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There is no time like pregnancy to get accessorizing. No matter how many jeans or dresses (or bras) you outgrow, that gorgeous statement necklace always seems to fit perfectly. Nobody knows that better than Carrie Morrissey, CEO and creative director of I Still Love You NYC. Her laser-cut acrylic jewelry line is the best accent to a growing bump...including her own!

This Brooklyn mama-to-be recently invited us into her colorful workshop to talk about feeling strong and sexy during pregnancy, how she’s adjusting her biz style, and what she’s most looking forward to with her baby girl on the way.

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How have you balanced pregnancy and your job? Have you had to make changes?

The first trimester was so hard because I was exhausted. Constantly. Since I first found out I was pregnant, we’ve made quite a few changes in the day-to-day running of my business. I had been teaching my assistant the craft for about a year, so once we found out, a lot more of the sampling and production went to her. I still control the brand voice, design responsibilities and run the day to day social media and PR, but once the baby comes I will be teaching her more of that as well so we can work side by side on projects.

How has pregnancy or the idea of a baby influenced you creatively?

It’s fascinating, becoming pregnant has really changed my priorities. ISLYNYC has always been a very joyful brand, generally I design things that make me happy or laugh. But as I’ve become pregnant, I’ve started thinking about things that are bold but a little easy to wear and understand. Our most recent collection is much less conceptual than past collections, it feels more mature, more womanly.

Tell us about your pregnancy style.

Since I’ve become pregnant, I’ve been wearing more tight clothing than any other time in my life! Generally I wear larger, loose clothing, but since my chest and stomach have grown those styles feel really unflattering. My best friend actually told me “If there is any time to show off your stomach it’s now!” and I couldn’t agree more. I feel sexy and strong in a totally new way!

I’ve got a small collection of pieces that are really easy to switch in and out, that are easy to wear and feel really classic. I have a navy body con from American Apparel that looks awesome with denim or layered under a sweater, a few grey bodycon dresses, one from Need Supply and one from Pinkyotto. An amazing long grey vest from Myths of Creation that looks fantastically chic over any of them, and a few pair of cute boots that are comfortable and easy to walk in but still look very cool. My favorite pair are from Surface to Air. The only actual maternity clothes I’ve bought — which I love and am so glad that I have, are a pair of maternity leggings from Pea in a Pod, and a few staples from H&M -- a super cute/comfy sweat suit in chambray, and several pair of opaque black maternity tights.

What creative moms out there inspire you and why?

I am super fortunate to have a few really inspiring creative moms in my friend group. My BFF since college is a business owner with a 5-year-old — she slays both parenting and operating a successful company with grace and composure and I’ve been taking notes since day one of her parenting. She’s not afraid to say no to her son, which I think is really important, and he is madly in love with her, because he feels secure in himself, taken care of and supported.

Another friend of mine who’s just had a baby girl has been really inspiring to me. She’s a teacher so she has a lot of experience with kids, but beyond that, her pragmatic take on pregnancy is so refreshing and comforting. We obviously want to make sure everything is as perfect as it can be, but it’s so easy to get overwhelmed or overzealous, it’s amazing to chat with a girlfriend who’s going through the same things candidly.

Another friend of mine just gave birth in November and she and I both have small jewelry businesses — she worked right up to the end, and is figuring out how to juggle keeping a business going while spending as much time as possible with her new baby girl. Talk about inspiring!

NYC is obviously such an important part of your brand's identity. What are you most looking forward to sharing with your baby about the city you "still" love?

I am beyond excited to bring a child up in New York City. From culture and art to different types of foods, communities and people, I am so happy to show my girl a world full of differences! The best way to find out how similar we all are is to be on top of each other, and that is totally this city. We are not homogenized, we are dirty and gritty and real. I truly feel this is one of the most exceptional places in the world, it is a place where dreams happen and are realized, where inspiration is everywhere. I am excited to share this with her — and I can’t wait for her to share her perspective and inspiration with me!

Has your work in Brooklyn's creative community helped you uncover some cool brands for baby's nursery or wardrobe?

Honestly, the best part of being in BK surrounded by other cool moms are the rad hand-me-downs! On my block alone there are tons of moms, and adding in all of the friends having babies, we are swapping things like mad! We are planning on doing as much gender-neutral things as possible so I’m not terribly concerned with what gender the last owner was, besides the fact that it’s all in the styling -- and between puking and potty-ing there will be plenty of opportunity for outfit changes!

Tell us about some cool baby or pregnancy brands you've discovered in the BK creative community.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say my husband and I are “crunchy” but we are absolutely interested in giving her good quality pieces made by small brands rather than all the disposable plastic sold at big box stores. A really good friend has started making plush toys and selling them on her etsy site Bangarang Club, they are beautifully sweet and gorgeously made. We also really like a lot of the smaller brands sold at Mini Jake in Williamsburg and LAB Brooklyn, they have a lot of wooden toys that we love and sweet home decor, although as of yet we haven’t bought a ton because we don’t have a ton of space in our apartment. At the end of the day, we are more interested in second-hand pieces than purchasing too many new things that are only going to last a few months to a few years. We create so much waste already anything we can reuse is our favorite. And of course, ISLY’s jewelry has been great since I’ve been pregnant — brooches fit ANY size, and they cover the inevitable food spots that fall on my ever-growing chest!

Photography by Stylish & Hip Kids for Well Rounded NY.

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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.

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"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!

News

In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.

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Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]

Life

Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

News

Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

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Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life
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