Violet Gaynor, Co-Founder Of The Glow, On Pregnancy (The Second Time), And Embracing Motherhood

As co-founder of The Glow, Violet Gaynor is all things beauty and motherhood. Herein she talks about her second pregnancy, beauty go-tos, and learning to embrace the imperfect messiness of motherhood. @violetgaynor

What is your current state of mind?
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Teary (happy tears, sad tears, tired tears, all the tears), however, my eyes are perpetually puffy these days

What were you craving this pregnancy vs. last pregnancy?

When I was pregnant for the first time, I was disappointed to discover that I didn’t have any weird cravings. However, this time around, I made up for it! Not only did I eat non-stop, but I also craved (and devoured) spicy, flavorful, cold, crunchy foods around the clock—basically anything with hot peppers, cilantro, and cucumbers! I didn’t know until birth whether I was having a boy or a girl, and now that I’ve had my boy, I feel like there’s some truth in the old wives tale of craving salty with a boy (and sweet with a girl).

What does a regular day of eating look like to you?

In my “normal” life I gravitate towards healthy, simply because I feel better when I eat nutritious whole foods. Therefore, during pregnancy, I looked at this time in my life as an opportunity to eat even better, since what I was putting in my body was sustaining two people for a good part of the year. I’d usually start the day with Greek yogurt topped with berries, almonds, honey, and hemp hearts. Lunch was a veggie bowl consisting of lentils, peas, broccoli, and kale topped with super spicy Pico de Gallo, a mound of cilantro, cucumbers, hemp hearts, and olive hummus. Plus, I snacked constantly throughout the day as I was always hungry–favorites were mangos, macro protein bars, and smoothies. For dinner, I’d usually make sautéed veggies with pasta and melted parmesan. Plus dessert, always.

What’s the first thing you ate post pregnancy?
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A big cold glass of sparkling rose.

What was most unexpected during this past pregnancy?

My emotions were off the charts! I was and still am profoundly grateful to have experienced pregnancy again, plus to have the honor of being a mother to another little human being, and to give my daughter a sibling. However, I was incredibly overwhelmed and exhausted throughout the entire pregnancy. This time around, I was much more emotional than the last —perhaps because I realized how much Plum’s life was about to be turned upside down and our days together, with her at the center of my world and heart, were numbered. Or, maybe because I am 5 years older this time and, for me, being pregnant at 38 feels very different from being pregnant at 33. When I was pregnant with Plum, it was complete bliss. All these years later, I know that my experience as a new mom and really as a mom, in general, is not how I imagined it would be; it’s a million times better in some ways, and a million times harder in other ways. While there are moments each day that make me want to cry with happiness, there’s equally moments of sadness, struggle, and frustration. With that said, I’m thankful for it all and know that it’s ok to be vulnerable and imperfect.

What was your go-to pregnancy style?

Simple, fitted pieces in dark colors worked best for me and make me feel the most like myself, even as my body is changing by the minute. That said, whenever I put on my beloved goddess-y flowy HATCH dresses (which I wear when I’m not pregnant as well), it felt lovely to wear pieces which celebrated my expanded form.

Do you think it’s important for women/moms to take time for self-care?

100%. It’s the hardest thing to prioritize but also the most important. Even taking 5 minutes to put on a mask before I shower can help improve my overall mood. It doesn’t always have to be a 20 min meditation (although that’s a goal of mine). Taking a few minutes to reset and focus on me makes all the difference.

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What’s was your number one wellness secret throughout pregnancy?

Keep moving. Admittedly, I am not a fitness person in my “normal” life. I rarely work out (mostly out of pure laziness), though, in my defense, I do walk as much as possible and am constantly lifting my 33 pound 5-year-old, so there’s that. But during both of my pregnancies, I committed to working out a few times a week (doing Tracy Anderson’s Pregnancy Project DVD’s) in the hopes of easing pregnancy discomfort and contributing to smoother labors. While my first labor was not exactly smooth, I did feel strong going into it, and my recovery, while not easy, was fairly quick.

What’s your beauty routine and is it different while pregnant?

I am pretty minimal when it comes to beauty (again, mostly due to laziness). During pregnancy, I cut out most of the products I use that have non-organic/natural ingredients and switch to more pure products that have very few ingredients so I knew exactly what I was allowing into my body.

I use, True Botanicals Nourishing Cleanser—it has a beautiful soothing smell and made my skin feel soft and clear.

Plus, Goop Replenishing Moisturizer—I use this super creamy indulgent moisturizer every night and it seeps in during the night and I always wake up feeling like my skin is in better condition than it was the night before.

I alternate between my two favorite natural deodorants—both are part of my daily routine whether pregnant or not since the average non-natural deodorant has some scary ingredients in it. I’m in love with Ursa Major and Megababe. They both work incredibly well and never irritate my skin.

I am madly in love with the RMS product line. It’s all natural and creates the sheerest look. And, has a no-makeup makeup look that adds just the right amount of glow and natural flush. I use Lip2Cheek in Smile and the living luminizer every day.

For my belly during pregnancy, I became completely dependent on using either Cocobaba coconut body oil (smells amazing and absorbs almost immediately) or my yummy HATCH belly oil which is so light and comes in the most gorgeous bottle. These two products saved my skin and I credit them both, in part, for my lack of stretch marks. Plus, it was also a lovely way to take a few moments for myself every night.

Does it feel different the second time around – like “I got this”?

It definitely felt different, but “I got this” is not how’d I’d describe my life right now. My daughter started a French immersion kindergarten program (three days after I gave birth), plus my husband moved out of town for five weeks for work, so it’s been a wild ride adjusting to my new life with two kids. While I don’t feel like I have anything under control, I will say that the three of us are finding our rhythm. Shockingly, I’ve gotten my daughter to school on time every day (with a baby in tow), and even remembered to pack a snack!

Are you breastfeeding or not, what’s been your rhythm with the new baby?

I am breastfeeding, which for me, is one of the hardest parts about having a new baby. With my first, I suffered from severe pain for ten weeks— sometimes it even felt more painful than my unmedicated childbirth. Thankfully the pain disappeared and I was able to go on nursing my daughter for 26 months (way longer than I ever expected or planned for!). This time around, the pain returned but lessened significantly by the third week. I’m not sure how long our nursing journey will be this time, but I’m taking it day by day and trying to enjoy this sweet closeness while it lasts.

If your pregnancy were a song what would it be?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the lyrics to one of my favorite songs–The Wind by Cat Stevens. So much of pregnancy and really motherhood, in general, is about listening to yourself while also letting go and surrendering to what life throws at you.

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It’s the hardest lesson to learn, but also the most important.

“I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul

Where I’ll end up, well, I think only God really knows.”

How are you feeling about your body and boobs?

Ha! This question makes me laugh because I have such a conflicted relationship with both right now. My boobs are sore, leaky, and very foreign to me at the moment. But I’m also in awe of what they’re doing and how hard they’re working for me and my sweet boy.

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My body is slowly recovering from the trauma of labor, and I’m trying to be as patient as possible with my new form. The extra weight doesn’t bother me, I actually quite like it–it’s the feeling of physical exhaustion and weakness in my core that’s hard for me to get used to. I like feeling strong and energetic, but my current state is more sedentary and fragile. I know each day will bring a little more strength, both emotionally and physically.

Do you think it’s important for kids to see their mom working?

I think it comes down to what’s right for each individual and their family dynamic. For me, work is a huge part of who I am, so it’s extremely important for my daughter (and eventually my son) to understand that work is a positive thing that enhances our lives.

Tell us about your work, how you started The Glow and what’s next for the site?

In 2011, I was newly married, working as a fashion editor at Elle, and trying to figure out how in the world I was going to make room in my busy, hectic, stressful, overworked life for a family. I always dreamt of being a mother but had no idea how women actually made that transition in their lives. I looked around and realized that so many of the talented, hard-working, entrepreneurial women in my life were also mothers and I decided right then to explore this topic of modern motherhood in a thoughtful, beautiful, and meaningful way. From there, along with my partner Kelly Stuart, The Glow was born. What started as a side project has become a full-time business that is one of the great joys of my life. At the core of what The Glow has always represented, and will continue to strive for every day, is creating a space that allows an open dialogue about the challenges, the happiness, and the messiness of motherhood. Deepening that conversation is the new Honest Motherhood section of the site, which is a place for women to tell their stories of overcoming some of the most challenging aspects of motherhood–from postpartum anxiety to the reality of recovering from a traumatic birth.

How do you take maternity leave given your important role at The Glow?

In a nutshell, I don’t. But last time, I really didn’t get a break since I was working on The Glow book (I actually hit send on the 35,000-word manuscript as I started to have contractions) and the edits were due two weeks later so I didn’t really have any proper time off. This time, I’m trying to carve out as much time as possible since I know how fleeting these cozy, hazy newborn days are.

Any advice about career, life or being a woman?

No advice, just a funny tidbit that has brought me comfort when I’m feeling like I’m failing miserably. I love this quote by Blake Lively–a good reminder that no one has it figured out, nor are things necessarily how they look from the outside (especially when looking at tiny perfect squares on Instagram).

“There’s a lady on Instagram who I used to love to watch…she just made having a baby look lovely. Everything is white and she always has a fresh blueberry pie that’s steaming…and she’s reading Old Man And The Sea. Her little baby… is just, like, sleeping while knitting… and her toddler is like giving her a reflexology massage. [I’m thinking], What?!”

While in my own personal Instagram, I may not always show the lost tempers, candy negotiations, or begging for Plum to put her shoes on, however, those moments are just as important to talk about as the perfect days spent at the pumpkin patch. As a woman who has worked hard to learn about myself and be honest about who I am, I want to show the world and my daughter (and eventually my son) that perfection is a myth and a dangerous one at that. It’s in the messiness of motherhood that real life, real connection, and real magic, happens.