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I have the same conversation with my daughter’s dentist every time we go in for her six-month check-up. It goes like this: He tells me to start saving for braces. I say “okay” followed by something mildly apologetic as I acknowledge her thumb-sucking habit. He tells me not to worry, she’ll stop eventually, all kids do, and don’t forget to floss.

I like my daughter’s dentist for many reasons – he’s a skilled technician, he’s kind, he has Saturday hours – but one of the biggest reasons is that he is the only person who never gives her (or me) a hard time about that fact that she still sucks her thumb.

That’s right, my daughter still sucks her thumb, and, yes, we are well aware she’s way too old to be doing so. We are also aware it’s unsanitary, unsightly, socially unacceptable, and causes dental malocclusion (crooked teeth), but as any parent of a die hard sucker knows, my daughter’s thumb has a powerful hold on her. It soothes like nothing else – magically quashing fears, quelling anxiety, and bringing instantaneous comfort. Since the fateful day we lost the only pacifier she took to, my daughter has been figuratively and literally attached to her thumb.

Luckily for her she is a Type D thumb sucker, meaning only the anterior part of her thumb is in her mouth and she does not suck aggressively, therefore her buccinator muscle (responsible for suckling) isn’t overdeveloped to the point of structurally altering the shape of her palate, oral cavity, or dentition. In short, if you’re going to have a thumb sucker, you want a Type D.

Most babies suck their thumbs, a finger, or even a toe as part of the rooting and sucking reflexes associated with breastfeeding. In fact, ultrasounds reveal human and other primate fetuses sucking their thumbs in the womb as early as 15 weeks old, suggesting the behavior may be innate. Studies show the percentage of children who suck their thumbs tapers off gradually as they develop from infancy to age five, whereupon it drops significantly. Roughly nine percent of children eight years old or older suck their thumbs, and less than two percent continue the habit past age 12. So while my daughter, who is 11, isn’t exactly an anomaly, she is in a small minority.

Our culture accepts that young kids will suck their thumbs. We even find it endearing. But after a certain age it violates social mores and becomes increasingly unacceptable. The American Dental Association recommends parents take proactive measures to help kids break the habit once their permanent teeth start to erupt, due to potential oral health and teeth alignment complications. The American Academy of Pediatrics lists exposure to communicable diseases and social stigmatization as deterrents. Search the internet and you will find a surplus of articles on the many ways to “encourage” your child to quit the thumb habit, each one warning against shaming but, at the same time, insisting you put an end to it before it’s too late. (Too late for what, they never say.) None of this, though, outweighs my instinct that my daughter will be fine whenever she quits. Or if she quits.

For years, well-meaning family members and friends have tactfully offered their opinions on thumb sucking. I politely listen and nod, agreeing with them in a vague, non-committal way, but I’ve never taken any of the measures they’ve suggested to cure her of the habit – the apparatuses, the mitts, coating her thumb with bad tasting solutions – or, really, any measures at all. I don’t want her to be teased or chastised, and I respect the experts who warn of damage to her bite and teeth, but I simply cannot muster the concern they share.

I’ve researched the long-term effects of thumb sucking, curious if such an oral fixation could be a precursor to other oral habits, like smoking or overeating. I could not find any documented correlation. There are, however, plenty of theories about why some kids get hooked and others do not. They range from food shortages and chronic hunger to working mothers, siblings, and birth order, yet they yield nothing conclusive in regards to my daughter. Obviously it is a coping mechanism and obviously its psychological purpose supplants its biological one. As one tends to do in situations like these – where both the outcome and origin is unclear – I gravitate toward the expertise of people who tell me what I want to hear, like our dentist.

I can’t help but worry my daughter’s thumb sucking is my fault, that she’s inherited my anxiety, compulsiveness, or neurosis. But what does it matter? I know my daughter on a molecular level. I’ve seen her race to the car after school, knowing exactly what was coming next: She slumps into the front seat, unable to hold it together any longer, and cries from the sheer relief of release. I’ve watched the despair of her day – which is nothing more than ordinary stuff, really – choke her ability to tell me what’s wrong. I can confirm, in that moment, nothing consoles her like that thumb. To quarantine a salve like this would be deeply damaging, so we save for braces instead.

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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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