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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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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











Family

Joe Biden delivered a powerful speech about 'the only bipartisan thing left in America.'

'I assure you there’s still a lot of really decent people left in the Congress in both parties.'

For nearly an hour on March 12, 2017, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to an audience of innovators at South by Southwest about a topic very close to his heart: cancer.

He was there to discuss the newly formed Biden Foundation's Cancer Initiative, something of an outgrowth of the "Cancer Moonshot" task force Biden led during his final year in office.

Former Vice President Joe Biden outlines his cancer initiative at SXSW. Photo by Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP.


On May 30, 2015, Biden's son Beau died from brain cancer. He was just 46 years old.

The former Delaware attorney general, Army veteran, and rising star was diagnosed with the disease less than two years earlier, devastating the Biden family and ultimately leading Joe to forgo a run for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president. While Beau's passing may have cooled his father's presidential ambitions, it sparked a laser-focused passion within the patriarch. His charisma, 44 years in public service, and knowledge of Washington bureaucracy made him uniquely qualified to try to help save cancer patients and their families from having to endure heartbreak.

Beau and Joe Biden during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

It seems like there's not a lot Democrats and Republicans can agree on these days. Biden used his SXSW speech to discuss what he called the "only bipartisan thing left in America."

Cancer doesn't care whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, rich or poor, black or white, young or old. It's ruthless, and it's almost certainly touched all our lives in one way or another. It's that type of tenacity that makes fighting cancer something worth setting aside political differences for — and it's been done, even very recently.

On Dec. 13, 2016, President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law. The bill, which set aside $6.3 billion in funding for things like medical research and drug development, passed the Senate by a vote of 94-5 and the House by 392-26. During his speech, Biden pointed to the bipartisan success of the bill, using it as a sign that, when pressed, we really can come together for the greater good.

"I assure you there’s still a lot of really decent people left in the Congress in both parties," Biden said, noting that Republican Mitch McConnell even moved to name $1.8 billion of the bill's funding after Beau.

Biden speaks at SXSW. Photo by Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP.

It's easy to feel cynical, but Biden offers a bit of much-needed hope for a better world.

"I am optimistic. I’m optimistic about the American people," he said. "Given half a chance, they’ve never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever let their country down. And the core of the Republicans in the Congress and Democrats are good, decent, honorable people being almost artificially separated by a new kind of partisanship. I’m confident we can break through it. I’m confident it can be done."

And if he, a man who has seen just how broken Washington can be, still has faith that our elected officials will do the right thing, that's worth something — isn't it?

Biden speaks at SXSW. Photo by Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP.

There are things we must be unwilling to postpone. The fight against cancer, a bipartisan effort, is one of them.

Biden ended his speech by invoking President John F. Kennedy:

"He talked about the effort to go to the moon as a commitment the American people had made and that they were 'unwilling to postpone.' … I am unwilling to postpone for one day longer the things we can do now to extend people’s lives — and so should you be.”

Let's be unwilling to postpone that better world.

Beau and Joe Biden hug at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Watch Biden's full SXSW speech below:

True
#WhoWeAre

Meet Bonnie Brown. She's a single mother who works at Wendy's to help support her teenaged daughter. She also has a disability.

Recently, Bonnie was interviewed by her 15-year-old daughter, Myra, for a StoryCorps video where she opened up about what it's like to be a single parent who is intellectually disabled.

Amazingly, this conversation manages to put that sometimes indescribable bond between a mother and her daughter into words. It also highlights the protective nature of their relationship.


"There were times when we would go out, and people would just blatantly stare, and I would say something," Myra says in the video.

Every mother-daughter relationship has its ups and down, of course, just like any other relationship. But for this pair, Bonnie's disability is just one of the things that makes up who they are. We all have stuff to carry, and this is something they both carry, together.

Watch the moving conversation between this mother and her daughter in the video below:

Meagan Nash thought her son, Asher, belonged in magazines.

Asher Nash. Photo by Crystal Barbee.

"I wanted to submit him because he always seemed to like having his picture taken," Nash said. "Anytime I get my phone out, his eyes get big, and he gets this big grin on his face, almost like he knows what's happening."


Nash sent Asher's pictures to a local talent agent that was casting a campaign for the baby brand Carter's.

She was confused when the agent refused to submit them.

Asher has Down syndrome, and Carter's, the agent explained, wasn't calling in children with special needs.

Photo by Crystal Barbee.

Nash insisted. Yes, the company hadn't specified that they were looking for kids with disabilities, but Asher's pictures were good, and Carter's hadn't said they weren't looking for kids like him.  

"My first reaction was he should get the same chance to be accepted or rejected as any other baby," she said.

The agent apologized and agreed to send the photos.

For months, Nash heard nothing. Frustrated, she contacted Changing the Face of Beauty, an organization that works to increase representation of people with disabilities in media and advertising.

Her contact there encouraged her to post Asher's photos online as part of the group's annual campaign.  

Asher and his sister, Addison. Photo by Crystal Barbee.

"The talent industry, first of all, rarely represents people with disabilities, and when they do, they don’t always present because they don’t look at them as 'brown hair, blue eyes child'; they look at them as a disabled child," Katie Driscoll, Changing the Face of Beauty's founder and president, said.

Nash's post with Asher's photos was shared over 126,000 times. A story about the mother and son's campaign appeared on The Mighty.

According to Nash, representatives from OshKosh B'Gosh — a company affiliated with Carter's — messaged her less than an hour after the article was posted.

"They wanted to talk and hear my concerns, so I went over everything from the beginning and told them how it all started," Nash said. "At the end of our conversation, we had set a date for us to come in to meet with them."

Photo by Crystal Barbee.

She and Asher met with representatives from OshKosh recently, and they invited Asher to participate in an upcoming holiday advertising shoot, according to a statement provided by the company.

In the meantime, thanks to the publicity generated by the post, he's already done a shoot for Oball toys — his favorites.

Driscoll explained that while featuring kids like Asher in print ads might seem like a small thing, it can have concrete effects beyond simple representation.

"It also shows retailers and employers that, hey, obviously we’re valuing this community in advertising, we’re speaking to them as consumers, why wouldn’t we consider them for a job?" she said.

For Nash, getting the OshKosh shoot is a victory — a step closer to a world in which her son's talents are evaluated like any other kids' — independent of his disability.

For Asher, the photo shoot is another chance to show off his million-dollar smile.

Photo by Crystal Barbee.

And cash his first paycheck.