs who decorate the site's 404 pages.

As cute as the dogs are, shoppers are getting tired of seeing them, so hopefully Amazon gets things back up and running soon. Analysts had projected Amazon would rake in $3 billion dollars this Prime Day. Time will tell how much of that was lost during the great dog picture debacle of 2018.

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"Say you're sorry!"

"Go apologize and mean it."

"You don't sound like you're sorry to me."

"She won't want to be your friend anymore if you don't apologize right now."

Sound familiar? This is a hot topic for many parents. We want our kids to have good manners, to truly feel and show compassion for another, to want to apologize from a heartfelt and authentic place—yet when we tell them to say they're sorry, what are we really communicating?

I think:

  • I need you to apologize so I can feel better about what just happened...
  • This is how we fix problems...
  • I need you to do what I say ...
  • You need me to tell you how to feel and behave...
  • I'm in control...(bigger and stronger wins)
  • Integrity is secondary to apologies—what you do doesn't have to be aligned with how you feel or think... just do it anyway.

Whew. Maybe not the message we really want to give.

Yes, manners are important and apologies are necessary. But, encouraging the growth of this from within—a genuine desire to (re)connect and show compassion, being in our integrity—is essential for healthy relationships.

Think about it. How might you feel if, after being hurt deeply by a friend they brushed you off with a cursory, "I'm sorry" or after a tearful yelling match with your teen that left you feeling raw, your spouse said, "How could you lose it like that?! You need to go apologize to him!"

I'd venture to say you might feel more hurt, maybe misunderstood and alone, or even mad.

Often, situations our children are in that we catch ourselves telling them to apologize are defined by just the same kinds of feelings. Hurt whether they are the one doing the hurting or being hurt; frustrated and mad that their favorite toy was grabbed, a cool idea rejected, some other injustice experienced; misunderstood because their feelings and thoughts weren't respected, because the adult missed all that led up to the conflict, because they weren't listened to; alone because they are misunderstood, not listened to, hurt on the inside, feeling rejected; MAD because they really didn't like what their buddy did and their feelings overflowed.

Having your child say "I'm sorry" is going to do very little for a child to grow an understanding of how they feel, why they feel, what they can do with all these feelings—all precursors to compassion.

The words I'm sorry" are more often about our need, not our child's. So what can you do to grow the genuine, integrity based, heartfelt ability to apologize?

1. Role model, always

Be genuine with your own apologies. Voice compassion for your child, others, and their situation.

2. Name and affirm feelings of all parties involved.

Just think, if your spouse, following the tearful yelling match with your teen, had said, "Honey that was really tough. Let me hold you for a minute while you pull yourself together," how might you now feel? How might that change the next step you took? I bet you'd feel connected, understood, cared for, and in a better position to now re-connect with your son and apologize for losing it. And it would have come from a genuine place within you.

3. Give choices or ideas.

"What can you do to help him feel better?"

"When you are ready to let her know you feel sorry, she'll appreciate it."

"Can you use your words or would you like to show her you feel sorry?"

Words, smiles, pats, sharing a toy, playing next to—these are all authentic ways kids can show they are sorry.

4. Notice what your child chooses or does on their own to express their apology and their feelings and name it.

"Thank you for offering your special stuffed guy to your friend. You wanted to help him feel better. What a nice thing to do to let him know you felt sorry."

And now you are helping your child learn a bit more about what healthy, caring relationships look like. Genuine apologies are on their way. It takes time to grow a child who can tap into their inner selves and respond with compassion and honesty in a difficult situation. Time, patience, and gentle guidance... trust this. "I'm sorry" will follow... and be truly meant.

Relationship building all around.

Originally published on Denali Parent Coaching.

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