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"I think it's so unreasonable," says the former attorney, "that as moms we're made to feel a sense of shame if we don't have an instant connection with our baby." Ky had no idea what to expect when her easy pregnancy turned into a traumatic labor and delivery. Over the next few years, the struggle to find her way back to herself took many twists and turns. Matrescence’s Content Manager shares openly about her struggles with postpartum depression, and how her quest to find balance between “working mom” and “present mom” finally led her to the freedom she desired.
Ky, tell us a little about you:
When I got pregnant with my first daughter, Keira, it was a dream. I had a very easy pregnancy - until labor began. Keira and I both developed an infection during my 36 hour labor and her heart rate was abnormally high. She was born non-responsive and blue. Instead of the vision I had of this sweet moment where my baby was placed on my chest, she was whisked away by a NICU team. Thank God they resuscitated her, but during that first hospital stay, we discovered that her intestines had not properly formed and she would need multiple surgeries.
The next six months were so hard. She wasn’t gaining weight, so I had to wake every 90 minutes to feed her at night. She needed three surgeries and a portion of her intestines had to be removed. One Friday night, she went limp and I raced her to the ER only to discover she had developed a kidney infection post-surgery. I had to take unpaid leave from my law firm to care for her.
Mentally, I was crashing, but I didn’t realize that I had postpartum depression. I just thought I was sick and exhausted. I couldn’t eat. I laid awake all night even while my baby slept, worrying about everything. Life had to be all about my sick baby, but while I cared for her, no one was looking out for me. I’ll never forget breaking down sobbing in the pediatrician’s office when she told me I needed to trim Keira’s nails. I couldn’t imagine just one more thing on my plate. She handed me a card and gently suggested I call a therapist she knew. I’ll always be so grateful for that moment, because it was the first time I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I had become convinced I’d never get the old me back.
Shortly after that, her dad and I filed for divorce, and I became a single mother. I was working 50+ hours a week to catch up after the time I had missed, and I never saw this little baby I had worked so hard to have. I had completely lost my sense of self. I felt like I had done everything right, and still lost. And a little voice in my head began asking, “is this really all there is?”
It wouldn’t stop asking for years.
A few years later, I came across an opportunity to transition in the beauty and wellness world. I didn’t even own a lipstick, but I was intrigued by the idea I could work from home and have more time with my daughter. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made. Over the last ten years, I have gone on to partner with more than 15 different top level brands, and I've spoken on entrepreneurship panels in 4 different countries. My daughter has even traveled to see me speak on stage! I’ve had more success than I ever did in the practice of law, but much more importantly, I have done it on our time.
I also met an amazing man who became a bonus dad to my daughter, and in 2019 we gave her a little sister. My second daughter, Beckett, is a tiny tornado and the funniest kid on earth, and she leaves us constantly tired! During my pregnancy with Beckett, I made the decision to be much more proactive and go on medication before she was born. I definitely still had the highs and lows of newborn life, but it was nothing like the dark depression I experienced the first time. I felt like I was “robbed” of the newborn experience with Keira, and this time around felt redemptive in a way, as if I got that part back.
It’s a New Year. Do you make resolutions? Why or why not?
I do not. Resolutions feel very restrictive to me, and I decided I just didn’t need one more thing on my plate that would make me feel like a failure if I didn’t achieve it. A few years ago, however, I began the ritual of choosing a word for the year. In prior years I chose Boundaries, Forgiveness, Focus, Reset. Something I could come back to and evaluate as the year went on so that I could always - gently - be moving forward toward growth.
What is your word for 2023 and how did you come to it?
Abundance! As this year approached, I knew there were areas in my life where I needed abundant growth, but part of me held back from choosing abundance as my word. It felt greedy - like, “who am I to ask for more after all we’ve been given?” Then I realized it was just my old friend “mom guilt” from my postpartum days sneaking up on me again. As women, we become so conditioned to put our own needs last, that we convince ourselves we don’t deserve the little extras. The irony is, in most cases, those little things are exactly what we need to fill our cup so that we can be the best mother, partner, friend and business associate.
How does Matrescence’s Mission resonate with you as a mom? As a business owner?
I knew I wanted to expand in my career, but I also knew I wasn’t going to commit to anything new unless it felt purposeful. My very first phone call with Matrescence’s founder, Raquel, it hit me that this was something different. This was a brand centered around cultivating the authentic experience for moms. Even our corporate team is all moms. That’s so cool, you know? I came from a very male dominated industry; I once had an older male attorney in court tell me it was “cute” that I was a lawyer. I love working with and for women, especially mothers. I had never heard the phrase “mothering the mother,” before our first phone call, but I realized right away that I had an opportunity to provide other moms exactly what I had needed when I was a new mom.
How does working in the beauty industry impact how you approach parenting?
I work in beauty and I have girls, so it’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about. My girls love to play in makeup with me and dress up and make videos like mommy. It’s important to me that they know that their beauty doesn’t come from what they put on their face or what they wear. You are a person who deserves your place in the world, and that has nothing to do with how you look. Makeup and hair care is pigment and powder and liquid. It’s not who we are. It’s meant to be fun and to pamper us or accentuate the beauty that is already there. But my girls know what makes you beautiful is internal, not external.
What’s one thing you wish you’d known before becoming a mom?
That it’s perfectly normal if you don’t love being a mom right away. I will never forget when they finally put my daughter in my arms after our traumatic birth experience. I waited to feel that overwhelming sense of love, but instead I looked at these eyes that didn’t look mine and thought, “who are you?” I think it’s so unreasonable that we recognize that love develops over time in all our other relationships, but as moms we feel shame if we don’t feel an instant connection with our baby. I needed to discover who that little person was, and more importantly, who I was as a mom - a role that was completely unfamiliar to me! She’s probably my favorite person on earth now (don’t tell the rest of my family) but in those early days I really struggled to enjoy motherhood.
What’s the biggest thing you want other moms to gain from Matrescence?
I want them to know they have a place where they can be raw and real without judgment. Everyone will tell you about the flowers and rainbows side of motherhood. Few will tell you about the dark moments. It wasn’t until I shared my experience with postpartum depression that my own mother realized that it was what she experienced so many years ago; no one had ever discussed with her what those feelings meant. I’d like for our generation to change that. Motherhood is the best thing I’ve ever done, the thing I’m most proud of. I want moms to feel empowered to celebrate all the highs and lows of that experience, and not just the shiny parts.
Follow Ky on Instagram at @kylauren_