photos by Ryan Noltemeyer

In September, our talented TOPS designer became a first-time mom to precious daughter June. She is embracing her new role with her usual creativity and calm.

Is there anything you’d like to share about your birth story?

I had a 29-hour labor with no real “early labor.” I went in wanting to go unmedicated but, oh, nineteen hours later (and after being sent home once and returning), I asked for some medicine.

After laboring all day at home, we returned and they gave me an epidural at 5:30. Then, all was right in the world. I took a four-hour nap and woke up to my sister from Tennessee coming into the room. I wasn’t expecting her to be able to make it. Finally, at 2 A.M., they told me I was ready to start pushing. I pushed for three-and-a-half hours and she finally came! It was the most amazing feeling to meet this baby that I had been carrying around with me all these months. Completely fell in love.

Tell us about the day you brought June home. Were you ready to go? Nervous?

June had a super short stay in the NICU, and it was definitely something we didn’t anticipate. We went home three days after I had planned, and since we live a little bit away in La Grange it was definitely an added stressor. My husband went back and forth from the hospital to our house to look after our dogs and get us something other than hospital food while I stayed with her to feed and hold her as much as I could.

All that to say… yes, we were ready to go home when the time came. But we were also equally as nervous since her stay at the NICU was because her oxygen level kept dropping without much reason (they determined it was probably reflux), so we got one of those fancy Owlet monitors that constantly checks her heart rate and oxygen level while she wears it, so we can sleep at night.

How does June take after you?  Mark?

When she was born, I kept saying, “I don’t know whose baby this is!” because she didn’t look like either of us. But she’s starting to have physical traits of both of us. She has Mark’s toes! She is pretty easy going like me and Mark. She grins and smiles, which makes me think she’ll be silly like her Dad. But she’s so new that we’re learning more about her every day!

What surprised you most about her?

Honestly, that she’s a beautiful baby. I wasn’t expecting a cute baby. June is so cute, but that may just be because she’s mine.

She is so alert.  I was expecting her to sleep most of the day, so I could get some sleep, but she will stay awake through two or three feedings. She’s also not a super fussy baby— so that’s surprising.

How has the experience of having a new baby surprised you? Do the books prepare you?

The books definitely help, but nothing prepares you for the love and connection you feel. You feel totally invested from day one. There are so many ways to raise a child, and few of them are just dead wrong so you have to constantly make a decision about how you’ll handle this or deal with that. Today I wondered, “Will we do the whole Santa thing?” I don’t know! Should we?! I guess we have a couple years to figure that out.

I got a lot of my advice through friends and family. One of my best friends is an occupational therapist for kids so I’m constantly asking her, “Is this normal?!”

What was her first outing?

I didn’t leave the house for three weeks, but I finally went out by myself to visit my co-workers and her dad at his work (DBS Interactive). She seemed to love it! She handled the TOPS crew so well and let everyone hold her and love on her. Then I tried to go to Target afterwards and my luck ran out. We sat in the parking lot for an hour and finally went home.

What are you learning about her personality? Likes and dislikes?

She loves looking at us and loves being talked to. She likes being in the Solly wrap. She tends to like music and not total silence. She loves her changing pad for some weird reason. If she’s having a fit, we put her on it and she stops. I don’t even know.

How has your background as an artist crossed over to your role as a mom? Did you design her room? It looks like you’ve art directed a few great photos.

I did design her room! I’m not sure if it’s my design background or my background as an HGTV addict, but I really enjoyed it. We found the perfect bed from IKEA to put in the room in addition to her crib that has come in handy for friends and family. Most of our family lives out of town so we have had a lot of visitors. I also made this paper mobile that I saw online for way too much money. It’s not perfect but it cost me like $6 versus the $80 one I was inspired by. I’ve also been able to hang an abacus in the room that my dad gifted me that’s really special to me.

And, yes, I can’t stop taking photos and videos of her, but when you’re working with a perfect specimen your photos are generally great.

How do you plan to balance it all?

We’re starting daycare in a couple weeks, which I’m not looking forward to. I almost feel like going back to work is easier than being home with her. I have so much more respect for full-time moms and single parents.

What advice would you have for other parents-to-be?

With the pregnancy and delivery, I would advise to have a plan but not be heartbroken when things don’t go that way. I took a birth plan with me to the hospital and felt prepared, but it went a completely different way. When you get home, ask for help from everyone who says, “Let me know how I can help.” People genuinely want to help and just don’t know how. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Unless you have your parents living with you, you’re figuring everything out as you go. As long as baby is fed and loved, you’re doing it. 

Posted on 2017-11-03 by Christine Fellingham