INTERVIEW WITH STYLISH MOM BLOGGER BIANCA BOLOURI
TOMBOY TURNED FASHIONISTA MOM: Bianca Bolouri tells us about her new blog, the challenges of breastfeeding and how she thinks today’s modern mom can have it all! Bianca, mom to 5-month old Parker, was born and raised in Montreal, Canada before moving to NYC and starting her career in beauty at L’Oréal. She calls Manhattan’s Upper West Side home, where she lives with her husband Vince and baby Parker. Bianca talks to us about her experience becoming a first time mom and her new blog, "The Giddy Life," which she hopes will inspire the modern mother to lead a fabulous life and have it all. Interview below:
So you say you were a tomboy growing up?? I’ve always been super athletic and I played a ton of sports when I was younger. I have distinct memories of dressing exactly like my older brother, I even collected baseball cards! I finally found my femininity closer to university, which is also when I became interested in fashion.
Can you tell me a bit about your career? After university I started working at L’Oréal as a sales rep. I met my husband there when I was 22, my prime! After a couple of years, I left L’Oréal to work for Stuart Weitzman Canada doing branding and marketing. But because I missed the challenge of working at a bigger company I ended up going back to L’Oréal in New York a few years later. I’m lucky because I love my job and my colleagues at L’Oreal. I'm happy to be in the heart of it where we really get to make things happen.
So tell me about your pregnancy/labor... Getting pregnant wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. It took us 12 months and I finally got pregnant after going to a fertility center. Ten months later Parker was born, he came late at 42 weeks! I tried everything to start labor, walked 8 miles a day, ate spicy food, had sex, you name it. Even after inducing me, he didn't budge and I ended up having a C-Section. He is the chilliest baby on this planet, I guess a sign from when he was in the womb.
How did you feel the first few weeks after Parker’s birth? When I heard Parker’s first cry it was the most profound moment of my life. I’m usually a very rational person but nothing prepared me for the first moments after his birth; it was a level of intense emotion that I never even knew I had! The first few weeks were absolutely amazing and surprisingly easy. It was the most serene time of my life. In a way, it was almost relaxing because it was the first time I only focused on one thing, Parker. You don’t think about what’s going on at work or what to cook tonight, all of that goes away for the first month.
Tell me about your breastfeeding experience I don’t have those beautiful nipples that are out and perky so Parker had some issues latching on at the hospital so we used a nipple shield right away, which was still painful but it worked. I kept trying to put him on normally until one day my boob accidently fell into his mouth as I was leaning forward and BOOM, he latched without the shield. Although it was challenging and painful at first, I love breastfeeding and my goal is to reach 12 months.
Let’s talk about your blog. What inspired you to start “The Giddy Life”? I felt that while I was pregnant and then after I had Parker I couldn’t relate to a lot of the negative content out there on being a mom or being pregnant. Articles like, “I haven’t showered in 3 days,” “I don’t need a vacation; I just need a trip to the bathroom alone.” It all freaked me out. I was mourning my previous life and Parker wasn’t even here yet. And then Parker came and I never felt like I lost myself. I still had to wake up every couple of hours at night to feed, and went through the same things as other mothers, but I never felt like I lost myself or who I was in motherhood. I was still Bianca but also a mother, both can co-exist. I want to be an inspiration to women who are on the modern side of motherhood, who know themselves and who continue living their version of a fabulous life while having a baby. And by fabulous I don’t mean jet-setting around the world, but continuing to go out to dinner, see friends, put on makeup, dress well and pursue passions, showing moms that it’s possible to be both a mother and an individual. I want to help moms find comfortable & cozy clothing that is also stylish, show them how to do their makeup quickly, share the healthy meals that I make for my husband and the list goes on... My motto in life is simple living, so my blog is my simple living approach to having a baby with an open, honest and funny approach.
What kind of mom will be reading your blog? An independent, outgoing career-oriented woman who wants to maintain her lifestyle and be true to herself while being an excellent mom to her baby.
What are the top 3 things you think a mom can do to "have it all'?
1) Get fashion help. After the birth of your child, you’re home and you have this flabby stomach and you’re often confused about what to wear. I strongly believe that when you look good, you feel good. Being prepared to dress for your new body can do a lot for your morale and confidence, especially the first few weeks. Prepping for that is important and I think it’s one way that can help a mom still feel like her old self.
2) Set a schedule of duties with your husband/partner. Don’t expect him to know what to do. And you don’t want to feel like a nagger or have your husband think you’re nagging. Set ground rules within the first week, like who is on diaper duty, bath time, etc. My husband, Vince, and I know what our roles are and there is no discussion about who does what.
3) Be honest with yourself and the people around you. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. If you’re not ready to go out to dinner with your baby the first few weeks, don’t do it. Don’t feel like you have to check a box because other moms are doing it.
You mention getting fashion help. How can a new mom do that? I peruse a ton of blogs and Instagram. While I was pregnant I looked for #cozychic and #cozycasual hashtags. And that’s how I figured out how I wanted to look the first few months. I wanted to look good but dress comfortably at the same time. I suggest being open and going outside your comfort zone to try new things; things that are suited for your new body. I think a lot of women think, oh I’ll just wear what I already have, but then they put something on and just feel terrible about how they look. It's ok to plan for your new post baby wardrobe, it's not superficial or petty. It's about being confident and comfortable in your new life as a mother.
What fashion advice can you give new moms? After having Parker, my go to was to have one thing fitted paired with something looser. Some part of your body needs to be accentuated, otherwise you’ll feel like you’re wearing a potato sack. I look for anything that can hide my mama pooch because my stomach area definitely did not bounce back, so I usually go for leggings and oversized top. In a nutshell:
1) Pair something tight with something loose
2) Hide the area you’re most insecure about
3) Don’t just look at nursing practicality, invest in key stylish pieces
4) Buy fashionable, yet comfortable shoes.
How did you go shopping for nursing tops? You never realize the importance of nursing clothing until you become a mom. The thought that I’d be out with Parker and nursing in public never crossed my mind until after his birth. Initially I had bought those terrible generic nursing tanks and crossover tops that I wore at home the first few weeks. You think more about comfort than fashion in the beginning but that all changes after a couple of months when you’re back to leading a somewhat normal life.
You mentioned investing in key nursing pieces and how it was a game changer for you. How do you suggest other moms go about finding those key pieces? Look at what you already have in your closet and assess what you need and what styles you feel comfortable in. Once you have an idea, take nursing out of it, narrow your search online or in stores for that item and then see if it can be functional to nurse. I quickly realized I needed loose fitting tops, that was my priority so then I found a few cool brands that offered loose fitting tops that I could also nurse in. One of the best things I invested in was a cotton jumpsuit, it is super comfortable, but has killer style at the same time. And I will definitely wear it after I finish breastfeeding.
What do you think is the best way a new mom can use the internet & social media without getting bogged down with info overload? The best way is through a network and not just googling questions. I think when you google something you just get too many conflicting answers and opinions. For example, I am part of this group called Mamas Unplugged with L&L on Facebook. We would just post questions all day long and other moms would respond. You have a real person’s experience and feedback versus reading an impersonal article on WebMD or on parenting.com. I’ll give an example, if you Google, “How much should my 5 month-old be eating? you end up getting a whole bunch of different information and you start worrying that your baby is eating too much or too little. If you do the same thing on your mom forum, other moms will let you know that it’s ok, and not to worry, and you get the reassurance you’re really looking for.
How do you expect to juggle going back to work, nursing, your blog and Parker? My plan is to be as organized as possible and to simplify my life. I buy things that make my life easier, for example, I just bought a practical portable nursing bag by Sara Wells so that I can have only one bag for my latop, work papers AND my pump! I’m limiting my wardrobe to things that I know make me look good and feel good, so getting ready in the am will be easier. I also plan on pumping at work, which will be a priority for me. I don’t care if it’s awkward but I will make sure I pump 3x a day to keep my supply up. Ideally, I would like to breastfeed until 9 -12 months. Parker takes a bottle very well so worst case he’ll be bottle fed but with 100% breastmilk for a full year!
Thanks Bianca for sharing your experience and tips for the modern mom!