From our kimono store to our online shop, we’ve had the great fortune of working with some incredible women over the years, and Stephanie Russo is one of those women. Kind, generous, and an incredible photographer, Stephanie has brought to life many of our kimono robes in the photographs for our brand. She has a brilliant way of creating little stories within each photo and letting our kimono robes shine through each and every one. But this year, Stephanie did something even more incredible: she became a new mother during a pandemic!
We always have deep respect for mothers (much of our small team is made up of young mothers!), but for those women becoming mothers and raising children during this difficult year, we have an even deeper appreciation. Coming into motherhood is a journey in and of itself. But to add to it the uncertainty and isolation of this past year requires true superhero strength. So today in the journal, we’re honoring and uplifting Stephanie’s story of becoming a new mother amidst one of the most challenging years of all of our lives.
At the beginning of the pandemic, how did life change for you?
It was one of those moments I’ll never forget. The date was February 18th and we were waiting to board our flight home from New York. My husband turned to me and said, “This flu is sounding pretty serious.” Everything seemed to happen so quickly after that, we got home and our own lockdown began just three weeks later. I was about five months pregnant at the time and remember feeling so full of fear - fear for our baby, our parents, ourselves. I had a million questions and there weren’t a lot of answers available at the time. Clients began indefinitely postponing shoots and I was left with no choice but to slow down (for the first time in a long time)!
What was your experience of being pregnant during a pandemic like?
This being my first pregnancy, I have nothing to compare it to, so I suppose that’s a positive?! I never bought maternity jeans (as I had no place to wear them), I lived in loungewear and felt zero guilt for enjoying every lavish meal + dessert we created at home during lockdown. That being said, I was also anxious. A friend of ours who lives in Italy gave birth to her baby mid-pandemic and did so in a hospital without her partner. I remember hearing this and not being able to wrap my head around it - how could someone be forced to deliver without their partner? Would I have to live the most important moment of life without mine? It was hard not to be consumed by my own fearful thoughts, so I threw myself into nesting, restructuring my business model and perfecting the art of the mocktail.
What were some ways you found to support yourself during this transformative time?
Walking. Breathing. Having open conversations with my husband. Talking about my fears, but also addressing the silver linings. Escaping to the mountains for perspective. Journaling. Focusing on the good.
What was the most important part of your recovery process?
I was extremely blessed with a quick physical and emotional recovery. Given some complications, Maverick came into the world via scheduled cesarean and I had planned on being out of commission for weeks. I made my husband, Rico, a three-ring binder full of our “go to” recipes because I figured I wouldn’t be cooking for quite some time. I also made a playlist full of the songs that make me HAPPIEST, just in case the baby blues kicked in. When Mav made his debut, I was so caught off guard by the ineffable love and joy that seemed to fill every ounce of my body, physical pain seemed to be overshadowed by this newfound love.
I’ll be the first to admit I can be stubborn and don’t love asking for help, but allowing myself to receive help from others in those first few weeks was crucial to my recovery; saying “yes” to friends and family when they offered meals, being okay with Rico taking over every household chores, etc. In allowing myself to receive this help, it allowed me to be right where I needed to be: resting my body and bonding with our baby.
What advice would you give to a new mother in 2021?
The same advice I would give a new mother in 2018, or 2043: slow down and soak it in. The moments are precious, and oh so fleeting. Maintain perspective, you have been blessed with the absolute greatest gift - she chose you!
What do you wish more people understood about pregnancy and motherhood?
How truly unique each woman’s journey is. It’s easy to form a set of expectations based on the experiences of those around you, but your journey is your own.
What do you wish more people understood about being a mother during this pandemic?
We’re all just doing our best - what we think is best for our family. Each of us are navigating these uncharted waters as gracefully as we know how!
Whether you are a first time mother or raising older kids during this time, remember that you are always doing your best. Like Stephanie writes, take it slow and soak it all in. Whether you make your favorite cup of tea at the end of the day or slink around in a silk kimono robe, the little moments end up being the big and important ones. From our family to yours, we’re wishing you all the love and support you deserve.
Shopping for your favorite mama this Mother’s Day? Check out our best selling Washable Silk Kimono Robes and our Charmeuse Collection — both are machine washable for the messiest of moments! And once you slip into your own kimono style, tag us on Instagram with @kimandono_ and #swaythisway so we can celebrate and honor you each and every day. Take care, lovely, and be well!