Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama... January 11 2013

Name: Melissa Matthews Brown

Hometown: I grew up in Roselle Park, NJ but now live in Fanwood, NJ

How long have you’ve been living in New Jersey? I have always lived in NJ except for the four/five years I spent living it up on the UES in a rent controlled studio (which I shared with my friend Steph and then with my husband!)

Occupation: Beauty Editor (although you wouldn’t think that thanks to the mommy bags under my eyes :)

 When did you first Become a Mother? January 21, 2011 was the happiest and scariest day of my life

 Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? I come from a large family, I’m talking my mom is one of nineteen kids large, family. I have a ton of nieces and nephews. I became an aunt when I was 8!

Was the reality close to your personal image/idea? NOT AT ALL!!! My mom actually said to me after a few weeks into being a mom to Connor (my first), why are you so surprised by everything? I guess when it is not your child you really can’t comprehend the depth of love, time, sleepless nights and devotion needed to raise a child. 

 How would you describe the first year? A blur! Actually, the first year was thrilling too. It was a year of firsts: crawling, walking, laughing…so many moments. I cherish every one!!! 

You just had a second, Matty, congrats! How is having two babies under two? Before Matty was born I was scared to death of having another baby. Splitting my time seemed like it was going to be impossible. Then, he arrived, my angel baby! He is sweet and enjoys sitting back and checking things out. He loves to watch Connor, he instantly makes Matty smile. Are things busy? Yes! Am I tired? Yes! Would I have it any other way? Not at all. I try to stay as organized as I can but two under two is a challenge. The thing that is  the hardest, Matty and Connor share germs. Connor was never sick in his first year. My poor Matty has been sick ever since he turned 3 months old!

 You just moved closer to your family, has this help with a support system being near by? Living closer to my Mom and friends has been a life saver. I wouldn’t survive without their help. I’m lucky to have such wonderful support.

You also JUST went back to work, how is it going? Going back to work is like a daily adventure. Every day is a marathon. From the minute my feet hit the floor until I get to pull them back under the covers at night I’m in constant motion. It helps that I work with other moms so on days I’m brain dead, they get it!

Tips for new moms? Laugh often! This whole mommy business is tough and if you don’t try to take a minute and find some humor in it all you will go insane! What is really funny, most of my conversations revolve around poop and sleep, “how many times did he poop?” “how long did he nap?”

Poop, throw up and pee-pee are the words most used by me these days!


Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama... November 30 2012

Since we are in holiday mode with gift and shopping advice it only seems fitting that for today’s Journey To Motherhood we’d feature a toy maker! Donna Lynn Brin is the co- creator of the green friendly Eco -Bonk which is available on her site.  We are excited to have this entrepreneur mother of two as our Journey today!

Name: Donna Lynn Brin 

Hometown: Peekskill, New York

How long have you been living in Brooklyn? 5 years

Occupation: Eco-friendly Children’s Toy Maker

When did you first become a mother? My first son was born in Dec 2009.

Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? Was the reality close to your personal image/idea? I knew nothing and vowed to read little on the subject. There was way too much uncertainty so I took a deep breath, let my instincts take over and allowed things to fall into place naturally rather than forcefully. The reality of motherhood was beyond anything I could have ever imagined and nothing could have prepared me for it … it teaches me selflessness; it tests my patience; and makes me a better person.

How would you describe the first year? It was insane, fulfilling, exhausting, humbling, rewarding and forever challenging.

Did you have a support system near by? No, our families live all over the country … I have a very strong friend network.

You have two young children, did you feel more prepared when the second came along? Yes. With less uncertainty comes confidence and with confidence comes ease.

You are a toymaker, such a cool craft, please tell us about your line! Pueri Elemental has created an earth-friendly inflatable bop toy exclusively made in the USA. Eco-Bonk is the first bop custom-fitted with plush organic cotton covers and screen-printed with fun-loving animals who take on the shape of the toy, offering a gentle alternative to rough-and-tumble playtime … it is not only healthier for children to play with, but also better for the environment around them because our vinyl is manufactured with a revolutionary technology that enables it to biodegrade in an active landfill in some period greater than a year, which is exponentially faster than ordinary vinyl that can take hundreds or even thousands of years to breakdown in the earth … oh and a portion of our proceeds are donated to Wildlife Alliance and there are interactive storybook apps that feature these super-cute animals sold separately. There’s nothing else like it on the market! 

How did the business come about? My husband came home with a superhero-themed inflatable bop toy for our son. My first thought, “what an eye-sore”; my second, “how long before it breaks”; and my last, ”how long will it sit in a landfill” … one week and three busted ibop bags later, a product concept was born.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company? The learning curve has been extraordinary … understanding supply chain management, production, logistics, public relations, marketing and the list goes on … it’s exciting yet overwhelming! My constant struggle while starting up the company is finding balance between business and family … I’ve learned how to ask for help, trying to do it all myself is a recipe for disaster and I make time to truly disconnect, putting down the iPhone and laptop and being in the moment with my children never felt so good. 

What did you do in your past work life? I worked in energy commodity sales for twelve years … I was the female version of Bud Fox, only I never got mixed up with a GG type.

What have been some of your major successes?

1) Earning my MBA – I was a terrible student in high school.

2) Meeting my husband – He challenges me to go beyond myself.

3) Becoming a mother – I never knew that I could love so much.

Any tips for new moms? Learn how to give up control … you can’t force them to do what you want – they’ll sleep when they’re tired and eat when they’re hungry … give them the freedom to make choices and learn by making their own decisions … oh and find a great sleep training program.


Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama November 23 2012

We’ve been following Bettina D’Ascoli and her partner’s line Brooklyn Rascals on tumblr for about six months. The daily postings of the outfits are chic, locally made and we cannot wait until the online store launches. Meanwhile get to know Bettina in today’s Journey to Motherhood post. We’ll be doing a studio visit as they near their online launch, expect to see that towards the end of winter!

Name: Bettina D’Ascoli  

Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela  

How long have you been living in Brooklyn? 9 years  

Occupation: Mother and fashion designer  

When did you first become a mother? October 4, 2005  

Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? Was the reality close to your personal image/idea? I was one of those girls who always wanted to be a mother, I knew I was going to be one and I thought I was prepared for it, boy was I wrong. Luca was no surprise, he was planned and very much wanted, but I definitely was not prepared. The life change caught me off guard, poor guy had to survive an inexperienced mother. 

How would you describe the first year? A roller coaster of emotions. He is so amazing to be around, he has taught me so much and I still learn from him. Breastfeeding was a challenge, he was a month old and still had not arrived at his birth weight. I was so worried, but was determined to breastfeed and we made it! I breast-fed  him until he was 8 months old. But my biggest challenge was me, my life change, going to the corner store felt like a production. Not being able to go to the movies when I wanted to, not having my independence. My husband worked long hours, so I was alone a lot. The first few months I was trying hard to go back to “normal”, instead of embracing the new normal. I thought those sleepless nights were going to be forever! By the time he was 9 months old we took him on a road trip 3 hours north of Quebec. From Brooklyn it was a 12 hour drive, on our way back we stayed in Montreal for a jazz festival for a couple of nights. He was sleeping through the night and I was just having a blast!   

Did you have a support system near by?  One of my best friends had her child one month after Luca, and 3 other friends had children 1 1/2 or 2 years older than Luca. I have lovely memories of those times.  So yes, I did had a support system, and one very close to my heart.  

You have two young children, did you feel more prepared when the second came along? Oh Yes!!!! I was already a mother when Olivia came to this world, so that obstacle was out of the way.  Luca was about to start kindergarten he had to grow over night, and he embraced it like a champ. All three of us our head over heels with our baby. I didn’t stress with the breastfeeding, I supplemented with formula, I just made my life easier. Olivia had to learn how to nap everywhere, the family altogether adjusted so naturally. I spent the first 4 months in Luca’s room with Olivia doing our thing all night long while the boys slept without interruptions and could go to work or school, there is no need for everyone in the family to be cranky. While at the house alone, instead of stressing about going back to normal, I did things I wouldn’t normally do like watch movies. I would feed the baby watching a movie, finish my feeding, pause it until my next feeding and resume my wonderful film. Sometimes it would take me two days to finish a movie and since I had the time it was all good, I haven’t watched a movie during the day since 2010.  I feel she grew faster, I still call her a baby. I guess they will always be my babies.  

You have a sweet line The House of Brooklyn Rascals, can you tell us a bit about the line? It’s a family business, I work with my sister in law (we are married to brothers). We started working together a little over a year ago and we are having so much fun. Our line is French meets Japanese with the daring colors of the Americans. We love to be playful so we make  a lot of reversible items, we want them to feel like if it was a puzzle,  the pieces can be mix and matched. The line today is handmade by us.  We work as an atelier, so the quantities are limited. We have plans to officially launch the brand  by Spring/Summer ’13, still doing our best to keep the production local. There will be a web store coming soon, for now we have a blog where we post a look of the day (almost every day). We’ll be keeping our blog for it gives us inspiration to keep on going, I enjoy working with the kids and choosing the look of the day. I’m amazed of how much Olivia enjoys it too and by how much she understands what is going on.

Any Tips for new moms? Relax, trust your instincts. Do not stress about going back to normal it will just come on it’s own and it will be the new normal. Stressing is a waste of time, they are little for a short period, enjoy it. There is a great park culture in New York, go and sit there with your baby and you will see that it’s like going to a party, you will be mingling all morning long. Don’t ever feel lonely, you have the best company ever. No one will ever love you like your baby, it’s the best!


Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama... November 02 2012

  

It was bound to happen. I finally get to feature my best friend April on MB. We have been friends for many years and have been through SO MUCH together. I love her. I called her soon after I had my son upset that she lead me to believe that being a new mom was bliss. She simply stated if I told you the truth you would have never tried to have children. She’s right and I am of course happy to have my boy.

Mother of a 9 (almost 10) Olivia and 6 year old Ben, she is originally from Florida but lives in California where she has created shows such as Jane By Design and is currently working on a project for HBO.

Name:  April Blair

Hometown: Los Angeles

How long have you’ve been living in California? 12 years

Occupation:  Screenwriter

When Did you first Become a Mother? January 2003.  It seems like just yesterday that they were born, but they’re already way smarter and funnier than I am.  

Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? Was the reality close to your personal image/idea?  The sum of my mothering experience pre-Olivia was what I had learned taking care of my black lab, whom I believed was just like a child. If anyone had warned me that having a dog was nothing like having a kid, I would have throttled them.  In fact, pre-birth, the thing I was most concerned about was if my lab would adjust to having a baby around.  I was clueless.  I had no idea how unprepared I was for what life would be like once Olivia arrived.  Life (as I knew it) was over.  I could not sleep in. I couldn’t sleep more than 3 hours at a time.  I could not even get out of the house without an hour of bottle, diaper and stroller packing.  It was shocking.  And upsetting.  And boring.  And amazing.  And I’d never felt that much love.  And, yes, the dog became just a dog.  

How would you describe the first year? I hated my body.  I hated my babysitter.  I hated when I was working.  I hated when I wasn’t working.  Hated it.  But then I loved it, too.  Looking at her little face and knowing she was mine was the most rewarding thing I’d ever experienced.  Honestly, it was a roller coaster of emotions.  I think post-baby blues are the devils work, but if you had told me at the time that my ups and downs were largely due to hormones… I would’ve promptly burst in to tears.  

Did you have a support system near by? Most of my support came from my husband, my best friend and my baby sitter… whom, as I mentioned, I loathed because I was jealous that my baby actually liked her.  Which made total sense to me at the time.  The day that Olivia cried when the sitter left, I was absolutely sure that she needed to be fired.  Seriously, she really needed to go. 

You have two young children, was it a bit easier when you had #2? Having my son was easier because life (as I once knew it) was already over, so it wasn’t such a shock to my system. I knew what to expect, which kills a huge chunk of stress.  I had also learned to relax and enjoy when my kids liked someone else enough to let them take care of them. The sitter I had when Ben was born only left recently once the kids were both in school all day.  That they loved her so much only made me love her more and instead of jealousy I felt relief and gratitude. One thing that was more difficult was anticipating/worrying how my having another baby would affect Olivia.  Would she like him, would she feel left out, would I have enough love for both of them, was I ruining her life having another child, etc… In my mind, none of that came true at all.  But according to Olivia, who is currently reading over my shoulder, the last prediction ”totally came true because Ben is the most annoying brother EVER.”  So there you have it.    

You used to live in NYC but are now raising your children in California, do you miss New York? I miss New York daily and am constantly plotting my glorious return, but I’m not sure I could handle raising small kids in NYC.  I’m really impressed with city moms whenever I’m visiting… the strollers, the sidewalks, the subways… you guys are supeheroes.  I think I’d cry if I couldn’t just load my kids in the station wagon for school each morning.  L.A. has made me weak : ) 

Tips for new moms? You have to learn to laugh at yourself and enjoy the imperfections in your parenting. When my 5 year old son quit Audubon camp because it was “bullshit” (yes, I thought Family Guy was a kids cartoon. yes, I’ve learned my lesson) or, worst of all, when I had to tell my kids that their dad and I were getting a divorce a few months ago… There will be times you’ll be sure you’ve failed, but you have to keep laughing and enjoying the moment and remember the old cliche’ (because it’s true)…you WILL turn around one day and that baby will be a distant, sweet, fuzzy memory that has turned in to a really mouthy kid hogging the television and telling you to mind your own business. 

I think the best tip anyone ever gave me… and this is when I was struggling nightly to get my daughter to sleep in her own bed (which she did not do until she was nearly 7)… was to not stress about sleep training.  If they want to creep in your bed at night, let them creep in your bed at night, because one day soon you won’t even be able to get them to sit down on the end of the bed and talk to you for five minutes.  Don’t fight it.  Cherish it.  It will all be over before you know it.  


Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama... October 19 2012

Jenny is the type of woman that makes you want to brush up on your style and be a kinder soul. I met Jenny in my moms-to-be group almost 4 years ago (!!!) and loved her instantly. Not only is she always so positive, so sweet and Southern but she’s an award winning book cover illustrator. Plus we’re big fans of the blog she runs with her equally talented designer Dutch husband - Erik. Lady’s got Mad talent! 

Name: Jenny Carrow
Hometown: Louisville, KY
How long have you’ve been living in Brooklyn? Ten years
Occupation: Book jacket designer by day, toddler entertainer by night

When did you first become a mother? September 2009

Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? I knew
becoming a mother would be completely life changing, that I would be
probably be exhausted and that I would marvel at every little smile,
laugh, and milestone along the way. This was pretty much all true.

What was your idea of what you felt your life would be like? At the
time I was so focused on the pregnancy and the birth that I didn’t
think too far ahead. I mostly had visions of picnics in the park with
Ellis rolling around on the blanket, evenings at home eating around
the table (little did I know this would be with one hand for the first
year!) and walks around the neighborhood.

How would you describe the first year? Aside from a rough few first
weeks, the first year was so special. There were so many moments when
Erik and I would just stare at Ellis and marvel that we had made this
perfect little person. My sense of time has completely changed. Some
nights were so long while the months seemed to fly by. I was worried
about finding a magical balance between work and family and was
pleasantly surprised to find I was able to focus on each thing while
in the moment. Trying to find time to read manuscripts at home was a
completely different story!

What helped you to get through it? My husband has been great at
sharing all of the responsibilities and sleepless nights. This
community was also a huge help. I had lived in NY for ten years before
becoming a parent and I never really felt like I lived in a real
community. A neighborhood with great restaurant, bars and a few close
friends, yes, but not a community. The new mom get togethers during my
maternity leave were a life saver that forced me to get showered and
out of the house each day. I’m still friends with many of these
families and I love seeing what great little people those sweet,
slobbering newborns have grown into. I went back to work full-time
around 14 weeks and had Ellis at the daycare around the corner from my
office. Getting to visit her throughout the day was a huge help during
that first year. I didn’t even mind the commute because I enjoyed our
extra time snuggled together.

You recently announced you’ve got #2 on board, Congrats! How is it
juggling a young toddler while being pregnant? Thanks! For about two
months, Ellis and I had the same 8:30 bedtime. My energy is slowly
returning and I am getting excited and nervous about life with two.
I’ll probably need to stop picking her up and carrying her at some
point since she’s nearly 40 lbs!

We really love your new blog, Jenny & Erik. Is there anything you can
share with us? What can we look forward to? It’s actually a pretty old
blog, as blogs go. Erik and I began it in 2004 to keep family and
friends updated on our adventures. For many years, our cats were the
main stars. It’s morphed into more of a visual diary of our lives as
parents. I love to hear that people check for updates. It’s the best
motivation for me to post more!


Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama... October 12 2012

Today Kimberly from Red Rose and Lavender shares her journey on MB. Each of these posts have been amazing to read and inspiring to us as mothers and we are grateful for these moms opening up to us, thank you Kimberly!

Name: Kimberly Sevilla

Hometown: Charles Town, WV

How long have you been living in Brooklyn? 20 years, this year

Occupation: Floral Designer owner of a Garden Center

When did you first become a mother? Was the reality close to your personal image/idea? I First became a mother in 2008. It was pretty scary for me, I had put off being a mom because of my career. At the time I was an account manager and I handled visuals and installations for clients like Calvin Klein, Barneys and the NFL, most of my co- workers were men with wives who stayed at home or single women who were never going to have kids. I was afraid that when I had children that I wouldn’t be able to work as hard and I had a very demanding job. When my daughter was about 6 months old I realized that I didn’t want to keep up with my demanding job and all the hard work wasn’t worth it, so I figured out something that I could do, and have flexible time to be a mom.  That was opening a flower shop and garden center.

Before becoming a mother what did you know about motherhood? I knew what kind of mother I wanted to be, I wanted the best for my daughter and I wanted to stay away from chemicals and have a natural experience as much as possible. After a year of using cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and only glass bottles, trying elimination communication, micro-examining everything to make sure it was organic, co-sleeping, the works.  I learned how to pick my
battles with baby #2.

Did you have a support system nearby? No, but I found one, an older lady who lives across the street and treats my kids like her grandchildren. She is the best.

Tips for new moms? Get out and meet other moms, talk, your not alone. Develop a thick skin and be thankful that all the strangers that offer ”advice” care about you and your baby, just tell yourself this, really just mean well, it will make you feel better. Ignore moms who say that it just’s get harder, they forget how overwhelming it is when you are a new mom.

We really love your store Rose Red and Lavender. Is there anything you can share with us that you’re currently working on? If parents visit the store, what can they expect? Thanks!! We love kids at the store and try to make it fun for them. This past spring we had an observation honey bee hive on display, I will put it back again this spring. Now we have lots of pumpkins and pumpkin carving kits, old school plastic ornaments and were doing a pumpkin carving demonstration on October 21st http://www.eventbrite.com/event/4353637848#We always try to make it fun.

 


Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama... October 05 2012

Name: Pilar Vahey
Hometown: Manhasset, NY
How long have you’ve been living in Brooklyn? 7 years
Occupation: mom and freelance art advisor
 
When Did you first Become a Mother? Clifford was born September 19, 2009 and then a day shy of 20 months later I gave birth to Dashiell.
Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? I’ve always loved kids and babies. I thought I was going to be a very intuitive mother and we’d be able to avoid issues by being in tune with each other. I thought there would be a ton of cuddling, heart-to-heart talks and just really getting each other on deep levels.
 
Was the reality close to your personal image/idea? Basically, I had a parenting fantasy, but I was aware that parenting was stressful for *other people* and that *other people’s kids* could be exasperating. I was knocked down to earth with the realities. Cliff’s birth was incredible but I had very difficult breast feeding issues that forced us to feed him formula because I wasn’t producing enough milk. That was the first time I felt like a parent; when I had to make a decision that I didn’t expect and didn’t want to make, but we had to do the right thing for our child and put our egos and expectations aside.

How would you describe the first year? That first year with my first baby was really special. Cliff was a happy, social baby and it was a joy to see the world through his eyes. I really loved being a mom. Making decisions about who we wanted to be as a family and how we want to raise our kids was amazing, but there was a lot of anxiety and stress about those decisions. I wasn’t very relaxed about…anything. It was such a steep learning curve that first year. I wasn’t able to prioritize the importance of things, so I researched as much about baby lotions as about vaccines. Even so, we had a lot of fun and met great friends.

What helped you to get through it? My husband Matt is a very calm person and that was helpful. He loves his kids and we work hard at being parents — even though it’s been difficult at times.

Meeting cool parents here in Williamsburg has been a gift to us. The mom’s group that Jessica organized is an incredible resource, because it is all these moms doing it in our own way. No one has unlimited resources and everyone is dedicated to being a compassionate and creative parent. It was a relief to realize we were all struggling with the same issues, doing the best we can and importantly trying to enjoy this time. And now all those babies who were laying on blankets at the Y Annex are running around and having conversations with each other. The friends we’ve made have been so special and I love that our family is truly known here.

Did you have a support system that lives close by?
My parents are near and Matt’s family is about 2 hours away. We have friends nearby but no one with kids, so there have always been dinners out with friends who know me and support me as a person — even if they can’t relate to the parent side. I do have three girlfriends with kids who live in other cities. They were the ones who sent me care packages with all the postpartum goodies you have no idea you’ll need, baby clothes, books and told me their own parental highs and lows.

I ultimately accepted support from my mom and she came twice a week when Cliff was little, but I really wanted to be with my kids alone. I wanted to do it myself and get to know them and our family without other people’s opinions. When Dash was 10 months, I was ready to have some of my old life back and to start working again. We have a wonderful babysitter who I trust now, so that’s is a luxury.

The best support system are my mom friends. Without them, I know I would have survived the first years, but with their support and humour it has been the greatest time.

When you had baby #2 was it easier or an adjustment for all? Yes some parts were easier, but overall it was not easier. We had our parenting style, knew what to expect and we were already living in a baby-family mode. It was also easier to have the baby outside of my body, because I was sick and low-energy most of the pregnancy. I loved being able to pick up both boys and get out to the park, see friends, and get back into our lives. But the sleep deprivation and running after 20 month old (who was a baby himself) was exhausting and it got me down — I didn’t sleep, so I didn’t eat well, so I wasn’t my best self, so I didn’t feel like a good parent or partner. With a fourth family member, there is just no downtime. I’m not naturally a planner, but I had to learn to plan time for myself. Things got much easier when Dash turned 1, but those challenges still exist and we’ve gotten better at dealing with them. And now we sleep a lot more!

Would you say you are a stay at home mom?
Yes - I’m mostly a stay at home mom. I started art advisory work again last spring with several clients. It’s great to have that part of my life active again. Even though I love being with my kids, I always worry about my career. I’ve come to be ok (most of the time) with living my life in phases. Now is a mostly mom phase while my kids are little, but later I’ll try to transition back into more work and I hope it will be there.

Are the cliches to being a stay at home mom truthful?
There are definitely traditional gender roles at play in our apartment, so in that way it’s a bit of a cliche. I’m handling the majority of the traditionally female things (food, cleaning up, schedules, doctors visits) and because I’m with the kids more I spearhead most of the parenting projects like discipline and potty training. Matt helps out here too, but does the traditionally male thing of going to work.

There is a cliche or perception, and like I said earlier I didn’t understand what parenting was before I had kids, that being with your kids is easy and all cookies and bubble baths. But any parent, working or stay at home, will tell you that being with your kids is a non-stop 24 hour gig. We’re all working our butts off to raise good people. Keeping them happy and healthy takes a lot of planning, problem solving, understanding and patience. I don’t have a moment to myself to really do anything until the boys are sleeping and that includes dishes, laundry, cleaning up, talking on the phone. If I turn my back, someone’s eating a crayon, yanking my clothes off the hangers, or crouching on the kitchen table. Email me if you want to hear a tale of terror about potty training your 2 year old and having a curious crawling 10 month old nearby.

Maybe there’s a cliche that we get too wrapped up in our kids? I’m guessing this is true of all parents, but more so of stay at home parents since we focus on our kids all day. My friends without kids have heard scary stories about marriages on the rocks after the kids are born and how the parents talked too much about their babies and didn’t focus on each other. Yeah - we’re totally 100% guilty of that. We had plenty of other things to talk about before our kids were born (and we still do), but do you want to hear my opinion on “Bridesmaids” or a sweet story about how Dashie calls squirrels cats and meows at them at the playground? I’m going to own this time with my boys, because this is really the good stuff. It’s hard and crazy and hilarious.


Tips for new moms?

1) The most important thing for children is to see a happy, fulfilled parent. Do whatever it takes to get you to that place. It’s a mix of personal time, family time, time with a partner and time dedicated to some kind of pursuit. That pursuit might be work (or might have to be work), but it’s very personal and every parent has to do what’s right for them.

2) There used to be an amazing quote on the homepage of kellymom.com. It was something like: when we’re giving from a positive place, our children benefit. But when we give out of guilt, no one benefits.

3) Don’t forget to laugh. Once they’re in bed even a disastrous day becomes comedy.

Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama... September 14 2012

The responses to our Journey To Motherhood post series have been a-ma-zing, we are happy to hear that people love them. Big thank you’s to Aria Newton of arianewtonthephotoproject for sharing her journey with us and offering a 20% discount to our readers on her photo shoot packages, here is her website of her beautiful photography. Happy Friday!

Name: Aria Newton

Hometown: Boston

How long have you been living in Brooklyn? I moved here 7 years ago. My husband and I live in Fort Greene with our son. I love it here.

Occupation: Photographer and Photo Retoucher

When did you first become a mother? My son Nico was born during a heat wave in the summer of 2010 in New York City.

Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? Was the reality close to your personal image/ idea? I thought that I knew a lot about being a mother before I had Nico, then I actually became a mom and realized that I didn’t know that much. It is such a major transition, that it is hard to actually anticipate how new and exciting everything will feel once it happens. I come from a big family and have 3 nephews, so I had a fair understanding of the struggles you have to go through the first year when the baby is so young. For me the biggest shock was not sleeping. There is no way to do a test run of what it will feel like to be woken up all night and then need to function in the world the next day. Coffee became my very, very close friend. Te quiero mucho café.

How would you describe the first year? We slept so little that first year, but it was pretty amazing. I completely fell in love in a way that I couldn’t have planned. I felt like I joined a secret society of people that hang out at 7 am and always have food on their clothes. I took more pictures than I can ever remember taking that year and still felt like I wasn’t capturing this incredible time with enough tenacity. Each month was so different and special. I had always been close to others with young babies and was used to photographing their lives. It changed everything when it happened to us though. The first time that I photographed a newborn after Nico was born, I felt like I finally got it. I knew which pictures those women would want. I knew which ones they wouldn’t care about. It all went by so quickly. All of a sudden we were drinking champagne at Nico’s first birthday, high fiving that we made it through the first year. I think that everyone should drink champagne at their kid’s 1st birthday. It’s a big deal. Take a picture of yourself doing it too. And wear a pretty dress. You won’t regret it.

What helped you get through it? Starting a new business in this first year was a challenge, but it was what got me through it. I am a photographer by trade, but had worked in retouching studios since moving to the city. Working with fashion and advertizing deadlines often meant that I was at work until 10 pm. Starting my own company meant that I had more flexibility with my own schedule, but that I needed to be in real control of it. When I wasn’t working, I made a point of spending a lot of time with friends.
 
Did you have a support system near you? My family is in Boston and my husband’s family is in New Zealand. Being far away from family meant that our friends in the city really became like our family. Even though it is hard to not have lots of family around, once you deal with some of the craziness of being a mother you feel like you can do anything.
 
How do you juggle work and family? It’s all about the naps in our house. I transitioned Nico to one long nap before most of my friends with other babies did. The two naps didn’t give me a big enough chunk of time to work. Just as I was getting started on something he would wake up. I don’t do anything but work while he is napping. I don’t pick up the phone or respond to emails unless they are work related. Knowing that I have 3 uninterrupted hours during the day when I am fresh, caffeinated and able to work has really improved my time management skills. Most nights, I also work when he is in bed too, but it’s that nap time where I get the best work done. My husband and Nico have lots of special things that they do on the weekends together so I can also shoot and finish up whatever I couldn’t get done during the week.
 
Tips for new moms? Meet other women with babies. It is so important to have a support system of other women in your same situation.  I was really lucky and had a friend that had her daughter 3 weeks after I had Nico. Before you have a baby, it is hard to listen to someone talk about breastfeeding and dirty diapers for 2 hours, so you can’t expect your friends without kids to do that. Go to playgroups and just talk to other people in the parks and coffee shops. All new parents are looking to make new friends. They’re all in the same boat as you. Don’t be shy. It can be kind of awkward like dating to meet new people and make plans to hang out, but it is really important.
 
Photo, Aria Newton
 

Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama... August 31 2012

Like Christine I also started out as a wardrobe assistant and then supervisor so I know what working on a set is like. To be working on 3 shows and running a business is doubly impressive! More of a reason I adore her line for boys Stinky McGee which can be found online and at My Brooklyn Baby and Caribou Baby. I know she is busy , so thank you Christine for taking the time to share your Journey with MB!
 
Name: Christine Ryan
Hometown: Maplewood, NJ
How long have you been living in Brooklyn?: 15 years: Williamsburg (8) and then Clinton Hill (7)
Occupation: Wardrobe Supervisor at Sesame Street, Wardrobe Stylist, dresser and tailor for three TV shows. AND Owner of Stinky McGee, an accessory company for boys.
When did you first become a mother?: September 8, 2010.
Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? Was the reality close to your personal image/idea?: I’m the oldest of 5 kids so I had some kind of idea about responsibility, rules and manners. But I had absolutely no concept of how much I could love another human being so purely. I have such a ridiculous amount of new found respect for my mother, but also an understanding of her that I never could wrap my head around before. She was very strict with me and I always found it suffocating. But I swear to my husband now that our son will be known throughout the borough as the boy whose mother walked him to school til he was 18. Seriously.
How would you describe the first year?: Not bad. I had a really terrible time with my son’s delivery so I think everything after it seemed much easier. But that was also something that became very clear to me very quickly: labor and delivery was just the tip of the iceberg. The real meat of it is (obviously) afterwards. I didn’t have much control with my delivery and so I tried to steer things the way I wanted afterwards. No one told me how much nursing would hurt- even when you’re ‘doing it right’- some people are just a bit more sensitive. I remember crying, my husband rubbing my neck and nursing every 15 minutes with a boob that was not pleasant looking. BUT you push through it, there’s a sense of responsibility for this little creature that, if you’re nursing, is just humungous. It’s overwhelming but awesome too. 
What helped you get through it?: My husband was and is fantastic. I went back to work, shooting Sesame Street, after my son was 4 months old. I’d pump, pump, pump, run off set, watch the monitor, look at pictures my husband was sending that day so my milk would come in, pump, pump, pump, then run home, feed/eat and pass out.  And my husband was home- cool, calm, changing diapers, dispensing bottles and playing with our son. My mom cooked a lot of food for us and I have two girlfriends with kids that were absolutely fantastic to bounce things off of. Also, the beer garden in my hood was a great way for me to feel a bit more a part of a bigger community of parents- not just moms. 
Did you start Stinky MGee before or after kids?: After. Stinky McGee was purely a reaction to the lack of options for my son. Kids clothing shops seem to be 3/4 girls and 1/4 boys with some polos and khakis and, if you’re lucky, a little banker’s tie. I think boys are just as interested in accessories as girls.
How do you juggle work and kids?: It sounds trite but my husband and I are a team. I say to him: GO TEAM RYAN! And the poor man hides. So so so important to have a partner in crime. We really split the time with our son and then once the babe is down for the night, a glass of wine and sewing.
Tips for new moms?:
- Watch out for rocket poo. It tends to only want to hit the mom.
- Use a carrier for your kid. I still do and he’s almost 2 years old. It has them learning faster, you can nurse incognito ANYwhere and you can kiss them easliy all day long!
- Support your local momma/baby shops. They are there for you and have a lot to offer.
- Don’t take everything so seriously. It’s so easy to. Have fun with the little one. Remember to laugh :)

Journey To Motherhood, my first year being a mama... July 27 2012

Name: Adriane Stare
Hometown: San Diego, CA
How long have you’ve been living in Wiliamsburg/Greenpoint: 10 years
Occupation: mother, certified babywearing instructor, owner of Caribou Baby, a natural maternity and parenting store and event space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
When did you first become a mother? July 2009
Before becoming a mother, what did you know about motherhood? What was your idea of what you felt your life would be like? Ever since I learned about childbirth in the US in undergrad, I have had a strong affinity with for natural pregnancy, childbirth, but I don’t think I really knew anything about what it was going to be like to be a mother. I definitely knew I wanted to bring up my son in a different way than I was raised, and would take a much more natural and “attached” approach than my mother did (ie. wearing him close in a carrier, co-sleeping with him, nursing him on demand, etc.) I assumed incorrectly that raising him this way would make for a chill, relaxed and happy baby - but I quickly learned that even from birth, my son was and is clearly his own person - temperamental, moody, demanding, and characteristically UN-chill. While my mothering style may have made things a bit simpler and sweeter for the both of us, it has certainly not defined who my child is.
How would you describe the first year?
Really rough. I mean, it’s a total adventure! You have no idea this baby of yours is going to be, and how you will be as a parent, and it’s really rare that we get to experience such extreme newness, love and learning all at once like that in our adult lives. You cram all those new emotions into such a short period of time and its bound to be  emotionally and physically challenging. It is truly amazing what little sleep you can live on. It’s like boot camp in a way, and it makes you a much stronger, more patient and empathetic person to go through it.
How did you get through it? I cried tears of gratitude daily for having such a supportive husband who was able to tag-team the whole parenting thing with me (or as best that he could, seeing as though I had the boobs and he had a job.) I couldn’t imagine having to go through that first year alone without that extra set of hands or shoulders to cry on. I carried my son in a carrier everywhere that I went, to retain my own sense of autonomy and normalcy. And I met up with my new mom’s group as often as humanly possible. It does not even matter if you consider those women your friends! You absolutely need them. You need a space where you are surrounded by ladies who are going exactly what you’re going through, and where you can have those start-and-stop non sequitur types of conversations that are so characteristic of new-momhood. No one judges you, everyone’s got their own challenges, and everyone is dying for a coffee or a laugh. Someone always has it worse than you, or better than you, and it’s really relieving just to be reminded of that regularly so you don’t go insane.
Do you have close friends or family near by? Did it help having a family member/friends close by?
We have no family very close by and a good portion of our friends were single or childless couples. This meant that we started to spend a lot more time with our few friends that did have children, since it was much more relaxing to be amongst people who shared a similar lifestyle, interests and concerns. It is funny how your whole network changes when you have a kid, simply because you share that in common with others. I think I prefer the support of our friends with kids than that of our family, since there can be so much stress and judgement from family sometimes.
You’ve been a mother for 3 years now, what lessons have you learn?
That being a parent is truly a blessing. It makes you a better person. I am so much more understanding, patient, selfless, and empathetic. I see people for who they are without jumping to judge so quickly, and I less defensive about who I am and the choices I make. I am pregnant with my second baby coming, and I am hoping that I will have more perspective the second time around. It think it will be easier to not second-guess myself at every turn. But at the same time, with the juggling of two children, there will be completely new challenges to face. So the adventure continues!
Tips for new moms?
#1 - Listen to your intuition! I know it sounds so cliche, but I really can’t stress this enough. So many parents have their own way of doing things, their own choices they make when it comes to sleeping, treating ailments, punishing (or not), cooking and structuring their lives with a new baby. You need to make choices that work for you and your family, and those might not look like the choices people around you are making. We forget to listen to what feels right to us because we read somewhere or hear from someone that it’s a bad idea or isn’t healthy or it’s going to mess your kid up. If your gut tells you it feels bad, then check yourself. Do some more research. If your gut tells you it feels right, than it probably is right - for you. Connect with people who support your intuition.
#2 - Get a good baby carrier and some help learning how to use one. Do not suffer with a carrier that is hurting your back, sketching you out, or impossible to use. Parents get multiple car seats and strollers for their children because they are developmentally appropriate for them at specific stages - baby carriers are no different. Like your favorite pair of heels that you can dance in all night and that never hurt your feet, or the pair of sandals that go with everything and you can walk 10 miles in, you will use your carriers every day and feel the same, if not more affection for them. Seek out someone who can teach you how to use them and you will be a much more mobile and confident mother because of it.
#3 - Cut yourself some slack. There is so much blame, guilt and finger-pointing directed towards moms. Do yourself a favor and don’t add to the negativity by judging yourself. Do the best you can, because in the end, you are the mother your child is stuck with. Try to maintain a sense of humor about the whole experience, because in the end, sometimes that is all you have :) Parenting is hard enough as it is - ask for hugs when you need them and give them out like they are going out of style.