Meet Later Mom to Be Jennifer Clary


YOUR NAME: Jennifer Clary
AGE: 35
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Single
RESIDENCE: Los Angeles

I am the co-founder and President of The Baby Box Co, which equips parents across the globe with vital education and resources timed to their child’s developmental milestones. 35% of all expecting parents in the USA, Canada, and UK register with our platform currently and our community is growing every day! I created The Baby Box Co to ensure that parents have equitable access to vital health and safety information. All parents in our three active territories can join www.babyboxco.com for free, take an education course appropriate to their child’s life-stage for free, and receive a high value product or service tied to that education for free.

Tell us about your impending path to parenthood. My partner and I were married for 13 years. We were so busy working throughout our 20s and quite transient, moving from NYC to Austin and finally LA. I think we just assumed we’d be able to start a family in our 30s without incident; it seemed sensible to wait until we were more financially secure and had a home base. Anyway, long story short, the years snuck up on us, and suddenly I was 34 years old facing fertility challenges and undergoing IVF! The process was not an easy one but we miraculously retrieved some viable eggs. It was recommended by our fertility doctor that we find a gestational surrogate to give the pregnancy its best shot at success and so we did. Unfortunately, four months prior to our daughter’s arrival, my husband left and I am facing a new parenthood trajectory. I’m publicly acknowledging this as part of my path for two primary reasons:

  1. It is my truth, and I don’t want to present a skewed, tidier front to the mothers who follow The Baby Box Co. I want to be real. I help represent a growing brand that services families, all kinds of families. Many families experience radical shifts in structure, as mine has, and that can be really challenging. I want parents to know that The Baby Box Co is a platform that acknowledges parenthood conditions are not always perfect. I get it, The Baby Box Co team gets it, and our community exists to acknowledge and support all parents equally.
  1. Life has ups and downs. I believe that it is how we behave in the down times that defines us. I want my daughter, Lyric, to be able to look back on my interviews from this difficult, heart-breaking, life-altering moment in time and know that my love for her burns fiercely, that the thought of her arrival fills me with strength, and that I would not change a thing about my life because her existence alone justifies every decision I have ever made.

(With Michelle Vick and her Children)

How did you choose your surrogate, and what advice would you offer to others considering going this route? I am inordinately fortunate on this front. One of my closest friends saw that my husband and I were kicking off a search via an agency and stepped up to offer herself as our surrogate! She has been amazing throughout the process and it feels natural to have her central involvement given our shared history. My advice to others considering surrogacy would be to have a strong legal understanding of the process to ensure no parentage contest and to select a surrogate whom you know and trust or one who has been professionally screened for physical and psychological suitability. Oh, and of course spoil your surrogate like crazy because it takes an incredible human being to carry someone else’s child – recognize that!!

How do you think being a mom will influence your work? The honest answer is that I’m not sure, but I do intend to keep working. I’m deeply committed to my work, and I’m lucky to have a strong support network of family and friends who are willing to assist with childcare as needed.

What did you launch prior to The Baby Box Co? I founded a media company as a college student at Vassar in 2003, which enabled me to graduate early the following year. It provided media services for businesses like Jewels by Park Lane, GE Healthcare, Dow AgroSciences, etc. In 2009, my partner and I founded the first nationwide vegan meal delivery service, Gobble Green. We sold that business in 2012 and I founded The Baby Box Co in 2013 with Michelle Vick, who has been my best friend since we were 11 years old.

(with Michelle)

What are your goals and future plans for The Baby Box Co? Our goals are to roll out more life-stage education courses and rewards for our parents, to expand our program geographically, to increase engagement with our families face-to-face through community events as well as digitally, and to always lead with fact-based information that cuts through the noise to bring parents greater confidence and peace of mind.

What advice would you offer to multi-tasking “later” moms? It can be easy to let minutiae overwhelm. Keep in mind that time is the most precious commodity and you are entirely in control of how your supply is expended.

What do you do to practice self-care and de-stress? I spend time with family and friends, shower my dogs with love, travel, play the piano, read, go to Hollywood Boxing Gym or do Insanity with Shaun T at home, hiking…loads of things, really! I used to work 20 hours a day every day, but it wasn’t sustainable. I felt horrible being exhausted all the time, I was depressed. When I hit that wall, I realized I had to make some room in my schedule for ME. So that’s what I did and it’s honestly given me a fresh perspective on life, which has positively impacted my health, my happiness, and the quality of my work.

(With Family)

What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over?  I think this is subjective, but for me the positives are that I had more time to independently pursue my own interests before becoming responsible for another human, financial preparedness and identification of a strong support network. The challenges I foresee are mostly physical. I mean, I certainly didn’t have raging sciatica or a mean heel spur in my 20s. I’m sure these types of aches and pains aren’t going to enhance my experience of chasing a child around. :)

What words of wisdom would you like to share for someone contemplating motherhood over age 35?  If being a mother is an experience you want to have, then there is a path. Even if you experience difficulty conceiving or carrying your own child, even if surrogacy is not a viable option due to legal, financial or other obstacles, there is a way forward. There are more than 100,000 foster children eligible for and waiting to be adopted in the USA alone. https://www.adoptuskids.org/ is a good initial resource for those interested in learning more.

 

 

 

 

 

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