+
A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
We are a small, independent media company on a mission to share the best of humanity with the world.
If you think the work we do matters, pre-ordering a copy of our first book would make a huge difference in helping us succeed.
GOOD PEOPLE Book
upworthy

babies



Pregnant.

There it was, clear as day, two blue lines staring back at me from the small pregnancy test I had just purchased.

I double-checked...

One line = not pregnant.

Two lines = pregnant.

Photo via iStock.



Yup, I was definitely pregnant.

My heart was pounding.

My head was spinning.

My stomach was churning.

I was nervous, excited, scared, and ecstatic all at the same time.

Photo via iStock.

This was actually happening! After years of dreaming, preparing for, and anticipating this day, it was finally here. I was going to be a mother.

Little did I know that in nine short months, I would begin the most exhausting, life-changing, heart-wrenching, but indescribably rewarding journey of my life.

In nine months, I would learn the price of motherhood firsthand. I would know exactly what it takes to be a mother. I would gain a whole new understanding of and gratitude for the beautiful woman I call Mom.

I would learn about things mothers experience that their children often know very little about.

Here are 10 things your mom never told you.

1. You made her cry ... a lot.

She cried when she found out she was pregnant. She cried as she gave birth to you. She cried when she first held you. She cried with happiness. She cried with fear. She cried with worry. She cried because she feels so deeply for you. She felt your pain and your happiness and she shared it with you, whether you realized it or not.

2. She wanted that last piece of pie.

But when she saw you look at it with those big eyes and lick your mouth with that tiny tongue, she couldn't eat it. She knew it would make her much happier to see your little tummy be filled than hers.

3. It hurt.

When you pulled her hair, it hurt; when you grabbed her with those sharp fingernails that were impossible to cut, it hurt; when you bit her while drinking milk, that hurt, too. You bruised her ribs when you kicked her from her belly; you stretched her stomach out for nine months; you made her body contract in agonizing pain as you entered this world.

4. She was always afraid.

From the moment you were conceived, she did all in her power to protect you. She became your mama bear. She was that lady who wanted to say no when the little girl next door asked to hold you and who cringed when she did because in her mind no one could keep you as safe as she herself could. Her heart skipped two beats with your first steps. She stayed up late to make sure you got home safe and woke up early to see you off to school. With every stubbed toe and little stumble, she was close by; she was ready to snatch you up with every bad dream or late-night fever. She was there to make sure you were OK.

She stayed up late to make sure you got home safe and woke up early to see you off to school.

5. She knows she's not perfect.

She is her own worst critic. She knows all her flaws and sometimes hates herself for them. She is hardest on herself when it comes to you, though. She wanted to be the perfect mom, to do nothing wrong — but because she is human, she made mistakes. She is probably still trying to forgive herself for them. She wishes with her whole heart that she could go back in time and do things differently, but she can't, so be kind to her and know she did the best she knew how to do.


6. She watched you as you slept.

There were nights when she was up 'til 3 a.m. praying that you would finally fall asleep. She could hardly keep her eyes open as she sang to you, and she would beg you to "please, please fall asleep." Then, when you finally fell asleep, she would lay you down, and all her tiredness would disappear for a short second as she sat by your bedside looking down at your perfect cherub face, experiencing more love than she knew was possible, despite her worn-out arms and aching eyes.

7. She carried you a lot longer than nine months.

You needed her to. So she did. She would learn to hold you while she cleaned; she would learn to hold you while she ate; she would even hold you while she slept because it was the only way she could sometimes. Her arms would get tired, her back would hurt, but she held you still because you wanted to be close to her. She snuggled you, loved you, kissed you, and played with you. You felt safe in her arms; you were happy in her arms; you knew you were loved in her arms, so she held you, as often and as long as you needed.

Her arms would get tired, her back would hurt, but she held you still because you wanted to be close to her.

8. It broke her heart every time you cried.

There was no sound as sad as your cries or sight as horrible as the tears streaming down your perfect face. She did all in her power to stop you from crying, and when she couldn't stop your tears, her heart would shatter into a million little pieces.

9. She put you first.

She went without food, without showers, and without sleep. She always put your needs before her own. She would spend all day meeting your needs, and by the end of the day, she would have no energy left for herself. But the next day, she would wake up and do it all over again because you meant that much to her.

10. She would do it all again.

Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do, and it will take you to your very limits sometimes. You cry, you hurt, you try, you fail, you work, and you learn. But, you also experience more joy than you thought was possible and feel more love than your heart can contain. Despite all the pain, grief, late nights, and early mornings you put your mom through, she would do it all again for you because you are worth it to her.

So, next time you see her, tell your mom thank you; let her know that you love her. She can never hear it too many times.


This article originally appeared on 05.27.16











Photo by Stacey Natal/Total City Girl used with permission.

Jillian, “... my heart skips a beat."


I'm trying desperately to be respectful of the person speaking to me, but my husband keeps texting me.

First he sends me a selfie of him with Rafi*, then it's an account of who stopped him on his way into the NICU.


Then he suggests I take a selfie with Jillian* so he can post them side-by-side on Facebook and boast that we finally have two babies.

People will ask if they're twins, I'm sure. But they're not twins. In fact, the babies aren't even ours.

family, babies, adoptive parents

James' dream come true: Two babies! Rafi in the NICU with Tatte, Jillian at home with Eema.

Photo by Ann Lapin, used with permission.

I take care of these babies because I'm what's known as an "interim parent."

volunteer, newborns, interim parents

Over the past four years, my family has cared for 22 newborns.

Photo by Ann Lapin, used with permission.

The program I'm part of is rare; there are very few like it in the United States.

While the babies are in my care, the birth parents retain their legal rights as parents and are encouraged to visit their babies (if that's something they would like).

social care, adoption, psychology

My three kids with our baby before he meets his forever mommy.

Photo by Ann Lapin, used with permission.

If they weren't in the care of interim moms like me, these tiny babies might wait in the hospital a few extra days while their adoptions are finalized — or they might enter the foster care system.

In New York, biological parents have 30 days after adoption proceedings begin to change their minds about their placement plan.

I became an interim parent when a local mom posted about it on our neighborhood Yahoo! group.

"That! THAT I can do!" I thought, as I looked at the computer screen.

I was thrilled. I felt incapable of doing other types of volunteer work, but I felt like I had finally found a community service that I could perform. So, my husband and I applied. And after months of doctor appointments, background checks, interviews, and letters of reference from close friends, we were accepted.

biological parents, decision making, social care

We left the adoption agency with an empty stroller — but it didn't stay that way for long!

Photo by Stacey Natal/ Total City Girl, used with permission.

The hope with the interim boarding care program is that biological parents have time to gain clarity about their decisions without pressure.

It also helps adoptive parents feel secure in their status as parents.

The children don't usually get the chance to be present when one of our babies goes home, so this was a special day. Roughly 30% of the babies I've cared for have returned to their biological parents after their stay with me, and the rest have been adopted. Many of the birth mothers I've known have pursued open adoptions, selecting and meeting their child's forever families.

People often ask me what the experience of interim parenting is like, but there's no rule: Each case is different.

Babies stay with us, on average, for a few weeks. But one baby stayed with us with five days, another for nine and a half weeks.

Whatever the scenario, my family and I are available to care for these babies until they go home ... wherever "home" may be.

medical insurance, dads, moms

This work can be emotionally challenging, too.

Photo by Stacey Natal/Total City Girl used with permission.

This work can be emotionally challenging, too. Some biological parents do not interact with us at all while they're making big decisions, and some end up being very involved. Some text regularly, requesting photos and updates on the baby while the baby is in our care. Sometimes they schedule weekly visits with the babies. One birth mom became such a constant in our life that my son asked if we could bake her cookies.

I am often blown away by the biological parents' gratitude.

Melody* was one of the most beautiful babies I'd ever cared for, and I met her parents a couple of times. When they came to take her home, it was as though she was the only one in the room. When they thanked me for taking care of her, my lip started to quiver.

I had also never met Jibraan's dad, either, when I placed him in his arms the day they went home together. "From the bottom of my heart ... I can't tell you what you've done for me," he said. I remember that he towered over me, the size of a linebacker, clenching his jaw to keep the tears from spilling down his cheeks.

family, adoption, emotional connections

Big smiles and on the phone.

Photo by Stacey Natal/Total City Girl, used with permission.

When I wave goodbye to the social workers at the agency after introducing each baby to their forever family, I always wonder how long it will be before I get to hold another baby.

I don't get attached to each baby, per se. But I get attached to having a baby, to taking care of a baby. I resent my empty arms, and I feel like I've lost my purpose. So each time I see the adoption agency's phone number pop up on caller ID, my heart skips a beat.

When the voice on the other end says, "Hi, Ann ... are you ready to take another baby?" my first thought is, "Baby! I'm getting a BABY!" That excitement lasts for at least 48 hours.

But even as the adrenaline calms down and the sleepless nights begin to take their toll, the experience of caring for each baby proves to be more than enough motivation for me to keep going.

The emotions that swell when my babies go home with any parent — their adoptive parents or their birth parents — are not just because of the emptiness I feel in my arms or even because of the happiness I have for my babies and their families.

The emotions I feel are because of the fullness in my heart and the gratitude I have for being a part of each of these babies' stories, even if it's just for a moment.


This article was written by Ann Lapin and originally appeared on 04.08.16

Family

Baby meets his dad's twin brother in an adorable viral video

Parenting is hard. Adult twins interacting with a baby? Hilarious.


Adult twins interacting with babies is pretty hilarious.

I know firsthand because I am a dad and a twin.

On my list of regrets as a dad, I'll place "not rolling video when our babies interacted with me and my identical twin" near the top of the list.

Thankfully, a dad shot some footage of his young son meeting his twin, and our lives are better because of it.


Images from Stephen Ratpojanakul's Facebook page.

Stephen Ratpojanakul (he's in the sweater ... I think) is a dad to a baby boy named Reed. Stephen also has a twin brother named Michael.

When baby Reed got confused figuring out who was who, I almost expected this dude to make a cameo appearance:

First, they both wore glasses.

Stephen Ratpojanakul (he's in the sweater ... I think) is a dad to a baby boy named Reed. Stephen also has a twin brother named Michael.

When baby Reed got confused figuring out who was who, I almost expected this dude to make a cameo appearance:

First, they both wore glasses.

And finally, they both took their glasses off. Baby Reed returned to the previous station.

True story: Parenting will crush you if you don't bring your sense of humor along.

Parents know how mentally and physically exhausting the job can be. It's also a job where many of us spend an inordinate amount of time second-guessing ourselves for the decisions we make.

The immense power of laughter is a great way to relax, boost our immune systems, and relieve stress. Sometimes, we laugh to keep from crying. And other times, we just laugh because our kids are absolutely hilarious.

Judging by the laughter and giggles, it's easy to tell that the twins truly love this little boy — and it's heartwarming to see all three of them enjoying some good times together.

All it takes is a smile for parents to know "you've got this."

The video is going viral — and don't be surprised if this becomes a twin trend.

With almost 34 twins per 1,000 live births in the U.S. today, there are more genetic lookalikes in the U.S. than ever before. Be warned, tiny babies — somewhere there are some adult twins plotting to have some innocent fun at your expense.

Without further ado, here's the video.


This article was written by Doyin Richards andoriginally appeared on 02.10.16.




Science

Breastfeeding mom's touching encounter with an orangutan has people swooning—and debating

"She sat with me for approximately half an hour, kept stroking the glass and lay down next to me as if to support and protect me."

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.


"I visited Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna whilst on a mini-break with my partner and son. We nipped in to see the orangutans at the end of our day who were happily playing in the enclosure, so I went to the window for a closer look and sat down by the window so my lb could see the orangutan who was roughly 5/6ft away. She then got up, carried a piece of cloth to the window and sat down with me. She looked directly into my eyes then placed her hand up as if to touch my son. I was in awe of this beautiful creature already."

"My son wanted feeding and as it was quiet I fed him whilst I sat there. The way the orangutan reacted took my breath away she kept looking at me, then my son then back again," she continued. "She sat with me for approximately half an hour, kept stroking the glass and lay down next to me as if to support and protect me.

I had to share this because my mind was blown. We may be a species apart but breastfeeding connected us today in a once in a lifetime moment that will stay with me forever. I'm also incredibly lucky that my partner caught all of this on video 💕"

The Facebook page added a story about a gorilla being taught to breastfeed by women from La Leche League, an organization dedicated to supporting breastfeeders:

"Did you know that women from La Leche League once taught a mother gorilla to breastfeed? The Mamma gorilla had been born and raised in captivity and didn't know what to do with her firstborn, and her baby sadly died. When she next became pregnant, breastfeeding women volunteered to sit beside the gorilla's enclosure and breastfeed their babies, showing the gorilla what to do. When the gorilla gave birth, a volunteer came over and breastfed her baby, showing Mamma gorilla what to do, step by step. Mamma gorilla watched, and then copied, and went on to successfully feed her baby"

The story has been shared more than 37,000 times, with many commenters stating how beautiful and moving it was. Others, while appreciating the beauty of the animal encounter, expressed sadness at seeing such a creature in captivity. As with practically every post about animals in zoos, debate broke out over whether or not zoos are helpful or harmful to the animals they house.

And like most debates, people's opinions fall along a broad spectrum. Some feel that zoos are the best way for people to learn about animals first-hand, which leads them to care more about protecting them in the wild. Some acknowledge that captivity isn't ideal, but that many animals die individually or go extinct as species without the work they do. Some feel that it's always wrong to keep an animal in captivity, no matter what. Even animal experts don't agree on this front.

And not all zoos are created equal. Many zoos have moved more toward a rehabilitation and conservation model, and there's no question that many animals who have been raised in captivity would not survive if they were suddenly released into the wild. There's also the issue of whether trying to limit natural breeding in captivity falls under the ethical treatment of animals, as breeding is a natural animal instinct. And what about the animals that have gone extinct in the wild and can only be found in zoos? There are a million questions with a million unclear answers when it comes to zoos.

However there is one thing most can agree on. Whether or not you think zoos are helpful or harmful, necessary or not, they largely exist today because of human activity mucking with nature. The same nature that compels this creature to connect with a human mother, despite her unnatural surroundings. The same nature that humans are destroying to get palm oil for our cookies and soaps, leading orangutans to the brink of extinction. The same nature that we are all responsible for protecting.

Whether we find this story sweet or sad or something in between, the reality for orangutans in the wild is worth our attention. Visit www.theorangutanproject.org/ to learn more about how to help.


This article originally appeared on 10.04.22