Christina DesVaux is a former colleague, current friend, and badass working Mom living in Brooklyn. As I thought about how to kick off this new series, REAL MOMS. REAL TALK., I immediately thought of Christina because she is never afraid to give the cold, hard truth. She does not hold back, and she tells it like it is. Christina lives down the block from me, and in the first few months after giving birth, she wasn't afraid to talk about the challenges of becoming a mother and the radical changes to her life. She also isn't afraid to gush about how cute her daughter, Mora, is and about how being a Mom is fantastic in so many different ways. Her unabashed willingness to talk about the good and the bad makes her the perfect first subject for REAL MOMS. REAL TALK.
Here's what she has to say:
What’s your “Getting Pregnant” story?
Wes (Christina’s husband) was ready to start trying to get pregnant, but I was nervous about trying at that point in time because I didn’t feel ready. He said it took a year for most of his friends, and I felt like I would be ready in a year, so I thought it made sense to start trying. I downloaded the Glow app, which allows you to track your period and it tells you what days are optimal for getting pregnant. I tracked my period for one month using the app, and then we got pregnant the first time we “tried”, and by tried I mean we had sex when I knew I was ovulating. It happened fast, we got pregnant on what would be the first try. It was hard for me to adjust because I was prepared to wait a year, but not for it to happen right away. So my advice is to be ready for it to take a year or for it to happen right away. You need to be ready for both scenarios, because it’s an emotional transition either way.
Maternity Clothes, Yay or Nay?
Pregnancy Style Philosophy:
I wear a lot of shapeless garments in general, so I was able to hide my pregnancy for 20 weeks, and I was able to wear almost all my clothes. I supplemented with a kit from Seraphine, and I used the kit from them to adjust my normal clothes. So I dressed the same way as before, just with pieces that would fit my belly. I didn’t want to invest in maternity clothes. Nursing style is a whole other thing – that was hard. I don’t wear a lot of button up tops, and that’s really what you need. I struggled with finding nursing clothes. While I was on maternity leave, I actually cut a lot of T-shirts and tank tops into low v-necks, because I couldn’t find nursing clothes that I liked. During the breast-feeding stage I felt like I was always in caftans or DIY cut tanks, it was a low-point style wise.
Favorite Digital Inspiration?
Totokaelo. I look to them for style inspiration. That’s my aesthetic aspiration - minimal, clean, structured and unstructured at the same time.
How were the first six weeks after you brought Mora home?
I literally feel like I can’t remember that stage at all. My Mom was showing me pictures from that time that I don’t even remember. Wes had paternity leave for 3 weeks, and those were the best 3 weeks. During that time, if felt like we were a team, and that was so nice. When he went back to work, it was really hard. I didn’t have a baby nurse, and I felt like I needed to be really hands on in order to connect with her and to feel like I was a becoming a mom. Mora didn’t sleep a lot, so it was a crazy time because of complete lack of sleep, and it was starting to sink in that this was real, and that everything would be different from now on. It wasn’t until about four months afterward, or until I went back to work, that I started to understand who I am now as a wife, a friend, and as a mom. You’re coming together as the old you and the new you. I was just so tired, and also physically in a lot of pain. Whichever way you have your baby, you’re in a lot of pain afterward, and I was in physical pain for about 5 to 6 weeks. People had told me about that, but it’s not something I thought about. I figured that was something that wouldn’t happen to me. But the sleeplessness, the identity transition, and the physical healing were all things that made the first 6 weeks pretty intense.
Our pediatrician is one block away. It’s been awesome. If I need to check in everyday, I can. I go to Leaf Medical in Dumbo.
Style Transition – is there a change?
I cut my hair short, which I immediately regretted, because I thought I was going for something funky and people immediately said “oh you got your Mom haircut” which I hated. I still wear a lot of black.
Mom staple you couldn’t live without?
What’s App. My girlfriends with children and I have a WhatsApp chat group and we use it for everything. Today I asked, “Mora’s teething, what did everyone else do.” The Moms with older kids will ask about teaching empathy, and we talk about how to navigate balancing work stuff with home stuff. That’s mission critical. Being pregnant is really your own experience, but when we realized that we could all help each other out in this experience, and that it’s not singular, we really came together to help one another. If you close yourself off to that help, you can feel really alone, and there’s no reason you need to feel alone. You also start to realize that we’re all doing really similar things, and it can be funny. You want the advice of your like-minded friends.
I am, above all, practical. I have definitely donated some crazy things that I was gifted. I bought some neutral pants to go with all her Carters onsies. She doesn’t always look like the cool Brooklyn baby that you see on Instagram, but that’s because I let her wear all the stuff she’s been gifted. I love Hanna Anderson. I also like Katy Quinn, which makes organic stuff. It’s a mixed bag. Once she’s walking, I think I’ll care more about her looking cute and cool.
What’s the toughest part of your schedule?
I want to see Mora before bedtime, but that means I leave earlier than most people in my office. The balance of seeing her and the optics of when I work in the office is a struggle. It’s all about optics, I still get all my work done, but the idea that people in the office think I’m working less is hard. But I want to be home to put her to bed, so that’s more important.
What would make things easier? If you could change one thing about the support provided in the US, what would it be?
I wish paternity leave was longer, since it truly is a joint effort. Because once the dad goes back to work, traditional gender roles really fall into place. Having both parents at home ensures that both people understand what’s required to keep the baby alive, keep the house clean, and do all the things that go into it. Not having paternity leave positions the parenting so that it’s all on the Mom. We sell short men’s ability to participate by creating this idea that it’s the Mom only whose needed in those early days. But Wes feels so proud when he participates, and it would be nice to create more opportunities for families to take that on together.
What’s been the best part?
I worried a lot about being capable of the bigness of parenting, and its been neat to see my instincts kick in and to trust them and to feel really capable because of that. There’s something inherent and powerful about it. I worried about it in the beginning, but now there’s something about just being myself that allows me to be a good mother, which is affirming. It’s a nice cycle.