Carrying On

Style, Beauty, Décor (and More) for the Nervous New Mom


By Jordan Reid

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“When you find out that you’re pregnant, you might be nervous. I certainly was, mostly because I didn’t know anything, and I wanted to know it all. Right now.”

In Carrying On, lifestyle blogger Jordan Reid weaves real-world fashion, beauty, home dér, and entertaining advice into a candid account of what pregnancy (and new parenthood) is really like. Fearlessly taking on topics that every mom-to-be wrestles with, including judgment from peers (and total strangers), relationship upheavals, intimacy issues, and the greatest worry of all — can you ever truly be “ready” for a change as big as a baby? — Carrying On is a must-read for any woman looking for a humorous (and sometimes heartbreaking) account of what life is like when you’re waiting for your new one to start.


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What SuperJordanWhat SuperJordan

Wished She’d KnownWished She’d Known

MANY YEARS AGO, I lived in Los Angeles and was broke. I didn’t appear especially broke, I don’t think. I lived in a pretty, bright-yellow house with green Adirondack chairs sitting on the front porch and drove a red convertible. But let me assure you: broke. Because I was an actress, which means that I was a bartender, and the bar that I worked at was located in the Valley and not especially well attended, and because at that particular juncture in my life 100 percent of the money that I did manage to bring in (that wasn’t being allocated toward rent and gas for the aforementioned convertible) was being siphoned directly into Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Forever 21.


When you have relatively limited cash flow and are relatively young and healthy, it is easy to rationalize not saving money on things like health insurance. You cannot even begin to conceive of what might happen to you that would result in things like ambulance trips or hospital stays, because let’s get serious: you’re pretty much invincible, and that’s just a fact.

Another fact: when you live in Los Angeles you see car accidents constantly. You would think this would instill in residents—especially residents of the less-than-great driver sort—something akin to the fear of God, but I had developed this elaborate fantasy in which my car would begin to spin across the highway on a collision course with a car coming in the opposite direction, and the adrenaline would cause my senses to suddenly heighten to the point where time would slow down, enabling me to deploy previously undiscovered lightning-quick reflexes and propel my body toward the non-crashing side of the car before vaulting nimbly out a window, at which point I would roll on the ground like G.I. Jane, ending up flat on my feet and cool as a cucumber, save for a slight air of (sexy, of course) dishevelment.

Incidentally, I have been in several motor vehicle accidents in my life (see: less-than-great driver), and while most of them panned out in extremely scary ways that unfortunately did not involve the slowing down of the space-time continuum or otherwise enable me to test out my SuperJordan powers, there was one time that actually sort of did. I was in London, where I was enrolled in a study abroad program, and I crossed the street looking the American Way—that is, the incorrect way—and was hit by a large black car. I was thrown up onto the roof of the car, rolled off of it sideways, and landed on my back in the middle of the street, but had barely touched the pavement before I bounced back upright (superpowers!) screaming “I am okay!” (I did this rather than do what I think I would ordinarily do in a hit-by-a-car situation—which is milk it for every ounce of sympathy possible—partially because I was mortified and partially to de-heart-attack-ify my friends, who were standing frozen and open-mouthed a few feet away, having just watched me do my best Raggedy Ann impression while flying through the air.)

So there was some precedent for my G.I. Jane fantasy. Not much, but some.

Anyway, there was a pretty good chunk of time in my twenties when I didn’t have health insurance, both because I lack foresight and because I honestly never would have anticipated what would happen next, which would be that my disinterest in exercise, less-than-healthy eating habits, and early-morning-hours-focused lifestyle would leave me so rundown that I would suddenly develop simultaneous cases of bronchitis and sinusitis so severe that I would actually break a rib while coughing.

Have you ever broken a rib?

It sucks so very much, I cannot even tell you. It doesn’t sound like it should hurt that much—I mean, some people get ribs removed, how big of a deal can they be?—but think of it this way: you know how you’re not supposed to move broken bones? Well, ribs move every time that you breathe. Which is a lot of times. All of the times, actually.

A few seconds after I coughed explosively, felt something crack in my side, and fell on the floor, my friend Heather came walking through my front door and discovered me flat on my back in my kitchen in so much pain that I was unable to explain to her what, exactly, all the writhing was about. Surprisingly, she did not accuse me of being dramatic and head to my refrigerator to see if I had any pie (which would have been a reasonable response, given her awareness of my propensity for hyperbole), but actually did what people with non-histrionic friends do: she grabbed her cell phone from her purse and dialed 911.

Guess what happened next? I rediscovered the ability to move and to speak. And used my newfound abilities to charge toward her yelling the words “HANG UP THE PHONE,” because far less important than the crippling—and, for all I knew, lung-poking and life-threatening—pain in my side was the huge, flashing red sign in my head that said AMBULANCES ARE REALLY, REALLY GODDAMN EXPENSIVE. How all this ended up: with a Heather-assisted stroll to the CVS down the block, where I picked up one of those wraparound Velcro body-cast things, a pound of Tylenol, and a Cadbury Crème Egg (because when you are sad, Cadbury Crème Eggs make it better).

You seriously need to have health insurance, guys. Like, all of the time.

But you especially need to have insurance when you are considering having a baby. The good kind. Not the kind that covers this doctor over here but not that one over there, pays for this type of thing but not that type of thing, and forces you into indentured servitude for all eternity should you accidentally interact with a human being who is not “in network.” Because over the coming months you will be going to doctors more times than you ever thought possible, and the whole series of events will conclude with a spectacularly dramatic affair involving lots and lots of very expensive medical professionals performing very expensive medical procedures regardless of whether or not these procedures are covered by your particular plan, because the people performing them will not know or care about the specifics of your carrier (and neither will you, when you are in the middle of delivering a child).

Also, even if you think you don’t want an epidural? Even if you’re sure you don’t want one, because you’re envisioning bringing a child into the world surrounded by wind chimes and gentle caresses? Get insurance that covers one anyway. Because if you make a different choice at the last minute, I can virtually guarantee you that your change of heart will not come from a place of lucidity or careful contemplation of your coverage options; it will come from a place of “GIVE ME THE DRUGS RIGHT NOW AND ALL OF THEM, PLEASE.”

The Very Most BasicThe Very Most Basic

Checklists in the WorldChecklists in the World

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN the Restoration Hardware Rocking Lamb? It’s like a perfect storm of cuteness, and a viewing of it will result either in immediate conception, or (if you’re already on board that ship) the overwhelming need to fill your nursery-to-be with retro-inspired playthings that are imported (!) and embroidered (!) and priced accordingly, and that your offspring is guaranteed to completely ignore for the entirety of their childhood. In fact, it is likely that she will not even notice the pricey farm animal sitting in the corner of her room and accumulating layers of dust until around age sixteen, when she will cut a hole into its signature (!) textured (!) plush fur, and then use that hole to hide her diary, the rolling papers that her best friend gave her, and the address of the place that her boyfriend Alex told her will tattoo you without asking for ID first.

The Restoration Hardware Rocking Lamb is super cute, as are its cousins, the Rocking Elephant, the Rocking Bunny, and the Rocking Cat. I get it; I totally wanted it, too. You don’t need it. You also don’t need the hand-knotted Moses basket, the washed organic linen bassinet bedding, the appliquéd-fleur, ruffled decorative pillows, or the dry-clean-only cashmere stroller blanket. (If you take home just one thing from the entirety of this book, please let it be not to allow your infant to come into contact with a single atom of fabric that must be dry-cleaned, because what your infant will do with that atom of fabric is kill it.)

There are some things you really do need when you’re bringing a new life into the world. You need food, a roof, and the ability to put the needs of another human being ahead of your own for a good long while (or at least the ability to consider that as an option). But the rest of it? It’s mostly just stuff, and more than that: it’s mostly stuff you can do without quite nicely.

Let me break it down for you.


Housing you like and can afford: When we were expecting our first child, I freaked out a whole bunch about whether or not our one-bedroom apartment was big enough or nice enough for a baby. And then I had a baby, and discovered that what they do for the first few months of their lives is primarily stare at shadows like they are Bruce Willis movies. A huge, spectacularly decorated house would be lovely, but for quite some time your child not only won’t care, he won’t even be able to explore, comprehend, or focus his little eyes on those crystal drawer-pulls you spent hours choosing at Anthropologie. Far more important is your peace of mind, and having a living space that doesn’t stretch your budget to its absolute limit can do wonders for that. Besides, creating a beautiful home environment doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Add color. Bring in plants. Focus on making it cozy and comfortable and you—not “perfect”—and remember that your memories from this time won’t be of crib sheets and paint swatches. They’ll be of your brand-new best friend.

A (basic) financial plan: The Good News: newborns, generally speaking, aren’t the money pit that some people fear (that comes later, when they do things like walk and talk and ask to go see Frozen again and again). You don’t need crazy amounts of disposable income in order to start a family.

The Bad News: that said, over the course of your child’s life the reality is that they will cost you an obscene and unimaginable amount of money.

The Good News Encore: very fortunately, this obscene and unimaginable amount of money is spread out over two decades and includes things like college that are far away, which means you can put a plan into place right now to make it all hurt a little less later on.

The Bad News Encore: this means you really should make a financial plan for those faraway expenses starting . . . now. And you may not know how to do this (I didn’t).

The Super Good News: people called “financial planners” exist, and you can pay them to tell you things that you do not know. So here is my brilliant advice: go talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about, and don’t be shy—be honest.

A support system: I went into pregnancy thinking that I could do it all by myself, and that I wouldn’t need anyone’s help with anything—not with emotional upheaval, and certainly not with grocery bags—and guess what? I needed help with a lot, because pregnancy is no-joke hard. There is no shame in asking for assistance, and taking this leap will be a whole lot less scary if you know that there’s someone right there next to you.

If you are not having a child with a partner, remember that this does not mean that you are having your child alone. Now is a good time to start figuring out who will be there for you during your pregnancy (and hopefully later on, as well)—a parent, a sibling, a friend, a neighbor: someone you trust, and someone you’ll be able to rely on for both small requests (carrying your groceries up the stairs) and larger ones (driving you to the hospital when It’s Time)—because it’s a guarantee that those people are there if you look for them.

A (relatively) stable relationship: This is a big one to remember: babies do not fix problems. In fact, they have a tendency to exacerbate them. Because when you have a baby you do not sleep, and when you do not sleep everything is worse. Raising a child takes an enormous amount of time and energy . . . and time and energy, unlike love, are limited resources. From time to time, you will feel edgy, exhausted, overwhelmed, scattered, and frustrated, and when you’re any one of the above, the words that come out of your mouth have a habit of doing so wrong.

So before the baby arrives, it’s crucial that you and your partner accept the fact that the coming months (and years) are going to be challenging; agreeing to try to be constructive (even when you both feel like pointing fingers and yelling “It’s your fault”) will go a long way. A lot of people think therapists aren’t for them; this is a good time to reconsider. In an emotionally charged, sleep-deprived environment that often involves clashing morals and values, having a third party whose sole purpose is to offer a logical and clear perspective sitting right there in the room with you, playing referee, can be a game changer.

Or, if therapy really isn’t for you, try this: get a pen and paper, write down arguments that you can imagine having with your partner, and work through them now rather than later, because later you will be holding poopy diapers and it will be three in the morning, and you will be both less productive and less interested in mature conflict resolution.

Every couple has arguments, and the important thing is not to make sure that you “never fight”—you’re going to fight—but rather to fight right, with an eye toward the goal: all parties involved should leave a disagreement having listened and feeling as though they have been heard. Support each other, and you will also set a good precedent for the very small person who is right there next to you, absorbing every single thing that you say. (Terrifying, I know. Guess what? They also notice when you yell at your dogs and curse at the guy in the next lane, which means you don’t get to do those things anymore, either.) You don’t need to be perfect, you just need to be willing to put in the work. That’s the best example you can set.


The desire to “settle down”: The secret I know you don’t believe: you’re going to want to be with your child more than you want to do any of the things you’re worrying about missing out on. The other secret: it’s not an either/or situation. You likely have a few months of mostly hanging out at home on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean that the “old you” has to go away entirely; if going to restaurants (or to see plays, or live music, or whatever) is a really big part of your life and something that’s really important to you, you can make it work. You just need to be flexible.

The desire to hang out with a child: I’m not especially crazy about the prospect of hanging out with kids. Never have been. But I love my kid—truly, madly, deeply, all that—and I love hanging out with him. You don’t need to be one of those preternaturally maternal people who’s just great with children in order to be great at hanging out with your own. You’ll likely even discover that hanging out with your child is the most fun thing you’ve ever done in your life.

Also, sometimes you will be bored with your child and really just want to stop playing “zoom zoom” so you can go catch up on Scandal. That’s okay, too. Occasionally thinking that your child’s declarations are not the most fascinating things you’ve ever heard does not make you a bad parent; it makes you a normal person.

The Restoration Hardware Rocking Lamb: It’s really cute. You don’t need it.

Emotional Manipulation, Buns inEmotional Manipulation, Buns in

Ovens, and Other Poor IdeasOvens, and Other Poor Ideas

I WENT TO BED ONE NIGHT in February of 2011 absolutely certain that I was not pregnant, and woke up the next morning absolutely certain that I was. Because, you understand, I had made it so.

I once told my husband that I didn’t consider myself a superstitious person, and he gave me the kind of wide-eyed “you crazy” look typically reserved for emojis. And the reason he gave me this look was pretty valid, actually. You see, I had told him about this thing that I used to do throughout my academic career whenever I had a test, which was take the test and then immediately convince myself that I had performed atrociously, working myself up into such a state that I often ended up physically ill from terror of the ruin into which I had just thrown my life. If even a flicker of “Hmm . . . maybe I actually did okay” entered my mind, I immediately flung it out like a rotting carcass and recommenced crying, complete with grand declarations to anyone who would listen that I had no future, no prospects. Nothing!

Why did I do this crazy thing?

Because I honestly, depths-of-my-soul believed that my success on any given test was inversely proportional to just how upset I was about the prospect of having failed it. The more miserable I could make myself, the more likely it was that things would turn out as I hoped. Sort of like a karmic payment-in-advance system.

This was basically the approach I took to getting pregnant.

I am pretty certain that I cried the night before we found out that we were having our first baby. And our second. Because, you see, that was the only way to make it happen. (I already said I’m aware that all this is crazy, but I am also aware that I have a 100 percent success rate going here, which is obviously indicative of my supernatural power to retroactively adjust the outcomes of major life events via emotional upheaval.)

Another thing that made me pretty sure I was pregnant the second that I opened my eyes on the day that we would find out we were going to become parents: I am not a porn star, and do not typically rock a pair of size Es, but hello, there they were. So I went and took a test, and it came out positive.

My next thought was of Jenny McCarthy. I had recently read her book Belly Laughs, in which she describes how the first thing she did when she found out that she was pregnant was run over to the mirror to see if she looked different. That seems like a kind of strange impulse, but I suppose it stuck with me, because that’s exactly what I did, too. And what I saw looking back at me from the hallway mirror was . . . well, me, except freaked out and pale. I tried an “excited” face on for size, but succeeded only in freaking myself out even more, and so I moved on to a slightly more productive endeavor: Googling.

Specifically, I searched “how to tell your husband that you’re pregnant.” Now, while it seems like the Internet might be a stellar place to locate advice of the “pregnancy reveal” sort—you’d think you’d be guaranteed to find innovative and wide-ranging ideas, no?—what The Googles said I should do is this:

       1. Make bun.

       2. Put bun in oven.

       3. Tell husband that bun is in oven.

No, thank you.

What I ended up doing: asking my husband if he wanted to take the dogs for a walk down to the river (a suggestion that should probably have immediately tipped him off that there was something afoot, since I do not especially enjoy dog walking or walking, generally). Once we got there, I sat him down on a bench and told him all the things that I loved about him, ending with the fact that he would be a wonderful father. And we hugged, and kissed, and then went to a diner and ordered All of the Things.

It was simple, and sweet, and nice. Romantic, even.

The next time that I told my husband we were going to have a baby involved fake Hanukkah presents, monsters, Ohio Walmarts, and grits. It was also sweet and nice, but slightly less simple, mostly because we were eating breakfast at a very crowded Cracker Barrel just outside of North Canton, Ohio (where we were visiting my parents-in-law for Thanksgiving), and there was a toddler (ours) present doing things like trying to launch crayons and possibly himself into the fireplace. I had taken a test that morning, and had decided to share the news in what I had hoped would be a fun and wildly original way: by putting together a Hanukkah present for our son that would somehow simultaneously reveal the surprise to my husband. Except it ended up being kind of lame, because my aforementioned belief that The Only Way To Be Pregnant Is To Be Convinced That One Is Not had prevented me from exercising any degree of surprise-preparedness whatsoever—which meant that I assembled the present during a ten-minute madcap dash through Walmart in search of anything that might suggest both Hanukkah and “baby-on-the-way.” Which ultimately turned out to be:

        A Christmas (yes, Christmas) card made out “To my big brother”;

        A pair of bargain-bin baby booties;

        A Sulley doll from the movie Monsters, Inc., because despite its utter lack of thematic appropriateness, it looked like my son might like it;

        Lots of festive paper (to disguise lameness of other contents)

But it ended up not mattering at all, because Hanukkah fail and random Pixar character or no, the expression that came across my husband’s face when he realized what was going on was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

It was also an expression of pure shock, because of course I had announced just the night before that there was no way we were pregnant. I had even cried about it—again—just to be triple-certain.

Remember that 100 percent success rate I mentioned? BOOM.


No matter how you share the news with your partner, it’s going to be special, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun.

Nursery assembly: This is for those of you who possess things like foresight and time: spruce up the nursery-to-be (anything from putting together a crib to piling a few stuffed animals in the center of the room works). When your partner arrives home, escort them in to check out your work.

Dad duds: Buy one of those BEST DAD EVER T-shirts (or something more specific to your partner).

Spell it out: Suggest a game of Scrabble, and make sure that all your answers are baby-related (this sounds crazy difficult to me, but I’m also not especially good at Scrabble, and it’s possible that you are). See how long it takes your partner to figure it out.

Puppy partner: Buy a onesie or tiny T-shirt that says BIG BROTHER or BIG SISTER and wrestle your dog or cat into the thing, then have your furry friend greet your partner at the door. Your pet may have to deal with a few seconds of abject misery, but oh my goodness, so cute.

Hello, poppy seed: One of the most fun things about pregnancy is discovering which random fruit/vegetable/seed pod your child resembles at any given time. Right in the beginning, he or she is the size of a poppy seed, so try handing your partner a single seed (or presenting it on a plate at dinner) and letting them guess what you’re up to.

Pacifier present: If you held on to the ring box from your engagement, tuck a pacifier inside and present it to your partner (complete with proposal-esque loving words, if you’re in the mood).

Baby coupon:


  • “I laughed out loud, I cried, and most of all, I felt like I'm not alone in the uncertainties of life. From relationships to style and children to home décor, your words hit home on many different fronts. I couldn't put the book down.”
    –Audrey Scheck, US Weekly's West Coast Digital Director

    “Great, practical advice from Reid who was a bit lost in her twenties, found her way in her thirties and embraced motherhood--and her life-- in all the good ways without sugarcoating the bad. A humorous, honest and heartfelt read for anyone expecting their first baby or anyone who is still in the trenches from the ever-so-difficult and rewarding journey of motherhood.”
    –Lifestyle expert Jill Cordes

    “Lighthearted and practical, candid and cool, it will validate all your feelings and help ensure the old you doesn't get lost in new motherhood.”
    –Pregnancy & Newborn

On Sale
Dec 22, 2015
Page Count
224 pages
Running Press

Jordan Reid

About the Author

Jordan Reid studied cognitive neuroscience at Harvard University before turning her focus to fashion, beauty, entertaining, and home dér by creating her lifestyle website, RamshackleGlam. Reid is a consultant for national brands and a lifestyle expert for online, print, and on-air media outlets, in addition to hosting her own online series, Jordan in the House. She lives in Tarrytown, New York.

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