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I sifted through your "important things" bin today. Stashed under my bed, I have been tossing artwork and birthday cards and trinkets in there for years. I found your hospital bracelet from the day you were born.

I placed it in my palm and circled it back together… held it in the place where the nurse snipped it off and released you to me—in a way, for forever, but also for only a short time.

I miss you already.

It seems funny to say that when you're sitting right in front of me. But it wasn't so long ago that you couldn't sit at all. You learned how to do that, and then you learned how to do everything—to crawl and walk and run and jump. And sing and dance and climb.

You used to need me so much. You'd cry in the middle of the night, and even though I'd groan (and sometimes say a bad word under my breath), I sincerely cherished the times I was the one who fed you, who held you, who calmed you. It felt like an eternity before you slept through the night, but when I think back, it seems like only a brief moment in my life. Time is a funny thing.

I miss you already.

How can I miss you? You're not gone. Oh, but it's coming. I know it. I feel it. Right around the corner are the days of Halloween parties in place of trick or treating. New Year's Eve sleepovers with friends in place of sipping sparkling cider in your footie pajamas. Birthday shopping sprees in place of themed parties with treat bags.

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Climbing on your dad's back for a transport to your bed will get awkward. You'll paint your own fingernails and will have your own lip gloss to wear—no need to swipe any from me. And before I know it, when I am the least ready as I'll ever be, your bright blue and pink roller skates will no longer be your favorite set of wheels.

Instead of a First Communion dress—it will be a prom dress.

And then maybe a wedding dress.

How I miss you already.

I knew from the beginning that you were going to grow. I wanted you to grow. But I had no idea how it would simultaneously thrill me and rip me to pieces watching you do it. Parenting is full of these paradoxes. A day can feel as long as a year, and year can pass in the blink of an eye. Everyone you meet will tell you this… from the little old ladies you stand with in line at the grocery store to the women who greet you at church to the mom shopping for jeans with her teenager.

"It just goes by so fast."

I heard this phrase so often, and I smiled through gritted teeth as I watched you lick the handle of the shopping cart. I smiled when I wanted to cry as you broke something while we were browsing at the store. I smiled when I was counting down the minutes to nap time and the hours to bedtime. I smiled and nodded, but I didn't really get it then. Until one day when it all clicked.

I miss you already.

So tonight, while you were sleeping, I went to your room and counted your freckles. I gently tangled my fingers in your curls. I listened to you breathe. I sat beside your bed and tried to meet you in your dreams. We laughed and sang in silly voices and ate lots of ice cream and went to Disney World until it was time for me to go to my own room.

I whispered, "I love you," in your ear, "I miss you already, my baby."

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Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?
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Starting your child on solids can be a daunting process. Between the mixed advice that seems to come from every angle ("Thanks, Grandma, but pretty sure one dessert is enough…") to the at-times picky palates of our little ones, it can be tough on a mama trying to raise a kid with a sophisticated palate.

But raising an adventurous eater doesn't have to be a chore. In partnership with our friends at Raised Real, here are eight tips to naturally encourage your child to nibble and taste with courage.

1. Keep an open mind. 

As the parent, you set the tone for every bite. So stay positive! Raised Real makes it easy to work new and exciting ingredients into every meal, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to practice modeling open-minded eating. Instead of saying, "You might not like this" or "It's okay if you don't like it" from the start, keep your tone upbeat—or simply serve new dishes without any fanfare at all. (Toddlers can smell a tough sell from a mile away.) Either way, let your child decide for themselves how they feel about new dishes.

2. Show mealtime some respect. 

Spend less time in the kitchen and more time together at the table with Raised Real meals, which come prepped and ready to steam and blend. They're even delivered to your door—because they know how busy you are, mama. Think about it: Do you enjoy a meal you've had to rush through? Keep meals relaxed and let your child savor and taste one bite at a time to take any potential anxiety out of the equation. (This may mean you need to set aside more time than you think for dinner.)

3. Serve the same (vibrant) dish to the whole family.

Don't fall into the "short-order cook" trap. Instead of cooking a different meal for every family member, serve one dish that everyone can enjoy. Seeing his parents eating a dish can be a simple way to encourage your little one to take a bite, even if he's never tried it before. Since Raised Real meals are made with real, whole ingredients, they can be the perfect inspiration for a meal you serve to the whole family.

4. Get kids involved in prepping the meal.

Red Crossbody Onfashion Lip Sexy Women's Party Pink Evening Handbag Purse Acrylic Shoulder Clutch Raised Real's ingredients are simple to prepare, meaning even little hands can help with steaming and blending. When children help you cook, they feel more ownership over the food—and less like they're being forced into eating something unfamiliar. As they grow, have your children help with washing and stirring, while bigger kids can peel, season, and even chop with supervision. Oftentimes, they'll be so proud of what they've made they won't be able to wait to try it.

5. Minimize snacking and calorie-laden drinks before meals. 

Serving a new ingredient? Skip the snacks. Hungry kids are less picky kids, so make sure they're not coming to the table full when you're introducing a new flavor. It's also a good idea to serve in courses and start with the unfamiliar food when they're hungriest to temper any potential resistance.

6. Don’t be afraid to introduce seasoning!  

Coral amp; Front amp; Genuine Purse Personalized Teal w Leather Back Trim Hobo q4Udqnxfr meals come with fresh seasonings already added in so you can easily turn up the flavor. Cinnamon, basil, turmeric, and cumin are all great flavors to pique the palate from an early age, and adding a dash or two to your recipes can spice up an otherwise simple dish.

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7. Make “just one bite” the goal. 

Don't stress if your toddler isn't cleaning their plate—if he's hungry, he'll eat. Raised Real meals are designed to train the palate, so even a bite or two can get the job done. Right now the most important thing is to broaden their horizons with new flavors.

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8. Try and try and try again. 

Kids won't always like things the first time. (It can take up to 20 tries!) If your child turns up her nose at tikka masala the first time, that doesn't mean she'll never care for Indian food. So don't worry. And be sure to try every ingredient again another day—or the next time you get it in your Raised Real meal box!

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Still not sure where to start? Raised Real takes the guesswork out of introducing a variety of solids by delivering dietician-designed, professionally prepped ingredients you simply steam, blend, and serve (or skip the blending for toddlers who are ready for finger foods)—that's why they're our favorite healthy meal hack for kids.

Raising an adventurous eating just got a whole lot simpler, mama.

This article is sponsored by Raised Real. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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When Carrie Underwood recently announced she and her husband, hockey player Mike Fisher, are expecting again, fans were thrilled and congratulated the singer on her second pregnancy.

But now, in a candid interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Underwood revealed that this isn't really her second pregnancy. In the last two years, Underwood has been pregnant three other times. She's suffered multiple miscarriages in a short period of time, and it was hard.

"I'd kind of planned that 2017 was, you know, going to be the year that I work on new music, and I have a baby. We got pregnant early 2017, and didn't work out," she explains, adding that she got pregnant again in the spring of 2017 and again suffered a pregnancy loss. Another positive pregnancy test and another devastating loss followed in early 2018.

"So, at that point, it was just kind of like, 'Okay, like, what's the deal? What is all of this?'" Underwood recalls.

She says she poured herself into her work because she couldn't just sit around thinking about it.

"Literally right after finding out that I would lose a baby, I'd have a writing session," she explains. "I would literally have these horrible things going on in my life, and then have to go smile and, like, do some interviews or, like, do a photo shoot or something, you know? So it was just kind of, like, therapeutic, I guess."

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It's okay to feel blessed and mad 

Underwood says she recognizes that she has a pretty great life: "I have an incredible husband, incredible friends, an incredible job, an incredible kid."

And that's exactly why it was hard for her to allow herself to feel angry about the lost pregnancies. She feels so blessed in other parts of her life, but one night, when her husband Mike was away, the tears came while she was snuggling with her sleeping son, 3-year-old Isaiah.

"I don't know how I didn't wake him up, but I was just sobbing," Underwood recalled, noting that she prayed about the situation that night.

"That was like a Saturday – and the Monday I went to the doctor to, like, confirm, another miscarriage. And they told me everything was great!"

Underwood's story is one so many women can relate to. Miscarriages are really common, but they can feel so lonely because they're not talked about enough. It's okay to be angry is this happens to you, and it's okay to talk about it.

Underwood's experience is common 

A recent review of scientific literature on the subject suggests miscarriage is the "the predominant outcome of fertilisation" and "a natural and inevitable part of human reproduction at all ages," ScienceAlert reportsOrganizer Clutch Clava Black Travel Black Vachetta Vachetta wPPESqvd.

That research, written by evolutionary geneticist William Richard Rice of the University of California, follows other studies which suggest as many as 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

"It is not an abnormality," Rice told New Scientist. "It's the norm."

Those kind of stats may not be comforting to those going through the kind experience Underwood had, but it is helpful to know we're not alone.

By speaking out about her experience, Underwood is helping other women who are going through the same thing. She's letting others know that it's okay to be angry, it's okay to cry, and it's also okay to have hope.

"They were hard. And it sucked so much! But things are looking better," she says.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For most mothers, the final weeks and days leading up to thier due date are spent mostly at home, nesting and resting.

But many mothers who live in the path of Hurricane Florence don't have that option right now. For these mamas, the final days of pregnancy are being spent away from home, seeking shelter from the storm.

Hurricane Florence has forced so many people to change their lives and plans, but babies can't change theirs. Pink Shoulder Party Crossbody Sexy Red Clutch Handbag Acrylic Lip Onfashion Evening Women's Purse They're coming, storm or no storm. Their birth stories are a bright spot in a week that's been anything but for those facing Florence.

Let's meet some of the babies welcomed by brave mamas so far during Florence.

Shoulder Handbag Red Purse Sexy Women's Onfashion Clutch Lip Party Pink Crossbody Evening Acrylic Rachel and Levi English welcomed baby Matilda

The day before their baby girl was due, this North Carolina couple had to evacuate their home in New Bern, North Carolina, where thousands of homes have been damaged by rising flood waters.

"It was really scary knowing we were expecting a baby really any minute and potentially unable to get to the hospital or left without electricity for days and days with a newborn," Rachel told CBS Philly.

Rachel's family lives up in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and that's where the couple headed. An eight-hour drive could not have been easy for Rachel, and not long after she arrived in her hometown, the contractions started. On Friday morning Matilda was born at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

Neighbors reportedly told the Englishes that their house looks okay, but the couple is confident they made the right choice.

"We're just really glad we got out of there," Rachel told CBS Philly.

Amber Simmons and Conner Faulk welcomed baby Carson 

Not all expecting mamas were able to travel out of state like the Englishes did. The day before Matilda was born, little Carson Faulk came into the world at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center in Bolivia, North Carolina.

His mom and dad, Amber Simmons and Conner Faulk, live in nearby Supply, North Carolina. In the days leading up to their son's birth, the couple was growing anxious, even though their due date wasn't until September 25.

"Everybody kept telling us it was going to happen during the storm. We didn't want it to, but it did," Faulk explained to Good Morning America.

Thankfully, Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center remained open (but in lock-down mode) during the storm to care for urgent medical needs.

"We're glad we're in a safe place. They're looking out for us really well here at the hospital," said Faulk.

Cpl. Nicholas and Danielle Digregorio welcome twins Sadie and Scarlett

With a storm and twins on the way, Danielle Digregorio and her husband, Cpl. Nicholas Digregorio, decided to leave Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina while they could, and headed home to St. Augustine, Florida last week.

"We were pretty nervous to leave North Carolina while expecting twins, but our doctor and our family felt like it was the right thing to do," the new parents explained in a joint statement to TODAY Parents. "We were confident we could make the drive, which is normally seven hours, but turned out to be a long 12 hours."

"It was very uncomfortable being so far along and cramped up. But, it was worth it in the long run," Danielle tells Motherly via Facebook messenger.

Not long after the Digregorios arrived in Florida, their twins, Sadie and Scarlett, were born at Naval Hospital Jacksonville. The couple says the "nurses and doctors at Naval Hospital Jacksonville have been awesome, and everything worked out perfectly with the care here."

Danielle hopes that pregnant women who face a similar natural disaster or storm will listen to both their doctors and their instincts when making a decision about how and when to leave their home.

"It all boils down to what the safest option is for their family and their conditions. I would have to say, it took quite a bit of faith and trust that we were doing the right thing," says Danielle, who recommends talking through a few different plans with your medical team until you're comfortable that you've come up with the safest option.

"At the end of it all, I would have never did anything any different. We turned out safe and so did our beautiful girls," she says.

[Update, September 16: Added direct quotes from Danielle Digregorio]

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There is something so special about the bond between cousins. They're not quite siblings, but more than friends.

For the Kardashian-Jenner sisters, the recent family baby boom means three of the next generation—Kim's daughter Chicago, Kylie's daughter Stormi and Khloe's daughter True—were all born within the space of a few months. They're so close in age, and if their mamas have anything to do with it, they're gonna grow up feeling close to each other, too.

Evening Red Shoulder Clutch Lip Onfashion Women's Pink Purse Handbag Party Crossbody Sexy Acrylic Kim recently shared a photo of the three baby girls she calls "the triplets", and the cuteness is just too much.

Built-in bonds 

The "triplets" may not know it yet, but they've got something special, according to experts.

"Cousins play a different role than other friends. There's a lot of shared history, the roots of families," Kathleen Alfano, Ph.D, the Former Director of child research at Fisher-Price previously explained.

According to Alfano, a child may make and lose many different friends while they're growing up, "but you're born into cousins, and you have them forever. And you don't have to prove anything to your cousins the way you sometimes have to do when you're building friendships."

Motherly's mamas have witnessed this first hand. Motherly's Stories Editor, Colleen Temple, has noticed a deep connection between her three children and their cousins. As she previously wrote for Motherly, "cousins are like siblings that don't annoy you as much." Temple says her children and their cousins "have been friends since the second they were born."

The older cousins 

Of course, the "triplets" aren't the only cousins in the new generation of Kardashians. With all but one of Kris Jenner's children now parents themselves, there's a lot of cousinly love to go around. Earlier this year Kim told People her middle child, son Saint, has been very excited about becoming an older cousin.

"They love their cousins! Saint, every time he sees Stormi and True, he's like, 'I have a baby! Do you want to see my baby?!'

The older Kardashian cousins, including Kourtney's kids (8-year old Mason, 6-year-old Penelope and 3-year-old Reign) have definitely been bonding with the babies as well, having been spotted on Khloe's Snapchat hanging out with True, and Rob Kardashian's daughter Dream, at what Khloe calls "baby class". It seems True always some cousin company during her classes.

"Having all of the cousins together is SUCH a blessing and a dream! We have baby class once a week together with all of the kids and it's incredible!" Khloe shared through her app back in July. "Seeing their strong little personalities bond with each other is the best thing to witness. I can't wait to watch it continue!"

Cousins as adults 

Khloe knows what it's like to grow up with cousins, because she's done it. She, Kim, Kourtney and Rob have a trio of cousins called Kourtni, Kara and Krista, on their dad's side. Those cousins pretty much stay out of the spotlight and off social media, but some cousins on the Jenner side of the family have talked about the bond they share with Kris' kids.

Natalie Zettel is Kris Jenner's sister Karen's daughter, making her a first cousin of the Kardashian-Jenner kids. A model like her cousin Kendall, Zettel's Instagram shows she's close with Kylie, something she spoke about in a 2013 interview with Star.

"They're my blood. They're always going to be there—I'm stuck with them—but I love my family. I've known them since I was a little toddler," she explained. "I'm closest with Kendall and Kylie because we're close in age. It's not weird for me to have a large, famous family because I knew them before all the fame.

Exactly. Your cousins know you from the beginning, no matter how many makeup companies or magazine covers you launch. They're there for the milestones: Family birthdays, births, weddings and funerals. They share your history, but you don't have to share the bathroom with them every day.

The perfect middle ground between sibling and friend, cousin bonds are special, and the Kardashian "triplets" are lucky to have each other.

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