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Father's Day is approaching, which has me feeling all the feels for the dads in my life right about now. While everyone's relationship with their father is different, the men who are always, always there for you are something special.

My dad spent our childhood chasing us around a backyard, trying to teach us all of the sports he played with his five brothers (he had three sisters, too… yes, really!). And watching my husband recreate a similar childhood for our four kids—running basketball drills in our driveway, playing catch in the front yard, helping my daughter practice for her dance recital, reading books to everyone at night—is one of my favorite parts of parenting. Which is exactly why we need to celebrate these dudes this Father's Day!

Whether the dad your shopping for is a master griller, a sports fanatic or just someone sorely in need of a new pair of flip flops for summertime, we've got him (and you) covered in the below list of gifts.

1.  The cooler

YETI Tundra Haul

Before becoming dads, did dads like coolers? We'll never really know. But this we do know: Dads don't just like coolers, they love them. And the Tundra Haul is the best you can buy him (and yes, it's worth the steep price tag!). Yeti is the granddaddy of luxe coolers and this newest version has two ultra-tough, puncture-proof wheels that can take on sand, rocky terrains, rugged trails and more—all while keeping up to 45 cans of beer or 55 pounds of ice at freezer-esque temps.

Yeti Tundra Haul, $399.99

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2. The shades

This just in: We don't need to spend a fortune on sunglasses anymore! Especially when brands like American Eagle are churning out super-cool styles like these Knockaround bad boys. We love that the FDA-approved lenses are impact-resistant because, let's face it, at any moment a toy could come hurtling at dad's face, and it's good to know that his sunglasses will protect him.

American Eagle Knockaround Fast Lanes Sunglasses, $25

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3. The can-go-anywhere wagon

Veer Wagon

There's nowhere dad won't be able to go with this stroller wagon hybrid that combines the ease and maneuverability of a stroller with the classic fun of a wagon. We tested this one on myriad surfaces and especially love the smooth ride (thanks to those big ol' wheels) and the cup holders.

Veer All Terrain Cruiser Wagon, $599.00

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4. The custom story book

Hooray Heroes

The Daddy Edition of the best-selling "When Emma Grows Up" personalized children's book is perfect for celebrating the everlasting bonds that dads have with their little ones… and we're betting it will have your husband tearing up before the waffles are even ready. Personalize the name and appearance of both Dad and child and choose 10 professions your little one might grow up to be. All inspired by Dad himself, of course.

Hooray Heroes' When Emma Grows Up personalized book, $39.00+

[In partnership with Hooray Heroes]

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5. The Knives

steak knives

Not all dads like meat… but a lot of them do. And if they're anything like my husband, they're very finicky about their steak knives. We love this 10-piece stainless steel set from Wüsthoffor multiples reasons. One: The price. Considering that it includes eight serrated steak knives, a carving knife, a carving fork and a flashy wooden holding box for under 80 bucks, well fam, that's a smokin' deal. Two: Founded in Germany more than 200 years ago, the Wüsthof brand is legit. Three: They're pretty! Which isn't the case for all steak knives!

Wüsthof Stainless-Steel 10-Piece Steak & Carving Knife Set, Sale $79.95 (Regularly $180.00)

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6. The gussied-up flip flops

Outfit him with "fancy" flip flops this summer that are slick enough to wear to date night but so comfortable he might actually feel a little guilty about his footwear. Made by hand in Hawaii, OluKai sandals have superior arch support, contoured footbeds and lots of toe room—all of which is too say your man is about to declare that these are the only flip flops he's wearing from now to eternity.

OluKai Mea Ola Sandal, $119.99

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7. The t-shirt

Papa Bird Amazon T-Shirt

Have you ever met an adult male who doesn't love a good t-shirt? Nope. This one is soft and cozy and comes in sizes small to 3XL. We're betting this is going to be his new favorite.

Men's Papa Bird T-shirt, $19.99

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8. The razor re-supply

Dollar Shave Club

If buying razors is something that always ends up on your to-do list, this subscription service is going to be music to your ears. The Dollar Shave Club delivers razors (and other shaving/bathroom products) to his doorstep as often as he needs. Test it out with the travel-size Starter Set, which includes shave butter, four razor cartridges and a

The Dollar Shave Club Starter Shave Set, $5.00

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9. The framed photo

Framebridge Father's Day Duo

Have a favorite family photo that's been sitting on your phone (or your Instagram) for months? Bring it into the real world and onto walls! Framebridge makes the process of custom framing incredibly easy—simply choose your frame, upload or mail in your imagery, pick your size and voila, you've got your gift! You can even do the entire process from your phone… in under 5 minutes. And for Father's Day, Framebridge is offering a duo of 5 x 7 frames with mattes for $100.

Framebridge Framing, $39.00+

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10. The bottle opener

bottle cap catcher

Whether you hang in it your garage, on your deck railing or near his grill, this wall-mounted, personalized bottle opener is the perfect customized gift for dad. We love that it catches caps... and that it has more than 18,000 reviews on Etsy!

Etsy MyPersonalMemories Bottle Opener, $24.99

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11. The life insurance

Ladder smart life insurance

We know, we know, presenting him with a life insurance on Father's Day isn't the most sentimental gift, but if you and your man don't have it, we're guessing that it's a point of stress for you both. No, we're not suggesting you go to an old-timey broker's office. Instead, we're sending you to Ladder. Why? Because this site makes the process of obtaining a policy incredibly easy and fast for new subscribers—seriously, the total time it takes from clicking onto the site, selecting your coverage amount and applying for instant coverage is as little as five minutes.

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12. The blazer

mens blazer

The blazer is the ultimate dad jacket. He can wear it to your son's hockey awards banquet, a client meeting or his cousin's wedding, all while looking crisp, cool and ever on-trend. After all, he's a hip dad! Get him there with Bonobos' Jetsetter options, which combine old-school Italian wool with a slight stretch. The best part? He can pair the jacket with anything from jeans to slacks—far more practical that a suit coat!

Bonobos Jetsetter Stretch Italian Wool Blazer, $450.00

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13. The cool coffee gadget

pour over bottle brew

Whether dad likes his coffee hot or cold, this reusable, double-walled glass bottles makes the perfect pour-over or cold brew—ready in minutes and easy to take on the go.

Full Circle Home Brumi Pour Over & Cold Brew To-Go Bottle, $39.00

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14. The phone

Google Pixel

For the tech lover, the Google Pixel 3a is a dream. With an amazing camera (including Night Sight) dad will have no excuse to not take *all* of the photos. Plus, the battery lasts up to 30 hours in case he forgets to charge it. We love the Google Lens that allows you to point the camera at an object or visual and get answers—the kids will love playing with it!

Google Pixel 3a, $299.00+

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15. The manly oven mitt

Dad won't be able to keep his mitts off of these! (It's Father's Day, so we're allowed to make bad jokes.) Made from 100% leather, these heat-resistant oven mitts can withstand temperatures as high as 460°F 🔥.

Dutch Deluxes Dutch Leather Oven Mitts, $89.00+

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16. The perfect button-down

UNTUCKIT

Am I the only wife who's lived this scenario: Husband puts on button-down and laments its too long. Then he tucks in and adds a belt and laments that he looks like his dad. Untuckit to the rescue! Created by a regular dude who was also totally dissatisfied with the odd length of men's button-down shirts, the brand has somehow created the perfect shirt for dads—in dozens of patterns and materials (we really love the wrinkle-free, sweat-wicking performance material!), the shirts aren't too short, aren't too long, nope, they're just right in length. Read: They don't need to be tucked in but they're also long enough that they're not showing off dad's ripped abs (!) every time he raises his arms.

Untuckit St. Romain Performance Shirt, $98.00

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17. The jeans

Paige Federal Men's Jeans

Finding the ideal dad jean is no easy feat. If they're too wide, dads look like they're headed to a rave in 1999. Too skinny and they'll barely be able to bend over to pick up baby off the floor. Luckily, we discovered Paige's Federal jeans in the Blakely wash and let's just say that the fit and color is just right for all dads out there—they can be worn from daycare drop-off to work to date night and everywhere in between. With the perfect amount of tapering, these are about his new 24/7 jeans.

Paige Federal Slim Fit Jeans in Blakely, $189.00

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18. The diaper backpack

Elkin Diaper Backpack

Um, moms? We need a diaper backpack! Dads will be psyched to strap this one on, whether they're headed to the play space with the baby, to a ball game with the big kids or to meet clients for coffee. Why? It's streamlined aesthetic doesn't scream, "diaper bag!" But luckily it does function like one, with pockets galore, a removable changing pad and room for a laptop.

Elkin Backpack, $84.99

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19. The grooming essentials

Murdock London

Does his skincare routine involve water and a bar of soap? Or maybe the face wash his mom introduced him to when he was 13? Let's upgrade dad's rotation with British grooming brand Murdock London's assortment of goodies—from the skin-calming Post Shave Balm or the deliciously-smelling Black Tea Body Wash to the perfect-level-of-hold Texture Paste for his hair. Does he struggle with a too-course beard? Then the Beard Conditioner will fix all that. More to love: The sleek navy-blue packaging.

Murdock London grooming products, $8.00+

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20. The Sneaker

mens everlane sneaker

Not all gym shoes need a marquis logo on them—and while this might be a hard concept for dad to swallow, Everlane's new Trainer sneaker will change his mind pretty quickly. Available in seven leather-and-suede combo colorways, these sneakers are comfortable right out of the box and since they come from the eco-concious brand, they're also feel-good for your soul. The sole is a blend of natural and recycled rubber (94% virgin-plastic-free!) and the brand is on determined path to be completely carbon neutral.

Everlane The Trainer, $98.00

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21. The elevated water experience

A must-have for anyone who loves them some fizzy water, the SodaStream turns plain water into seltzer in seconds. The best part? It's cord-free and has a small enough footprint that you won't even mind giving it some real estate on your countertops. Oh, and it's saving the planet from a whole lot of plastic bottles, too.

SodaStream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker, $89.99

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22. The mug

dad mug

This vintage-inspired personalized mug will make dad totally nostalgic (and proud!) during his daily coffee fix.

The Beez Kneez Designs Vintage Mug via Etsy, $13.75

23. The tech watch

Apple Watch Series 4

Is your man a tech-loving dad who wants to stay connected but needs his hands free to deal with the kiddos? Then look no further than the Apple Watch. Dad will be able to do everything from tracking his daily activities to checking his emails right from his wrist. Forewarning: You're going to want a matching one.

Apple Watch Series 4, $429.00

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24. The family photo book

family photo book

Surprise him with a compilation of your family's best photos—or maybe it's the silliest ones. Or the pics where no one is looking, or the ones where only 75 percent of you are smiling. Regardless, putting photo to paper is the thoughtful gift that will score you a touchdown on Father's Day morning, and Mixbook's options are super easy to create.

Mixbook Family Photo Books, $15.99+

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25. The water bottle

yeti water bottle

Facts: It's impossible to "dad" without being hydrated, and a rugged water bottle will be a welcomed gift by all. We recommend the 100% leak-proof, stainless steel Yeti Rambler 18-ounce bottle, which has an extra-wide opening for sipping and loading (dads loooove big ice cubes!) and double-wall vacuum walls for keeping drinks super cold and super hot. Oh, and it's dishwasher safe, too.

Yeti Rambler 26-Ounce Bottle, $29.99

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26. The grilling tools

Wusthof Grilling Tools

Grilling and dads go hand-in-hand, so getting him a fancy set of tools for his favorite outdoor appliance for Father's Day will likely be well-received. We love this heat-resistant Wusthof set from Williams-Sonoma because it's solid without being heavy, and each of the four pieces have rings to hang on your grill hooks. Did we mention it's 50% off right now? Done and done!

WSGC, Sale $79.95 (Regularly $160.00)

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27. The fast cooker

Instant pot

If your husbands anything like mine, he's not the handiest in the kitchen. Set him up for success on solo nights with an Instant Pot, which in addition to being able to make hard boiled eggs in minutes, can also prepare soups and stews, steam and sauté vegetables and much more in under 20 minutes. We like the Lux Mini because of its compact size and it's palatable price.

Instant Pot Lux Mini, $52.99

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28. The pants

workday pants

If they're not jeans or sweatpants, my husband completely struggles with pants. The word "chinos" makes him cringe. But pants are a vital wardrobe component for adult males. Enter: Public Rec's new Workday Pants. Styled in the vein of jeans, the five-pocket pants have a tapered ankle and are made from a stretchy blend of polyester and spandex that is quick-drying and super lightweight. Pants that are modern but professional and breathable? We found 'em! An they come in four colors, too.

Public Rec, $108.00

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29. The coasters

Anatomy of Sports Coasters

Dads like sports... but what they really, really love are coasters. Seriously. My husband will dive across a room to prevent a cold glass of ice water from sweating onto our coffee table and leaving a dreaded-ring. So get him what he really wants this year and combine his two favorite things! These sandstone coasters have cork bottoms and come in nine categories (skiing, baseball, golf and more!), covering interesting factoids that the whole fam will enjoy discussing.

Uncommon Goods Anatomy of Sports Coasters, $45.00

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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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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 30, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

walmart-best-baby-carseat

When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

walmart-best-baby-carseat

With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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

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Before becoming a mother, I had a film reel running in my head of the type of mom I would be. I would nurse. I would make organic baby food. I would set strict and loving boundaries: no screens before two, no co-sleeping, binky gone after the first birthday. I laugh as I type this up.

Our son is 14 months old now and he eats store-bought squeeze packs and goldfish crackers, he sleeps in our bed almost every night, he occasionally watches a show when I am overwhelmed and his binky is his best friend.

The mom I thought I would be in my head is not exactly the mom I am when the realities of life set in.

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When it came to breastfeeding, this was something I assumed I would just do. I knew it would initially be something I would have to figure out and learn in the hospital, but after that I thought it would be natural and comfortable. I was not overly concerned. I didn't even take a breastfeeding class. I heard stories of the initial challenges and pains early breastfeeding brought on, but I wrongly assumed that proper latching and sore nipples would be my biggest obstacles to overcome.

I was absolutely unprepared for the anxiety that breastfeeding brought on.

To say I struggled with nursing my son is an understatement. It was a battle I faced every couple of hours. There were tears and frustrations on both of our ends. I blamed it on a lot of external things: tongue tie, nipple shape, extra milk supply. It was so easy for me to externally justify why this breastfeeding thing was so challenging for me.

While some of these reasons may have been true, there was a bigger issue: my own head. Especially when it came to nursing in public, it almost always ended in disaster. My heart rate would increase, my mind began to tell me all types of lies and he would become frantic. My great challenges when it came to nursing went far beyond latching issues. Even an experienced lactation consultant cannot fully diagnose an issue when it has to do with your internal fears and deep insecurities.

This is something that not enough people talk about. I felt extremely alone and isolated in my anxiety with nursing in public.

I frantically Googled all day long in hopes of finding more women that also struggled with feeling uncomfortable feeding their babies in public. But most of my research made me feel like there was something wrong with me. So much of what I read revolved around embracing nursing in public, not even worrying about using a cover, and the pride other moms had in the ability to nurse wherever.

I read these articles and my heart longed to be like them, but I was stuck still feeling incredibly shy when it came to nursing in front of anyone except my husband. What was wrong with me? This is a totally natural thing. All those other moms seem to nurse out in public with such grace and confidence. Why can't I be like them? Why do I have to get so awkward, insecure and unsure? These were my constant thoughts in the early days of nursing.

Breastfeeding, for me, was much more than just learning the basics of how to correctly feed my sweet baby. It was a lesson in confidence. Even more, it was a lesson in embracing the fact that I do things differently. I am a slow learner. It takes me a while to warm up. I need time. I am shy, modest and slightly insecure. I so wish I could go back and fill those early months with more grace and patience. I wish I could tell myself it would be okay and that I would get there.

I did get there, eventually. I went from needing to find a hiding place each time my baby became hungry to nursing with confidence wherever we were: the park, the beach, an airplane. Part of this growth came from my son's own development, but a large part of overcoming the deep anxiety I once had was learning to be confident as a mom.

It took me a while to fully feel like I was made to be a mom. I had so much self-doubt and insecurity, which ultimately got in the way of something as natural as feeding my baby. I felt like everyone's eyes were on me when I attempted to nurse in public. I made up so many lies about what they thought about me. It's sad to admit, but when I breastfed in public, I was more concerned with how others perceived me than just focusing on my baby.

As I gained confidence in motherhood, my care in how others perceived me slowly lessened. My focus was finally on where it needed to be: my baby.

Gaining the confidence to nurse in public definitely did not happen overnight. It was a long and slow process. There was not one thing that suddenly granted me with courage. It was many little wins that overtime allowed me to be the mother I pictured I would be. The one that nursed her baby with grace and confidence wherever she may be.

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Life

Words are so powerful and so are images. That's why photographer Melanie Paterak combined the two in her now-viral portrait series, "Positive Words."

In a series of stunning photographs, Paterak shows mothers who have suffered a loss holding a chalkboard with the worst and best things people said to them in the wake of pregnancy and infant loss.

"We titled this project 'Positive Words' in hopes of not only putting out there what stuck with us in a negative way, but what stuck with us in giving us hope. The images in color represent things said that gave us hope in the darkest days," she explains, while the black and white images represent comments that pushed grieving moms further into the darkness.

"She's in a better place" 

"I want people to see that we completely understand that during a time of loss, people are generally not sure what to say. Sometimes you can have the best of intentions, but when you're hurting, things may be interpreted differently than how you meant them," Paterak tells Mother.ly.

In one image a woman holds a chalkboard with the words, "She's in a better place," followed by her own thought when she heard that comment: "Was I not good enough?"

The series reminds us that sometimes well-meaning comments can do more harm than good.

So how can we be more mindful when trying to comfort someone who has suffered a loss? Paterak's participants suggest focusing on the present and the positive.

"I want people to see that we completely understand that during a time of loss, people are generally not sure what to say. Sometimes you can have the best of intentions, but when you're hurting, things may be interpreted differently than how you meant them," Paterak explains.

"She is beautiful"

The same participant who was told her baby was in a better place was also told that her stillborn baby was beautiful and that was the comment she held onto.

It was about the present moment, not about trying again, and it focused on her baby in a positive way. By paying her baby a compliment the person who uttered the words on this chalkboard helped this mother hold onto her positive memory of her baby girl, who she carried for 36 weeks and 3 days and who was perfect.

Paterak is proud of the project and the women who participated in it. This photoshoot almost didn't even happen, she tells Motherly. "We started planning this project a month or so before shooting it, and then most of the women canceled less than 48 hours before we were set to shoot. I posted to my Portraits By Melanie [Facebook} page with 24 hours to go that we needed women to come, and they did! I met many of them for the first time that day. It was a powerful thing. We cried together, we hugged, and we talked about our experiences of loss."

Her advice to anyone who wants to offer kind words to someone going through pregnancy or infant loss: "Sometimes a simple 'I'm here for you' is just best."

More portraits from "Positive Words" by Melanie Paterak

"At least you're still young...you can try again," someone told this mother. Being told that they could "try again" was common for the participants in the project, and most found that comment was not comforting, but dismissive of their very real feelings of loss.

To see the full project visit Portraits by Melanie on Facebook.

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News

For most English, Australian or Canadian parents the cost of healthcare doesn't add any weight to the mental load of parenthood. But for Americans the cost of healthcare is top of mind all the time and it is weighing mothers down.

As Motherly previously reported, the cost of medical care in America means some mothers go into debt for giving birth and it was a hot topic on Twitter last week after Elizabeth Bruenig, an opinion writer at The Washington Post, tweeted a photo of her $8,000 birth bill.

Parents flooded Twitter with stories of shocking hospital bills, and politicians took notice of the viral moment, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retweeting Bruenig and Senator Bernie Sanders tweeting that the average cost of childbirth in the United States is $32,000, a number he hopes to reduce to zero with Medicare for All.

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Bruenig was happy to see politicians taking note of the stories flooding her mentions. "I think the response indicates that lots and lots of parents experience anxiety and stress over this particular set of costs. And I'm definitely heartened by the response from politicians like AOC and Bernie. I think hospital bills are some of the most politically interesting documents of our era, and I'm glad to see them getting attention as we debate how to fix our broken healthcare system," she explained in a statement to Motherly.

Over the weekend Sanders continued the online conversation by posing a question: "What's the most absurd medical bill you have ever received?"

Many of the stories in those replies were horrifying, and the stories of the financial costs associated with pregnancy and infant loss proves how there is no room for compassion in the current system, and how grieving parents are burdened by bills that take a toll not only on their bank accounts, but on their mental health.

The stories are similar to one shared recently by Business Insider's Dave Mosher. He tweeted the receipts for his family's both costs, which came in at more than $54,000, despite it being a healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated delivery, according to Mosher.

Dr. Jen Gunter, a social-media savvy OB-GYN who's been called "Twitter's resident gynecologist," replied to Sen. Sanders with her own personal story showing that even those who work within and understand the system can be blindsided by hospital bills—and that even a small bill can be devastating.

Years ago Gunter gave birth to three sons, triplets. It's a heartbreaking story Gunter has recalled on her blog, in her book and in a recent piece for the New York Times. Only two of her three boys lived. The oldest, Aiden, was born 24 days before his brothers, at a gestational age which his parents and medical team knew he could not survive.

"As Aidan's parents we had decided that invasive procedures, like intravenous lines and a breathing tube in a one-pound body, would be pointless medical care. And so, as we planned, Aidan died," Gunter wrote in the Times.

This weekend on Twitter Gunter explained what happened when she was finally discharged from the hospital after her traumatic births. "When I got home this $600 bill came for Aidan. It was addressed to "Parent of Aidan XXX"...and for a second I thought his death was a dream and I got very hopeful he was alive and then confused. And then very sad," she explained.

She continued: "I had sepsis and was just home maybe 3 days. My other two were in the NICU. I really thought for a moment he was alive. Sigh."

The $600 wasn't insurmountable, but it wasn't a fair amount as her son did not get medical care. Soon Gunter was on the phone, arguing with her own hospital with people who "didn't believe me that I let him die without medical care."

This was before Twitter, so she "wrote a very threatening e-mail to the hospital CEO" and threatened to go to the newspaper.

Aiden's brothers are in high school now, Twitter is a thing and their mom is an internet star. So much has changed in the years since his death, but sadly, the medical system that burdens and bankrupts Americans has not.

We are grateful to high-profile women like Bruenig and Gunter for sharing their birth bill stories. Birth should not bankrupt parents, and grieving parents should not be burdened by bills reminding them of their loss. New mothers have so much to think about, the cost of healthcare should not be one of them.

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News

How well do you really know your mom friends? The question sounds like the ominous introduction to a Dateline special. But it's one I had to start asking myself recently as I discovered the true identities of some of the women in my innermost circle.

I talk to my mom friends constantly, whether through group texts that number in the gazillion range, at book club meetings where the books never actually emerge from our bags or while juggling kids on the playground/birthday party/swimming pool circuit. We talk about parenting quite a bit, of course, but we also branch out to the other relationships in our lives, our current jobs or hobbies, and important discussions about global politics and Big Little Lies.

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What's missing, I've come to realize, is in-depth conversations about our "pre-mom" selves. Sure, there's the offhand tidbit here or there—a reference to one mom's years of ballet in the context of her own child beginning lessons, or an admission that another mom used to spend hours making gourmet meals before she birthed children who only eat chicken nuggets.

For most of us, this gap in our personal histories isn't intentional; some of those topics just haven't come up. The question I have now is: Why not?

My family recently joined forces with another family from our kids' school for a weekend getaway near our Northern California home. I count the other mom as one of my nearest-and-dearest mom friends, and yet I was shocked to find out over dinner one night that she was an accomplished actress and singer before pivoting to the healthcare field in her late 20s (the career she had recently left when we first met in our 30s). I had no clue.

Naturally, I immediately demanded to hear her sing, and the result blew me away—actual tears, and I don't even cry at This Is Us. It was a revelation that made me wonder what other talents, achievements and fun facts I had yet to discover about the moms around me.

Before kids, I had a very different standard for what defined a "close friend." The idea that I might call someone a good friend and not know all her siblings' names, her college major or her natural hair color seemed preposterous. But then I became a mom, and those details were overshadowed by information that relates either directly or indirectly to people's kids ("Do you work right now?" "Do you have relatives in the area?" "Do you have any clue how to raise happy, well-adjusted human beings and send them out into the world?").

I don't feel in any way less close to my newer friends than I do to the friends I made before I had kids—they are both vital to my sanity—but it's a different kind of closeness. One set of friends is intimately linked to my present, day-to-day existence (they just get it), while the other might know less about my everyday life but perhaps also sees me more three-dimensionally.

As I cried my way through a recording of my friend's singing the other day, it occurred to me that there doesn't have to be such a large gap between these two types of friendship. There isn't always time to dig deeper into the pasts of my mom friends, but when those quieter moments do arise, I'm going to try to remember to ask more questions that have nothing to do with our present selves and our identities as parents.

The moms I know amaze me already. I can't wait to learn more about the women behind the moms.

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Life
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