This month, Mindy Gayer joins us to share her experience of motherhood. Mindy is the founder and principal designer of Mindy Gayer Design Co, a full-service interior design studio creating tailored spaces with an emphasis on beauty, livability, and functionality — meaning she was already busy before she welcomed her baby boy, Ollie, into the world. Now her definition of a full life has taken on an entirely new definition, one that entails joy, love, lots of cuddles, and prioritizing the important things in life.
Q: Did you know you always wanted to be a mother?
A: Most simply, yes. At least, I always hoped I would be; I just wasn’t sure if it would be in the cards for me. Much of my younger years were spent babysitting for families in our neighborhood and I really loved getting to be part of other peoples’ homes and families in that special way. As a little girl, I dreamed of what it would be like to be a mom with my very own family. It felt like a little wish, one that I held more loosely as I grew older — perhaps in the event that it maybe couldn’t (or wouldn’t) happen. So many of my friends have struggled starting families and I really tried not to put too much pressure on it and instead focused on all of life’s other wonderful things. However, now that I am a mother, I can say that it’s absolutely something I always wanted. It’s almost as if I now feel the freedom to express the seed that was already planted in my heart. It’s as if my deepest wish and hope came to be, as if Ollie was always meant for me and vice versa. I’m tearing up just thinking about it and the gratitude I feel – being a mama is truly the most special thing.
Q: Did you consciously conceive or was it an unexpected blessing?
A: Ollie came as a little surprise and the very best kind. We were newly married, and knew we wanted to start a family, we just weren’t sure when — but Ollie sure knew.
Q: We’d love to learn about your pregnancy. How was your experience carrying? What were some of the exciting moments and some of the challenges?
A: Pregnancy was a really fun experience for me personally. I say that gently, because I know for many women, it isn’t necessarily that way. I’d always wondered what it would be like to be pregnant — growing a tiny and mighty little person inside for so many months. Getting to see him grow with each and every ultrasound and doctor’s appointment, to watch his perfect little features develop and evolve, and to share every detail with our families was incredible. I loved getting to talk to him everyday as if we were newfound besties and seeing what he reacted to when I would eat, drink, sleep, or do just about anything. It was all of those little things that always kept me smiling and so thankful to be experiencing pregnancy with him everyday. Plus, the excitement of the unknown was always in the background, knowing we were about to meet this little person who we would undoubtedly love more than anything else in our lives — it was overwhelming, and incredible, and just beautiful.
With all the joys of pregnancy, I’m grateful I had a happy and healthy pregnancy for most of my term. Towards the end of my pregnancy, at about 36 weeks, I tested positive for Covid and that sent my body into a bit of a tailspin. I ended up at the ER and hospital a few times trying to figure out what was happening, and ended up with both cholestasis and preeclampsia after many tests and a few tearful nights. The first 36 weeks of pregnancy were wonderful, and the final home stretch was a whirlwind of emotions, fear, and so much uncertainty. It was overwhelming how quickly things turned upside down in a matter of a week. At 37 weeks, due to doctor’s concerns, I was induced, and after several days in the hospital, Ollie finally came into the world. I’d never been more relieved, and we were just so in love with him. It was surreal getting to meet him after all those months and to be on the other side of the whirlwind.
Q: Did you feel any major shifts during this period of your life — whether they were physical, social, or spiritual?
A: I mostly noticed the physical changes that took place, of course. Growing a little person is such a miracle and awe-inspiring to me. I loved seeing how my body adapted and grew to what he needed, and loved that I got those nine months with him – just us, every single day. It was pretty special.
Q: What supportive practices and tools did you use to nourish yourself and your growing baby during pregnancy?
A: Truthfully, I kept it pretty simple. I prioritized getting as much rest as I could at night, drank gobs of water, and tried to walk and go easy on my body. I wish I could say I had all of these amazing self-care practices I leaned into during my pregnancy but life was so full and busy during that time, I did what I could outside of work to easily take care of the both of us. Also, I ate a ton too — how could I forget — I think he liked that part the most.
Q: Birth is incredibly individual. Each mother’s journey will be unique. However, sharing our stories can provide universal insights for other mothers to be. What is one thing you loved about your experience and one thing you’d do differently?
A: I shared a little bit above about our adventure bringing Ollie into the world. I’m so grateful we didn’t have a set-in-stone birth plan that we were holding onto when we showed up at the hospital three weeks before our due date. I think if we had, that roller coaster would have been even harder, and taken a different toll on us.
It’s funny, because in most areas of my life, I’m such a planner and really like to have options. But for some reason, I’d held very loosely any idea of what I wanted our birth story and experience to be like. Looking back, I believe it was orchestrated this way by God because our journey was going to be different to anything we could have planned for or imagined. I’d never truly understood the unique experience of birth until we went through it ourselves. There is so much mystery, trust, fear, strength, vulnerability, and emotion surrounding it all.
I’m still working through how I might approach it differently if we ever have the opportunity to do it again. I would still walk into it with open arms, yet more empowered and less fearful of the unknown. It was quite scary for me when things took a sharp turn, not to mention a bit defeating and overwhelming, but I think most of that came from having deeply buried expectations of what I’d hoped would happen, even if I didn’t have a “plan.” I’ve learned that our expectations hold so much weight for us, and can often rob us of the joy of simply being present, even in the midst of such uncertainty.
Q: Over the first 40 days of your little one being earthside, how did you feel? Did you have a supportive network around you or did you remain fairly private?
A: I was equal parts blissfully wrapped up in all things baby, and overwhelmed. Life truly turned upside down for me and Evan, and I don’t think we were quite prepared for what was on the other side of pregnancy.
I’m not sure anyone is ever truly prepared the first time you bring a little one home, but it felt like a lot for us. I would love to say it was 99% incredible, but it was so many things all wrapped up into one. We were both just so grateful to have Ollie earthside after such an emotional birth experience, but we needed a lot of grace from those around us to find our feet again. The first three months were the hardest. Again, I think so much of that comes from having expectations that I could easily transition into motherhood while still pouring myself into my marriage, career, and other important relationships and responsibilities at the same level as before. It just felt like a lot all at once.
All that is to say, we were incredibly lucky to be surrounded by the most supportive family and group of friends. Countless calls, homemade meals, flowers, love notes and texts, visitors, and one very sweet baby boy. In the end, to be showered with so much love was truly the salve we needed for our weary souls at that time — and lots of baby cuddles.
Q: Since becoming a mother how has your self-care changed?
A: This may still be a work in progress question for me. My own self-care is quite minimal these days, but I view taking care of Ollie as taking care of me and our family. His needs are so much more primal and necessary. I’m sure balance will come again very soon, but in the meantime, this life feels like the most natural thing for me. I’m just thankful I get to care for him every day.
Q: What are some of the resources – be they books, nutrition, practitioners, or rituals that you’d recommend to other expecting moms in the parenting years?
A: Since life as an expecting mama is full of many different experiences, I think the best thing you can do is to take care of yourself in all the little ways only you know you need. For me, that was getting lots of sleep at night, drinking lots of water, limiting my caffeine intake, and staying as active as felt doable and comfortable.
I also cherished the moments I had alone during pregnancy, just me and my baby, because it felt like I could connect with him and check in with myself – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If ever I felt anxious about the future, long walks did wonders. As did calling a fellow mama friend who could give such good insight and the truth that nobody ever feels ready to become a mother, and their added encouragement to truly savor the last moments you have on your own and with your husband before life forever changes. We also took the time to do some travel during pregnancy, which I’m so glad we did. Travel is so life-giving to me, so doing local and short distance trips were really special during that time and are still some of our favorite memories.
Q: What rituals or routines do you implement to foster a deeper connection with your little ones? If you are a mom of multiples, do you set time aside to be with each of them individually?
A: I cherish my time with Ollie. I’ve learned to embrace all of the little moments with him, particularly because many days are filled with me at work, and Ollie at home. It took a good chunk of time to truly feel okay about leaving him each morning, and not be filled with the guilt you hear so many women talk about when they make choices to continue to pursue things outside of being a mama. Ollie and my family are my everything, yet I also have a career I love, friends I adore, and things I love getting to do just for me that give me life. The biggest priority though is carving out every moment I can outside of work to be with my family. Ollie is nine months old now, and I truly can’t comprehend how quickly he continues to change and grow.
A mama friend recently reminded me, it’s quality over quantity of time that really matters. It’s simple and obvious, but it was something I really needed to hear. Every giggle we share together, every time I get to be with him while he eats, plays, reading books together, bath times, long stroller walks, trips to the park, car rides — all of these little rituals and outings, they are such fun, simple, sweet moments I love getting to do with him. I see it in his face and in his demeanor — all of these times together continue to grow our relationship, and really all he wants is my time and affection. He’s so easy to love.
I love that I get to start and end my day with him. I live for his cuddles during those early morning hours and during our early evening bedtimes. His routines have become my routines and I cherish them.
Q: Motherhood often means finding peace within the chaos. We are big believers in managing our mood in order to show up consistently as the mother we know we are and want to be. What are your favorite products from THE FULLEST Shop that support your mood and help you stay centered?
A: Oh, I love this. Showing up and being present, regardless of what the day has thrown our way, has been something I love about becoming a mama. The moment I’m heading home from work, the idea of seeing Ollie and knowing I’m walking back into his little world, always gives me a moment to pause and I’m always reminded of the incredible gift I have waiting at home — he’s always so expectant, so full of love and joy, and he makes it easy to show up consistently for him. He’s my best reminder that life is about our families, our people, and nothing is so great or grave that it takes away from the moments you get to love your babies.
Two products I love from THE FULLEST are Inheal™ probiotic saffron milk bath and Warm Feelings™ saffron latte. I love a good wind down and baths are just that for me. I don’t take them often enough, but when I do, I love Inheal’s healing benefits. The saffron latte is truly like a big hug, and it’s even better that it’s so wonderful for you and tasty to boot.
Mindy Gayer is the founder and principal designer of Mindy Gayer Design Co., a full-service interior design studio based in Orange County, California. Prior to her interior design career, Mindy had a quaint letterpress stationery store, where she first fell in love with design, on paper. Being creative is something she loves doing and being, and is how she’s spent much of her time over the years. Her newest, and most treasured endeavor, is becoming a new mama. Mindy brought little Ollie into the world earlier this year and entered a new starry eyed chapter of her life — motherhood.