Kate McLeod On the spiritual path to building her family.

By Babe | Photos by Sharon Schuster

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The Hudson Valley-based mom and founder of the eponymous plant-based skincare line opens up about handling pregnancy two, journeying through cravings as a former pastry chef, and how she’s carving out the time to be there for her babies, her business, and husband.

Check out our interview below and get to know this incredible mama and her plans for embracing life as a family of four.

How are you feeling?

Very pregnant and at the same time, in complete denial. It has not sunk in that we are about to have another baby.  I’m excited.  I’m also mourning the end of our time as a family of three.

What are your plans for going from one to two?

We’re going to take it as it comes. I suspect there will be lots of surprises.

What have your paths to your pregnancies been like?

We’ve been extremely blessed. I believe in the concept of spirit babies – that a soul is closely linked with one parent prior to birth. I believe our babies know us and know that we frequently change our minds. Justin and I can be sold on something one day and diametrically opposed to it the next. Both our babies took the first chance they got – and we felt it; they shot into our world like rockets. Justin was absolutely positive the first time; he knew it was a boy and even heard a voice. I felt it but not as strongly and am convinced that Oliver, our first born, was linked to Justin before birth. 

The second time, Justin had a vision of a flower blossoming on my back. I felt this baby girl transcend into our world that first week and believe we’ve been connected for a while. I felt her feminine presence, her aura, and her energy field in my physical body.

How has pregnancy been different this time around?

Ollie was very gentle at the start. I felt his calm presence and had a strong nesting desire. This little girl was an explosion of energy.  For the first few weeks, I felt hugely alive, expansive, and powerful. Then debilitating nausea set in. Ollie was born in August.  This baby is to be born in February. They are perfect opposites – six months apart almost to the day.

I think some of the differences between the pregnancies are due to the time of year. With Ollie, I felt alive, light and full of energy right up to the day of his birth. (My water broke after a dinner party where I cooked not one but two lasagnas and an array of open faced, summer stone fruit pies!) This time around, I’m tired and drained – the colder weather and the earlier sunsets push me towards the couch instead of my yoga mat.  I feel deeply tired and in need of rest.  We just escaped to Mexico for a babymoon and the sun was instantly rejuvenating and energizing. I have had severe gestational diabetes with both pregnancies and had a much easier time controlling my levels in the summer.

The pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone, particularly mothers. What has been most challenging for you and have you been able to find silver linings?

For me, the pandemic and the acceptance of work from home lifestyle was life changing.  I am also in a unique position; I had a six month old, not a six year old, at the start of this. I have also had child care throughout. The lack of community has been challenging but working from home gave our family the chance to nest, to form rituals, and to bond over both the dinner and the breakfast tables. It also gave me the chance to take time for myself.  Instead of commuting or blow drying my hair in the morning, I was on my mat.  Instead of going to dinner, I meditated, took a bath, and made pizza with my husband. I’m very blessed but overall this has been a very special time.

You’re so close to the big day. How are you preparing for the baby’s arrival?

This will be (fingers crossed all goes well) my second home birth.  Currently the birthing pool is on backorder, but I’ve been promised the restock is coming soon! I am loaded up on pads, mesh underwear, towels, all the Frida Mom goodies, and even made my own witch hazel and aloe cooling pad-sicles (they’re chilling in the freezer next to frozen cookie dough.) I just painted her room, and ordered shelves – I’m nesting.  I’m also rereading my hypno-birthing book, and I’m consciously making time to meditate, journal, and connect with my partner.

My water broke after a dinner party where I cooked not one but two lasagnas and an array of open faced, summer stone fruit pies!

You came from a food background. Is food a focus for you during pregnancy? Any cravings?

Gestational Diabetes rules my pregnancies. Insulin is not an option with home birth – sugar levels have to be controlled with diet and exercise. And since I can’t imagine moving around right now, it’s all about diet.  My meals consist of lots of protein, veggies, and low sugar smoothies. Truthfully, I have not been as disciplined as I was the first time around. (How can you not have cookies during the holiday season?!) But I’ve pulled huge amounts of sugar out of recipes and am buckling down as we come into the final stretch.  The one amazing, delicious snack that I’m allowed is Coconut Cult yogurt – the chocolate one is out of this world.  Imagine a dreamy chocolate mousse without sugar that doubles as your probiotic.  It’s heaven.

What does self care look like for you right now?

Compression socks, journaling, taking time in the bathroom (putting on a Body Stone, shaving my legs, massaging my face), preparing healthy meals vs. snacking, going to bed early, taking baths, and saying no to additional commitments.

What are the biggest lessons you want to teach your children?

  • Grounding and Stability. We want to give our children a stable, safe base from which to fly. From late in our first pregnancy, when we sat a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat together, and then later when we would spend evenings playing piano that Ollie would hopefully recognize once he was born, to early skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, and scheduled routines, now to bedtime rituals, daily dance parties, and all the kisses and hugs Ollie will tolerate – we ultimately want Ollie and his sister to know they have a solid foundation from which they can go explore the world. 
  • Community. We view community as more than a social network. We believe that positive first experiences with community lead to a world view and a general outlook of love and positivity rather than defensiveness and fear. Community, like family, stays. It’s not interchangeable; it’s built over time. It’s a community because the members keep showing up. We want our babies to thrive and feel comfortable in community.
  • Exploration and Play. Play is so important, though it often seems incredibly underestimated and overlooked by adults. We believe in the importance of play; it leads to inquiry, and inquiry leads to exploration and discovery.

How has becoming a parent affected your relationship with your husband?

I don’t think it’s parenting, it’s more general maturing and growing up that has affected us. We see someone weekly – not exactly a therapist – someone who has done and continues to do the work and functions as a guide. He recently offered that while it may be subconscious, we eventually come to see our partner as representative of the entire opposite sex. The dominantly masculine party defining masculinity and the same for femininity. And it’s normal to direct feelings towards your partner that actually don’t have anything to do with him or her. That resonated.

Transcending this, burning through these top layers opens a deeper level of love and intimacy – or so I’ve been told.  This is where we are; this is what we’re working through. I currently feel deeply called to plunge into new depths with my partner but it is hard not to get caught in adversarial patterns or resentments.  It’s challenging to stay honest and to stay vulnerable.  But the thought of breaking through this – and using the special time in which we are in as a container to do so – gives me so much hope and excitement for the future.

Advice for moms and moms to be?

Things will go in and out of balance; days will feel overwhelming; it’s natural for your relationship to change and come under pressure as you both grow.  Stay honest, stay kind, and try to stay open and vulnerable. Sometimes, just like the caterpillar transforming into the butterfly, we have to completely break down in order to take flight.