From time to time we are going to be opening the blog to some beautiful and inspiring mama’s to share their personal perspectives on a variety of topics. We will be categorizing these “Mama Posts” if you ever wish to search them on the blog.
We begin the “Mama Posts” series with a wonderful piece from Naomi, mama to @AzlynLucille the most darling 7.5 month old micro preemie who’s adjusted age is only 4 months as of post time! WOW what a little fighter and what an amazing mama, too. This adorable duo from the Huston, TX area are proud reps for a number of shops. They got their start with @Heart_Of_Violet and @AmebelBaby and report these shop owners are now considered close friends! Here is their post…
“After two miscarriages, we found out we were pregnant with our sassy baby girl. We experienced a VERY complicated and short pregnancy, and delivered our daughter at 26 weeks exactly. Little Azlyn Lucille weighed in at 2 pounds even and she was only 13.5 inches from head to toe. The trying pregnancy and second trimester birth was not how we had expected to start our journey as parents.
Azlyn spent close to three months in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). During the first two months of our NICU stay, Azlyn’s condition was too critical to allow her to wear any clothes except headbands. Online shopping via Instagram became one of the few things I could do to make myself feel like a “normal” mom. I purchased cute headbands from Instagram small shops and surprisingly a couple of them shared our story on their feeds including @TheTwistedKnot! It made me feel so supported!
When we brought our daughter home at the end of June, she was weighing in under 5lbs and she swam inside her preemie clothes! At that time I had no idea what a “Brand Rep” was, let alone reposting an image from someone else’s Instagram to my own feed! But I was shopping and posting photos of the cute items we found for Azlyn. Somehow, by the grace of God, @Heart_Of_Violet and @AmebelBaby choose us for their teams, even though our feed was full of hospital photos and our follower count was well below 1k! When we were chosen I remember being so excited and shocked someone saw so much in us, so much that they chose us.
Earlier in the pregnancy, when I was on hospital bed rest, I poured over Instagram looking for other mamas who had given birth to micropreemies, little babies born before 28 weeks. I recall looking for hope, for strength, for anything, really. I guess that is how we got start in this community. I wanted to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of our real experience. I wanted to provide a safe place for moms who were experiencing the same thing as me to find hope and to feel understood.
Azlyn’s IG really evolved for me. Now, I am so fortunate to be able to message back and forth with a lot of moms who are on bed rest or moms who have a baby in NICU. It’s brought another dimension to our Brand Rep experience and we are very grateful for this part of our page.
Because Azlyn was a micro-preemie, she has a compromised immune system, so we have to be very careful in terms of to whom and what we expose her. Many of our new and valued relationships have been cultivated online! And I can honestly say, I have made so many friends with other moms and shop owners. I text some of these women daily and they are a huge part of our lives.
Azlyn and I now work with so many amazing shops, big and small. We have had great experiences and some not so great ones, too! About a month into our homecoming from NICU someone created a fake Instagram page using all Azlyn’s photos and had even created a GoFundMe account. I was so disgusted and shocked. Luckily the account was taken down and GoFundMe was contacted. However we find that the positives of our IG experience well out weigh the negatives. We just try to step back and keep the right perspective.
If I could offer any advice to brand repping moms or dads, it would be to remember this is not that serious. It’s not a cute kid contest. It’s not a “your kid is better than my kid” competition. Just enjoy it. You are getting the privilege of capturing your child in so many different ways; this is an opportunity for memories. Be you and embrace it. Don’t try and be like some else’s account. Showcase your personal style! Shops want to see you for who are, not you trying to be like someone else. Don’t overdo your editing. At the end of the day, these are kids, and I would never want Azlyn to look back at pictures and ask why I felt the need to airbrush her skin or make her eyes lighter or darker. She’s a baby! She has baby acne and fingernail scratches from time to time. But I am raising her to embrace who she is, not who I want her to be so a certain shop might be more likely to choose us based on an over-edited Gerber baby photo. Brand Repping can be an amazing, fun, and rewarding experience! Find the joy and excitement. Build each other up. We are ALL moms. No one understands our struggle and heartache more than other moms.
Don’t give up or compare, because we all started with 0 followers. I remember thinking reaching 5k was the BIGGEST deal. I even made my husband buy me Starbucks to celebrate. I still look at REP pages and feel tiny. I am not a professional photographer… at all! Heck, I didn’t even know what aperture was until a few days ago. But remember this, the days you feel like you are failing a little, to someone else your 500 followers or the shop that just picked you as a rep are HUGE successes.
Some days I feel like all of my pictures are horrible when I compare to that huge account we follow. But then I try to remember that we are very small fish in a very big pond. Something I have really been working on is how I handle myself in any given situation. I want to raise my daughter by example. How can I tell her not to compare herself when I look at other accounts and compare them to ours? I have started looking at so many situations differently. I now pause to think, how would I want to teach Azlyn to respond? I would want her to respond out of love, kindness and confidence. They watch our every move and it really starts with us.
So, if a NICU mama and her headband sporting micro-preemie can get their start from bedside during a long hospital stay we know you can do it too! We encourage you to get out there, take some amazing pictures and be YOU! What is your story?!”
Naomi and Azlyn, Thank you for sharing your journey with us. We are so thrilled to have met you and excited that you were out first “Mama Posts” feature… If you,the reader are interested in following little Azlyn or any of the shops featured in her adorable outfits links to all Instagram pages are included in this post.
Courtney & Liam ♥