I believed daycare would be good, I just didn’t know it could be so great

If only that mama who was so anxious for drop-off two years ago could see us now...

I believed daycare would be good, I just didn’t know it could be so great

It started with the color-coded stickers that we were given to label your bottles. Your bottles, which we had mixed and blended each night with care and attention to detail, would now hold a purple sticker with your name on each part, so as not to confuse with the other sweet babes in your classroom.

When you were first born, I would sometimes lose count as I put each scoop of formula into your bottle. We’d toss the batch and not feel guilty for a moment. Because you are our precious one, our dream, our girl. And, so there I was, methodically attaching each purple sticker to every item, convincing myself that we would be ready for daycare and all would be well.

Fast-forward to two years later and all is well. More than well, if I’m being honest.

But undermining the process would do little to acknowledge your remarkable baby strength and your ability to trust your dad and me. That is, trust that we have chosen the most amazing place, with the most amazing people to spend time with you while we have to be away.

At nine months we dropped you off for your “trial run” and I will not be speaking in hyperbole when I say that it felt like my heart was being ripped out of my body.

The months we had of pure and uninterrupted bonding during my maternity leave did so much to pull at my emotions and make me question (oh how I questioned) why we were doing this.

I went through the entire contents of my phone and tried to piece together a jigsaw puzzle of people who may be able to watch you for the days you’d normally be at daycare. Your incredible grandparents were already going to watch you two days a week; three more, I thought, would be easy to fill as I went through my list of contacts.

And then I called your grandma, my mom, who assured me in the most soothing way that everything would be great, and to trust her, which I always do. I sobbed into your blankets (a flair for dramatics) during that first “trial run,” and picked you up and did everything to spoil you.

In hindsight, I don’t think you needed it. You seemed to be having so much fun with your teachers. Your weekly curriculum guide showed us that not only did your teachers love you, but they were also teaching you really incredible things at such a young age.

They celebrated your milestones just as loudly as we did. They rocked you to sleep for as long as you needed. We started to think of them as family.

And you know what? The days somehow got easier. Drop-offs are still hard, but in my concerns about your emotional development and the toll daycare might take on you, I think I forgot about something significant: I never took into account just how resilient and incredible you are. Your ability to trust adults who love you like their own, how you bond with your classmates in a way that looks more like a sibling than a friend, your strength and resolve in knowing that “Mama pick me up soon,” your genuine curiosity and interest in the “pandas who hib-a-nate in the winter and live in ‘Shina’ and eat ‘bam-bew.’”

You would be well versed in Target, Starbucks and HomeGoods had my Google searches ever come up with anything substantial. (Although, having been in dance class since you were 18 months, I won’t sell myself short in the world of ballet slippers and the walking song.)

Being a working mom is hard, but it is also a gift. We are fortunate to send you to an incredible, diverse, thoughtful school. You have two days a week with grandparents who revel in your every word, move, dance, song; they love you with such fierceness it’s hard to put into words.

I find that my time with you after work is focused and centered. We go out for ice cream, we hold hands, we do chalk… All things I imagine we would do if I were home with you all day—along with Target and cake pops, to be honest.

And as you hold my hand after your bath, staring off into a book or chatting with me in your crib, I find myself question less the decisions we’ve made. It can be hard. But you are so worth it, my precious one, my dream, my girl. And those sticker-labeled bottles? You now use them to feed and rock “your babies,” as I watch you play on the floor in your tutu and crown, and sometimes doctor’s coat to boot. And I am at peace. Because some day, I hope that, like me, you believe you can do anything with a tribe of those who love you (and maybe some purple sticker labels, too).

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

That's why we knew we had to introduce mamas-to-be to the science-backed and expertly-formulated protein collagen for pregnancy from Needed. And as one of our bestsellers, it's clear you've been looking for it, too.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

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