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The news was exhausting this week—5 ways to take care of yourself tonight, mama

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The debate around the Supreme Court appointment of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh grew louder and louder until it was all America's mothers could hear. And now, that debate is over. Kavanaugh has been confirmed. His career as a Supreme Court Justice is just beginning, but the exhausting news cycle that preceded it is finally over.

This deafening issue ignited passionate debates for some, unearthed old trauma for others, and had so many mothers worried for the future of America's children.

The news was exhausting this week, and we could all use a little self-care right now.

Here are 5 ways to take care of yourself tonight:

1. Go offline

When a history-making event takes place, it's natural to tune in to the news, but it isn't always healthy, especially if you've been feeling the emotional weight of this story all week.

If you're feeling depleted after all this, recharge yourself and your family tonight. Turn the news off and turn to your kids.

Unlike the Senate, we didn't have the power to decide Kavanaugh's fate on Saturday. But every day and night, we have the power to change America's future through our children.

2. Pamper yourself and your health


Sometimes we don't realize how detrimental negative news cycles are to us personally, but research suggests consuming negative news actually hurts our health. Being steeped in negativity can make us us, and your adrenal system needs to chill right now, mama.

Try to eat something that's going to sustain you and give your body strength, and give yourself permission to enjoy a long bath and long sleep.

3. Sleep, don't scroll

In the aftermath of moments like these, a new cycle begins in the news and on social media.

For some of us, the wave of what-ifs, commentary and analysis provides value. But if the coverage has already taken an emotional toll, the rehash is simply anxiety producing.

Staying up to scroll through reactions to the news isn't the antidote for the exhaustion of this week—it's another dose. The best remedy is rest, so put down the phone, fluff your pillow, and take care of yourself, mama.

4. Change your focus

If you can't sleep, at least find something else to focus on. Something that will bring you joy after this hard week.

Start a new book, binge a TV show or watch a favorite movie. Call a friend to talk about something—anything—else.

It's okay to admit you need a new topic. At least for now.

5. Hug your babies

So much of the stress we felt this week was for them. Mothers across America have been so concerned about the impact this case will have on their children.

Yes, Kavanaugh's role on the Supreme court and the legacy of the debate surrounding his appointment will impact our children.

But we will impact them even more.

We are teaching them about kindness, empathy, and consent, and while we may need a break from this debate, we won't forget that it happened.

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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)

SHOP

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)

SHOP

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)

SHOP

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)

SHOP

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)

SHOP

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)

SHOP

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)

SHOP

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)

SHOP

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)

SHOP

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

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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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It's a conundrum many parents wrestle with: We don't want to lie to our kids, but when it comes to Santa, sometimes we're not exactly giving them the full truth either. It's only September but Christmas is actually not that far away and that's maybe why it was on Gabrielle Union's mind when she interviewed Tamron Hall for Oprah magazine.

Union explained that she and her husband, Dwyane Wade, are very honest with their children when it comes to Santa Claus. For them, Christmas is more about family than the fictional character.

Union used to suggest labeling some gifts being from Santa when the older kids were younger, but Wade was passionate about being honest with his children about who was really leaving the presents under the tree.

"He didn't grow up believing in Santa Claus," Union tells Hall, explaining that since Santa is often presented as a white man in popular culture that complicates the issue further for a father raising black sons. So Wade just prefers to skip the Santa myth entirely, and he's not the only celebrity parent to do this.

 Kristen Bell + Dax Shepard are honest with their kids about Santa

For Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, lying to daughters Lincoln, 6, and Delta, 4 just isn't an option, so everyone in the Bell-Shepard household knows the truth about Santa.

"This is going to be very controversial," Shepard told Us Weekly last year. "I have a fundamental rule that I will never lie to them, which is challenging at times. Our 5-year-old started asking questions like, 'Well, this doesn't make sense, and that doesn't make sense.' I'm like, 'You know what? This is just a fun thing we pretend while it's Christmas.'"

According to Shepard, this has not diminished the magic of Christmas in their home. "They love watching movies about Santa, they love talking about Santa," Shepard told Us. "They don't think he exists, but they're super happy and everything's fine."

It's okay to be honest when it comes to Santa 

Research indicates these celebrity parents are right—kids can be totally happy and into Christmas even without Santa.

Studies suggest that for many kids, the myth fades around age seven, but for some kids, it's sooner, and that's okay.

Writing for The Conversation, Kristen Dunfield, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Concordia University, suggests that when kids come to parents with the hard questions about Santa, parents may feel a bit sad, but can take some comfort in "recognizing these challenging questions for what they are—cognitive development in action."

Kids aren't usually the ones who are upset when they figure it out, researchers note. Typically, kids are kind of proud of themselves for being such great detectives. It's the parents who feel sadness.

Some parents may not choose to be as blunt as Shepard, and that's okay, too. According to Dunfield, if you don't want to answer questions about Santa with 100% truth, you can answer a question with a question.

"If instead you want to let your child take the lead, you can simply direct the question back to them, allowing your child to come up with explanations for themselves: "I don't know, how do you think the sleigh flies?" Dunfield writes.

While Dax Shepard acknowledges that telling a 3-year-old that Santa is pretend might be controversial, he's hardly the first parent to present Santa this way. There are plenty of healthy, happy adults whose parents told them the truth.

LeAnne Shepard is one of them. Now a mother herself, LeAnne's parents clued her into the Santa myth early, for religious reasons that were common in her community.

"In the small Texas town where I grew up, I wasn't alone in my disbelief. Many parents, including mine, presented Santa Claus as a game that other families played," she previously wrote. "That approach allowed us to get a picture on Santa's lap, watch the Christmas classics, and enjoy all the holiday festivities so long as we remembered the actual reason for the season. It was much like when I visited Disney World and met Minnie Mouse; I was both over the moon excited and somewhat aware that she was not actually real."

No matter why you want to tell your children the truth about Santa, know that it's okay to let the kids know that he's pretend. These celebrity couples' kids prove that knowing the truth about Santa doesn't have to make Christmas any less exciting.

[A version of this post was originally published December 12, 2018.]

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News

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

Country singer Granger Smith and his wife, Amber, endured the unimaginable just a few months ago when they lost their 3-year-old son River to a drowning accident. Everyone processes loss differently, so while Amber often speaks of her grief on social media, Granger has been much quieter on his accounts in the last few months.

Until now.

The father recently broke his social media silence to post an update on himself and his family and the grief they've been moving through since June.

"I haven't said much on socials lately. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's more that most things just don't seem important enough to share," Granger writes in his most recent Instagram post.

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He continues: "We all know that social media has become a mask...a highlight reel per say, that we can hide behind and appear to promote our best moments of our best days. Eh...that stuff doesn't matter."

While Granger hasn't been active on most platforms, he has continued to share via his family's YouTube channel, The Smiths. According to the singer, that platform allows him to feel like he's speaking to a group of friends and he's thankful for the support.

While Granger doesn't directly mention his late son, River, in his latest Instagram post he does praise his wife for the way she's opened up about the family's unthinkable loss. "Amber has continued to post on her socials and I'm blown away by her ability to be so real, raw and engaging in her captions and pictures. Once upon a time I had the way with words in our relationship, but now I'm letting her speak for us both," he writes.

The tough thing about loss? Even though it changes your whole world, at the end of the day, life has to go on and Granger shared that he still has bills to pay and is preparing to get back to work, performing and promoting his apparel brand. Life goes on, even after unimaginable loss.

"Life is a storm," Granger writes. "Realizing that makes it easier to be grateful for the rays of sunshine."

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