Three years ago when we finally decided to stop procrastinating and take the plunge into parenthood I knew I was looking at some bumps in the road in respect to my career. But we were at a fork in the road in our lives, waiting any longer would not bring any solutions to our situation. I felt like I had worked hard to establish my name and my reputation as a commercial photographer and was happy to work for a few regular clients that trusted me and were really great to work with.
I have always been a hard worker you see? Working in the boys club that the world of photography has always been, where a woman is an anomaly, an accident, or probably a make-up artist if not a model, I worked harder than any of my peers to prove that I can do just as much and as well as any man in my position. I had built up a trusting relationship with my clients first as an assistant and then as a shooter. My dream was to spend my time between jobs with my baby and work with my favorite clients on a few jobs each month only. Take it easy and coast until she's ready for school and then I can fire up my engines again.
I have so many friends that were battling with the desire to stay at home and give their full attention to their families because of a fear of being left behind in their work place.
How many women do you know that had a baby and that's when everyone on their team got promoted but them? Or those who returned to work just to find that someone that they were supervising was now their supervisor?
I felt I had it figured out and boldly went where so many professional women have gone before me
My first trimester was misery, it was early winter and I spent months nursing one continuous cold. I had no energy to call up new clients or schedule meeting with old ones. And once I had no choice but to announce the exciting news an interesting thing happened. I was full of energy, second trimester is fun! But instead of work as usual, my clients started to walk away from me. My guess is some wanted to give me space, some felt they needed to find another photographer for when I wouldn't be available and some changed jobs, their companies got sold and never hired a photographer since. So here I was, ready to nest, afraid to spend money, pregnant with my little plan falling apart bit by bit. I spent a lot of time doing yoga and meditating, it's perhaps what kept me sane through the most vulnerable time of my life. That and my sweet husband, that took on extra work to make sure we'd be fine.
Then Charlotte was born and our world as we had known it turned upside down and inside out and technicolor from the adult muted calm shades it had before. I was so closely spinning in her orbit, there was no time to even think about committing acts of personal hygiene, let alone professional development.
When my first job a month after baby was born came in I was ready to turn it down. But if you live the crazy life of a self-employed freelancer, in a creative industry, in not too big city like Toronto and a new client wants to start a working relationship and has appreciation for your work, you don't say no. Two weeks of preproduction and we were in a studio shooting away. Charlotte in one hand on my boob, camera in my other hand and we were making money. It was a lot of fun! Fun and exhausting, totally messing up our routine. But hey, I felt like I was conquering the world, strong woman taking care of her family.
But with all this happening the Universe had something new in mind for me.
I moved to Canada two weeks after my 19th birthday. My siblings are scattered around the world. It's not unusual for 4-5 years to pass before I get to see some of them. Funny, since I traveled the world shooting for a living. But because of the long distance I never got to experience my nieces and nephews as new babies. When Charlotte was born on Thursday morning and my husband went to work the following Monday I was left all alone with an infant. I was completely clueless. At least my other baby (my camera) came with a manual! Nobody told me that babies need burping or how it would go down, that they scream for hours at a time every other night or that it's pretty much a given that they'll get cradle cap. I had clothes and diapers and crib ready for months before she was born, but I was completely unprepared for a whole long list of her needs that as an adult you take for granted. The routine becomes comfortable over time, but there is always something new that surprises you.
I had no idea that babies can come with so many skin issues. I mean if you think about it, the little sweetie being in water in warm place it's whole existence now has to deal with dry air and changes in temperature, plus all kinds of materials and chemicals touching the fresh delicate skin, it's no wonder there will be reactions. Beside the fact that all of the internal organs have to adjust to doing everything for themselves, it's hard work and it will show.
Charlotte had four different issues with her skin before Christmas rolled around. I read everything I could find on the topic, you know those early sleepless nights? I used them well. I called my sisters who have six kids between them for advice and the packages with creams started coming in. My husband would stop at the store and bring home a bag of creams to choose from. But being the granola mama that I have always been I analyzed every label, studied each ingredient and one by one, all those creams ended up in the garbage.
Don't take me wrong I love coconut oil, but the consistency changes and at times it gets those weird little hard lumps that make it gritty plus I get tired of greasy spills on my bedding every time my husband forgets that the stuff can melt completely and turns the container too far.
Cocoa butter was always on my bedside table, but it's so hard and takes a while before you dig it out of the container and melt in your hand before it's usable. It's only people without kids who have that much time!
So I went to my kitchen, dusted off my old books and knowledge and got to making a bum and body butter for my sweet baby Charlotte.
At Christmas time first signs of eczema were showing on her cheek. The doctor prescribed what else but hydrocortisone in mineral oil based cream. I have never used Vaseline or mineral based oil on myself and I wasn't going to start using it on my baby. I had read plenty of books to know better. In the meantime the eczema spread slowly to her arms and legs too. It was frustrating and maddening. I had so carefully prepared all of her food, it was all organic and fresh, lots of healthy fats that I rotated and the eczema stayed on. I thought adding some great essential oils to Charlotte's bum butter would possibly help. I started studying aromatherapy and found some great schools. My goal is to be certified aromatherapist by next spring. I made more butter and tested it with different blends of essential oils, with different ratios of oils and butters, we have established a regular skin regime for Charlotte. It took a couple of months, but we have it under control now.
If you love cooking, you know how exciting it is to share the food you prepared with others. I feel the same about cosmetics. A batch of butter never lasted very long, I'd give it away to friends with babies and then when we were all out of Charlotte's bum butter, I made some more. The feedback was great and we love the butter in our home so much, we all use it. It's our skin food and a part of our night time ritual. My friends and my husband kept encouraging me to turn it into a business.
You know creativity is powerful and unstoppable, you feed it a bit and it starts growing and taking over, soon enough you have to give in and dedicate your time to nurturing it to keep it and yourself happy. I spent a lot of time dreaming up Charlotte's Bum Butter and every chance I had to sneak a bit of time to myself (a nearly impossible task) I worked on making my little dream a reality.
The thought of giving other moms a product they can use without guilt or fear or another shrug with the shoulders accompanied by "I can only do so much" makes me so happy.
This has really become a passion project for me because the more I learn about cosmetics, the more adamant I become about using materials to create products that are pure. I go all the way! I have made it my mission to create the best product that's also the safest and most effective, but is also a pleasure to use for years and create loving memories for our children.
And the best part is that my muse is my little girl, my sidekick, my partner in crime and we are creating it together.
Guest Blogger Henrietta - Founder and CEO of Charlotte's Bum Butter "So Pure You could Eat it!"
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