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By: Hannah Nersasian

When you’re pregnant, aside from being asked 10,000 times a day if you know the gender and when your due date is, people like to tell you about All the Joy. You are about to experience the best days of your life, and you better be ready.


A few will also tell you in hushed tones about loneliness and isolation. They will ask with a hint of concern whether you have playgroups to go to or friends with new babies. I listened, I heard, I signed up for groups, I made promises with pregnant friends that we would hang out. I decided I wouldn’t feel isolated. I’d get out and do things. We’d have adventures, my son and me.

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What I hadn’t accounted for was the tiredness.

Because I’d never really experienced tiredness before. Sure, I’d pulled all nighters in college, but these had been followed by entire days binge-watching 24 and then 14 hours in bed. I’d traveled and experienced jet lag and had to do taxing things like visit Japanese temples and eat sushi while not having slept for 36 hours. But then I took sleeping tablets and imposed 12 hours of sleep upon myself. What I’d thought was tiredness and what I experienced postpartum were two entirely different animals.

After delivery—after being induced and awake for 48 hours—they handed us our son and left. The baby slept, my husband slept. I didn’t sleep. My body was spent, but my mind was racing. Sleeping seemed irresponsible. What if he forgot to breathe and I wasn’t awake to remind him? This continued for a couple of days, and by the time my brain was ready to sleep, my son wasn’t.

So, we stayed home.

In the beginning we stayed home because I was too tired to do anything else. And because I didn’t bother putting a shirt on since breastfeeding while clothed seemed like some sort of witchcraft. I dragged myself out once a week to the new moms group I’d signed up for, and that seemed like enough.

Then, just like that, we were able to go out.

Gradually, I started to get more sleep. I started to be able to complete sentences again, to wear clothes. Occasionally I even took a shower. Nap schedules were laughable (he slept when he wanted to) but this meant there was nothing stopping us from going out. Aside from the herculean effort of planning and packing and taking the car seat out to the car. I got more confident and even felt a little superior to the moms I knew who stayed home for nap times.

We were free. No isolation for us.

Then his routine kept us home again.

And then a routine started to emerge. He started to nap more predictably and not nap the rest of the time. There started to be just two hours in the day when he wasn’t in need of something from me, where I could stand up without him screaming for me to get back down to his level. Nap time became sacred—of course we were going to stay home for it. To squander those two precious hours of silence and alone time on driving to a friend’s house or to a child-friendly museum he wouldn’t really enjoy seemed ridiculous.

Nap time was also slap-bang in the middle of the day. So, too dangerous to go out in the morning: He might fall asleep on the way home and scupper his actual nap. Couldn’t go too far in the afternoon—he’d be cranky later on and we might get stuck in traffic. Maybe twice a week caution could be thrown to the wind, and he could sleep in the car on the way to somewhere fun. But then that’s a whole day without any time out, and the exhaustion levels would creep back up, weighing me down and keeping us home.

I’m a true SAHM.

Suddenly, I realized why we are called stay-at-home moms. Because we stay at home. At the very best, we cautiously orbit our homes, keeping them in reach. Two hours is the maximum length of a play date. One hour the maximum length of a car ride. If you have swimming lessons planned for 3:30 pm on a Wednesday, there’s no point in doing anything else.

Once you’re up and dressed and breakfasted, you’re in sight of nap time, and then it’s lunch, and then it’s swimming, and your day is reduced to a 30-minute appointment five minutes away from home.

Is this what they meant?

I’m not sure if this is what people meant when they spoke of isolation. If so, I never realized the isolation would be self-imposed. That home would become the haven where tantrums and whines could happen without an audience. Where snacks don’t need to be thought out and packed up. And where diaper changes don’t involve public bathrooms. I never thought I would be the one keeping myself home—both resenting it and needing it all at the same time.

If I’ve learned anything this first year of motherhood, it’s that the second you get used to something, it changes. So I know it won’t always be this way. Too soon, naps will be a fond memory and the leash that keeps us tethered to home will get longer, our windows of time increasing. For now, though, I tell people I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I mean exactly that.

This article was originally posted on the Boston Moms Blog.

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Is there anything cuter than adorable hairstyles on kids? We love when little ones look put together and a chic hairstyle is the icing on a cake.Mamas have upped their game and are delivering trendy, inspo-worthy looks beyond basic ponytails.

We get that creating no-fuss hairstyles (preferably ones that don't require toddlers sitting more than 10 minutes) isn't exactly stress-free and shelling out cash for a stylist isn't something we'll spring for. But we're all about easy styles that we can practically create with our eyes closed. Say hello to getting out the door faster! To be fair, there are a few here that are a tad complicated, so you'll want to screenshot them and share with your mama friend who is a master stylist.

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To help you nail the best kid hairstyles, we've compiled a list of 41 cool hairstyles for little ones from Instagram:

Pigtail buns

This classic style never gets old. If you're concerned about it being too light, loosen it up a bit by adding volume at the roots.






Criss-cross braids

Add a touch of style to a traditional braid.






Top knot

When rushing and don't have time, just throw up their hair in a top bun.



Side braided ponytail

After a few hours on the playground, braids tend to end up on the side of their heads, so why not create it into a style?



Cornrows

We're not going to front—cornrows are tough to create. But if you can get it, it's a style that will last weeks. Need help? Check out these YouTube videos.






Waterfall braids

To add a little more pizazz to a regular braid, braid hair on the side and loosen it a bit at the root.




Triple buns

A bun is probably the easier hairstyle a mama can create, but throw in a dash of style by adding two more bun. Create the look by securing buns from the top of the head to the nape of the neck.








Bun + bows

Add a bow for instant fun.









Lifestyle

When the Coronavirus (COVID-19) started making headlines in early 2020 the expert advice was simple: Don't panic.

This week the CDC warned that the outbreaks of the virus will very likely happen in the United States, but it's important to know that officials still don't want parents to panic, they just want us to be prepared.

"We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad," the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, told reporters during a news briefing Tuesday. "It's not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen," Dr. Messonnier said.

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It is totally normal to read this and be concerned mama, but there are several things we need to unpack before we let our anxiety overwhelm us.

Here is what you need to know about the Coronavirus response in the United States:

Top doctors are preparing for this

As the virus has spread rapidly overseas America's top doctors have been monitoring the situation. In not quite two months' time 80,000 people have contracted the illness and fewer than 3,000 of those people have died.

In the U.S., 53 cases have been confirmed (most of those were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan or people who caught the virus while traveling overseas). There have only been two cases of person-to-person transmission on U.S. soil, according to the CDC.

The CDC has more than 1,000 professionals working on the response to this virus, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, epidemiologists, veterinarians, laboratorians, communicators, data scientists and modelers.

"CDC staff members are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments and other public health authorities to assist with case identification, contact tracing, evaluation of persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, and medical management of cases; and with academic partners to understand the virulence, risk for transmission, and other characteristics of this novel virus," the agency states on its website.

And while there have been delays in implementing Coronavirus testing measures in the Unites States, experts are working to resolve issues and make testing more efficient. As the New York Times reports, the health and human services secretary "told a Senate panel that federal and local health departments will need as many as 300 million masks for health care workers."

In other words, the experts in the United States are preparing to fight this virus and they want the American public to be prepared, too.

This could impact school, work and daily life

That's why the CDC is telling us to get ready, not to cause panic or anxiety but just to set the expectation that life could be disrupted by this virus. "Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Messonnier said Tuesday.

She says schools may have to close or otherwise adjust to an outbreak and students may have to start doing tele-schooling online. She also wants businesses to start preparing to hold meetings remotely rather than in-person and to encourage telecommuting during any outbreak. Community activities like sports and church may also have to be canceled or modified.

As the New York Times reports, "Scientists don't know who is most susceptible to the new coronavirus. Children seem less likely to be infected. Middle-aged men seem to have been disproportionately infected, according to some studies."

This could be really disruptive for families

It is true that the scenario Messonnnier is outlining could be really disruptive for families. No one wants this to happen, but if it does have to happen it's a good thing we are getting the heads up.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for possible interruptions to daily life:

  • Talk to your workplace about any plans it has for operations during an outbreak.
  • Speak to your child's school or childcare provider about how it plans to operate in a worst-case scenario.
  • Ask your doctor for an extra prescription of any medications your family needs, just in case an outbreak makes going to the pharmacy not possible.

Here's how to protect yourself + your family from the Coronavirus

The CDC does not recommend that we all go buy face masks. Face masks are only recommended for people "who show symptoms of COVID-19...[and] health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."

Instead, here's what we can all do to avoid the illness, according to the CDC:

  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe."

We know this is serious and kind of scary, mama. But please, don't panic. Know that pandemic experts are working to keep your family safe. According to the CDC, the "National Institutes of Health (NIH) and their collaborators are working on development of candidate vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19."

On Tuesday, President Trump said the coronavirus is "very well under control in our country" and "is going to go away." The health experts who work for the government are doing everything they can to prove the President right, but they do want the public to be ready in case it doesn't go away as fast as he (and all of us) would like.

News

For nine months, your mother was all you knew.

Before I held you in my arms, your mother held you and never let you go.

Before I sacrificed time for you, your mother gladly sacrificed her body.

Before I consoled you when you were upset, your mother consoled you with just the beat of her heart.

Before I comforted you when you were restless, your mother comforted you with just the sound of her voice.

Before I could do anything for you, your mother gave everything for you.

Your mother is the reason I hold you today.

Before you were even a twinkle in my eye, you were in your mother's heart. Your life, your safety, and your very existence depended on her. Something I'll never be able to repay.

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It will take a long time for you to understand the weight, the depth and the immeasurability of your mother's love for you. But someday, when you have children of your own, you will understand what I now see so clearly.

So, I'll hold you tight. But I'll hold your mother tighter because my love for you grows the more I understand the measure of a mother's love.


This essay was previously published here.
Life

What would bath time be without rubber duckies? Probably not as much fun—but also a whole lot cleaner, according to a study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes.

That's because it turns out those squeaky toys are far from squeaky clean thanks to “potentially pathogenic bacteria" in four out of the five bath toys examined by researchers.

For the study, Swiss and American researchers looked at the biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys collected from random households as well as six toys used in controlled clean or dirty water conditions. They found that all of the examined bath toys “had dense and slimy biofilm" on their inner surfaces. What's more, 56% of the real-use toys and all of the dirty-water toys had fungi build up. ?

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Although the researchers note exposure to bacteria and fungi may have some benefits, the strong existence of grime in bath toys is still concerning. They note, “Squeezing water with chunks of biofilm into their faces (which is not unexpected behavior for these users) may result in eye, ear, wound or even gastro-intestinal tract infections."

Besides tossing all your bath toys, what can parents do?

The researchers say more experimental work is needed. But, for starters, it doesn't hurt to remove water from the toys after usage or give them a good, regular dunk in boiling water. The researchers also said they would like to see more regulations on the polymeric materials used for many bath toys.

There is, however, one simple solution—it just comes at the cost of rubber duckie's squeak. “In fact, the easiest way to prevent children from being exposed to bath toy biofilms is to simply close the hole," the researchers say of toys like this water-tight duck. “But where is the fun in that?"

[A version of this post originally appeared April 13, 2018. It has been updated.]

News
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