The first year

People Style

June 30, 2023

Wardrobe stylist Stacee Michelle reflects on one year of motherhood.

by Stacee Michelle  |  photograph by Shakira Balerna

hair by Shassity Stevenson  |  makeup by Taï Charles

Before my son Luke was born, I read articles and books, scrutinized product reviews and maintained a needs list in Apple Notes. I was still underprepared for his early arrival. A short week prior, I was poolside at a resort in Cabo sipping virgin piña coladas at my sister’s destination wedding. 

Back home, three weeks before my due date, I drove myself to a routine OB-GYN checkup, with plans to meet with a client later that afternoon. After hours of monitoring our heartbeats and receiving second and third opinions, I learned I would not go home alone. Nor would I have the delivery experience I had (sort of) practiced. The crib had only been delivered the day before and remained unboxed. The car seat was also still in the box. And not only was my overnight bag not packed, but I didn’t even have a phone charger! I do not remember this chapter in any of my parenting books. 

Afterward, the breastfeeding struggles were intense. The lactation consultants were reassuring and gave me hope that it would get easier. But we had difficulty finding a groove latching, and it was a painful experience. I had chosen the best-rated wireless breast pump on the market; its sold-out status left me with only a pair of silicone suction cups from my baby-shower kit for the first few weeks.

On the Fourth of July, three days after arriving for my “routine” appointment, we nervously loaded baby Luke into his car seat, maneuvered my stiff, C-sectioned body into the passenger side, and drove 5 miles per hour to our city apartment 2 miles away. We had recently renewed our lease, understanding that we would be sharing a small space with our new baby halfway to year two. Keeping a somewhat clutter-free living space means being mindful when choosing clothing, toys and baby gear. As with most things, there is usually a trade-off: Fewer onesies and baby bottles mean more laundry and dishes. I have found that the latter works better for me. And there is no downside to having fewer toys to clean up. 

Wardrobe stylist Stacee Michelle @itsStaceeMichelle and son Luke, who turns 1 in July. 

Caring for a newborn in Charlotte’s center city offers convenient access to parks for daily strolls and activities that expose him to city life. On the other hand, the constant sirens, car horns and energetic conversations from the street below can either act as soothing white noise or an unwanted alarm clock without rhyme or reason.

Work had been my primary responsibility for over a decade. The transition to balancing my time between work and parenting has been challenging and rewarding. I am fortunate that I have the flexibility to create my own schedule and the support of friends and family, especially my mother, to be an extra set of hands when my hands are full.

I have heard it expressed in many ways, yet I was still unprepared for how quickly time would pass. It is hard to remember the first weeks when Luke’s father and I traded four-hour sleep shifts throughout the night so there would always be one functioning adult on duty. Now, most mornings, the baby is the last one to rise. Or the delicate sponge baths, afraid we would break him. We have ditched the newborn support, and he can splash freely in his baby bathtub. Or those first few months where he could barely roll over. Or the first time eating an unseasoned sweet potato. Now he eats what we eat and can feed himself! 

He had his first play date recently. And we took our first road trip. We were still extra cautious on the highway, but we now have confidence we can keep baby Luke safe.  SP

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