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What does it take to go from business idea to lady boss?


This new column features an entrepreneur, who happens to be a mom, each week—walking us through the process of how you too can take your ideas from dream to reality. If you missed our last article featuring Paige from Little Bean + Co. on the value on branding, you can read that here. This week, we’re discussing the fifth step many modern entrepreneurs need to make on the journey to success: having a social media and online presence.

At only 23-years-old, Jenny Wecker

has more success than people twice her age. She’s done it all at breakneck

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speed with her daughter on her hip and now, just over two years after Fawn

Design began, a second baby on the way.

After high school Jenny

attended college for a short time, but like so many born entrepreneurs, (hello Mark Zuckerberg!) she found that it

bored her, and was actually holding her back from pursuing her goals.

In early 2014, Jenny was

talking with a friend who was expecting a baby about the complete and utter lack of

stylish, functional diaper bags.

That was Jenny’s “ah-ha!” moment.

An accomplished seamstress

herself, Jenny had been sewing since she was five years old. In fact, she made

each Fawn Design bag by hand during their first year of business.

Now, her KickStarter

campaign has been featured in the New York Times, her company sponsors the app

“Collabor8” and was featured alongside it in Forbes, and the sales to date this year since January are over half a

million dollars. It’s the real American dream, and this unique entrepreneur is

taking it all in stride.

I was lucky enough to talk about the wild ride these last two years have been, what running a business with your husband (and daughter) is like,

and how social media has been integral to building her brand and her reputation.

This lady boss knows her

stuff. Her unique way of looking at problems and coming up with creative

solutions is what makes her company, Fawn Design, so powerful. Indeed, her designs are

not only outside the box, they are redefining the box into something softer—almost

like the half-circle shape of her brand’s signature bag.

How did you first forray into social media with Fawn Design?

I stated making the bags by

hand to start and posting them on Instagram. The response was really crazy from

the start. Very quickly I got to the point where I would take an order for one

and people would ask, “When can I get one, when can I get one?” and I had to

say, “I have no idea!” at that point.

I was sewing as fast as I

could. And then I actually became pregnant with my daugther Georgia during that

crazy time and was extremely sick. I had a really tough pregnancy, so it was

making it an even a harder struggle to keep sewing the bags myself. My husband

had said from day 1 that if I wanted to turn this into a business and make real

money that I had to get them manufactured. He knew I would never be able to

keep up.

I got to the point where I literally wanted to scream if I looked at my sewing machine before I gave in and listened to him.

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At that point, how did you figure out what your next steps were?

Money obviously was the

biggest thing, and finding a manufacturer. We wanted to use a US manufacturer

but it was not going to be an option for us. There wasn’t a single manufacturer

who was willing to try. They said the bag was too complicated, and that

overseas, handbags are really big. So we got quotes from overseas

manufacturers, and while they were more reasonable than the US ones, we hadn’t

made very much money from sales at that point. We didn’t have much savings and

we were living in my parent’s basement.

So we decided to do a

Kickstarter campaign to help raise the funds to place our first manufacturing

order. We ran it as a presale with the hopes of raising $25,000 from December 1st

to December 15th. We ended up raising $42,000 which was pretty

unexpected.

It definitely gave us the

validation that people did actually want the bag – it wasn’t just my mom and

friends.

Are all your sales online or do you wholesale?

We don’t do wholesale right now, we just haven’t

really needed to. Our sales direct to consumer have been so good that we don’t

have the inventory to open up to wholesale. We have a ton of interest in it and

we just have to kinda keep turning them away for now. I don’t know, its kinda

one of those things we don’t know if we’ll ever do.

What makes your bags unique?

When I was designing the

bag I had a vague idea of what I wanted. I wanted it to look different, and be

unique: to not look like a diaper bag but to have all the function of one.

The

first things I decided on was the shape—the half circle shape which is our

bag’s trademark. There’s nothing else out there that looks like that.

But you’d be surprised how

much math is involved in making a half-circle bag. It took us a really long

time to get the calculations correct and then pleasing to the eye. But when we

got it right it fit like a glove.

We’re really proud of that. The shape, the design, everything, we did that all on our own.

Our bags are

also faux leather inner and outer – not fabric-lined like so many diaper bags.

It’s super easy to clean but it also looks incredible. You can even pull out

the entire inner part, shake out any crumbs, and put it back in. It’s so easy.

The majority of our

customers are moms buying them as diaper bags, but we also have a lot of people

buying them because it’s such a good solid bag: a fashionable backpack. The

fact that someone who doesn’t even have kids is using it tells me that we’re on

the right track.

Did you have any experience

with social media before you started Fawn Design?

No – other than personal

use of Facebook and Instagram. But I quickly realized the power of social media.

I would post a picture of me with the bag on my personal Instagram and people

would say, “Oh my gosh, I want one!” These were people I didn’t really know that

well, like people from high school or in my neighborhood. That’s when I knew

social media would be a powerful tool for growing our business.

When we did our Kickstarter campaign, we reached out to a large number of bloggers, sent them a

bag, and asked them to post two pictures each day and link our Kickstarter.

Collaborating isn’t new, but using it to fund a Kickstarter—I don’t think a

lot of people had thought of that before.

But you know, Instagram

still is like our most active platform. And I plan all the posts still, even

though I have an employee do the actual scheduling and posting. I love the

creative process of going through customer’s photos and curating them on our

feed.

Recently we started doing

more Facebook, working with an agency who do a lot with social media to drive

sales.

We also do quite a bit on

Pinterest. We pin our items, of course, but we also pin a lot of other things

applicable to our target audience. Turns out, Pinterest is usually a top

referring site which was surprising to us.

How were you able to grow your social media audience?

Right now we have 53,000 followers on Instagram and that’s been growing for two years. It was really

slow to start, but once we had our Kickstarter and started collaborating with

influencers, then our Instagram really stated to take off.

We were using it to keep

everyone who preordered updated on the status of their bags. And since the

beginning we’ve been really big on collaborating. We send out a lot of free bags each month to

different bloggers or influencers. We ask them to post about it and it helps!

Giveaways have been good.

But once you hit a certain amount of followers then those giveways stop

contributing to the bottom line: into sales. We’ve never done a loop giveaway

though. I always recommend people don’t do those. They’re not good for your

social media.

At the end of the day you

want followers who are there for your product and not just there for free

stuff.

Would you say that Instagram has been really integral to building your

brand?

I definitely think up until

this point it has, but Instagram is changing and that’s been really hard on

some people. We are switching our focus a bit to other social platforms like

Facebook and Pinterest and into actually working with bloggers to have them post

on their blogs and on Youtube. So it has been important for us, but I don’t

think it’s as effective as it was, say, two years ago. But it also doesn’t wear

on me like it used to. It’s smoother now.

You mentioned Youtube. What are your plans for that and other video

platforms like Snapchat and Periscope?

I have a Snapchat account

but up till now it’s been more of a personal account. A lot of customers follow

me and I guess I just like to show what I do on the daily, to show what our

life looks like. People probably think our life is a lot more glamorous than

what it actually is.

Then this past few months

I’ve been doing a weekly Periscope talking about different business topics.

It’s really fulfilling for me to put all the advice I’m asked about on a daily

basis into a central location.

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Creatively, what inspires

your design and how is that brought into your social media?

I go through phases when

I’m super inspired and super pumped, but I’m just like anyone and there are

other times when it’s like, “Ah! I don’t even want to think about that kind of

stuff!”

But I’ve always felt like I

looked at things in a different way.

Becoming a mom has really inspired everything we’re doing going forward.

When I started I wasn’t a mom, but now I

actually use the product with my child. I can think about like things I want to

change or the color I want to see. I can picture things for future photoshoots

like how would I combine colors, how I would style that color and how the whole

thing would come together.

Traveling has also inspired

me in a major way, and you can definitely see that reflected in our social

media.

The best part of owning

your own business is that we have that freedom. We live in a nice enough house,

we have a nice enough car but we could live in much bigger house, have nicer

cars, have nicer things, have nicer clothes. Instead we’ve always been like, “I

would rather go to Europe!” I’m glad that my husband and I both feel that way because

when we come back and we just feel recharged and creative! We went to Italy and

I remember all those colors and now our Fall colors will reflect that.

And,

how cool would it be to shoot those new colors in Italy and tell that story?

How important would you say confidence is in building a brand and

starting your own business?

Confidence is one of those

things that is so important in so many aspects of your life and the older you

get the more you realize just important it is. When you’re not confident you

see how hard things are.  I come a

divorced family and there was a lot of being pulled here or there. I had to

grow up at a young age and decide the kind of person I was going to be so I

could make my own choices create the own life that I wanted to have.

People ask me what’s biggest piece of advice for starting a business? I always say, just start.

Just do something.

That’s what I did. I just

started and thought, “I’m going to give it 100% or not do it at all.”

I’m

seven months pregnant right now. My daughter Georgia will be 15 months when this baby girl

is born. It was unexpected but we actually are really happy. Honestly I know its going

be really hard the first few years but I definitely think its one of those

things that’s a total kind of blessing.

When I think about the

future and where this business is going to go, Georgia’s going need a friend and that

friend’s gonna need her, too. We’ll never be too busy for our kids but I think

we’re going to have a very different life. And I think this all happened for a

reason.

How does being a mother impact the way that you run your business?

I tell everyone my three priorities are my family, my faith, and my time, and it goes in that order.

My family comes first and

yesterday was a great example.This week has been so crazy. But on Wednesday it

was my sister’s (the nanny’s) birthday so I decided to give her the afternoon

off. My husband and I tossed around the idea of bringing Georgia into work but

then we were both like, “You know what, let’s take half the day off and get

outside with Georgia!” There’s always a ton of work stuff we could be doing but

Georgia needs our time too. That’s a perfect example of how we do things.

When we’re working we’re

working really hard so that when

we’re done for the day, we’re done. We don’t bring it up at home and we just

focus on her.

Beyond being a mother, being

spouse and having a business with my husband… people ask us all the time how we

manage to do that? And it’s super hard. I’m not gonna lie, super hard. But

having those boundaries where work is work and play is play helps. We’re not

perfect but we try hard.

Is there any one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

I have two. One, don’t underestimate the power

of sitting down and making a list of all the things you should be doing.

Unfortunately the stress never goes away once you’ve completed a task because

there’s always 100 other things you need to be doing, but it helps to feel like

you’re accomplishing something.

And two, don’t let money

get in the way. I don’t recommend getting in debt but I know a lot of people

get discouraged by the financial side of business. Sometimes you just have to

get creative.

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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.


While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.

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Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).

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Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.

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Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!

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Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.

$69.95

Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!

$50.00

Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.

$29.95

Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!

$9.95

Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.

$79.95

Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.

$59.95

Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.

$98.00

Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.

$39.95

Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!

$165.00

Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.

$59.95

This article was sponsored by GAP. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and Mamas.

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There's a lot of discussion about the importance of early education—but what about soft skills like respect and kindness? How can mamas teach children important values like cooperation, gratitude, empathy or politeness?

These values are basic, foundational beliefs that help us know right from wrong, that give balance and meaning to life and that enable us to form community bonds with one another. These soft skills are crucial for kids to learn at any age, and it's important for them to be reinforced, both in the classroom and at home, throughout their childhood.

Here are fundamental ways to build character in your young children:

Kindness

Performing random acts of kindness can have a positive influence on both the individual showing and receiving the kindness. As a family, think of ways that each one of you can show kindness to others. Some ideas may include baking cookies for the mail carrier, donating an unopened toy to a local charity, purchasing canned goods for a homeless shelter or leaving notes and drawings for the neighbors. Include your child in the process so they can see firsthand the joy that kindness can bring to others.

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Responsibility

Children have a strong desire to mimic adult family members. Encourage your child to help complete simple chores in and around the house. Children feel a great sense of accomplishment when they can do their share and feel that sense of responsibility. Two-year-olds will enjoy folding towels, putting books away, putting paper in the recycling box and tending to the garden. Older children may enjoy helping out in the kitchen or with yard work.

Patience

Patience is the ability to demonstrate self-control while waiting for an event to occur. It also refers to the ability to remain calm in the face of frustration. This is a skill which develops in children as they mature. While it is important to practice patience, adults should also be realistic in their expectations, evaluate daily routines and eliminate long periods of wait time from the schedule.

Politeness

Schedule a time when the whole family can sit down together for dinner. Model good manners and encourage older siblings and other members of the family to do the same. Use phrases such as, "Can you please pass the potatoes?" or "Thank you." Be sure to provide your child with guidance, by explaining what to do as opposed to what not to do.

Flexibility

Change your routines at home to encourage children to be flexible in their thinking and to try new things. Try being flexible in the small things: enjoy breakfast for dinner, eat ice cream with a fork, have your child read a bedtime story to you or have a picnic in the living room. Let your child know it is okay to do things in a different way.

Empathy

Children are beginning to understand different emotions and that others have feelings. Throughout their childhood, talk about their feelings and share one's own feeling with them as well. By taking the time to listen to how children are feeling, you will demonstrate to them that you care and reinforce with them that you fully understand how they are feeling.

Cooperation

Coordinate playdates or take your children to events where they can practice introducing themselves to other children, and potentially with adults. Find games and other activities that require turn-taking and sharing.

Gratitude

Encourage your child to spend five minutes every day listing the things they are grateful for. This could be done together just before bedtime or after dinner.

Respect

As parents, our goal is to teach children to recognize that even though people have different likes and dislikes or beliefs and ideas, they must treat each other with manners and positivity. Respect should be shown when sharing, cleaning up, and listening to others. Always teach and model the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Also remind children that respect can be shown towards things in the classroom. Treating materials and toys correctly shows appreciation for the things we have.
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Medical researchers and providers consider a woman's postpartum period to be up to 12 months after the delivery of baby, but too often, health insurance doesn't see it the same way. Nearly half of the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and while the babies who are born during these births are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP for a year, their mothers often lose their coverage 60 days after delivering their child. There is clear data showing 70% of new moms will have at least one health complication within a year of giving birth.

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This week, members of Congress' Subcommittee on Health met to mark up H.R. 4996, the "Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2019, and it was favorably forwarded to the full Committee.

What does this mean? It means that while this bill still has a ways to go before it potentially becomes law, its success would see states get the option to provide 12 months of continuous coverage postpartum coverage to mothers on Medicaid. This would save lives.

As we at Motherly have said many times, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to heal from birth. A mother may not be healed 60 days out from delivering. She may still require medical care for perinatal mood disorders, breast issues like thrush and mastitis, diabetes, and the consequences of traumatic births, like severe vaginal tearing.

Cutting off Medicaid when her baby is only 2 months old makes mom and baby vulnerable, and the Helping Moms Act could protect families from dire consequences.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and according to the CDC, "about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications." This is not okay, and while H.R. 4996 is not yet signed into law this bill could help change this. It could help address the racial disparities that see so many Black mothers and Native American mothers dying from preventable causes in the first year of motherhood.

A report from nine American maternal mortality review committees found that there were three leading causes of death that occurred between 43 days and one year postpartum: cardiomyopathy (32.4%), mental health conditions (16.2%), and embolism (10.8%) and multiple state maternal mortality review committees have recommended extending Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum in order to prevent these deaths.

Basically, making sure that moms have have continuous access to health care the year after a birth means doctors can spot issues with things like depression, heart disease and high blood pressure at regular check-ups and treat these conditions before they become fatal.

The Helping Moms Act is a step forward in the fight for maternal health and it proves that maternal health is truly a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the value in providing support for mothers during the postpartum period.

The Helping MOMS Act was was introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. It was co-lead by Texas Republican Michael Burgess (who is also a medical doctor), as well as Georgia Republican Buddy Carter, Washington Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ayanna Pressley from Massachusettes and Lauren Underwood of Illinois (both Democrats).

"Incentivizing postpartum Medicaid expansion is a critical first step in preventing maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can see their doctor. I'm proud that my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, came together to put an end to the sad reality of American moms dying while growing their families," said Kelly. "We can't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good, bipartisan first step, but it must be the first of many."

It doesn't matter what your political stripes, reducing America's maternal mortality stats should be a priority.

News

Whether you're having a low-key Friendsgiving with your closest friends or prepping to host your first big Thanksgiving dinner with both families, figuring out all of the menu details can be the most overwhelming step. How much should I cook? What ingredients do I need? How does one actually cook a turkey this big?

But, don't worry, mama—HelloFresh is lending a helping hand this year with their Thanksgiving box in collaboration with Jessica Alba. Because you already have enough on your plate (and we're not talking stuffing).


Here are the details. You can choose from two Thanksgiving boxes: Turkey ($152) or beef tenderloin ($132). The turkey box serves 8-10 people while the beef one will serve 4-6 and both are $6.99 to ship. We got to try both and they're equally delicious so you can't go wrong with either one, but the turkey does require a 4-day thaw period so keep that in mind. And if you're wondering what the sides are, here's a sneak peek:

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  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole with crispy onions
  • Ciabatta stuffing with chick sausage and cranberries
  • Cranberry sauce with orange, ginger and cinnamon
  • Apple ginger crisp with cinnamon pecan crumble

While someone still has to do the actual cooking, it's designed to take the stress out of Thanksgiving dinner so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones (or watching Hallmark Christmas movies). You don't have to worry about grocery shopping, portion sizes, recipe curation or forgetting that essential thing you needed to make the meal perfect. Everything is super simple to make from start to finish—it even comes with a cooking timeline.

Orders are open through November 21 and can be delivered anytime through November 24. Even better? You don't need a subscription to order.


ORDER A BOX

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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My mother's death propelled me to start the process of becoming a parent as a 43-year-old single woman. As my connection to her remained strong in spirit after her death, I was ready to experience the same bond with my own child. I began the journey with Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), and after three failed attempts at getting pregnant, I decided to adopt.

The adoption process is a lengthy and humbling one—one that includes fingerprints, background checks, references, classes, doing a profile of yourself and your life that birth parents eventually use to choose adoptive families.

After my application was approved, a young couple chose me just a month later. I couldn't believe my fortune. But I had to get to work and prepare the house for my baby's arrival. I bought the best of everything—bassinets, clothes, diapers, car seats… the list goes on. I told close friends and family that it was finally happening.

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But all of this was in vain. The day I was supposed to pick my daughter up, I learned that the birth parents had changed their minds. They no longer wanted to give their daughter up for adoption. As time passed, it was difficult to endure no interest from potential parents but the faith in believing what is meant to be continued. To increase my potential, I enrolled with a second adoption agency.

A few months later, as I was getting ready to try IVF for the first time, I received a phone call to let me know that a woman had selected me to adopt her child. So I opted out of IVF and found myself in a hospital delivery room with the birth mother, assisting her in the delivery of MY child. It was a boy! I was so thrilled, and he was just adorable.

After six years of losses and disappointments, I was able to bring him home and awaited the final word that the mother and father have given the needed consent. I was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl with him dressed in football gear, I got a phone call.

Once again, the adoption agency informed me that the birth mother had changed her mind. That evening, I had to return the baby to his birth mom. I was heartbroken, and my hopes were shattered.

What now? Going back to IVF meant starting from scratch, and that would take a minimum of six months before being able to really start getting pregnant. I was 49 years old, and the clock was ticking. I really wanted to be a mom by the age of 50.

I was in Chicago, recovering from a collapsed lung, when I received yet another phone call from the adoption agency. An expecting mom had chosen me and had already signed over all of her rights. This little girl was mine. For real, this time. But I had to get to Southern New Jersey by Thursday to pick her up from the hospital.

After negotiating with my doctor to give me the green light to leave while recovering from my condition, I hopped on a train, and 22 hours later, I arrived to New York City in a massive snow storm. I took longer than expected to get to her, but after navigating the icy roads of New Jersey, I met my daughter!

She is now 2 years old, and she has changed my life in ways that just can't be fully described. What I can say is that I now understand my mother's love even more and her devotion to me and my siblings, and as I am sharing the same with my daughter, my bond to my mother keeps on growing.

Becoming a mom at 49 was never what I had envisioned. But whether you are trying to conceive or have decided to adopt a child, the road to becoming a parent is rarely easy. I know that inner strength and believing in what was meant to be kept me moving forward.

Life
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