This is the heartwarming story of my dear friend Stephanie and her battle with infertility. A tremendous woman and mom (all of which you will hear about later) who through much persistence and many years spent, opens up on her struggle to become a mom and the awesome power of will and way as she welcomes her second baby into the world next month. Stephanie is a business owner, a baker, a chef, an artist, a mom, a wife, a girlfriend, a risk taker, a good connector, and a hairstylist…and the list goes on. Today also marks the redesign and relaunch of her meeting, events, and wedding planning business SpotOn Events. A business that has gained worldwide success due to Stephanie’s keen eye, tack sharp organization, as well as, her tremendous originality and vision. Here’s a little more on Stephanie and her successful but complicated story of how her family began to grow.
Stephanie…I’m organized chaos – though no one would ever think it. I’ve always been called “put together” or “grace under pressure”. I’m relatively calm on the outside, steady, and solid while juggling a lots of details, thoughts, emotions underneath. I’m able to look at the big picture and break it down into smaller parts. I’ve very detail oriented when I want to be but not overly fussy or anal about everything. I learned to loosen up the reigns when we began our uphill battle to get pregnant.
Six months after we got married, I insisted that we start trying to get pregnant. I was 36 years old and knew that it may be slightly harder to conceive. After 6 months, I called doctor and lied saying we had been trying for 9 months. We took a series of tests and came back 2 months later to review. We were referred to an infertility specialist to start making some difficult decisions. After being given our options (IUI vs. IVF), we decided to go the IUI route with Clomid. After 4 tries and no success, we were told that we were really IVF candidates. The thought of having to give myself injections seemed impossible for me to comprehend. I hated needles and never imagined I could do it. I’m a pretty strong, straightforward honest person (sometimes too direct or honest). This was starting to break me down. But after a year and 2 months of trying and our desire to have a baby mounting, we took the steps to get connected to a fertility clinic in San Francisco. More tests and meetings later, we had a date set for late October. Very optimistic and very nervous, the shots were a breeze.
I’m a real amateur gardener. I started a garden after 2 unsuccessful rounds of IVF. I needed a project to get into and keep my mind off of things. Our IVF started in October. At the time, I was getting acupuncture, blood tests and shots left and right and managing just fine. The sad news came a month later when we weren’t successful. So we ramped up our brains and bank account and set course on round number two during the holidays when we both had less work demands. The process was even easier the second time as it was familiar. We had a positive pregnancy test, but ironically learned quickly that we had an ectopic pregnancy! Crap, so now I was finally pregnant but it had to be removed. Devastating beyond words. I don’t really remember this time, it was all a blur. But the garden gave me some solace, a place to be alone and be productive with my hands and a symbol of fertility. It kept me going. I’ve since lost touch with garden, but hope to put some things in ground soon with Judah.
The most exciting moment as a mother was when I got the news I was pregnant. The most humbling was the process of conceiving Judah. I learned a lot through our IVF process, especially our last try two years after we started. We had renewed hope, lots of fear, and I had given up control. I did a learning process with a friend about what I was afraid of, and it turned out I was afraid of not being in control. It was then I realized I needed to release control! This wasn’t up to me, but to someone else, God, or whatever. At the time, I was also taking an adoption classes as this was possibly our next course of action. One thing has always stuck with me, the facilitator said, “No matter what, with adoption, you will become a parent.” Once I heard it phrased that way, I realized I was going to be a mom. Regardless of just how I got there. Sure enough the phone call came one day while at work, I was pregnant! I cried and cried tears of joy all day and reported the news to the many, many friends and family who knew that was the day for our results. It was amazing.
Judah (2-years old)-His favorite things… His dog Miel, nanny Leo, Panda, surfing the net for airplanes, watching all of the vehicles out the window of our loft, baseball, swinging, throwing sand at park and his friends. Oh and being naked! And his all time favorite his “tita”, a cat doll given to us by LAURI and he fell in love with her around 6 months. He takes her to bed every night. His bedroom…Dwell Studio: Navy/Aqua animal theme, baby Modello crib and dresser. Simple, comtempory, happy and fun. The best addition the bi-plane our neighbor Jim painted on his wall.
As a mom I am comfortable in my own skin. I use a lot of practicality and common sense. I have surrounded myself with good friends and family who I trust and ask their advice. I use what I learn to “edit” how I parent. I am not particularly nervous or worried and that helps me be a solid, supportive parent. I’ve been “ready” to be a mom for a long time. People have been telling me since my early twenties – “you are going to be the best mom”. I’m a nurturer, and I have a big soft side of me once you get to know me. I love the inherent teaching aspect of being a parent. I get tremendous pleasure from teaching and encouraging my son to explore, develop and learn about his environment. As my neighbor Gina puts it “We are the cruise directors of experiencing life” for our kids.
What I have learned from Judah…Patience, playfulness, and joy in the very simplest of things. And that one can never get enough kisses in a day. I’m smitten with my son Judah – I just cannot believe my eyes. He really makes me beam. I’m learning to be consistent especially when disciplining Judah, and I’m learning how hard it can be to not give in to his whining! I am also lucky to have a true partner in my husband Shlomo. Both babies of families of three. We come from completely different backgrounds and that makes life more interesting. We are both Virgos and 2 days apart (+ 8 years). I love that he is on top of world affairs and current restaurants. He is super smart and an old soul. I joke around that I know what he’s going to be like at age 80! I really respect his professional opinion. He has been an awesome business partner with SpotOn Events. I could not have started the business without him and his support. And as a Dad, Shlomo is full on! He knows the whole routine and is awesome with Judah. We both travel so much, that we’re often taking care of Judah by solo while the other one is away. Although it is tiring and trying, Dad’s got it down.
Advice I can give to other moms… Read and sing to your baby very early on. Have a sleep method in mind early and keep track of awake vs sleep periods to detect patterns. Make you own baby food, the stuff in the jars and boxes tastes like crap. Get in a playgroup with moms that have children the same age as soon as your child is born (or earlier). It’s a very valuable resource to hear what others are doing or tried. If you are doing IVF be patient, have hope and let go. And last, you are going to get a lot of advice, let some advice go though one ear and out the other!
The wrap…We are now on our way to the birth of our second child next month. We did our fifth round and it took. I believe we were much more at ease with the process, and therefore, open to the magic.
I have many, many friends in differing stages of infertility. I suggest reaching out to friends and family and getting connected to people who are in similar situations for support. Locally there is Resolve.org. Being a parent is most definitely worth the struggle. We’re lucky to live in a time with these amazing scientific advances and adoption options. There is hope.
And you are amazing for sharing my friend. Here is a photo from our latest family shoot with baby #2…xx.
I feel so honored and privileged to have repeat business, especially from a family as darling as this one. I photographed Monique and Scott and their girls when Laela was just a baby. It is amazing to see how much and how quickly these kids grow up, Kaiya is now off to Kindergarten. I am so fortunate to have such alive and such fun families. Each time I leave a shoot, I learn something more about being a parent and I appreciate so much what each family teaches me about my own. Here is a sneak at our latest get-together.
It is always a joy to photograph the Nagpal Family. Truly. They keep adding to the family and with each child brings more happiness and love. And now, baby Shaun. I feel truly fortunate to have this lovely family as my clients and friends. Each photo shoot is pure joy!
I was so surprised to see Ross show up solo for our shoot with her dear sweet newborn Connor, but no hubby in tow. Ross+Taylor were my amazing wedding clients from 2008. I documented their stunning wedding at the Legion of Honor. And as well, their pregnancy shoot at the Ferry building earlier this year. When we met up at Blackie’s Pasture for our current shoot, I quickly realized what a treat it would be to photograph Ross and Connor alone. I never have the chance to focus on mom and child outside of my time shooting The Mom’s Project and photographing Ross and Connor brought the sweetest and quietest moments between a mom and child. It was a peaceful and moving shoot and I loved every moment of it. I am so happy to see Ross+Taylor’s family growing and I look forward to many more moments.
Oh my gosh what a lovely lady Amy is! I just knew this project would be oh-so fitting for her and she definitely did not disappoint. Amy opened her heart and home to me and shared intimate and fun stories of her son Hudson. I was so honored when I photographed her wedding several years ago (and I just love her hubbie Alan). And now sharing this time with her, made me realize all the milestones we have experienced together. Amy is truly an enchanting woman. She is full of smiles and brings smiles to everyone she encounters. I am so happy to share her story. Oh and by the way, the second woman in the pics is Amy’s sweet angel of a sister Laura, the best Auntie YaYa out there.
Amy…I am Amy Parker-mom to Hudson, wife to Alan, ringmaster to my two dogs & two cats and executive director of my crazy and wonderful life.
My work life is nuts and very challenging. My company of 12 years, Splendora, was acquired last year and I am now working for our acquirer, Joyus. We are still in start up mode and I head up Business Development. We are on to something amazing, but it’s never been done before and it requires all of my focus when I am working.
Tell me about your passions…Oh so many! And working on bringing many old passions back into my life. Aside from spending every spare minute with my family, I love to cook, garden, travel, try amazing wine…
As a mom, I bring lots to the table…silliness, wonderment, flexibility, ease, and confidence in myself and my ability to be a great mom.
I have learned that Hudson is his own being-his own soul. He has his own rhythms and schedule and if I pay attention I can usually figure out what he needs, even if that means just entertaining himself.
What was life like for you as a child…Aside from the confusion and stresses of my parents divorcing when I was five, I had an amazing childhood. My parents gave my boundaries, but plenty of flexibility and space within those boundaries to be myself, to be creative and figure things out. And we had a ton of fun-always laughter and love in our house. It was me, my mom, and my sis…we were and always will be the Hudson Girls.
I used to be the expert on all things pampering…weekly manis, regular facials and massages. That’s definitely changed since I became a mom and I’m trying to figure out how to make more time for those little personal indulgences. Currently I keep it pretty simple, although I have to keep up appearances for work and I probably take more time on my style and beauty routine during the work week. (Btw, note…Amy swears by Prtty Peaushun above, Jouer Cosmetics’ Luminizing Moisture Tint, and VitaMedica Anti-Anging Skincare Supplements).
My partner…Alan and I are a team We went into the adoption process and ultimately parenting this amazing little boy as a team…dedicated and fully in it together. Hudson was never physically dependent on me (breast feeding, etc) and because of this, I think it gave Alan a chance to bond with him and be super involved in every moment since Hudson was born. We do not have a pre-set division of duties. We figure it out every single day based on Hudson’s needs. We greet Hudson every morning together, often tripping over one another just to be the one getting to Hud’s door first when he wakes.
Alan often spends more time with him in the mornings, since I am rushing to the office. He runs his own business so his schedule is more flexible. This is the key for us as my work schedule has gotten crazier and I have started traveling. But because he’s self employed, he’s always ON and I just try to give him the space he needs to focus in and grow.
It is always chaotic and we’re both just trying to find the balance. Some days and weeks prove to be a greater struggle, but we manage and get through, usually with a lot of humor involved. Alan is such an incredible daddy and it just melts my heart to see them together. Alan is my rock and he’s our family rock. He has always made us the priority.
The best advice I have been given…I received two pieces of amazing advice. The first was from our Aunt Linda. She said, “Take the help where ever you can get it”. The second from our caseworker to take some time for ourselves alone, as a family, after Hudson was born. We cocooned ourselves for a week and it was the most amazing time to just be together and bond.
The most exciting moment and the most humbling moment as a mother are for me one-in-the-same. The moment I became a mother. I held our birthmother’s hand as she gave birth to Hudson. I watched as he entered this world and the nurse informed us that we had a son, (not the daughter we were expecting!). Our birth-mom looked at us and said “Go to him. He is your son and always has been”. I realized at that moment I was meant to be Hudson’s mom. We were meant to be a family.
My advice to other moms…Have as much patience with yourselves, as you try to have with your child.
Hudson is madly in love with his animals. He doesn’t know life without a tail wagging in his face, a kitty purring in his ear, or juicy kisses from his pups. He loves his racetrack, his teddy, and his beautiful homemade blankie from Gigi. He’s crazy about books. He loves checking himself out in the mirror. A fun activity we play, Wall Candy Arts. And lastly he loves his Radio Flyer tricycle and his newest toys, A Tarheel Basketball and Hoopset, that hangs on his pack and play…this is of course from SueSue.
Right now, our favorite activity is to walk all over the house and chase the animals. We spend a lot of time playing with toys, dancing around, and being silly. We spend hours reading his fave books like Tickle Monster, Guess How Much I Love You (an all time fave), and That’s Not My Train. Mommy and Daddy’s favorite time is morning-when we first wake up and bring him into bed. On weekends, its all about the boys and soccer on the TV. I wish this time could last for hours. We also love our park time up the street. Hudson loves the swing and slide.
My day starts at around 6:30am. I like to get started so that I am at least half way ready when Hudson wakes up at 7am. We still bring him into bed with us and hang out for an hour, until his nanny arrives. After that, it is breakfast together and I am off to work. I try to get home by 5pm so that we have a few hours together as a family…dinner, walk the dogs, and playing at the park. No matter what we are doing, its family time. And Hud is off to bed by 7:30pm, and then, we have couple time!
Your child’s fashion style and decor of room…Clean and simple, with pops of colors, comfortable and not fussy. That said, I am a sucker for the precious, sweet baby clothes, especially for the holidays. I’ve got my eye on a darling Easter outfit that is smocked, and while all the ladies in the room will love it, I am sure the men will be rolling their eyes. I am ok with that!
I was lucky enough to have my sister, Laura out during the shoot. We call her YaYa and she is the best aunt ever! Hudson adores her and he runs to her to reach for a hug every time he sees her. It’s been such a special treat to have her out for three weeks. She works for Alan’s company and we are working hard to make her a permanent residence. She’s so good with Hudson, a total natural and it makes me happy to watch the two of them together. She’s the best sis, the best aunt, and the best friend a mom could ever have!
…Thank you for including me Lauri! We had so much fun and I am beyond thrilled to be a part of “The Moms Project”. Lots of love, Amy.
Liz and Errol got married in January at the gorgeous Old St.Hilary’s Church in Tiburon. It was an amazing day with the sun shining.
The wedding went off without a hitch and it was wonderful to see such a great couple come together. I had taken Liz and Errol’s engagements in December, for a little practice in front of the camera and, more importantly, to document their new daughter to be. Liz was five months pregnant and they are expecting a gorgeous little girl named London Olivia. And although I could share numerous photos of this wonderful wedding event, what struck me the most about this couple is how they are bringing two families together in such a loving and caring way. Errol’s kids, Miranda and Lewis, couldn’t be more excited about the couple and Olivia’s arrival. And it shows in the pictures. I adore the couple’s first moment and how the kids and pregnancy are intertwined with this special time for all. I am looking forward to London’s arrival, they will be amazing parents again. Thanks to my second shooter Jessica Epstein for her wonderful contributions.
At 13 months, adorable Lucas is going to be a big brother. And yes at 36 weeks, my client Nancye is about to embark on another great adventure with her sweet husband Matt and their soon-to-be son Mason James. Yes, this woman was meant to be a momma! With back to back pregnancies, this lady is amazing as she takes it all in stride and finds the most wonderful humor in all of it. She is an inspiration for sure, as I am endlessly working out the balance of life with one toddler. I loved Nancye from the minute I talked to her via phone. Her energy, enthusiasm, and wit are infectious. And it was even more fun to learn that we had a connection in her brother, as he had been one of my friends at good ole USC’s Pardee dorm. We had a ball the day of. The sun was shining. And I even made “Miss Urban” ( a bit of an exaggeration) jump into the bushes for a “artsy” belly shot. They are laughing, but I love the results. I can’t wait to meet their new one to be. Hope he comes into the world really soon, we don’t want to wait too long.