From pregnancy fatigue to “cry it out” advice, she became my go-to resource.

Growing up, my sister and I didn’t spend our time together. We’ve always been pretty different people, even as kids. It wasn’t until years down the road that our friendship started to soar. I was pregnant with my first baby while my sister was pregnant with her third. Instantly, she became my go-to resource for everything pregnancy and parenting related. As a seasoned mom, she’d been there, done that. She knew the ins and outs of pregnancy, babies and had the toddler years under her belt.

In my first trimester she told me, “Most pregnancy issues can usually be solved with one of two things. A nap or a snack. If you aren’t feeling well, have one of those and you’ll feel better.”

Just like that, I discovered my pregnancy words to live by. I stashed snacks everywhere. One morning I woke up starving, inhaled a granola bar from my bedside table and dozed back to sleep. I woke up feeling refreshed and energized and thought, “My sister knows what she’s talking about.” Snacks and naps. If I could have both, it was even better.”

After my daughter was born, I struggled with nursing. My milk took days to come in and I nursed, pumped and repeated with little success. I called my sister and she wisely told me to relax. “You’re going to exhaust yourself. Stop working so hard and let it happen.”

I took her advice and eased up on myself, dropping some of my regular pumping sessions. Nursing became easier with time and taking the pressure off myself certainly helped.

Four months later we were struggling with sleep schedules and I was returning to work. My sister calmly told me, “It’s time to cry it out. It’s going to be hard, but you have to do it for your sanity. You have to get more sleep, especially since you’re going back to work. Plus, this is a life skill. Babies need to learn to put themselves to sleep and self-soothe.”

I had the hardest time crying it out with my daughter. It went against all my instincts to let her cry and scream for long periods of time. My sister swooped in once again and told me to leave the house after we put her down.

“Go on a walk and listen to music. Come back after she’s asleep. You could have a physical reaction to her crying since you’re nursing, so you need to do this for yourself.”

So I did. And I still do. My second is two and we recently took away his binky and found ourselves listening to his cries for extended amounts of time. I can’t tolerate listening to him as he sobs from his crib. I hear my sister’s voice in my head telling me to get out and go on a walk. I put on my running shoes and head out the door.

As a parent I’ve been faced with so many unexpected challenges. I’ve been forced to deal with a range of emotions I never had until I became a mom. My sister, the most emotionally intelligent person I know, has helped at every turn. She gets this mom thing, she gets me and she’s exactly what I’ve always needed.

Meredith Mortensen

Meredith Mortensen is a Seattle based lifestyle and parenting writer. Her work has appeared in print and online magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Good Housekeeping. Currently, she's hard at work on a children's book inspired by her daughter.