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I glance in my crooked rear-view mirror and see two little blonde heads poking up over the back of their rear-facing car seats. It’s quiet – a sacred and rare moment of peace allowing me to turn up the volume on my thoughts.

My brain shifts to autopilot as I make the all-too familiar drive to Costco. My body is driving the car, but my dreams are carrying me into the clouds for a welcome bird’s eye view.

I’m turning thirty this year. I always said that I’d be pregnant by thirty, and yet here I am with two babies under two, and the small seed of desire for three.

Almost three years ago I came out of the bathroom wielding a stick with two distinctive pink lines and a face that paled even lighter than my already fair skin. I couldn’t picture the life I’m living right now. I couldn’t see two sweet heads in the backseat, tossing cheerios and tearing through books during our daily commutes.

I saw a job that I loved slipping through my fingers. I saw the chance for a successful career fading before my eyes. I saw a brilliant business idea dissipate, never to be attempted. I saw the ten pounds that I had gained during my first year of marriage snicker, and jeer, and settle in for the long haul.

I didn’t see my dreams being realized, I saw my dreams slipping away as I faced an unplanned, too-soon pregnancy that was quickly becoming a road block in the way of me meeting my goals.

My plans. My body. My marriage. My life.

My selfishness was replaced with joy as a screaming, wet little body was laid across my chest. All of my previous doubts and regrets were crowded out by numbers of wet diapers and minutes nursed on each side. Days turned to nights, and nights felt like days, as I worked hard to fulfill this new and strange role.

I was happy. I was full. I was content being a mommy and running this race. And just when I got the hang of it, when she was sleeping longer stretches, when my milk supply had evened out, when I was almost down to pre-baby weight, when I could even catch my breath, it happened again.

Two pink lines. Shock at how soon. She’s only four months. My body was about to be mine again. My part-time job was just picking up. Now what?

I plodded and pleaded with God to give me the strength for what I was about to endure. Two babies in two years with only four months of reprieve between birthing one, carrying the other, nursing one, nursing the other.

I forgot about those wisps of a dream that felt like they were being carried away on the clouds. But now, riding in my car with a moment of quiet, I remember. I remember what I wanted, what I had been working for before two beautiful blessings entered my world.

And right there next to what could have been, I see what is.

I see me in a dark corner of the spare bedroom, rocking and swaying and snuggling a tiny one close. My hair is greasy and pulled back loosely to prevent little fingers from getting all wrapped up and tangled tight. My shirt is bunched up around my soft middle, still holding onto memories of carrying her close in the womb. It’s dark though, so I don’t mind, and I don’t bother pulling it down. My eyes are closed, dreaming of sweet sleep. My lips are pursed, humming a hymn that provides her with a soothing lullaby, and me with the precious truths that I need to hear so badly. “Come thou fount of every blessing.”

I see me in the shower, alone for a few stolen moments. Hot water streams down to soothe my aching back, and tears stream down my cheeks in an attempt to comfort my aching soul. Where has my time gone and will I ever get it back? When will I feel like myself again? When will these lumps smooth out and firm? When will my confidence return?

Being a mom is so hard and I am so tired.

I see me cleaning the kitchen after nap-time. The kids play contentedly in the room to my right and soft, subtle music streams from my phone plugged in on the countertop. These are the witching hours and they take a special touch to tame. I see myself close my eyes and count to three looking at the load of dirty dishes in front of me, the laundry piled up behind me.

I see little hands grabbing my legs, and an eager head poking through to look up at me with big, blue eyes. I see my stress melt away when confronted with the delight of his smile.

These images are fierce competition to the memories I have of old desires. They’re so vivid that they have replaced many of the dreams I once had, and I don’t regret it. It’s not that I’ve lost what I once was, but I have. For now, at least.

Right now, I won’t be the CEO of the next big thing. Right now, I won’t have the cleanest house or the fittest body. Right now, I may not have dinner on the table every night, and I may not be able to jump for that promotion. Right now, I feel like I’ve missed some chances that I’ll never get back.

But maybe they weren’t my chances to take. Maybe those memories weren’t mine to create. Maybe there was something better in store for me, and I look through that rear-view mirror into my backseat and I think that there was.

In all of this mothering and making pancakes and dancing in the living room, stories are forming in my heart, and in theirs. I write down as many as I can. Someday I’ll have the time to do them all justice.

I’m not ungrateful when I drift away like this, I’m nostalgic – remembering the old me, taking care with the old dreams, setting the ones worth keeping aside. I reserve these moments of quiet to revive the dreams that will have to wait for another day.

I look in my rearview mirror and see two little blonde heads, and think that it’s lovely. I know that it’s lovely. And I know this is a season that will soon pass. Right now, I’m here doing this – driving to the store with a full backseat, and an even fuller heart.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Parents in New Jersey will soon get more money and more time for parental leave after welcoming a baby.

This week New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed off on legislation that extends New Jersey's paid family leave from six weeks to 12.

It also increases the benefit cap from 53% of the average weekly wage to 70%, meaning the maximum benefit for a parent on family leave will be $860 a week, up from $650.

It might not seem like a huge difference, but by raising the benefit from two-thirds of a parent's pay to 85%, lawmakers in New Jersey are hoping to encourage more parents to actually take leave, which is good for the parents, their baby and their family. "Especially for that new mom and dad, we know that more time spent bonding with a child can lead to a better long-term outcome for that child," Murphy said at a press conference this week.

The law will also make it easier for people to take time off when a family member is sick.

Because NJ's paid leave is funded through payroll deductions, workers could see an increase in those deductions, but Murphy is betting that workers and businesses will see the benefits in increasing paid leave benefits. "Morale goes up, productivity goes up, and more money goes into the system," Murphy said. "And increasingly, companies big and small realize that a happy workforce and a secure workforce is a key ingredient to their success."

The new benefits will go into effect in July 2020 (making next Halloween a good time to get pregnant in the Garden State).

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Whether you just need to stock up on diapers or you've had your eye on a specific piece of baby gear, you might want to swing by your local Walmart this Saturday, February 23rd.

Walmart's big "Baby Savings Day" is happening from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at participating Walmarts (but more deals can be found online at Walmart.com already and the website deals are happening for the rest of the month).

About 3,000 of the 3,570 Supercenter locations are participating in the sale (check here to see if your local Walmart is).

The deals vary, but in general you can expect up to 30% off on items like cribs, strollers, car seats, wipes, diapers and formula.

Some items, like this Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System have been marked down by more than $100. Other hot items include this Lille Baby Complete Carrier (It's usually $119, going for $99 during the sale) and the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (for as low as $199).

So if you're in need of baby gear, you should check out this sale. Travel gear isn't the only category that's been marked down, there are some steep discounts on breast pumps, too.

Many of the Walmart locations will also be offering samples and expert demos of certain products on Saturday so it's worth checking out!

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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Any Schumer has not had an easy pregnancy. She intended to keep working, but if you follow her on social media you know she's been very sick through each trimester.

And now in her final trimester she's had to cancel her tour due to hyperemesis gravidarum, also known as HG. It's a rare but very serious form of extreme morning sickness, and on Friday evening Schumer announced she is canceling the rest of her tour because of it.

“I vomit every time [I] ride in a car even for 5 minutes," Schumer explained in an Instagram post.

Due to the constant vomiting she's not cleared to fly and just can't continue to the tour.

This is not the first time Schumer has had to make an announcement about HG. Back in November, just weeks after announcing her pregnancy, she had to cancel shows and again broke the news via Instagram.

She posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed with her little dog Tati, and spelled out the details of her health issues in the caption. "I have hyperemesis and it blows," Schumer wrote.

Poor Amy. Hyperemesis gravidarum is really tough.

Kate Middleton, Ayesha Curry and Motherly co-founder Elizabeth Tenety are among those who, like Schumer, have suffered from this form of severe morning sickness that can be totally debilitating.

As she previously wrote for Motherly, Tenety remembers becoming desperately ill, being confined to her apartment (mostly her bed) and never being far from a trash can, "I lost 10% of my body weight. I became severely dehydrated. I couldn't work. I couldn't even get out of bed. I could barely talk on the phone to tell my doctor how sick I was—begging them to please give me something, anything—to help."

Thankfully, she found relief through a prescription for Zofran, an anti-nausea drug.

Schumer probably knows all about that drug. It looks she is getting the medical help she obviously needs, and she was totally right to cancel the tour in order to stay as healthy as possible.

We're glad to see Schumer is getting help, and totally understand why she would have to cancel her shows. Any mama who has been through HG will tell you, that wouldn't be a show you'd want front row seats for anyway.

Get well soon, Amy!

[A version of this post was published November 15, 2018. It has been updated.]

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As a military spouse, Cydney Cooper is used to doing things alone. But when she delivered her twin daughters early after complications due to Influenza A, she was missing her husband Skylar more than ever.

Recovering from the flu and an emergency C-section, and trying to parent the couple's two older boys and be with her new infant daughters in the NICU, Cydney was exhausted and scared and just wanted her husband who was deployed in Kuwait with the Army and wasn't expected home for weeks.

Alone in the NICU 12 days after giving birth, Cydney was texting an update on the twins to her husband when he walked through the door to shoulder some of the massive burden this mama was carrying.

"I was typing up their summary as best I could and trying to remember every detail to tell him when I looked up and saw him standing there. Shock, relief, and the feeling that everything was just alright hit me at once. I just finally let go," she explains in a statement to Motherly.

The moment was captured on video thanks to a family member who was in on Skylar's surprise and the reunion has now gone viral, having been viewed millions of times. It's an incredible moment for the couple who hadn't seen each other since Skylar had a three-day pass in seven months earlier.

Cydney had been caring for the couple's two boys and progressing in her pregnancy when, just over a week before the viral video was taken, she tested positive for Influenza A and went into preterm labor. "My husband was gone, my babies were early, I had the flu, and I was terrified," she tells Motherly.

"Over the next 48 hours they were able to stop my labor and I was discharged from the hospital. It only lasted two days and I went right back up and was in full on labor that was too far to stop."

Cydney needed an emergency C-section due to the babies' positioning, and her medical team could not allow anyone who had previously been around her into the operating room because anyone close to Cydney had been exposed to the flu.

"So I went in alone. The nurses and doctors were wonderful and held my hand through the entire thing but at the same time, I felt very very alone and scared. [Skylar] had been present for our first two and he was my rock and I didn't have him when I wanted him the most. But I did it! He was messaging me the second they wheeled me to recovery. Little did I know he was already working on being on his way."

When he found out his baby girls were coming early Skylar did everything he could to get home, and seeing him walk into the NICU is a moment Cydney will hold in her heart and her memory forever. "I had been having to hop back and forth from our sons to our daughters and felt guilty constantly because I couldn't be with all of them especially with their dad gone. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life and I won't be forgetting it."

It's so hard for a military spouse to do everything alone after a baby comes, and the military does recognize this. Just last month the Army doubled the amount of leave qualifying secondary caregivers (most often dads) can take after a birth or adoption, from 10 days to 21 so that moms like Cydney don't have to do it all alone.

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