Laura is beautiful, smart, and a badass! I met Laura my freshman year at Northwestern, and we have been close friends ever since. She had a beautiful baby boy, Otis, about a year ago, and I was dying to get her to share her experiences with me for this blog. She has an amazing talent for capturing the emotional complexities of a situation. But Laura also tends to be pretty private (which I hugely respect in this age of over-sharing), so I was super psyched when she agreed to share the ups and downs of her transition to motherhood. Hear why the first few months were difficult, and how the experience of becoming a mother has transformed her in so many ways.
What was you labor and birth experience like? What were your expectations vs the reality?
Right from the start I tried to have limited expectations for my birthing experience because I didn’t want to plan on a particular scenario and then be let down in the event that things didn’t turn out that way. I chose the doctor and hospital delivery route and I knew that a higher likelihood of a C-section came with it so I wanted to be open to all options. I ended up going two days past my due date and my doctor said I needed to be induced and should head to the hospital that night. I was so excited to pack my bags and had this huge celebratory meal before we left (chicken fingers!).
But then on the way to the hospital, I started to feel so overwhelmed by everything. You want desperately to meet your baby, but there are so many unknowns, so many things that need to happen before you get to that moment. I ended up having a smooth delivery the next morning with Travis by my side. I remember that it was this beautiful, crisp, clear day, and Otis was suddenly in the world! It was one of the most intense, meaningful moments of my life, and then I passed out from exhaustion. Driving home, we were so excited because this little peanut is in the back. We were getting nervous about all the speed bumps, and we were so giddy.
When you return home, reality starts to set in. What no one, LITERALLY NO ONE, tells you about is the recovery. After the epidural wears off, and the pain sets in, trying to take care of a newborn and yourself after your body has just gone through this intense process – I can’t put into words how hard that was. As a woman, I felt a little let down by the system and the way we take care of new mothers. My mother was allowed to stay at the hospital for one week after giving birth. Now women are left to fend for themselves as they’re trying to recover from this intense experience that takes a true toll on their body. Fortunately, after a week things got a lot better.
Pregnancy Style Philosophy?
I was unimpressed with the selection of maternity clothes out there. I know there are people trying to change that, but I just didn’t love it. I also feel like there’s this new pressure to be a super cute pregnant mom because of social media. I wanted to feel like the same, sophisticated me but with a baby bump, and I felt like it was hard to make that work. I’m a pants person! There are a million dress solutions, but my 9-5 requires business attire, so I didn’t feel like myself most of the time.
Favorite Digital Inspiration?
I follow Emmanuelle Alt [Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Paris]. And back when she was styling I would look at what she would put together.
How were the first six weeks after you brought Otis home? You talked about that first week being difficult, how was the rest?
I’ll start off by saying, I remember getting a lot of congratulatory emails those first few weeks. The emails from other mothers said that those first weeks will be a haze, but it gets easier. And I remember thinking, “this isn’t helping at all, and I’ll never forget how difficult this is and the ups and downs of these first weeks.” But now that Otis is a year old, I understand why they said that. There are incredible highs and lows. You’re surprised that there’s so much love within you, within your marriage, what you’re capable of as a woman – the whole thing is incredible. What also comes along with that is a significant lack of sleep, which I don’t do well without! Being a first time mother, I didn’t really know what Otis needed at every twist and turn, and there’s a huge learning curve. Now I feel like I could do it a million times, but at the time it’s overwhelming and there are so many things that happen within those first six weeks. I do remember the thoughtful acts and goodwill from friends and family. My brother and sister-in-law came over with this Fisher Price chair, and it was the best thing ever. People came over to show kindness and support during those early days and it meant a lot, and every tidbit of advice was well received.
God I wish I had more! I have 10 minutes to get dressed after the nanny shows up, so now I have a uniform of silk blouses and wool pants, and they’re all interchangeable.
Style Transition – is there a change?
The aforementioned style uniform is the major change. I used to be a little more creative, but there’s not a lot of time for that now.
What's the Mom staple you couldn’t live without?
It’s not a fun answer, but it’s Otis’ sound machine. We take it everywhere we go. It’s a white noise machine, and when we turn it on he knows that it’s time to take a nap or go to bed.
What’s the toughest part of your schedule?
Evenings. The way our schedules work, I have 1-2 hours with Otis in the morning, which is amazing, and I’m still able to be in the office by 9. But trying to get home from the office before bedtime is really challenging. I’ve always been the first one into the office and the last one there, but when you become a parent you have to get more comfortable with leaving the office when you need to be there for your child. If there’s more work at the end of the day after I leave the office, I just need to get that done after he goes to bed.
This is the first grandchild in your family. What has it been like watching your parents become grandparents?
Watching my parents become grandparents and my sister become an aunt has been incredible. They each interact with Otis in their own unique and special way, and you can tell that the love is so overwhelming. I think in the beginning, just as I’m a new parent, they’re new to this role as well. Even though my parents have thirty years of experience being parents, it’s a whole other thing to be a grandparent. It’s been one of the great joys of this year to watch them grow into this new role, initially cautious, and now so confident and excited. It’s such a fun role for them because they get to have all the fun and indulge Otis. They don’t need to follow the rules or his bedtime. So while I might act annoyed when they’re breaking the rules, I’m secretly giggling on the inside at their connection.
What would make things easier? If you could change one thing about the support provided in the US, what would it be?
Let’s be honest, the support in this country is virtually non-existent. I love being back at work, and I’m passionate about being a working mother, but I still wish I had a longer maternity leave and more time with my son before returning to work. I think at the very least if mothers are expected to return quickly, there should be daycare in the workplace so they can check-in on their baby or breastfeed if they choose. Pediatricians encourage mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, and so few working mothers have that opportunity. There are just so many things that would have to change in order for that to become a reality. We live in such an amazing country, and so it’s unfortunate that we haven’t done a great job of providing support for mothers in the workplace.
What’s been the best part for you?
I feel like I’ve finally come in touch with who I am as a person. My strengths come to life with my son. To see the joy he brings to my life, and the joy I bring to his, and how happy we are as a family, it makes me feel grateful to be alive. All of my pursuits and passions and friendships all feel like they have been leading to this point. He brings so much joy and happiness to me and he brings clarity to what my role is on this Earth.
Shameless Plug! What’s your favorite BROOKLYN BORN product?
All of the sheets are beautiful and incredibly soft, but the Abstract Art print is my favorite. The color is still so vibrant despite a million washes and it looks fantastic in my son’s room!