Name: Sara Jane Mercer
Occupation: Wellness coach and expert
Baby’s Gender: Girl How would you describe your pregnant style?
My daytime style is definitely “urban mommy causal.” I have been living in my Citizens of Humanity maternity jeans (the only brand that really fits right as they only change the waist not the leg size for their maternity styles), oversized plaid shirts, slouchy t’s by either Hatch Collection or T by Alexander Wang and cool sneaker by Vinceor Golden Goose. In the depths of winter I threw some sweater’s from Hatch into the mix as well.At night or when I am not on mommy duty my style is more urban boho. Pregnant or not I love dresses by Isabel Marant, LoveShackFancyand Ulla Johnson paired with a great leather jacket like my Iro one.I pair them with either cool flat ankle boots (my Chloe and Isabel Marant ones are my favs) or my Stuart Weitzmanover the knee boots. I am not someone who likes to wear tights so the over the knee boots were great this winter to keep my legs warm!Have you had any challenges learning to dress your body during pregnancy?
My first pregnancy I definitely bought more maternity clothes as I thought I would need them. Once my daughter was born I was so sick of everything that I gave it all away very quickly. This time around I have only bought a few maternity basics such a jeans and some tee shirts. I have found it much more appealing to wear clothes that I either already own or that I know I will wear after this baby arrives. I have earned to embrace as more loose, slouchy, boho style this time as those are the types of clothes that look good with or without a bump!One major challenge this winter was finding a parka that was warm enough to handle the NYC chill and zipped up my bump. Many people suggested wearing my regular parka unzipped with a heavy sweater and a big scarf but this just wasn’t warm enough for me! After much searching I bought a Canada Goose parka a size up and plan to sell it via my mom’s list after I have the baby. There is nothing worse than being cold in NYC in February so this was a splurge that was worth it to me.So far, what has surprised you most during your pregnancy?
This pregnancy has flown by compared to my first one! With an almost 3-year-old to chase around I don’t have the time to focus on it as much. Alot of the little things that worried me with my first daughter such as odd aches and pains etc. have just rolled off this time as I know it is all temporary and will go away as soon as I give birth.Also, there has been alot less to do before this baby arrives. Last time I spent alot of time putting my “team” together. This time around everyone was already in place. We were lucky to find a wonderful birthing team all of whom I love so there was no interviewing and meeting people this time. What are you most looking forward to sharing with your baby?
Most immediately I am looking forward to nursing a baby again. I nursed my first daughter for 20 months and still miss that sweet bond. We are huge beach people and I cannot wait to introduce my daughter to the ocean and the sand. Her big sister is happiest barefoot with uncombed hair in a bathing suit and I hope this little girl follows suit. I am also excited to take her to all of the parks and playgrounds in our neighborhood. TriBeCa is really a little kid paradise, we have multiple playgrounds less than five minutes from our apartment and I cannot wait to show them all to her!What’s your 5 registry essentials?
Baby Bump Fitness Ball. This version of a yoga ball (with feet so it doesn’t roll) is a must have for me. I use it as a desk chair, will labor on it, and once the baby is born with bounce her on it to soothe her to sleep!
Baby K’tan. I wore my daughter Hermione in this wrap for the first few months of her life. I love the Baby K’tan because there is no complicated wrapping technique to learn (it’s all pre-done) and it can be used from birth. You can even nurse while your baby is snuggled up in a K’tan.
TANE Organics Swaddles. These super soft swaddles are a must have for me. They are a bit smaller than other swaddles out there making them perfect for a tiny newborn and the slight stretch make it possible to get a tight wrap every time!
TANE Organics Onesies. For simple, soft, organic baby wear nothing beats TANE. Their clothes are incredibly adorable, soft and chic. I think little, new babies look best in white so I like to stock up!
Blessed Nest Pillow. This nursing pillow is the best! Not only is it made from organic fabric and stuffed with buckwheat hulls ( no toxic nasties here!) but it actually conform to your baby’s back so you don’t have to hold them in place while you nurse. It is also great from tummy time, and to prop your baby up on!
DANIELLE M. WILSON is the Event Director for Well Rounded, former Elementary teacher & all around Mama Hustler who's all about the details! You can find her obsessing over bold street art & anything adorned in sequins, while living in the moment and persevering with Crohns disease. Cheeseball smiling alongside her hubby Mike & two
I honestly can't remember how I used to organize and share baby photos before I started using FamilyAlbum. (What am I saying? I could never keep all those pictures organized!) Like most mamas, I often found myself with a smartphone full of photos and videos I didn't know what to do with. My husband and I live states away from our respective families, and we worried about the safety of posting our children's photos on other platforms.
Then we found FamilyAlbum.
FamilyAlbum is the only family-first photo sharing app that safely files photos and videos by date taken in easy-to-navigate digital albums. From documenting a pregnancy to capturing the magical moments of childhood, the app makes sharing memories with your family simple and safe. And it provides free, unlimited storage—meaning you can snap and snap and snap to your heart's delight without ever being forced to choose which close-up of your newborn's tiny little nose you want to keep.
And, truly, the app is a much-needed solution for mamas with out-of-state family. Parents can share all their favorite memories with friends and relatives safely within the app without worrying about spamming acquaintances with every adorable baby yawn the way you might on a social network or a long text thread. (Did I mention I have a thing for baby yawn videos? I regret nothing 😍) It's safe because your album is only visible to the people you share it with. The app will even notify album members when new photos have been posted so they can comment on their favorite moments and we can preserve their reactions forever. It's also easy for my husband and I to share our photos and videos. All of our memories are organized in one place, and we never have to miss out on seeing each other's best shots.
And because #mombrain is real, I especially appreciate how much work FamilyAlbum takes off my plate. From automatically organizing photos and videos by month and labeling them by age (so I can skip doing the math in my head to figure out if my daughter was five or six months when she started sitting up) to remembering what I upload and preventing me from uploading the same photo four times, the app makes it easy to keep all my memories tidy—even when life feels anything but.
FamilyAlbum will quickly become your family's solution for sharing moments, like when you're sending a video to the grandma across the country. Grandparents need only tap open the app to get a peek into what is going on with our girls every day. When my sister sends her nieces a present, the app has become where I can share photos and video of the girls opening their gifts so she never feels like she's missing a thing. The app will even automatically create paper photo books of your favorite shots that you can purchase every month so you can hold on to the memories forever (or to share with the great-grandma who has trouble with her smartphone 😉). Plus, you can update the books with favorite photos or create your own from scratch. No matter what, the app keeps your photos and videos safe, even if your phone is lost or damaged.
But what I love most about FamilyAlbum is that it's family-first. Unlike other photo sharing platforms, it was designed with mamas (and their relatives!) in mind, creating a safe, simple space to share our favorite moments with our favorite people. And that not only helps us keep in touch—it helps us all feel a little bit closer.
Sharing this video clip isn't the first time Duff has opened up about her home birth. In a two-part interview for the Informed Pregnancy podcast released last fall, Duff admitted that at some points in her home birth she was scared and asked herself why she wasn't in a hospital "with all the drugs," but she says she's so glad she did it this way and would totally do it again.
During her first pregnancy, Duff says she started out wanting an elective C-section (although she did not end up having surgery). She was 23 when she and ex-husband Mike Comrie found out they were expecting, and she didn't have a lot of peers who were having kids. She was really scared.
More than five years later, during her pregnancy with Banks, Duff was way more confident as a woman and a mom. She watched Ricki Lake's 2008 documentary "The Business of Being Born" and started considering a different kind of birth plan the second time around.
When Duff brought the idea up with her partner, Matthew Koma, he "was amazing," she explains. He had some questions, but was down to support Duff in her birthing choices.
Duff says she thinks her mom Susan and sister Haylie were "nervous to think about not being in a hospital" at first, but once Duff explained things a bit and got to talk to them about her doula and midwives, Haylie got really pumped about the idea.
"She was so supportive and amazing. I think my mom was a little more worried but she got behind me," Duff recalls, adding that because her mom had C-sections herself, even seeing Duff deliver Luka vaginally in a hospital was a bit of a different experience for her, so being there for the home birth was taking things to an unfamiliar level.
"The first time she saw me having a contraction in the house she was cooking bacon for Luka," Duff explains, adding that she had to pause the conversation she was having and squat down during the contraction.
With the family around and the TV on, Duff's labor progressed a little slower than she'd imagined.
"When I pictured my birth I didn't picture watching Guardians of the Galaxy on TV. Luka was like explaining the characters to me," she explains.
Duff says when she was moved to the birthing tub, her brain really let her body take over. After the birth she estimated she was in the tub for about 30 minutes, but Koma told her it was really more like 90. "My brain disconnected," she says. "I remember telling myself that I don't need to be here for all of this."
At one point, she looked at one of her midwives and said, 'I'm really scared right now." Exhausted and unable to hold her body up as she channeled all her energy into pushing, Duff let her team hold her legs and arms while she pushed.
When Banks' head emerged, it didn't feel quite like the birth videos Duff has seen.
"Honestly, when I got her head out I was shocked by the feelings," she told Dr. Berlin. "I've seen women reach down and pull their baby out, and I couldn't do that…I was like, okay I'm there, I'm there, I've got to finish this job, but it was like really intense. It wasn't pleasant at that point. I think I wasn't fully in my headspace, my body was doing what it needed to do. It wasn't until her body came out that I could like want to grab onto her and bring her up out of the water."
Baby Banks needed some breaths from a midwife when she was first pulled from the water, but because her son Luka was also born looking a little blue, Duff says she wasn't freaked out. Once she figured out how to breathe, little Banks did "the most amazing thing," her mama recalls.
"They hand her to me, and I'm looking at her—and you know, babies are like floppy little worms, they just don't have any control—and she reaches up both of her arms right at my neck as to give me a hug. It was so clearly a hug."
Duff says the hug made her feel like baby Banks was saying something: "Like, good [teamwork] mom, we did it."
Several years ago, when I was a high school teacher and not a mom, my ninth grade students took a values assessment in class. The point was to determine what motivated them in life: money, family, success, a moral compass, education, relationships, religion, care for the environment, etc. I thought, what the heck, I'll take it, too.
When I got the results, I was shocked.
My number one value was beauty. Not family or morality, not relationships or religion. Beauty. I had never felt so shallow in my entire life. The description said something to the effect of: "You need to be in a place that is aesthetically pleasing to feel at peace," and went onto say that I would value the arts more than others and prioritize making a space beautiful.
And the truth is: It was absolutely 100% accurate.
Before I became a mom, I spent a lot of time beautifying our space. I would tidy up a pile of books, vacuum streaks into the carpet several days a week. I couldn't stand the sight of piles of dishes on the counter, nor a pile of clothes on the floor. I would change decor seasonally. I would cut fresh flowers and put them around the house, light candles, dim lights, put on quiet music when company came. It wasn't completely because I was trying to impress—it was because I liked it that way.
Every pile of books I've tidied has been pulled onto the floor. The vacuum chokes down crumbs and bits of paper maybe once a week. For three years straight, I've had a breakdown on Christmas-decorating day. We pick fresh flowers together, but I somehow always forget to notice when their vibrant petals turn to spindly black stalks. Now, when company comes, my children greet them with big grins in dirty clothes, and I yell from my kitchen, complete with stacks of unclean dishes, "Sorry, my house is a wreck!"
I had to choose, as we all have to: Do I prioritize housekeeping or parenting?
I remember trying to lay my son down as a newborn. I expected him to sleep peacefully in his woodland-themed room, the room I had put together with great care. But moments after I would fill the sink with sudsy water, I'd hear him cry. I'd run upstairs and pick him up, soothe him to sleep, and lay him back down, only to have it happen again. I felt anxious.What about the dishes? What about the 100 other things on my to-do list?
But when I looked down at that little face, and I saw the most beautiful thing I'd yet to encounter. My values system didn't entirely shift, but my perception did.
This morning, as I sit in the warm morning glow, my baby girl is asleep on my chest. I can see the sunlight dancing across the floor, illuminating the dust and crumbs. From my vantage point, I see little lopsided piles of laundry on my dining room table that is still doubling as a fort for my toddler. And beyond the dining room is the kitchen, and in that kitchen is a sink filled with unclean dishes. The dishes will always be there.
But my baby, with rose-petal lips and a perfect fan of lashes, with skin as flawless as a cloudless sky, she won't be this small ever again.
My house is a mess, but it's a beautiful mess andI wouldn't have it any other way.
My dear daughters, Tomorrow I go back to work, and it's going to be really hard. All I can do is hope that it's harder for me than it is for you. Twelve weeks have come and gone faster than I could've imagined. I thought that going back to work after my second child would be easier, but I actually think it might be harder.
Baby Girl #2, not only have I enjoyed your newborn snuggles every day but Baby Girl #1, I've had special time with you that I'd been missing so much. Because this is my second child, I realize even more how quickly this time goes by—and that I'll never get back these sweet moments.
People say you'll look up to me and learn to value hard work.
People say it'll be nice to have time away and that it will make our time together more special.
People say that most moms need to work nowadays.
People say you won't remember this and that you'll be fine while I'm away.
Maybe those things are true, but it doesn't make it any easier. Of course, I want you to look up to me and to see the passion and love I have for my job, but I hope you never feel like I'm choosing my job over you.
As a high school assistant principal, I have 600 other "kids" that I get to take care of, and I love that, but I worry about what I'll lose, what I'll miss out on while I'm away from you. Could your dad I and I make it work on one income? Maybe. But that would come at costs, too.
Tomorrow I go back to work, and I realize I'm luckier than most.
I'm lucky that because of his shift you'll get to spend a few days during the week with your dad and get to have special time with him. I'm lucky that he's such a wonderful father and partner who is supportive of my career.
I'm lucky to have a daycare provider that I trust. I'm lucky to have family members who help out whenever needed.
I'm lucky that I love my job and work at a school where you're not only allowed to come in but where my boss and co-workers love you, too and understand that family comes first.
You are both blessed to have so many people who care about you, so I know that when I can't be with you, you are well taken care of, but I still wish it could be me.
Tomorrow I go back to work, and there are a few things I want to promise you.
I want to promise you that for the time we do get to spend together, you will have my attention. I will do my best to turn work off, put my phone down and focus on you two. We will find fun things to do or we will just relax in our jammies and watch movies. But whatever we decide to do during our time together, I will do my best to be present. You both deserve that.
Tomorrow I go back to work, and I keep hoping that by the time you have children, if you choose, that our country realizes that 12 weeks just isn't enough.
I'm sorry that I can't have more time with you, but please know that in our time apart, I'm loving you still. Please know that I'm working hard to provide for you. Please know that when I come home, I will take off all of my other hats and just be Mama because no matter what, that will always be my number one job.
"Families depend on women's incomes, yet mothers, regardless of their education level, their age, where they live, or their occupation, are paid less than fathers. When mothers are shortchanged, children suffer and poverty rises. Families are counting on us to close the maternal wage gap," says Emily Martin, NWLC General Counsel and Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice.
Why the motherhood penalty (and fatherhood bonus) exist
The gap in the pay between mothers and fathers is due to how parents are perceived in our culture. A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Sociology foundworking mothers are penalized in the form of "lower perceived competence and commitment, higher professional expectations, lower likelihood of hiring and promotion, and lower recommended salaries."
And as CNBC reports, a more recent study by childcare provider Bright Horizons found that 41% of American workers perceive working moms as being less devoted to their careers.
But becoming a dad doesn't put dads at a disadvantage, or make them appear less committed. It actually often results in a so-called "fatherhood bonus." A recent study published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, found having kids often results in men earning more, even when they aren't particularly hard workers.
According to the study's lead author, Sylvia Fuller, this suggests that our preconceived cultural ideas about fatherhood are impacting employers thinking and parents' paychecks. "They think dads are working hard, they have positive stereotypes about them, or maybe they just think, you know, dads deserve more because they're thinking of their family responsibilities," Fuller told Global News.
Basically, employers see fathers as people who have big-picture responsibilities to their families and a lot of support in raising their kids. They see moms as the managers of the small stuff and know that many of us don't have a lot of support in managing that load.
Closing the gap by changing the way we view fathers
"Fathers repeatedly tell researchers they want to be more involved parents, yet public policy and social institutions often prevent them from being the dads they want to be – hurting moms, dads and children alike," writes Kevin Shafer, an associate professor of sociology at Brigham Young University.
Investing in paid family leave and affordable, quality childcare would level the playing field for mothers, but that's just the first part of change that needs to happen. We need employers and lawmakers to implement parental leave policies, but we also need our peers to embrace and encourage their use for all parents.
When fathers are expected and respected as caregivers, mothers are no longer seen as the default parent at home or at work. When the parenting responsibilities equalize, so will the paychecks.