Say hello to Kristie Wagner.

Kristie, our Director of Brand Experience, is mom to Jake (age 6) and last month gave birth to a beautiful (and healthy!) baby girl, Vivien Grey.

Whether it’s traveling abroad with a newborn (they’re headed to Austria and Croatia next month!) or tackling sleep training, each month Kristie will give us a candid and honest glimpse into her journey of raising two little ones. To start out with, Kristie opens up about why she waited six years for a second baby, her birth plan and the challenges she’s had adjusting to two.

Without further ado, Kristie—in her own words.

Tell us about your journey to baby number two.

When my husband Shawn and I first decided to have a baby in 2009, I got pregnant immediately and unfortunately shortly after had a miscarriage. Six months later we got pregnant again and Jake arrived healthy and strong on December 8, 2010. The next day, my mom died. I went from having the happiest day of my life to the saddest day of my life.

That’s the biggest reason we waited five years to try for another baby. I was too afraid. This time around the joy of having a new baby is new to me. I tried so hard to be in the moment with Jake and I was as much as I could be, but part of it was overshadowed by losing my mom.

You set a cut-off date for getting pregnant with your second. Explain.

We tried for almost a year before I got pregnant with Vivien. I had made my 40th birthday my cut-off date and we told ourselves that we already have a super healthy boy in Jake—if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

I turned 40 on September 28th and one week later I found out I was pregnant! I actually was already pregnant on my 40th birthday and had no idea. I’ve found in my experience that when I actually let things go, it’s when things turn out. As my pregnancy drew to an end with Vivien, I was on high alert of how everyone’s health around me. When she was born and everyone was okay, I can’t explain the joy inside my heart. I felt so relieved and grateful that she came and nobody left. I’m absolutely on cloud nine.

DSC_6989.jpgYour new baby girl Vivien Grey was born June 23rd. Walk us through the day.

I went into labor the night before, and Vivien was born at 4:46am on the 23rd. Who knows why, but both my babies were born in the middle of the night! That day, I took {my son} Jake to the beach. We were building sand castles and cooling off in the lake. It was a great (and exhausting) day being 9+ months prego. Once we were home, I was helping a friend assemble her wedding invites and started feeling VERY hungry. She left, and while my husband was putting Jake to bed for the night, and I ate my caprese toast (my go-to all pregnancy long), I had my first contraction. 8 very quick hours later… Vivien joined the world!

You decided early on to have a natural birth, how did it go (be honest!)? Did you have a natural birth with your son Jake as well?

My birth plan was simple: unmedicated and fingers crossed, natural. Luckily, my delivery went smoothly and was exactly what I had hoped for. I was surprised by how fast labor accelerated this time (with Jake I labored 25 hours). I wanted to fully experience the birth of both my babies… all the joy and all the discomfort. I figured if I could stay present and feel my body, it would do what it was intended to do. The pain is fast (and luckily our bodies do a great job of letting us forget how painful it is), but it goes away and with all the adrenaline and excitement of bringing a new baby into this world, it all seemed worth it. Having a midwife was very helpful. She encouraged me to stay focused and she was so calm! I remember her saying at one point to “just breathe, and save your voice”. She was instrumental in helping me stay on point with my birth plan. My choice and experience was perfect for me, and I feel so lucky to have had it go as planned, and for two healthy babes.

Describe the first moment you met Vivien.

She was messy and squishy and I couldn’t believe I actually had a baby girl! I was exhausted, but I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. She looked so much like Jake, and was simply beautiful! I must have asked 15 times if she was healthy. And, I was so grateful she was. She was born with tons of white stuff all over her body. I later found out it’s called Vernix, a thick white coating on a baby’s skin that helps protect their skin. My midwife and the nurses assured me it was good for her and that she was going to have super soft skin. It started to soak into her skin and it literally disappeared before my eyes. What a wild experience!

I wanted to fully experience the birth of both my babies... all the joy and all the discomfort. I figured if I could stay present and feel my body, it would do what it was intended to do.

What was it like preparing Jake for the arrival of his new baby sister?

Jake was such a sweet boy! We told him about us being pregnant on Christmas Eve, and he was so excited he cried. He said, “I’ve waited my whole life for this!”. I feel like he was expecting a baby who could play, walk and talk… so maybe having a newborn was a bit of a shock for him. Once she arrived, Jake was smitten over her, and wanted to hug and kiss her every chance he got. He also took a week or so to adjust to the change. He was a bit sad, wanted to be alone in his room and sometimes ran and hid. Luckily for us, he’s 6 ½ and we could talk through how he was feeling. We talked a lot, sometimes cried, and we listened to his questions and thoughts. I think what got us through that first week was patience, listening and a lot of hugs. We included him at Vivien’s bedtime, bathtime and even feeding her. While our lives are different now, somehow we are even closer!

How have you adjusted to being a mom of two?

I think the biggest challenge for me right now is how to divide my time and attention. Jake asks me things like, “who do you love the most?” and “How come you spend all your time with Vivien?”. It breaks my heart to hear these questions from him because I recognize what he's feeling and what my answers mean to him. I try to listen and answer him the best I can… how I love everyone in our family equally and that I'm with Vivien a bit more because right now she needs more from me. But deep down, I'm sad by his thoughts and I feel guilty. The truth is… I miss Jake. I miss our time together - when it was just he and I. I miss our family of 3 sometimes and I miss his hugs and all his, “I love you’s”. Mostly, I miss how small he used to feel in my arms. I'm so proud of how brave he is, how independent he's become and how smart he has grown to be. I'm excited to watch him grow and change… but I just miss him. And although I get to be with him physically, I feel that lately I'm not very present with him, and that I'm missing all of these changes in him. This makes me very, very sad.

What has been one of the biggest realizations for you over the past month?

Today I realized that I couldn't wait to get Jake into bed so I could snuggle with Vivien. I had been running around all day and when I'm not holding her, I feel like I'm missing precious moments of watching her grow and change, and I know (from having Jake), that this newborn stage will pass so quick… too quick! And I want to cherish every moment with her. Tonight, when tucking Jake in, I leaned over and gave him a huge hug. It was that moment that realized how much I want to cherish every moment with Jake as well. It made me think back to something he said to me last week. He asked me to play a game with him and he said that he missed being with me. I told him we had been with each other all day. He said back, “I know, but I miss being WITH you mommy”. I don't think I fully realized what that meant until tonight. I'm trying so hard to cherish this time, but I'm actually missing it. I'm missing the very thing that I'm looking for all day long, and all the while, it is right there before my eyes.

I know I have a lot more to learn and discover about being a mother of two… but right now with Vivien 1 month old, I suddenly feel empowered to just be… be more aware, be more present. I look forward to a lot of big hugs tomorrow, from both of my babies!!


Your most proud #MOMWIN in the past month:

My husband was out of town for work for 4 days when Vivien was just two weeks old. I had both kiddos, and managed to get both fed, bathed and asleep each night without anyone shedding a tear. I felt like a rockstar!

Your most embarrassing #MOMFAIL in the past month:

I was nursing Vivien on one side, had the pump going on the other side, trying to do it all. The pump fell off, milk went everywhere and Vivien started crying. So naturally, I became hysterical and tears were streaming down my face. Epic fail. It was in that moment though, that I gave myself the courage to cry and to acknowledge that I am not a superhero. Instead… I’m a mom, and a damn good one! I know I have a lot more to learn and discover about being a mother of two, but right now with Vivien 1-month-old, I suddenly feel empowered to just be ... be more aware, be more present.

What is the most surprising thing about having a second child?

That it’s all real. Seriously. We’ve waited so long to have a second babe and have been a family of 3 for so long. The change of becoming a family of 4 is new and exciting and I don’t know how we lived without our little girl!

What did you know to do with baby #2 that you didn’t know with baby #1?

That I can set her down. It’s simply out of necessity this time around, but it’s wild to see how she can fall asleep on her own or just be okay lying down and observing the world around her. I feel like my energy is different now. I’m much more of a chill mom this time and she’s such a chill baby. Perhaps babies can read us and know when we are calm or maybe it’s just a coincidence! ;)

DSC_7118.jpgNursing, bottle, or combo?

I’ve been fortunate enough to nurse. I do pump, but mostly so Jake gets a chance to feed Vivien. I think it helps to make him feel included.

Most new moms are surprised by the physical recovery from a birth, what tips do you have to help a new mom?

Take it easy! There’s plenty of time to get your body back in shape, get the house in order and get the laundry done. Just try to relax and enjoy the newborn weeks. This first month has flown by for me, and I’m trying to just slow down and enjoy every moment!

Feeding those first few weeks can be tough. Any tips?

Be patient and relax! Trust that your baby is eating enough, and that you are doing enough. I like to just focus on Vivien while I feed her, and let her know she’s doing a great job! I talk to her and get lost in her silly expressions. She’s so cute and so little… and I know this time is going to fly by. So on the challenging days, I remind myself it’s not going to last forever, and on the great days, I try to slow down a little more and enjoy her.

Your favorite M+A pieces for a newborn:

There are SO many!! I love the hats and the cotton blankets are amazing to swaddle. Secretly… I love to be matchy matchy and swaddle her in the blanket that matches her hat! ;) I also love the On the Go One-piece. Her little toes can stay warm and it’s super easy to get on and off for diaper (or wardrobe) changes!