Our collaboration with Selfish Mother in aid of Refugee Support Europe is back for another season and is now available on pre-order. Following on from the success of last year’s collection, we’ve teamed up again with the founder of the Selfish Mother blogzine, Molly Gunn, to create two new colour ways of the limited edition cashmere jumpers and baby playsuits, emblazoned with the word LOVE.
Since last year, we’ve proudly raised over £8K to help new mothers in Greek Government’s official Refugee Camps. Providing a literal lifeline for new babies and their mums, as part of their vital work the charity arranges a hotel stay for mothers to bond with their new babies after they are born, giving them the gift of time to get to know their newborns before returning to a busy, ill-equipped life in camp.
To highlight the importance of supporting new mothers everywhere, we have asked some of our favourite influencers and bloggers to share their journeys into motherhood with us. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be telling these stories on the blog and on Instagram using the hashtag #MotherMob and we invite you to share your story too.
First up is the lovely Kelly Mindell of Studio DIY. Kelly became a mom for the first time 6 months ago when she and her husband Jeff adopted their son, the adorable Arlo. Kelly, Jeff and Arlo live in California, where the couple run their creative lifestyle company Studio DIY.
Read Kelly’s journey into motherhood story below…
HI KELLY, CONGRATULATIONS ON THE ARRIVAL OF ARLO! HE’S GORGEOUS. DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A MOM?
Yes! Being a mom is the only "job" that I've been sure I wanted since I was a kid. It was, and is, my number one priority and it is far and away the best one I've ever had.
YOU HAVE VERY BRAVELY WRITTEN ON YOUR BLOG ABOUT YOUR DIFFICULT JOURNEY BEFORE ADOPTING ARLO. WHAT WAS THAT TIME LIKE FOR YOU AND JEFF?
Going through infertility is unbelievably soul-crushing, isolating and defeating. It was so hard to face constant bad news, then glimmers of hope that turned into bad news. It felt like a dark cloud had settled over us and we couldn't get out from under it no matter how hard we tried.
Writing about it on my blog was the best outlet and led us to an unbelievable amount of support and comfort from our community. We connected with so many people who had gone through a similar journey to ours and even connected with a few who had chosen the path of adoption, which turned out to be such a great asset when we decided to pursue that route.
HOW DID YOU REACH THE DECISION TO ADOPT?
I'm a childhood cancer survivor and knew that some of the treatments I'd had would make it difficult to get pregnant. I was very open and honest with Jeff about that from the very beginning, knowing that he wanted to be a dad just as badly as I wanted to be a mom. We discussed adoption and were both always open to it. After several failed IUIs and two miscarriages, we went away on a long weekend and decided there was no reason to keep putting ourselves through the pain of fertility treatments when adoption was on the table. We spent time talking to people who had adopted and people who were adopted and it put so many of our fears about the process at ease. We decided to start the process and never looked back.
AND WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE?
When you're adopting, they often call you "paper pregnant" and they aren't joking! It's a lot of paperwork but we were lucky to have a pretty smooth process. We were paired with a wonderful social worker for our home study and had an experienced adoption team on our side that guided us through every step. We had to put together a book and online profile to show birth mothers the life we hoped to give our child. It turned out to be a great bonding experience for us as a couple, and left us feeling so hopeful for the future and even more prepared to be parents. Sometimes we thought, "Wow, all parents should be required to do this!" Ha!
HOW DID IT FEEL WHEN YOU FIRST FOUND OUT THAT YOU WOULD BE ADOPTING ARLO?
The hardest thing about adoption is it's not a ‘sure thing’ until papers are signed and that doesn't happen until after the baby is born. We matched with Arlo's birth mother 5 weeks before she gave birth. It was the first situation we were presented with that just felt ‘right.’ But even still, we tried very hard to keep our emotions out of things as a safety net for the heartbreak we could have faced if his birth mother changed her mind. We bought all the baby things, picked out names and told our family but always kept the ‘but, you never know!’ mentality in our head. It was a strange period of life when you were just waiting to find out if your life would change forever or go back to being exactly the same.
AND WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU FINALLY MET HIM?
I was lucky enough to be in the delivery room with Arlo's birth mom and Jeff was right next door. It was a surreal experience full of so much excitement, love, heartbreak and tears. Every emotion you could possibly feel, I felt in that moment when I first laid eyes on him. I am unbelievably grateful I got to watch him come into this world and be a part of his story from day one!
HOW HAVE YOUR FIRST FEW MONTHS OF MOTHERHOOD BEEN? HAS IT BEEN DIFFERENT TO WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
My first few months of motherhood have been amazing. I am head over heels in love with Arlo and can't get enough of him. Every new thing he does or learns is so magical to watch and truly a dream come true. Sure, we've had rough nights and hard weeks but it all feels like a little blip on the radar compared to the joy he's brought our home. It's flying by just like everyone said it would and I find myself missing those newborn snuggles while also anxiously awaiting each new milestone. Being a mom is the best thing that's ever happened to me.
For the most part, motherhood has been what I had expected: hard and joyous, filled with lots of laughs and tears, and never ending. What has been interesting is the light it's shed on how much of an introvert I am. I was used to coming home from work after a long day of managing a team and taking meetings and retreating for an hour or so to just mindlessly scroll through my phone. Now, I come home to yet another (tiny) human who needs me and while I live for those moments, it's been hard to not have any time to re-charge. I've found myself rejoicing in my drives to work where I can just be alone in the car for a few minutes to listen to a podcast! That said, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST MAGICAL THING SO FAR?
Every morning, I wake up to him ‘singing’ in his crib in the other room and get up to make a bottle before going to get him. When I open the door, he's there with a smile BEAMING on his face and it never gets old. He is just SO happy to see me and every single day I erupt in laughter and he laughs back and we just stare at each other giggling. I still can't believe that that's how I get to start my day now. It's more magical than anything I could have imagined.
AND THE THING THAT HAS TAKEN YOU MOST BY SURPRISE?
Our relationship with Arlo's birth mother has taken me the most by surprise. I, like many, was so scared of what that relationship would look like. We knew we wanted his adoption to be open, but what did that mean? How did that work? Would we say the wrong thing? Would it feel intrusive or strange? But it's really become a beautiful relationship. We keep in touch often and share photos and updates and I keep thinking about how lucky Arlo is to have so many people that love him. Knowing what I know now, it seems so silly that I ever feared what that relationship would be!
AND FINALLY WHAT WOULD YOUR TOP 5 TIPS BE FOR ANYONE WHO IS ABOUT TO START THEIR ADOPTION JOURNEY?
- Do you research! There are so many different avenues you can take when it comes to adoption. International, domestic, agencies, lawyers, foster-to-adopt. It's important to find the right path for your family. Follow your heart!
- Talk to anyone and everyone. You'll find that almost everyone has a connection to adoption. Hearing those success stories really fueled our passion, especially the ones from people who themselves were adopted. It's a very supportive community.
- Trust your gut. If a situation feels off and not right, don't brush away that feeling. Your gut will guide you to the right one for you and you have to trust that.
- That said, be open-minded. If you are presented with a birth mother or adoption situation that doesn't check every box you had, don't be afraid to explore it. If there's one thing adoption will do, it will push you out of your comfort zone. But wow, is it worth it.
- Be ready to experience the most emotional journey you've ever experienced but also the greatest love you'll ever know.