Welcome to the Baby Bag Diaries. A series where we share real stories from real mums exploring the transformational journey into motherhood. Raw and unfiltered. Join us as we shine the spotlight on the joys and challenges of early motherhood, discover their favourite products that make parenthood easier and the pieces of advice they wish they had before having a baby.

Sarah Nolen is an interior designer and business owner of Birdblack Design, B&E Customer and mother to a gorgeous 18 month old little girl. She sat down with us to talk about what it’s like being a working mum, how a baby fits into her world and why the fourth trimester is the most important.


Tell us about yourself? When did you become a mama, how many babies do you have? 

My name is Sarah and my little lass is Gloria Florence who is 18 months old.
We have an amazing Au Pair from the USA who lives with us and hubby Dave which allows me to continue working. I'm the owner of Birdblack Design which is an Interior Design Studio based in Wollongong.

Who were you before you became a mum?

Pretty much the same person. I was very conscious of the fact that I knew I wasn't going to fit into the 'typical' lane for what a Mum looked like. I worked up until my waters broke and was back at it straight after. Being a business owner has given me incredible flexibility to continue my passion whilst also being a Mum.

Gloria is so easy going and hubby and I made the decision prior to her arrival that she was going to be a part of our world. I didn't want to be trapped at home because our kid wasn't used to the real world. She certainly loves people and has always been exposed to meeting lots of people and visiting lots of places.

Are you still that person? How has motherhood inspired or changed you? Any light bulb moments?

I'm definitely more conscience of ensuring Gloria is balanced so it does mean that our wine nights out are sometimes now wine nights in haha

Tell us what you thought motherhood would be like before you became a mother? 

I wasn't prepared for the first 12 months. I found these challenging and felt quite alone as I wasn't able to relate to many Mums due to me not taking maternity leave. I think we put a lot of focus on the birth part and not what comes after.

What’s in your baby bag right now?

I actually just gave it a good clean out today.

Designated baby bag, nappy bag backpack or your handbag with baby things packed in it. What’s your style?

I no longer carry my own bag or wallet. It's amazing how quickly I realised the stuff I used to carry with me was not really necessary. It's the nappy bag with only my keys and phone as my own items.

Let’s talk looking effortlessly chic even after having a baby. We know this is an area that many women including ourselves find challenging, dressing our new postpartum bodies and reconciling our personal style with motherhood. Do you have any advice for new mums? 

My advice is to not give one iota of a care about it. Having Gloria has made me realise that this epic little kid absolutely loves me if I'm dressed up, wearing pyjamas, has mascara on, doesn't have mascara on, wearing a Santa suit, wearing a sackcloth. It literally does not matter what we look like. Let's take the pressure off.

Baby shower or baby blessing? Did you have either one of these? Tell us about it! 

We ended up having 3 baby showers due to the covid restrictions at the time. And boy were we showered with gifts. I was so overwhelmed by the generosity; we had an entire room filled with gifts. We didn't have to buy anything! This girl was very loved even before she got to meet any of them.

We’re always on the lookout for interesting baby shower gift ideas. What were some of the best baby gifts you received? 

For someone on the go like me, the ability to open a change mat one handed has been brilliant. I love your mat so much so that I recently purchased one for my sister who isn't even pregnant yet, I know that when she does have a bub she will love it as much as I do.

What is your go-to baby gift that you give to others?

Super practical. A million Terry towels!

What baby products could you not live without? 

A good nappy cream.

What advice would you give to a first-time mum shopping for all the baby stuff? How do you wade through all the noise and know what you truly need? 

Buy as you go. Get a few basics to start and then purchase once bubs is here. You'll soon work out what's missing and what's needed to make your life easier.

Hospital bag saviours – was there something that you wish you didn’t pack but wish you had? 

Homebirth Mumma here so everything I could possibly need was at my fingertips.

If you could go back to a pregnant you and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Tell myself that the birth is the easy part. Get better prepared and have support ready for once bub arrives.

What kind of mum are you now – can you describe your parenting style in three words?

Fun, Learning, Loving

What is the best lesson motherhood has taught you?

There's someone more important than myself.

Any final advice or words of wisdom for pregnant or new mums reading this?

Get rid of the Mum guilt. If your kid is happy and loved then you're doing just fine. 

March 15, 2023 — Lauren Priestley