Jewelry Designer Stephanie Gottlieb On Her Surprise Pregnancy The fertility convo, and raising good humans.

By Ruthie Friedlander

Founder of cult-status namesake jewelry brand, Stephanie is always in motion. This go-getter shares her journey from IVF to an unexpected pregnancy with baby number two, a girl!

Here, this super-woman dishes on being in the best shape of her life, getting pregnant naturally (post IVF), navigating the changing landscape of her business through the pandemic, and the importance of raising good humans. @stephaniegottlieb 

Current state of mind?

Feeling good, but also, ready to be done.

Difference between pregnancies?

Overall they have been similar and relatively smooth. I tend to go at life a million miles an hour and find myself almost too busy to notice I’m pregnant. Last pregnancy, I worked up until I gave birth, and this time around, while there’s undoubtedly more downtime given the world’s status, I’m still working nonstop.

Any cravings?

I love sweets, in fact, I love them so much that after giving birth to my son, I got kidney stones! It was awful, and they put me on a highly restrictive, zero sugar diet. Now, I’m heavily monitored and almost failed the glucose test. Apparently, there are serious ramifications, and I’ve been warned that if I were to get gestational diabetes, the likelihood of developing full-blown diabetes post-pregnancy is real. But, of course, that’s ALL I want now. During my non-pregnant life, I usually have more self-control, but pregnancy is a whole other ballgame. Nevertheless, to avoid going crazy, I give myself two cheat days a week!

What was your path to pregnancy with both?

Looking back, the experience feels much easier than when I was going through it, especially considering it was a success.

Lately, the fertility and egg-freezing conversation has been coming up a lot among my girlfriends in their 30s who aren’t quite ready to start a family. Interestingly, I find that most women don’t know anything about their fertility until it’s too late or they’re a year and a half into trying to get pregnant, and nothing’s happening. As was the case with us. We were trying on our own for two years, and my OB never stopped to question ‘what is going on here?’ or advise me to look further into why we weren’t getting pregnant. Based on my experience, women need to start exploring fertility at an earlier age. Knowledge is power, and the sooner you can address issues or plan into them, the better. Otherwise, the weight of wanting to get pregnant and not is torture and mentally can destroy you.

After going through IVF with our son, I had every intention of doing it again, but then we got pregnant by surprise! I didn’t even think my body could get pregnant on its own, but my doctor said that often the body resets after having a baby. I feel very fortunate for this.

Start the fertility convo sooner?

We must teach the younger generation to be more proactive about their fertility. Simultaneously, OB doctors need to normalize the conversation, run tests, and look into genetics with girls straight out of college. Every woman should be informed about their body and the earlier, the better. While my 30-something friends are still in the viable age range to retrieve healthy eggs, they would have been in a stronger position if they had explored their egg health five years ago.

Will you have this conversation with your little girl?

As soon as it’s appropriate, this is something I’ll have her doctor introduce. Overall this needs to be a healthier and more frequent conversation within our society.

Thoughts on raising a boy these days?

When it comes to raising our children, we have a moral and social obligation that extends beyond grades and manners, to raise good humans that contribute to our nation’s wellbeing. While this is a huge undertaking that I haven’t fully explored, I am introducing books and toys that expose him to essential topics in delicate ways. The earlier we can normalize difficult conversations like racism and antiracism, the better.

Pregnancy through COVID?

Not knowing the state of the world when you bring a child into it is scary. I feel fortunate that it’s my second pregnancy and not my first, as I would have been more worried. Day to day, I’m doing my best to tune out the noise, be careful but not stress, and ultimately do what makes me comfortable.

It’s a bizarre and complicated time to be pregnant, but equally to be engaged, a student, or a student’s parent. We are all trying to figure out what to do and how to adapt.

Exercise, much?

Right before I got pregnant, I was in the best shape of my life, and perhaps that’s why I got pregnant naturally after having to do IVF with my son. For the first time (ever), I was toned and committed to taking care of my body. I still feel that way, and overall, I’m in a much healthier place, both physically and emotionally. 

Throughout this pregnancy, my sister and I have been working out three days a week with a virtual trainer. Plus, I have been doing laps in the pool because my back hurts so much, and it’s excellent exercise. I’m planning to keep doing both of these things until I can’t. 

Post-pregnancy, I’m super motivated to get back to where I was because I felt so good in that body. 

Are you planning to take maternity leave?

I have worked non-stop for as long as I can remember. We have a high-touch business, literally. People want to come in and try on rings, which has been challenging through COVID, but we’re figuring out ways to enhance the virtual experience. With so much changing day to day, maternity leave means I’ll be out of the office, but not out of touch; my business is also my baby. Last time I gave birth, I was texting a client between contractions! 

How did you start Stephanie Gottlieb?

When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. At the time, a family friend said they knew a family-owned diamond wholesaler looking for a summer intern. So, I took the role while, but in my mind, it was a temporary position while I continued to look for another job. I ended up loving it and stayed for five years! Through that experience, I wore many hats and learned the business inside and out. Ultimately I enjoyed the company, but long term wanted to do my own thing.

Seven years ago, I took a leap of faith and started my business. While slow to start, I was able to promote the brand through Instagram, and it’s grown into something much bigger than I imagined. For the first two years, it was just me, then my sister came on board, and now we’re a team of 10!

Managing your brand through COVID?

I was definitely concerned, especially in the beginning, as our business literally shut down. Our jewelers couldn’t work, and there was nothing people could do for weeks. My sister and I set up a remote office and have kept to our 9-5 routine. Luckily my team stepped up and did everything they could to keep this going. A significant silver lining of quarantine is my time and ability to focus on developing and innovating. We’re launching a new site with a gentle rebranding and fresh designs, which I am excited to see come to fruition this fall.

Books you’re reading?

My son’s favorite is ‘One Big Heart: A Celebration Of Being More Alike than Different.’ The story celebrates diversity and commonality. No matter if we’re a curly-hair girl or a brown-skinned boy, we have one big heart. I’m loving incorporating sweet messages like this into his days. 

I haven’t had a ton of time to read over the past several months, but I made a point of reading ‘Me And White Supremacy.’ With everything heightened and so much surfaced, I felt I needed to educate myself to round out my understanding and effectively contribute to change.

Any advice…

While lovely to get advice, take it all with a grain of salt. Ask five friends the same thing, and they will have five different answers because they all had different experiences. As a mother, one of the first things you learn is to trust your instincts, go with that. It will be better than the varying opinions you’re going to get from others.