*Happy Holidays*

Is Christmas really 3 days away?

It has not looked like Christmas in the Starks household until a few days ago. We just got our tree put up this week after the two giant Christmas filled tubs sat in our dining room for almost a week. I never ordered Christmas cards, we haven’t been to a Christmas story time, or made cookies. Yikes.

We did go see Santa though and have watched the Grinch on repeat. Ellie has loved seeing Christmas trees everywhere and looking at all the lights on the houses at night. She keeps saying “it’s Christmas Day”, everyday, multiple times a day, all month long haha! I have done almost all of the shopping AND wrapping, can you believe it? The queen of procrastination is almost done with Christmas duties 3 days before Christmas? I can’t believe it either. I had a great little helper though, from picking out everyones gifts to wrapping/stuffing gift bags, to sticking the name tags on. Ellie has been involved with everything this year and has loved every minute of it.

P.S. Sorry if your name tag is smeared or crooked ;)

But for some reason it just doesn’t feel like Christmas. I feel like I’ve said this for the past few years and every year feels less and less Christmas-y. It makes me so sad! I can’t figure out why.. Just because I’m getting older? Because we have to pay for it now? Haha!! Maybe just because everything is so different now with our family all spread out? I’m not sure but I hope next year the Christmas magic really comes back. I can see it in Ellie, she has been enjoying everything Christmas, I just don’t feel it all around like I use to.

But now for my favorite tradition, our family photo swap with our friends, the Hwang family! Despite it being freezing, my baby just wanting chocolate, and my bigger baby making all these faces because he was cold, we actually got some really cute photos! Don’t worry, I added a few bloopers too :)

We hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Love,

Ellie, Morgan, & Dorian

*Trick or Treat*

It’s SCARY how much I procrastinated all things Halloween this year.

I put off getting out our decorations, actually I never got them out. I put off going to the pumpkin patch, a pumpkin never even graced our front porch. I put off looking for matching costumes for Ellie and I, she ended up wearing the kangaroo we already had and I didn’t dress up at all. I put off ordering a little kangaroo to go in her pouch, ended up having to amazon prime a crazy little kangaroo that turns evil when you squeeze it’s head. I guess it actually worked out, being Halloween and all, and Ellie loved it so thats all that really matters! But the worst thing was that I put off taking her Halloween photos. I couldn’t take them before Halloween because I was waiting on that creepy little kangaroo so we took them the day after Halloween. And now I’m sure you can guess that I also put off editing the photos and writing this blog until now. But better late then never!


*My Best Advice For New Moms*

Before I got pregnant with Ellie, over the course of 7 years, I had watched 8 little ones. One starting right after he came home from the hospital (alongside his older brother), some from a few months old after their moms returned to work, and a few older siblings. As you can imagine I felt like I had “seen it all” and was overflowing with tips and tricks. I had been through all the baby milestones, knew how to get them to sleep, on a nice schedule.. I seriously thought I had it all figured out! And while I can say that I was extremely prepared for Ellie, I can also say that NOTHING can actually prepare you for the moment you become a mom.

I’m so thankful to our birth center Baby+Co. for giving me, as a new mom who thought she knew it all, the absolute best gift! And I now pass this on as my best advice for new moms knowing it’s the main thing that helped me transition into this incredible new role smoothly..

FIND A NEW MOM TRIBE!

Seriously, my best advice is that simple. Find a new mom tribe as soon as possible, or better yet, while you are pregnant! Find a few women who will be going through this journey around the same time as you. I was lucky enough to have this gift handed to me, even though I didn’t even realize it at the time, when I look back now I know how beneficial it really was. It all started when I was pregnant and went to the breastfeeding and newborn care classes that Baby+Co. required at the time, this was the first time I had met with other expecting moms. A few of us checked in with each other towards the end of our pregnancy and updated each other after the birth but the icing on the cake was a few weeks later when the new moms group (referred to as “Thrive”) started. There, we were able to really get to know each other, share our experiences, feelings, or worries, and get advice and support from other moms who were going through the same things. Now Baby+Co. offers prenatal group visits, so I can only imagine how helpful those would have been with all the questions I had during pregnancy, and how nice it would have been to have already built relationships with some new moms and have that support system already in place. In order to help you build your “tribe”, Baby+Co. would love to offer you a complimentary Thrive class. Please call (919)852-1053 to register.

Now I’m not saying kick your kid free friends to the curb, or that your family and friends won’t be a good support system, I’m sure they will be super helpful! I received lots of great advice from moms I knew before and they continue to be my rock now, but finding a few moms with little ones around the same age will be the best gift you can give yourself in the beginning. Nothing can prepare you for becoming a mom. That tiny little human will rely on you for everything, and even though I was prepared to take care of her, I wasn’t prepared for how to take care of myself. The emotional side of motherhood, what nobody told me about, was a huge unexpected change. The constant worrying, lack of sleep, always questioning yourself.. Those new moms brought me comfort. They were my main support, calming my fears and worries, reminding me to take care of myself.. They just understood everything.

In a “new mom’s tribe” there will always be someone going through a new challenge with you, someone who had just gone through it and survived, and someone you can warn ;) and then it repeats with the next milestone. So you can always get help and support, feel good about helping others through something, and it just brings you so much comfort knowing that you are not alone. You feel completely understood and nobody is judging you because they really get it! I think that is what sets apart a specific “new mom’s tribe” from other support systems you might have. Even if you have friends with kids most of the time they still can’t completely understand what you are going through because it’s been a while since they faced those challenges. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, mom brain is a real thing, so if they haven’t given birth recently then odds are they have forgotten some of the feelings and struggles that go along with those first few months, even through the first year.

Unfortunately I have lost everyday touch with most of that new mom tribe, life happens, but even though we don’t talk very often I will always consider them friends. I will forever be thankful for all of their support durning the challenges that come with becoming a new mom. They were what I so desperately needed in that moment and if it wasn’t for Baby+Co. I would have missed out on meeting those incredible mamas!

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At Baby+Co.’s 4th Birthday Party I took a photo with a few of my original new mom tribe members along with some beautiful new faces because your mom tribe will constantly grow and change over time. The more moms the better right?! So I’m thankful Baby+Co. offers so many different ways for me to meet other moms and I can easily continue to grow my mom tribe!

I’m also honored to be a part of Baby+Co.’s tribe as well! When they asked me to make custom headbands and teethers for their special day I was beyond excited, but nothing compares to actually seeing all the adorable little ones with their “LOVED” headbands on and going to town on a teether that day. #lovedatbabyco

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*My Biggest Fear After Finding Out I Was Pregnant*

Throwing it way back for today’s blog, and actually the next blog too, because I realized that the main question I got asked when I was pregnant and the main question I’m still getting asked now that I’m a mom both lead back to Baby+Co. When I found out their 4th Birthday Party was at the beginning of October I thought this would be the perfect time to share MY BIGGEST FEAR AFTER FINDING OUT I WAS PREGNANT, and on the next blog, MY BEST ADVICE FOR NEW MOMS, to help celebrate with Baby+Co. in my own way. Now I know what some of y’all might be thinking. You’ve heard me talk about Baby+Co. before, read our birth story (if you haven’t you can right over here), and have seen photos of us at their events on my Facebook over the past 2+ years, but this is more “behind the scenes” type of stuff so you will definitely want to read this one!

I started showing extremely early, mainly because I could not stop eating haha, but anyways.. I had my fair share of strangers who came up to me and they always asked the same questions: How far along are you? Do you know what you’re having? And are you excited or nervous?! Now by this time I was obviously 15 weeks and up and I would tell everyone I was beyond excited, I loved being pregnant, and I couldn’t wait for her birth. I honestly wasn’t worried about anything at that point, because I had already found Baby+Co. Truth is, at the beginning of this journey my biggest fear was having a traumatic birth that could have easily been avoided. Thankfully after finding Baby+Co. all my fears disappeared and I got to enjoy the rest of my pregnancy without any worries.

So going back to when we found out we were expecting.. After my 3rd or 4th positive pregnancy test I called my doctor in my hometown so I could go get a blood test to confirm, and even though I loved her, the fear washed over me immediately. I needed to find a place up here in Raleigh where, first and foremost, our baby would be safe. But also that I would be safe both physically and emotionally, and that all my wishes would be respected. Those of you who know me know that I’m incredibly stubborn and have to do things my own way, this would be no different.

The moment we stepped into Baby+Co. a calmness just washed over us and after the tour everything just felt right, for Dorian and myself. The staff was so friendly, made us feel so comfortable, and answered all of our questions. I knew we’d be spending lots of time there over the next 9 months and obviously you know that you will grow some type of relationship with these people but what I got out of it was so much more than I expected. I came out on the other side of this, now 3+ years later, with multiple friends. That’s right, they were not just “my midwife” or “my nurse” but are my friends now! They really got to know me, my family, my views and opinions, and I got to know them on a personal level as well. They would remember something unrelated that I mentioned three visits ago and check to see how everything turned out, I never felt like a name on a chart.

I’ve heard so many horror stories from women who had their birth plan printed out, laminated, and gave a copy to every single person that walked into their hospital room but at the end of the day they felt their wishes were not even considered. THIS WAS MY BIGGEST FEAR but at Baby+Co. you can see and feel that all of the women there are extremely passionate about the same thing. They all want to support YOUR birth plan! They will do everything in their power (providing baby and mom are both safe) to help you navigate your intuition and birth exactly how you want, letting your body do exactly what it was made to do. I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone trying to push anything on me that I wasn’t comfortable with because they all have the same goal, to help me give birth naturally and how I felt most comfortable.

So 1/2 the battle is finding the perfect place to actually give birth, but the other 1/2 is being comfortable with the team that will be caring for you. Considering you don’t know who will be there when it’s actually go time, this was extremely important to me. I love that the whole team of midwives at Baby+Co. all practice under the same philosophy of supporting the birth I desired, to the best of their ability, and I never had to worry if we were all on the same page. They do their best to make sure you’ve met everyone through your check-ups but on the off chance that you’ve missed someone they also give you other opportunities through their classes and community events. I feel like those events were where I actually got to know the staff on a more personal level and I actually still go to many of them because it’s another excuse for me to see my friends and meet new staff members.

Being surrounded by a like-minded community I knew that my voice would be heard, and truly understood. I didn’t have any worries throughout my pregnancy because I knew without a doubt that they wanted me to get the birth story I always dreamed about too. So my biggest fear after finding out I was pregnant, having a traumatic birth where I had no control, was thankfully snuffed out quickly when Baby+Co. helped me realize that I had all of the control and that they were all right there with me to make sure I was supported so I could do my thing. And that’s exactly what I did.

“Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.”

So thank you Baby+Co. for taking action and giving me the power to create my own birth story.

*A Letter to My Friends*

You know who you are.

I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Specifically to my old best friends.. Thank you for always being there for me when I need it most. For letting me vent when I just need to complain about a bad day. For loving me for who I am. For not trying to blackmail me with all of the embarrassing stories you have! For making me a better person. For laughing with me. For crying with me. For riding in the car with me. For giving me advice. And for understanding that life gets in the way of us talking, unfortunately sometimes for months and months.. But a HUGE THANK YOU for always being right there to pick back up where we left off. I don't know what I'd do without you. I love you.

Specifically to my mom friends.. Thank you for telling me to be somewhere 15 minutes earlier then I need to be. For never judging my messy house. For going places with me when I don't want to go by myself, even when I ask last minute. For not judging me when I come over in yoga pants and a baggy tee. For making sure I'm alive when you realize I haven't posted to Instagram in a few days. For feeding us, a lot. For loving me through my awkwardness. For helping me keep my sanity. For inviting me places until I get out of my "I don't want to go anywhere rut". And for making me laugh when I really want to cry after a long day. I don't know what I'd do without you. I love you.

Specifically to my tiny best friend.. Thank you for being my very best friend. For going everywhere with me, even though you don't really have a choice. For telling me exactly like it is even if it's something I don't want to hear. For sharing your snacks with me. For always knowing when I need a "big hug". For making me laugh every single day. For always keeping me on my toes. Reminding me that life is oh so short. For loving me. For singing and dancing with me all time. And for looking at me like I'm your hero even though I don't deserve that. I don't know what I'd do without you. I love you.

Seriously though, old friends, mom friends, future friends, Ellie.. I love you! And I'm excited that our stories are far from over. Always remember that I'm just a phone call away whenever you need me for anything, small or big.

Love Always,

Your awkward friend - Morgan

I honestly look at my friends like extra family! I've surrounded myself with strong women who I know will help raise me up, love me for me, and show up when I need them most. I know without a doubt that they will always be there for Ellie, call her out when she needs it, and will help shape her into the person she's meant to be. I'd do anything for them and I couldn't be happier knowing that I have incredible far-away-forever-friends and my badass mom tribe nearby.

Making friends has always been hard for me (which is why I'm extremely thankful to have found my people) but watching Ellie try to make friends is even harder. Her personality is similar to mine so to see and know her struggle, it just hurts my heart. She has several friends that she really loves, talks about them all the time, but she doesn't really know how to interact with them in the moment. It's something I constantly worry about but after a recent trip to the sunflower patch with one of her friends I realized that it won't always be a struggle.

She needs time to warm up and likes to do things on her own time, I know this, but it was still hard not to worry sometimes. It wasn't until I watched Ellie with her friend Manuel at the sunflower patch that I realized she really does just need time. We've had multiple playdates with Manuel where they end up in the cutest little "arguments". Seriously, they will yell "NOOO" back and forth across the room over and over! Neither one backing down because they are both so stubborn! And this trip was no different. Manuel wanted to give Ellie a hug but of course she yelled "No, I don't want a hug anymore" [*see photos*] and kept running away. But he would not give up, chased her all around, and she finally let him give her a hug. Even though she wasn't too happy about it, in that very moment I think something changed.. I think they became best friends.

Right after that hug she actually started being a nice friend and not her mean little antisocial self haha! She tried to show him a bumble bee, they walked up and down the rows of sunflowers together, he shared his snack with her, we took some more photos, and then they raced each other down the path and back until they couldn't run anymore. It made my heart melt seeing her actually playing and talking with him. I guess it shouldn't surprise me seeing as his mom Michelle and I click so well, but I just couldn't wait for that day to finally come. And it took multiple tries, but Manuel finally got Ellie to come out of her shell. He is one of her "people". When we were about to leave the sunflower patch Ellie even gave him a hug goodbye, y'all I almost died!

Of course I wasn't ready and missed that one but I did snap her yelling no and his hug, they are hilarious!