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Every day I fail to meet my kids’ expectations, sometimes in big ways, but usually in small ways. I put their snack on the wrong plate. I slice the sandwich that was supposed remain whole. Someone gets the smaller cookie, and it’s not fair.

Every day, I remind them, “You get what you get and…”

I’m just as likely to be met with tears as I am a smile and a “… you don’t get upset!”

* * *

My heart hammers against my chest. The churning in my stomach is not heartburn, but a sudden rage I never expected to feel toward my soft-spoken midwife. I’ve gotten what I’ve gotten, and I want to punch her in her unassuming, paraben-free face.

I never loved my midwife, but I didn’t need a best friend. I needed an experienced homebirth midwife to monitor my pregnancy and deliver my baby safely. Sabine came highly recommended. Her prenatal appointments ran on time. She wasn’t a talker, but there wasn’t a whole lot to say, this being my second pregnancy.

I’m at my 32-week prenatal visit when she mentions Vitamin K.

“Vitamin K… ” I trail off, trying to remember what this is and whether we need it, but like so many of the details from my first pregnancy, it’s hazy.

“Babies born in hospitals typically get a Vitamin K shot, as all babies are born with a Vitamin K deficiency, which self-corrects within the first eight days of life, typically. In rare cases, without supplemental Vitamin K, babies hemorrhage, as Vitamin K is a clotting factor,” she explains.

I’m sitting cross-legged on Sabine’s futon, with a scratchy beige throw pillow wedged under my elbow. I take a swig of water from my Nalgene bottle.

“I think we should go for it. Especially if it’s a boy, in which case we are planning to circumcise at eight days. I wouldn’t want to take any chances with excessive bleeding.”

I’m actually sure it’s a boy, despite having decided not to find out the sex in advance of the birth. I absently screw the cap back on my Nalgene. Daylight begins to fade as the mountains tip up to meet the bottom of the early springtime sun.

Sabine’s voice erases the silence, and suddenly I am shaking. Though her words blend into one grating noise, her message is clear: Your decision to mutilate your unborn child’s genitals is abhorrent to me.

“…and it’s really dangerous. Do you know how many babies die from botched circumcisions?”

The concern in Sabine’s eyes is genuine, but I still have to fight the urge to throw the beige pillow at her head.

“Two hundred, last year.”

I wonder where she gets her data.  

“It’s especially dangerous if you put them in disposable diapers,” she continues. “One family didn’t have any clue how much blood their baby lost because the diaper absorbed so much of it, and it was too late by the time they realized.”

I want to tell her we’ll be using cloth diapers, so she needn’t worry.

I want to scream, “How dare you judge me?” but my mouth won’t form the words.

“Here,” says Sabine, as she thrusts a DVD toward me. On it is scrawled in blue Sharpie, “Penn and Teller.”

I’ve seen (and shared) the Penn and Teller PSA for vaccinations in my Facebook feed. I know it’s two clever guys explaining the horrors of circumcision in a way that’s only going to make me feel bad about my decision – a decision my husband and I have weighed carefully, a family decision that does not concern my midwife.

“Watch this before your next appointment, okay?”

“Sure,” I say, with a plastic smile. I want to get in my car and crush the DVD between my tires and the pavement.

“You get what you get and…” This is what I get, and I’m upset.

Later, I tell my husband, my mom, my friends, anyone who will listen, how insensitive and judgmental my midwife is. This doesn’t make me feel as good as I think it should. There’s no point in being upset, but I can’t stop wishing that conversation had never happened.

I debate talking to Sabine. I imagine saying, “We need to talk,” after she’s pressed her cold, metal fetoscope against my belly and let me listen to the heartbeat, checked the baby’s position, and measured my fundal height.

Sitting myself back up on her futon, I’d explain how I feel: that circumcision is indeed safe, that this custom is part of my religion, that this is a decision my husband and I have not come to lightly, and that I don’t appreciate her attempt to convince me otherwise.

Then, she’d explain how she feels: that genital mutilation is just plain wrong, that we’d never dream of doing this to our daughters, and that she’s simply advocating for an innocent baby.

Would we agree to disagree, burn incense to clear the bad juju, and share a cup of herbal tea? Unlikely.

More likely: Our relationship would weaken further, leaving me even less comfortable with the person I am trusting to guide me safely through one of the most intimate, primal experiences of my life. Or worse, the tension would escalate to the point where I excused myself from her care or she dismissed me as her client, leaving me under the care of no one at all.

At my next visit, I hand her the DVD and say thanks without meeting her eyes. I don’t tell her I pored over the literature on Vitamin K and discussed the question of whether to give the injection with our pediatrician. I don’t tell her how much her unfavorable view of me and my decision has shaken my faith in her, and specifically her recommendation to administer Vitamin K orally, if at all, versus via an injection. I don’t tell her I’m not sure if I trust her. I have no choice but to be an optimist this late in my pregnancy.

I go home and laugh hysterically with my husband over her instructions to bathe our baby with filtered water, to purchase only onesies made of organic, unbleached cotton, to make sure the crib mattress is not synthetic. Clearly these are the directives of a woman who has never had a baby of her own.

Sabine didn’t laugh when I told her the crib mattress had most likely off-gassed all the chemicals on our first child.

When I go into labor, Sabine shows up, as planned. She’s still not my favorite, but she’s calm and confident. Mostly, though, she’s quiet. When I tell her it hurts, she just whispers, “This baby is coming soon.” Otherwise, she simply sits, watching, waiting, never speaking, except to tell me to stand up so she can help maneuver the baby out.

Much to our surprise and delight, our second child is a girl. Before Sabine leaves our house, she throws all the towels and sheets in the wash. I say I’m not hungry, but she fixes me scrambled eggs and buttery toast, and sits by my bed to make sure I eat at least some of it.

I’ll never love her but I can’t hate her, either. I know she cares. I know she was trying to do the right thing.

* * *

Isn’t life just is a series of little hurts, disappointments, and rejections, interspersed with joy and surprises? It starts from the time we are small. My girls’ frontal lobes are tiny, their emotions huge. The perfect sandwiches they hope for, the flowered plates they prefer, the bigger cookie – they matter. I know they do. But I also know that these big emotions will pass. They always do.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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With two babies in tow, getting out the door often becomes doubly challenging. From the extra things to carry to the extra space needed in your backseat, it can be easy to feel daunted at the prospect of a day out. But before you resign yourself to life indoors, try incorporating these five genius products from Nuna to get you and the littles out the door. (Because Vitamin D is important, mama!)

1. A brilliant double stroller

You've got more to carry—and this stroller gets it. The DEMI™ grow stroller from Nuna easily converts from a single ride to a double stroller thanks to a few easy-to-install accessories. And with 23 potential configurations, you're ready to hit the road no matter what life throws at you.

DEMI™ grow stroller
$799.95, Nuna


2. A light car seat

Lugging a heavy car seat is the last thing a mama of two needs to have on her hands. Instead, pick up the PIPA™ lite, a safe, svelte design that weighs in at just 5.3 pounds (not counting the canopy or insert)—that's less than the average newborn! When you need to transition from car to stroller, this little beauty works seamlessly with Nuna's DEMI™ grow.

PIPA™ lite car seat
$349.95, Nuna


3. A super safe car seat base

The thing new moms of multiples really need to get out the door? A little peace of mind. The PIPA™ base features a steel stability leg for maximum security that helps to minimize forward rotation during impact by up to 90% (compared to non-stability leg systems) and 5-second installation for busy mamas.

PIPA™ base
(included with purchase of PIPA™ series car seat or) Nuna, $159.95


4. A diaper bag you want to carry

It's hard to find an accessory that's as stylish as it is functional. But the Nuna diaper bag pulls out all the stops with a sleek design that perfectly conceals a deceptively roomy interior (that safely stores everything from extra diapers to your laptop!). And with three ways to wear it, even Dad will want to take this one to the park.

Diaper bag
$179.95, Nuna


5. A crib that travels

Getting a new baby on a nap schedule—while still getting out of the house—is hard. But with the SENA™ aire mini, you can have a crib ready no matter where your day takes you. It folds down and pops up easily for sleepovers at grandma's or unexpected naps at your friend's house, and the 360-degree ventilation ensures a comfortable sleep.

SENA aire mini
$199.95, Nuna


With 5 essentials that are as flexible as you need to be, the only thing we're left asking is, where are you going to go, mama?

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

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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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