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  1. Event

    🍼 Estate Planning for New Parents

    until
    As part of NPN's All About Baby programming, join Estate Planning Attorney Jennifer Guimond-Quigley for a discussion on the nuts and bolts of estate planning for new parents. After the session, attendees will walk away with: - General knowledge on estate planning concepts - What parents of young children especially should be focused on, such as the benefits a trust, will, and powers of attorney provide - What to consider when designating guardians for minor children Additionally, Jennifer will discuss common pitfalls in naming children as direct beneficiaries of estates and transfer on death accounts and the best way to provide long term financial oversight for a minor child’s inheritance. This will be a live Zoom session with time for Q & A at the end. We will send you the Zoom link the morning of Friday, June 18th. NPN members: Free. Login to register Non-members: $15 Are you attending more than one All About Baby program this month? If so, become a member of NPN for just $30 (that's $25 off!) using promo code AllAboutBaby and enjoy everything that NPN has to offer for a full year! Join here. Jennifer Guimond-Quigley, Managing Attorney Jennifer is the owner and managing attorney at the Law Office of Jennifer Guimond-Quigley, currently in its tenth year of operation. She realized early on in law school that she had a passion for both family law and estate planning. After gaining experience in these two areas both during and after law school through several small firm positions, Jennifer decided to start her own firm. With her solo practice, Jennifer loves having the freedom to collaborate with her clients to achieve the best results possible without the constraints common to practicing with larger firms. Jennifer has an extensive background in business and accounting, which has been invaluable in her legal practice. She spent years working as an accountant, and that experience has been imperative in counseling her clients about the financial and tax impact of their decisions and agreements. Jennifer’s comfort level with numbers allows her to easily explain their complexities in a relatable way to her clientele. Jennifer resides in Chicago with her husband and children. Do you have questions about this event? Email amy@npnparents.org
  2. Event

    🍼 New Moms Group for Ages 2-5 months

    until
    As part of our All About Baby's programming, we are excited to open our New Moms Group to both members and non-members throughout the month of June! These are for new moms with babies who are between 2-5 months (or about that age). NPN team member Meredith will coordinate a video chat for moms to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as new moms. This group will meet Wednesdays, June 2nd, 9th and 16th, 23rd and 30th and from 12:15 PM - 1:00 PM via Zoom. For non-members, you can join any day that works for you for $15 per session! If you'd prefer to attend more than one time, please use the promo code AllAboutBaby to receive a discount and join NPN for $30 and attend as many as you can. If you are already a member, please login to RSVP for free. You will receive an email confirmation immediately after registering, including the Zoom details and then once ore before the group begins. If you have questions or would like more information about attending or hosting a New Moms Group, email Program Manager, Meredith Marzano, at mmarzano@npnparents.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staffed by our warm and caring family/infat specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  3. Event

    Single Mom by Choice Group

    until
    Attention Single Moms By Choice - this is the group for you! Join other SMC moms on June 16th via Zoom to to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. This members only group will meet Wednesday, June 16th from 8 PM - 8:45 PM via Zoom. Please RSVP today and you will receive your Zoom link in your confirmation email. Should you have any questions please email Program Manager, Meredith Marzano, at mmarzano@npnparents.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staffed by our warm and caring family/infat specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  4. Event

    Virtual 40+ Moms Group

    until
    Attention moms over 40 with children between 2 months and 3 years old - this is the group for you! Please join NPN member and volunteer, Cathy, who leads a Zoom chat for moms 40+ to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. Please sign up for this group to attend one or all of these April meetups and drop in for as long as you can! This group will meet at 12:15 - 1:00 PM on Fridays. You will receive a Zoom upon RSVPing and the link again before the meeting. NPN members only. Please register once for you and your child(ren). You will receive an email confirmation after you register. Questions? Contact NPN Program Manager Meredith Marzano at mmarzano@npnparents.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staff by our warm and caring family/infant specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  5. until
    As part of NPN's All About Baby programming, Linda Szmulewitz of Sleep Tight Consultants will answer your questions about sleep! After this short presentation and live Q & A with Linda, new parents will walk away with: - Understanding the basics of sleep for babies age newborn to two years old - Best practices surrounding sleep for babies age newborn to two years old - Answers to your questions This will be a live Zoom session. Linda will give a short presentation in the beginning, saving the majority of time to answer your questions. We will send you the Zoom link the morning of Friday, June 11th. NPN members: Free. Login to register Non-members: $15 Are you attending more than one All About Baby program this month? If so, become a member of NPN for just $30 (that's $25 off!) using promo code AllAboutBaby and enjoy everything that NPN has to offer for a full year! Join here. Linda Szmulewitz is a licensed clinical social worker, a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach through Kim West, LCSW-C, aka The Sleep Lady ®, a DONA trained postpartum doula and the mother of two children. Her goal is to help improve the functioning of the family through improved sleep. She believes that by empowering parents with the tools necessary to help their children become excellent sleepers, it will help them parent more consciously and happily. She has been helping families with their children’s sleep for more than 10 years, worked with more then 1500 children across the United States and from more than 10 countries, and helped more than 3000 parents get back to sleep. Do you have questions about this event? Email amy@npnparents.org.
  6. Allaboutbabyrec

    Law Office of Jennifer Guimond-Quigley

    Law Office of Jennifer Guimond-Quigley is full service family law firm, providing estate planning services for families at all stages.
  7. Event

    Toddler Moms Night "Out" - Virtual Get Together

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    As part of our All About Baby's programming, we are excited to host a June Virtual Toddler Moms' Night "Out!" Toddler moms always need a break - here is your chance to gather and gab with moms who are as entertained and frazzled as you are with your little wonders. Grab your favorite beverage and join us Wednesday, June 9th at 8PM! NPN member and volunteer, Cathy, will lead a Zoom chat for moms with children between 18 months and 3 years to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. This event is for NPN members only. Please register once. You will receive an email confirmation after you register with the Zoom link. For non-members, as part of our June All About Baby programming, you can join NPN for $30 using the promo code AllAboutBaby to receive a discount. Questions? Contact NPN Program Manager Meredith Marzano at mmarzano@npnparent.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline at 1.888.431.2229, staffed by our warm and caring family/infant specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  8. Allaboutbabyrec

    Birthways Inc

    Birthways provides compassionate, affirming support for expectant and new parents.
  9. Event

    Single Mom by Choice Group

    until
    Attention Single Moms By Choice - this is the group for you! Join other SMC moms on June 16th via Zoom to to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. This members only group will meet Wednesday, June 16th from 8 PM - 8:45 PM via Zoom. Please RSVP today and you will receive your Zoom link in your confirmation email. Should you have any questions please email Program Manager, Meredith Marzano, at mmarzano@npnparents.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staffed by our warm and caring family/infat specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  10. Event

    40+ Mom Outing in the Park

    until
    Moms always need a break - here is your chance to gather and gab in person with moms who are as entertained and frazzled as you are with your little wonders. NPN member and volunteer, Cathy, has coordinated a 40+ mom meet up at Horner Park on Sunday, June 13th at 2 PM to to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as toddler moms. Please note that this event is for NPN members only for moms 40+, and our host requests that you wear masks to Horner Park. Parking is on California, we hope to see you there!
  11. until
    If there's anything parents of little ones have, it's questions. About sleep. About feeding. About how to cut those impossibly tiny fingernails. On Wednesday, June 30, Chicago pediatrician Dr. Anita Chandra-Puri will be on hand to give you answers. Visit NPN's Discussion Forum and post your question on this thread. Dr. Chandra-Puri will reply the same day with an answer. Feeling embarrassed about your question or want to maintain your privacy? No problem. Anonymous posts are welcome. Dr. Chandra-Puri will post all of her answers to the thread so everyone can learn and benefit. Anita Chandra-Puri, MD is a physician associated with Northwestern Medicine. Her primary specialty is pediatrics and her practice focus area is newborn care. Dr. Chandra-Puri is also on NPN's board of directors. NPN's Discussion Forum is for members only. To ask Dr. Chandra-Puri a question, join now and use code AllAboutBaby for $25 off.
  12. until
    You've read her writing in the New York Times and The Atlantic, you follow her on Instagram, you subscribe to her ParentData Substack, you've highlighted passages in her books. Now join NPN for an in-depth and intimate live discussion with Emily Oster, PhD on pregnancy and babies as part of our All About Baby month programming. She will answer your questions about all things baby! Emily Oster is a Professor of Economics at Brown University. She holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard University. Emily’s academic work focuses on health economics, development economics, and statistical methods. In addition to her academic work, Emily has written two bestselling books on data-driven parenting, “Expecting Better” and “Cribsheet.” Her third book, "The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years" is set to come out in August 2021. Emily’s work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, CNBC, NPR, Slate and more. Currently, Emily is working on the National COVID School Response Dashboard, which she developed with Qualtrics. Send us your questions for Emily about pregnancy and infants! Email your question to amy@npnparents.org and enter "Question for Emily" in the subject line. Free for NPN members $15 for non-members Not a member of NPN? Join now using promo code AllAboutBaby for $25 off.
  13. Event

    🍼 New Moms Group for Ages 2-5 months

    until
    As part of our All About Baby's programming, we are excited to open our New Moms Group to both members and non-members throughout the month of June! These are for new moms with babies who are between 2-5 months (or about that age). NPN team member Meredith will coordinate a video chat for moms to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as new moms. This group will meet Wednesdays, June 2nd, 9th and 16th, 23rd and 30th and from 12:15 PM - 1:00 PM via Zoom. For non-members, you can join any day that works for you for $15 per session! If you'd prefer to attend more than one time, please use the promo code AllAboutBaby to receive a discount and join NPN for $30 and attend as many as you can. If you are already a member, please login to RSVP for free. You will receive an email confirmation immediately after registering, including the Zoom details and then once ore before the group begins. If you have questions or would like more information about attending or hosting a New Moms Group, email Program Manager, Meredith Marzano, at mmarzano@npnparents.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staffed by our warm and caring family/infat specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  14. Event

    🍼 New Moms Group for Ages 2-5 months

    until
    As part of our All About Baby's programming, we are excited to open our New Moms Group to both members and non-members throughout the month of June! These are for new moms with babies who are between 2-5 months (or about that age). NPN team member Meredith will coordinate a video chat for moms to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as new moms. This group will meet Wednesdays, June 2nd, 9th and 16th, 23rd and 30th and from 12:15 PM - 1:00 PM via Zoom. For non-members, you can join any day that works for you for $15 per session! If you'd prefer to attend more than one time, please use the promo code AllAboutBaby to receive a discount and join NPN for $30 and attend as many as you can. If you are already a member, please login to RSVP for free. You will receive an email confirmation immediately after registering, including the Zoom details and then once ore before the group begins. If you have questions or would like more information about attending or hosting a New Moms Group, email Program Manager, Meredith Marzano, at mmarzano@npnparents.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staffed by our warm and caring family/infat specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  15. Event

    🍼 New Moms Group for Ages 2-5 months

    until
    As part of our All About Baby's programming, we are excited to open our New Moms Group to both members and non-members throughout the month of June! These are for new moms with babies who are between 2-5 months (or about that age). NPN team member Meredith will coordinate a video chat for moms to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as new moms. This group will meet Wednesdays, June 2nd, 9th and 16th, 23rd and 30th and from 12:15 PM - 1:00 PM via Zoom. For non-members, you can join any day that works for you for $15 per session! If you'd prefer to attend more than one time, please use the promo code AllAboutBaby to receive a discount and join NPN for $30 and attend as many as you can. If you are already a member, please login to RSVP for free. You will receive an email confirmation immediately after registering, including the Zoom details and then once ore before the group begins. If you have questions or would like more information about attending or hosting a New Moms Group, email Program Manager, Meredith Marzano, at mmarzano@npnparents.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staffed by our warm and caring family/infat specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  16. Event

    🍼 New Moms Group for Ages 2-5 months

    until
    As part of our All About Baby's programming, we are excited to open our New Moms Group to both members and non-members throughout the month of June! These are for new moms with babies who are between 2-5 months (or about that age). NPN team member Meredith will coordinate a video chat for moms to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as new moms. This group will meet Wednesdays, June 2nd, 9th and 16th, 23rd and 30th and from 12:15 PM - 1:00 PM via Zoom. For non-members, you can join any day that works for you for $15 per session! If you'd prefer to attend more than one time, please use the promo code AllAboutBaby to receive a discount and join NPN for $30 and attend as many as you can. If you are already a member, please login to RSVP for free. You will receive an email confirmation immediately after registering, including the Zoom details and then once ore before the group begins. If you have questions or would like more information about attending or hosting a New Moms Group, email Program Manager, Meredith Marzano, at mmarzano@npnparents.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staffed by our warm and caring family/infat specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  17. Having a baby is hard, and with COVID-19 in the mix, life with a little one can feel even more complicated than before. You have fewer places to go with your baby, and limited access to family and friends to give you a break. If your baby seems to cry more than most, doesn’t seem to sleep unless in your arms, doesn’t want to eat, or pulls away from the breast or bottle, you are managing even more stress with less support. It would be great if there was a perfect way to parent, but there’s often no quick fix or easy solution. Remember: Each baby (and parent) is unique, and understanding yours might mean going against what the books say. It’s important to trust your gut and explore what works and what doesn’t. Following are a few ideas that we encourage in our work at Erikson Institute’s Fussy Baby Network, which will go a long way in helping you feel more confident as a parent. Babies are individuals Isn’t it interesting that we all accept that adults differ as individuals, yet we expect babies to all act the same? Babies are individuals from the moment they’re born, and parents must figure out how to best meet their individual needs. Another way to think about it is to ask, “What fills my baby’s cup and what depletes it?” Learning what these “fill ups” are for your baby requires observation and trial and error. For example, some babies love to be held, while others want to move freely. “Tummy time” sessions are widely seen as a good developmental exercise for babies. But if you notice your child resists tummy time and prefers being held, use this information to make sure you “fill their cup” with cuddles before and after a session. By doing this, you are communicating to your baby that you understand their needs — an important component of trust in a parent/child relationship. Sleep begets sleep Parents might also find that their baby, particularly young infants, is fussier in the early evenings for a few hours, often starting around 5 p.m. During this time, they want to be constantly held and if you try to put them down, they cry and the cycle continues. There are many theories about why babies cry more around this time, and one thought is sensory overload. A newborn is taking in so many sights and sounds that by the evening, their little body can’t take it anymore. Another theory is that babies are overtired around these hours. Often they “cat nap” throughout the day so by the evening, they are sleep-deprived and difficult to sooth. Many parents assume keeping their baby awake will help them sleep better when actually the opposite is true. The more babies sleep throughout the day, the better they are able to fall and stay asleep. Take a break Another tip is understanding that when you feel stressed or anxious, it doesn’t automatically mean your baby will mirror your emotions. But it might mean that you have less patience and you need to find a way to take time for yourself. When overwhelmed, parents often hold babies differently or move too quickly for them. It is always OK to put your baby down in a safe place and breath for a few moments. Try saying phrases like, “I’m OK, I can do this. My baby is just trying to communicate with me.” You can also do some deep breathing and while you do, put your hand on your baby’s chest so you are both slowing down together. Notice how your baby’s breathing changes when you do this. Overall, it’s key to remember that babies are not one-size-fits-all. Even if you experience your baby as fussy or challenging, that does not indicate you are doing something wrong. Often as adults, when we feel safe and secure, we feel more comfortable crying or letting loose. Imagine when a loved one hugs us and we actually cry harder! The same goes for babies and as their caregiver, you can likely figure out how to sooth them best. Trust what you know about them, and remember tomorrow is a new day and there will always be room to keep exploring and building your relationship with your baby. Nancy Mork-Bakker, LCSW, is the Director of Erikson Institute’s Fussy Baby Network (FBN). Linda Horwitz, MSEd, is FBN’s Outreach Coordinator and Infant Family Specialist. FBN offers telephone support, virtual visits, and weekly virtual drop-in groups. There is no fee for services during the pandemic. Families can call 1-888-431-2229 or email fussybaby@erikson.edu. Photo by Kevin Liang
  18. Event

    Virtual 40+ Moms Group

    until
    Attention moms over 40 with children between 2 months and 3 years old - this is the group for you! Please join NPN member and volunteer, Cathy, who leads a Zoom chat for moms 40+ to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. Please sign up for this group to attend one or all of these April meetups and drop in for as long as you can! This group will meet at 12:15 - 1:00 PM on Fridays. You will receive a Zoom upon RSVPing and the link again before the meeting. NPN members only. Please register once for you and your child(ren). You will receive an email confirmation after you register. Questions? Contact NPN Program Manager Meredith Marzano at mmarzano@npnparent.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staff by our warm and caring family/infant specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  19. Event

    Virtual 40+ Moms Group

    until
    Attention moms over 40 with children between 2 months and 3 years old - this is the group for you! Please join PN member and volunteer, Cathy, who leads a Zoom chat for moms 40+ to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. Please sign up for this group to attend one or all of these April meetups and drop in for as long as you can! This group will meet at 12:15 - 1:00 PM on Fridays, April 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th. You will receive a Zoom link the day before the meeting. NPN members only. Please register once for you and your child(ren). You will receive an email confirmation after you register. Questions? Contact NPN Program Manager Meredith Marzano at mmarzano@npnparent.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staff by our warm and caring family/infant specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  20. Event

    Virtual 40+ Moms Group

    until
    Attention moms over 40 with children between 2 months and 3 years old - this is the group for you! Please join PN member and volunteer, Cathy, who leads a Zoom chat for moms 40+ to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as moms. Please sign up for this group to attend one or all of these April meetups and drop in for as long as you can! This group will meet at 12:15 - 1:00 PM on Fridays, April 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th. You will receive a Zoom link the day before the meeting. NPN members only. Please register once for you and your child(ren). You will receive an email confirmation after you register. Questions? Contact NPN Program Manager Meredith Marzano at mmarzano@npnparent.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staff by our warm and caring family/infant specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  21. Event

    New Moms: NMG 2-5 months

    until
    Attention new moms with babies who are between 2-5 months (or about that age): This is the group for you! NPN team member Meredith will coordinate a video chat for moms to connect and talk about the unique challenges and joys you face as new moms. This group will meet Tuesdays, April 27th, May 4th and May 11th from 12pm - 12:45pm via Zoom. Please login to RSVP. You will receive an email one day before the group begins with instructions on how to sign in to the chat. Please register once for you and your infant. Log in to your NPN account to RSVP. You will receive an email confirmation immediately. If you have questions or would like more information about attending or hosting a New Moms Group, email Program Manager, Meredith Marzano, at mmarzano@npnparents.org. Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Erikson Institute. NPN is proud to share information about Erikson Institute's Fussy Baby Network: The Fussy Baby Network offers a range of parent support services around crying, sleeping, and feeding issues for babies and toddlers up to age 3. We provide free phone support through our warmline, staffed by our warm and caring family/infat specialists. We also offer free virtual home visits to families no matter where they live. Finally, we provide support groups for parents to talk together about the challenges they face and how they cope. All of our services are available in English and Spanish.
  22. My long-term relationship that had been fizzling for quite a while had finally snuffed out when it occurred to me that I should become a single-mother-by choice. I was always able to picture myself as a mother but the image of myself as a wife was hazy. Very willing to have the baby and not the man, I started to strategize on how to make that happen. What is a single-mother-by-choice (SMC)? Sometimes called a choice mom or only parent, a single-mother-by-choice is a woman who decides to become a mother with full understanding that she will be the only parent. Or as the 2015 article, the single mother by choice myth defines it, “she’s the epitome of the modern independent woman who wants to have it all, career and family ─ taking her future into her hands, acting decisively, and doing what it takes to achieve her goal of motherhood, with no need for a man. A single-mother-by-choice will pursue motherhood with the aid of donor sperm from either a known donor, with a sperm bank, or private donation. I went with a sperm bank. How does it work? Initially, my plan was intrauterine insemination (IUI), where sperm is placed inside the uterus. Some women are brave enough to do it on their own at home. I wanted to go through a doctor. In doing so, I researched the best in the Chicagoland area and went with Chicago IVF. After sharing my medical history, I underwent a hysterosalpingogram, an X-ray of my uterus and fallopian tubes. I learned that in vitro fertilization (IVF), where the sperm and egg are fertilized outside of the body and then placed inside the uterus, was my only option. Due to the rigorous care schedule, I transferred my care to the Fertility Center of Illinois in River North because it was closer to home and work. Speaking of work, in Illinois, there is a state mandate that health insurance must cover fertility treatment, including up to four cycles of IVF. But how does it work as a parent? The African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child, rings loud and true for an only parent. If not to help in childcare or to have someone in case of emergency, you will need a sane adult to let you know that you will survive. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the help of my parents—without them, working from home during the shelter-in-place would have been impossible. Any advice for someone considering SMC-hood? Working to get pregnant is well, work. Don’t be afraid to ask all of the questions. Choose a healthcare team that you’re comfortable with, especially if you’re a woman of color as racial and ethnic disparities in pregnancy-related deaths persist. Get a full physical workup before you start. Keep a journal because pregnancy comes with a lot of feelings and your journal can be your listening ear. Focus on what you have and not on what you’re missing. It took me two years to become pregnant. Out of those 730 days, Mother’s and Father’s Days were some of the roughest. The first year, I was starting IVF and had no clue if it would work. I skipped church and their Mother’s Day parade and focused all the energy I had after a good shower cry on my mom. That Father’s Day was rough because I was working to become an SMC and I was already rife with worry of how my baby-to-be would feel about the holiday seeing that she or he wouldn’t have a conventional dad. By the next year, I was an IVF pro, but I still needed a distraction. I spent that holiday season uplifting other moms-to-be and hosted a Twitter giveaway for a self-care kit. However, the nervousness around Father’s Day persisted. My mom was the first person I told my decision to become an SMC. “A baby needs a dad,” she said, and I agreed. But when I told her that I didn’t want to miss my chance to become a mother because I didn’t have a man, she quickly gave me her blessing. Yet, that didn’t stop me from praying that my love for my child would be enough. My third embryo transfer, in which my father drove me to the doctor, was a charm. That February, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Mother’s Day of that year was going to be great. My mom and I made plans to brunch with her best friend and her daughters, all of whom are mothers. I would finally get to celebrate with the cool kids. I even bought me and the baby boy matching shirts. But the Thursday before Mother’s Day, my father had a stroke. My mother spent the holiday in the hospital with my dad, while I celebrated my first Mother’s Day worrying and taking awkward selfies of me and my son. My dad’s recovery was slow but steady. He was still in the hospital for Father’s Day. Me, mom, and the baby sat around his bed and ate salads from Portillo’s. This year, while Mother’s and Father’s Day was off-kilter for the entire country, I’ve finally hit a stride and that blanket of burden is gone. My son is growing into his own person every single day and I’m confident in my ability to parent him, for now. This first year of parenting has already taught me that he will change and change. Even this Father’s Day felt better. My dad is doing as well as we could expect, and I’ve begun to practice my spiel on how I will tell my son know that he’s donor-conceived. I’ve even had the opportunity to connect with two handfuls of his donor siblings ─ giving him a peek (when he’s ready) into his other side, albeit extremely non-conventional. And maybe now I will channel all that Mother’s and Father’s Day tension into a holiday more deserving, like National Brownie Day.
  23. For those growing a family during the Covid-19 global pandemic, there may be additional concerns, worries or fears on your mind. While we continue to learn more about Covid, pregnancy has not been proven to be a contributing factor for increased vulnerability to the virus. However, prenatal care, labor and delivery, and post-birth care will look different from the pre-Covid era. Here's a guide on what to expect when you're expecting during this pandemic. Pregnancy Each health care provider—obstetrician, family physician or midwife—will always bring their own training, past experiences and approaches to prenatal care. During the pandemic, each practice will have its own policies and procedures around medical prenatal visits during Covid. Establish a partnership with your provider—ask them your questions about what to expect for your pregnancy care. In the Chicago area, most providers and practices have substituted some of the standard in-person appointments with telehealth visits. If you are experiencing a low-risk pregnancy, this should be just fine for you and your baby. If you or your baby have any high-risk factors or complications, your provider will be working with you directly to provide the most appropriate medical prenatal care. For an in-person visit, expect to be asked screening questions upon arrival and to have your temperature checked. If you are experiencing any symptoms, call your provider’s office before going in to see them. Until testing is more widely available, don’t expect to be tested during routine prenatal visits. One of the most significant changes in prenatal care is that your partner may not be able to join you at most or any of the routine visits, though they may be able to attend an ultrasound appointment. You can minimize potential disappointment by finding out in advance whether your partner can come in with you. If not, ask if you can have them on the phone or a web call during the appointment or if they can give you a recording of baby’s heartbeat to share. [Related: What to expect if you're expecting a Chicago baby] What if you test positive during pregnancy? Your provider is going to tell you what they recommend, based on what trimester you are in and what else may be going on with your pregnancy. As always, ask your questions so you understand the recommendations and what options you may have. Final weeks of pregnancy Talk about what options will or will not be available to you at the birth location. Have this conversation by the 36th week of pregnancy, because most babies, on their own, will arrive between 37–42 weeks. Do you have a strong preference for elements of your birth experience? Knowing what is possible may help you feel more prepared when your labor begins. In addition to your provider, you can check out Birth Guide Chicago’s COVID-19 page for updates on local hospital policies and support people. Having the support of a labor support doula—in-person or virtually—can also be an invaluable resource for navigating pregnancy and birth. Labor and delivery If you are planning to give birth at a hospital, here are some things to be prepared for: Most providers are recommending that you stay home for as long as you are able to manage the sensations of labor before you come to the hospital or birth location. Even if you are planning for or decide you want an epidural, the longer you stay at home the shorter your hospital stay will be. You will be given a Covid test in triage, in addition to the standard triage/admitting procedures. If you test negative, then things will likely proceed as they would in non-Covid times. If you are having a scheduled induction or Cesarean, you will likely take a Covid test a few days prior. There will be a limit of one to two people who can be with you. Some hospitals have limited it to one, others are allowing a partner and doula. Whomever your support person is, they will not be given a Covid test at the birth location. They should expect to be masked the entire time, and they will need to stay in the room with you. (Partners, pack extra snacks and clothes!) Each location has different policies on whether the mom-to-be will be required to wear a mask, regardless of the result of Covid test. Expect all hospital staff to be masked and gloved when interacting with you. What if you test positive for Covid when in labor? Expect to have additional measures put into place to keep staff safe while ensuring your safety and baby’s safety. You can talk with your provider in advance about the specific practices of your birth location. Because this is a new virus, there is still much we don’t know. The specifics of what your care will look like during labor, delivery and postpartum, as well as baby’s care, vary by birth location. But expect to be placed in a special room, to potentially have no partner/doula allowed in with you, and for all staff to be wearing PPE. [Related: Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders - The Most Common Complication of Pregnancy and Childbirth (members-only video)] Postpartum Visitors will likely be limited to the partner and possibly the doula. Friends, family members and older children will have to wait to see you and baby once you are home. Most hospitals are discharging new moms and babies after 24 hours for a vaginal birth and three days for Cesarean birth. Discharge remains dependent upon Mom being cleared by her provider and baby being cleared by the pediatrician to go home. Breastfeeding/chest-feeding is safe and recommended! When can friends and family visit? Pediatrician recommendations on who and when non-household members come into your circle vary, but generally the baby’s 2-month vaccination appointment can be considered a time marker. You will need to assess the risks and benefits for yourself and your family to determine when you are ready for visitors. There is no one set time that it will feel right for every new family. During pregnancy and the first year of parenting, the only constant is change. How we each respond to change is personal but doesn’t need to be isolating. There are many resources that are accessible during Covid: childbirth education and preparation classes have moved online, and so have many pregnant and new parent support groups (check out NPN's New Moms Groups). Therapy and other mental health services have been made easier to access through most insurance companies and with telehealth. Labor support and postpartum doulas, as well as lactation consultants (IBCLCs), continue to offer in-person and virtual care. Pregnancy and postpartum during Covid may be different but you can still find plenty of support. I hope your new baby brings you joy during this uncertain time!
  24. Pelvic floor strengthening is a great way for new moms to improve symptoms of urinary leaking or low back/pelvic pain. Plus, they can be done anywhere! Before you jump right into exercises, let’s learn a little about the pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that span your pelvis and act to support your organs, maintain normal bowel and bladder function (going when you want to—not leaking when you don’t want to!), and sexual function. First, it is important to perform a pelvic floor contraction correctly. When contracting your pelvic floor, you should feel the muscles close in and up, like an elevator rising towards your ribcage. In order to feel if you are doing the exercise correctly, you can feel just inside your sits bone and gently feel the muscles pull in and away from your fingers as you contract, you should not feel muscles bulging out. [Related: Breastfeeding inequality: It's time to end the mommy wars] Kegels (pelvic floor isometric contraction) Kegels should be performed with “quick flicks” and long holds. The quick flicks should be a complete contraction and complete relaxation of the muscles quickly 10 times. The long holds should be about 3-5 seconds long with an equal duration of rest in between for 10 repetitions. Both “quick flicks” and long holds should be performed 2-3 sets per day. You can do this sitting, standing, or laying down. Abdominal bracing We are adding the contraction of your transverse abdominis, an abdominal muscle that acts like a corset to the contraction of your pelvic floor. Start with a pelvic floor contraction (kegel) and then engage your abdomen by bringing your belly button straight into your spine. You should feel the contraction of the correct abdominal muscle (your transverse abdominis) by placing your fingers gently halfway between your belly button and the bony part of your pelvis. Hold the contraction for 3-5 seconds with equal rest in between repetitions for 10 repetitions. Most important is to make sure you maintain normal breathing and do not hold your breath. You can do this sitting, standing, or laying down, 2-3 sets per day. [Related: Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression] Hip bridge with adduction For this exercise, you will need a pillow, ball, or rolled-up towel. Start laying on your back with your knees bent and the object squeezed between your knees. Maintaining pressure on the object, lift your hips up squeezing your butt at the top. Pause for 5 seconds with your hips lifted, then slowly lower down and repeat. Performed 10 times, 2-3 sets per day. Squats Start standing and engage your pelvic floor engaged, up and in Maintain the pelvic floor contraction as you squat, pause at the bottom, and return to standing To squat with correct form, it should feel like you are sitting your butt back on a chair and maintaining your knees directly over your toes. Performed 10 times, 2-3 sets per day.
  25. Becoming a parent is a joyful, exciting time. It is also a stressful, disorienting and exhausting time. There is cultural messaging that children are a joy and we should be happy throughout their babyhood. However, as a clinical psychologist and mother, I've seen that this is just not reality, and this message creates shame for mothers and partners who struggle with this major life transition. In fact, did you know that, statistically, couples report the lowest rates of marital satisfaction after the birth of a baby? These tiny humans have a way of taking up a huge amount of emotional space, time and energy. Much of this time, energy and attention you once had to give to your partner or yourself, so of course the transition will be a little bumpy! While you can find thousands of resources about the best car seat or swaddle, it’s rare to find information about what to do to prepare and protect one of the most important things to you and your baby: your marriage or partnership. So here are a few ways to help baby-proof your relationship and prepare your partnership for the transition to parenthood. Establish good communication strategies It is vital to the long-term health of a partnership, particularly during times of stress, to learn how to ask for help and how to constructively express frustration or disappointment. No matter how close we are to someone, they can’t read our mind! It’s also important to reduce criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling (shutting your partner out), as these types of communication patterns have been identified as particularly damaging to a relationship. Discuss expectations Who will do the late-night feedings? Who is in charge of childcare? You may think you’re both on the same page, but sitting down to let your partner know your expectations, and to hear theirs, is essential. Prioritize connection Parenting a newborn is all-encompassing. Connecting with your partner may not look like weekends away or long nights out for a while, but you can still make each other coffee, reach for their hand, or turn your phones and tv off to talk for a few minutes at night. These small moments of connection can make a huge difference. Work on your mindset Don’t keep score! When you aim to win an argument or you keep track of exact numbers of times you do something, even if you win, the relationship loses. See yourself as a team, you both have the same goal to care for this baby. Also remember that this is a temporary phase of life. When we have thoughts like, My life will always be this way, it can make our negative emotions more intense. Take care of yourself You can’t be a good partner if you’re totally depleted. Stay connected to friends, go for walks and lean on your support system. Postpartum anxiety or depression can compound the difficulty of adjusting to parenthood and to your relationship and absolutely necessitates treatment. If you or someone you love is experiencing difficulty, please reach out to me or to another mental health professional.

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