Welcome to our new series: Perelel Lives. We live in a society that glamorizes and celebrates women‘s careers, the companies they’ve built, the movements they’ve created. But, what we’ve failed to highlight is a facet of their lives that is far more personal—a side that presents perhaps the hardest, but most rewarding job of all—a job with no PTO, no holiday breaks, no sick days, and no salary. Oh, and it also lasts a lifetime: motherhood.
Perelel Lives elevates stories on becoming and being a mother from our community of women we admire, women who do it in parallel to their personal and professional pursuits. Here, we have real conversations about motherhood.
This month, we decided to look no further than our own office for our Perelel Lives feature. For those who don't know, July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month, which is extremely personal to our own Perelel family and our origin story as a brand. It's part of the reason we get up every morning and do what we do. It's the catalyst to our ultimate mission of seeing a world with more healthy babies and more healthy moms. And it all starts with Perelel's very own co-founder, Victoria Thain Gioia.
So, we sat down with a woman who inspires us on the daily to share her own parallel life. Keep scrolling to read.
Perelel: Did you always know you wanted to become a mother?
Victoria Thain Gioia: 1,000 percent.
P: Were there periods where you didn’t want to have children?
VTG: No, but maybe sometimes right now…just kidding, love my kiddos.
P: How did you know when you were ready to have children?
VTG: I don’t ever believe you’re 100 percent “ready” or that there is a perfect moment to have kids. There will always be something going on, life will be busy, or the world might even be in a global pandemic, but you just sort of figure it out.
P: How did you feel about the idea of motherhood with regards to your career or personal passions? Were you fearful of having to make concessions?
VTG: Yes, definitely. I think it is unfortunate that in today’s world many women do have to make huge sacrifices in either their career or with their children in order to succeed. Whether that means a little thing like missing bedtime at night or passing up an important business trip. All of the little and big moments add up and make it incredibly challenging for working moms.
P: Motherhood is wonderful, but also hard. Did you feel like you had honest support ahead of that stretch of your motherhood journey to really understand what you were getting into? Do you think there’s been a generational shift where women are more open these days?
VTG: I think more women are finally opening up about how hard it is, how you actually feel while trying to be a “perfect” mom on the outside and sharing more about all of the ups, downs and heartbreaks in this journey. I wish I’d felt more open early on. Our first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and I felt so broken and alone. When I finally opened up to my closest girlfriends, I realized how important that support was and how much I needed from them (and of course, how much they were there for me, no questions asked). I regretted not sharing everything earlier and maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone during that period.
P: What has surprised you about motherhood?
VTG: How little sleep I can actually function on, but also how much you can love these little babies and give your everything to keep them happy and safe.
P: Have your priorities shifted? If so, how?
VTG: Of course they have, and I think that's a good thing. Kids will help give you perspective on what matters, big and small. And usually help you stop sweating the small stuff, mostly because you can’t anymore. There are just not enough hours in the day!
P: What are your proudest moments?
VTG: The birth of each of my children.
P: What have been your worst moments?
VTG: When we had to hand our two week old daughter off to have a multi-hour surgery. My heart stopped for that entire day.
P: This month is National Cleft And Craniofacial Awareness And Prevention Month, which is a very close to home topic for you and part of Perelel's origin story. Can you share a little about your experience and how it led you to Perelel?
VTG: At our 20-week scan, we learned that our baby girl had a cleft, and it felt like the next four months of our pregnancy and the first year of her life was a whirlwind from that moment onward. We were fortunate to have an incredible team of surgeons and doctors at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles who performed our daughter's initial surgery at two weeks old and will continue to be part of her "team" over the next stages. We will be forever grateful for the care she was given and how wonderful every doctor, nurse and everyone there was to both supporting her as well as us as scared, emotional parents. As a mom, I was overwhelmed, and most of all, wanted to understand the "why." While we will never definitively have that answer and I wouldn't ever change an ounce of our perfect little girl, I was floored to learn that there was potentially something I could have done and never wanted another mom to feel that same failing from a product she trusted. We learned that these types of clefts were often associated with a folic acid deficiency and that was where we first started learning about how important the format of ingredients were, the dosages and finally the timing.
P: How do you stay motivated?
VTG: I want to be a role model for my children—especially for my daughters. I am inspired by them to build a business that supports women and improves the life of another mom, if only in a small way.
P: How do you take care of yourself or prioritize yourself?
VTG: I try to take time every day to work out. It's my de-stressor, my "me" time, that is non-negotiable. Even if right now that just means just a walk around the block with the baby strapped to my chest.
P: Are there any rituals you’ve incorporated that have helped you forge stronger connections with your children as well as yourself?
VTG: I don’t miss bedtime. Unless it is an absolute must, cannot be changed type of event, I put my children down every night (which is usually at least an hour long affair these days). This has been one of the silver linings of this pandemic for my husband and me, but something we are adamant to continue once the world goes back to normal. I know in the future I might have to miss it here or there, but I will always try and make sure my husband can be my backup on those days.
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