I’m so happy as a stay-at-home mom—much to my surprise

I have such satisfaction in knowing that I have been a part of my children’s lives in this way.

I’m so happy as a stay-at-home mom—much to my surprise

I remember falling in love with Caleb the moment I saw him. I had never loved anyone or anything as much as I loved this little boy. And almost instantly, I dreaded the thought of leaving him.

The plan was to go back to work after Caleb was born. I worked part-time as an administrative assistant for the New York office of a Canadian investment firm. I had a two-month maternity leave planned, but as I looked down at the infant in my arms, I thought, How on earth could I leave you?

I wasn’t prepared for the feelings I was experiencing.

The truth is, I had spent the past nine months thinking about how much I hated being pregnant. I felt awful and mostly nauseous the entire time. I thought I looked terrible. I gained too much weight and was constantly being told so by my OB-GYN. I worked part-time during my pregnancy, but other than that, I wasn’t able to handle doing much of anything else. My memories of pregnancy usually involve throwing up, lying down, and spending time getting to or being at work. I couldn’t think of anything else except not being pregnant. I couldn’t wait for my son to be born.

Not going back to work didn’t seem like an option for our family. My husband was on disability at the time, and even with our combined income and my job providing us health benefits, we were barely getting by. The plan was that I would continue working—we hadn’t even considered another option.

And then Caleb was born, and everything changed.

My husband and I experienced the normal stresses and joy of early parenthood. I healed from a nasty episiotomy. I learned how to nurse successfully. We were trying to get through our daily routine of eating, sleeping (or, rather, not sleeping), changing diapers and staring at Caleb with loving eyes.

As my maternity leave drew to a close, I found myself feeling depressed and angry. I was jealous that my husband would be home and I had to go back to work. I didn’t want to pump and I wasn’t very good at it. I was feeling sorry for myself for missing out on being a stay-at-home mom.

The day before returning to work, I remember holding Caleb in his nursery. Tears rolled down my face as I rocked him in my arms. I felt so much guilt and so much anxiety. I kept telling him that I loved him and that I was going to leave but come right back. I told him to drink from the bottles even though he didn’t like them.

The next morning, I got ready for work. I was dreadfully sad to leave. I arrived in my office at 8:30 and was greeted by my office manager, who asked me into her office. I was not prepared for what was about to happen. After some chitchat, she sat me down and explained to me that my position was no longer necessary. The company was scaling back, and I was being terminated. I was flooded with emotions. I was angry about being fired. I had been on maternity leave! How could they just fire me the first day back? Wasn’t that against the law?!

But then a calm came over me. I was fired. I could go home... to my baby. That was where I wanted to be, remember? I tried to not let my face show the relief I felt.

I expressed my concern for our financial situation and was promptly given a document outlining my severance package. I read through it quickly and was satisfied with the monetary component. I was not satisfied with health benefits. I was brought to see our in-house counsel. He explained that I could pretty much get anything I wanted, so “name your price.” In the midst of all the emotions, I thankfully had the presence of mind to realize he was more worried about me suing them then he was of me asking for more money. I ask for a longer extension to our Cobra coverage—one and half years. And I got it. I couldn’t believe it.

I was sent home in a car. On the way home, I realized what a blessing I had just been given. I received an amazing severance, I was going to be given unemployment benefits and I had health coverage for close to two years. And best of all, I was going home. I started crying. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t wait to get home.

And home is where I get to be. I did end up going back to work for a short time again two years later. But once my second son was born in 2005, my husband became the sole provider and I was able to be the stay-at-home mom that I had always wanted to be.

I have such satisfaction in knowing that I have been a part of my children’s lives in this way. I sometimes hear parents say, “Doesn’t it go by fast?” Honestly, at this point, I would say no. I have lived these years with them, the really great parts and the really difficult parts. I am present physically, emotionally and spiritually. I feel like I have lived every moment with them. At 13 and 10, we are still together every day, every step of the way.

Cynthia Holt is an event planner who lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!

A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.


A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.


A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.


A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.


A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.


A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.


A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.


A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.


An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.


A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.


And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

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

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.


Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.


Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.


The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.


The Snoo bassinet


Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!


Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.


Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!


Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.


Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Talking to kids can come so easily. They have thoughts about everything and stories for miles. They see the world in a completely different light, and could ask enough questions to fill an afternoon.

But sometimes finding the right words for talking to kids can be really, really challenging. When choosing how to respond to the marker on the wall, or the seemingly unending why-can't-I battle, or in simply keeping healthy communication open with kids who don't want to talk, the words don't seem to come so easily.

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