Pregnancy Post #2

Is it hard not knowing the gender?

It's so weird...in the beginning I thought about it a lot. I always tried to envision my son or daughter and different activities I would be doing with them, or different conversations I would be having them. However, now as it gets closer and closer to my due date...I literally don't think about whether it's a boy or girl AT ALL. It is the furthest thing from my mind. I am constantly worried about the baby being healthy, having a safe and easy delivery, and all of the really big things. Whether it's a boy or a girl just couldn't matter less to me. My husband...he's a different story. (Just kidding...kind of). My whole life I always pictured having a boy first... maybe that's why in the back of my head I think it's a boy, but other than that I don't have any real reason to think one way or another. 

What weird pregnancy things have you had happen lately?

I will for sure think of more things to add to this question immediately after it’s posted, but there are two things I can think of off the top of my head. I've started getting Braxton Hicks contractions- which really scared the sh** out of me when they first started happening. They still don't know if the first time it happened if it was a Braxton Hicks contraction or just severe round ligament pain, but I was unable to stand up straight because of the pain. It scared me so much that I went to the doctor. Of course they immediately did an ultrasound to check on the baby and checked to make sure my cervix was still closed.

Braxton Hicks contractions aren't real contractions - they are a sudden tightening or hardening feeling in your belly and they can range from uncomfortable to pretty painful. They are known as "practice contractions" that are made to prepare you for the real event.

The other weird thing that I can think of off the top of my head, is I've developed that line down the center of my belly that lots of women get during pregnancy (Linea Nigra). It's still pretty light and only from my belly button down, but I'd imagine its going to get darker as more time goes by. It really doesn't bother me at all, and I've read that it fades pretty quickly after pregnancy. If it doesn't, I wouldn't care! 

Have you chosen a name?

Nope. Every time I get my heart set on a name, I change my mind two weeks later. And then I think to myself...wait you can't do that when the baby actually arrives! Any and all suggestions are very welcome! No seriously...DM me! Here are the things I look for in a name. For a boy- I would love a strong, one syllable name if possible. I would love to think of my future son as being athletic (if he's not, that is fine too!!) so I try to think of names that would sound good in that respect. I also like to think of boy names that would sound good in the business world, which has eliminated some of the  names that I used to love. For a girl- I used to love boy names for girls, but, now that I am pregnant, I picture my future daughter being very feminine. Those names no longer seem as fitting. My mind can, and probably will, change ten more times until my due date, so don't hold me to anything! I would love a sweet, girlie, semi-trendy (but not too trendy) name. AKA not naming her Apple or Orange. SEND ME SOME SUGGESTIONS!! After the baby arrives, I'll tell you guys my list of top contenders that I may or may not use for future kids.

Are you planning on breastfeeding?

Yes, if I'm lucky!!! I've read about all of the benefits for the baby and mom (and losing pregnancy weight quickly because of breastfeeding is just an added bonus).  I know lots of women struggle with breastfeeding, so I would absolutely love to be able to do it. If  it's too hard or my baby isn't getting enough milk because of it, I am not opposed to formula at all.

Will you tell everyone how much weight you gained? 

Yes- in my last pregnancy post (which will be live in a month) I will for sure. While it’s not a secret at all, I just don't love hearing from everyone that I've gained too much or too little. 

How many kids do you plan on having? 

I would LOVE to have 3 kids, but we will see what happens! 

Who are you planning on having in the delivery room?

In the actual delivery room- just my husband. I have so much anxiety as it is, that the less people in there the better.

What's your favorite part of pregnancy?

I never thought I'd say this, but I love being kicked all day long :)  It's the coolest feeling in the entire world!  Sometimes when I'm going about my daily routine, I actually forget that there's a growing human inside of me - and it's the best reminder. My least favorite part (even though none of you asked) is that I officially don't sleep more than 2 hours at a time without having to wake up to pee or to change positions due to being uncomfortable. I can only imagine how much worse this is going to get over the remaining weeks!
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Pregnancy Post #1

family, baby, pregnancy, photography
photography c/o {Rachel B Photo Studio}

 Thanks for sending in your questions in DMs!! Some of the questions were the same so I combined a few of them to make them more broad and general. I'm going to do a lot more posts and updates so comment below or DM me anything you want me to add to the next post. I will obviously never disclose your IG handle or name!

Q: How did you know you were ready?

To be totally honest, I still don't know if I'm fully ready, but I am SO excited to be a mom. I've been pretending to be a mom with my barbies and dolls, and playing house with my little brother since I was 3 years old. I know you can only prepare yourself so much, the rest you learn by experience and taking advice from trusted people. Everyone always says you're never ready until there is a baby in your arms, and I fully get that now.

Q: Did you do anything differently or out of the ordinary before you got pregnant?

The only thing I really did differently was take prenatal vitamins. I took these {Nature Made Prenatal Tablets}. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I was taking a very expensive prescription vitamin (VitaPearl) and my doctor said that those are great but the exact same as the Nature Made Prenatal Vitamins.  She told me to switch and save my money. I also started working out a little more than normal before I got pregnant.   My doctor told me that whatever you do before you get pregnant you can continue to do during your pregnancy.  I was running 2 miles a day before I got pregnant, doing the stair master, and lots of weights...however, when I actually got pregnant, I modified my workout.

Q: Do you eat really healthy?

Honestly no, but this is going to be one of the number one things I try to change ASAP.  So, as weird as it sounds I eat REALLY healthy and REALLY shitty at the same time. I eat all of the healthy foods--fruits, veggies, protein, etc., but I also eat the not so good foods. I never turn down eating pizza, donuts, sweets...I could keep going. I know it's great to treat yourself when you have a craving, but the second half of my pregnancy I am going to try to stick to an 80:20 plan. 80% healthy, 20% give into cravings. An example of one of my cravings is Sprite.  Although I know there's no caffeine in it so its technically safe, it does have a lot of sugar in it.  I am going to try to keep it in the 20% department. I'm also a vegetarian which has been a little bit of a challenge. I have to find other ways to get my protein (such as eggs, cottage cheese, peanut butter, etc.) I still eat fish, and, now that I'm past the half way mark, I occasionally eat Sushi. Before you freak out!!... my doctor told me that as long as I'm not having grocery store sushi and its from a trusted place,  she doesn't have a problem with it. Obviously every doctor is different!

family, baby, pregnancy, photography

Q: Where do you buy maternity clothes?

So I am really struggling with this! I REALLY don't want to buy very many maternity clothes, but I know eventually I will have to, especially for the last couple of months. I've been avoiding buying maternity clothes so badly that I actually cut slits in the top of some of my leggings so that I can continue to wear them. I've bought a FEW maternity jeans and leggings, but when it comes to shirts and sweaters I am going to try to wear my own for as long as possible.

Here's what I have...

{Spanx Maternity leggings} {Koral Activewear maternity leggings}{Rag & Bone Maternity skinny jeans} {Maternity dress}

Q: How did you know you were pregnant?

 My cycles are VERY long (most peoples are 28-30 days).   Mine have been up to 45-50 days, so  I found out way later than most people that I was pregnant. Sorry to be graphic, but my breasts were way larger than normal, and, all of the sudden, I started having food aversions. I remember at the very end of September going to my favorite restaurant in the world, Athenian Room, and not being able to eat my meal...that's when I knew I was probably either dying or pregnant. The other weird symptom I had was that I was constantly SO thirsty. No matter how much water I would drink, I could not quench my thirst.

Q: Did you experience morning sickness?

 I was REALLY nauseous up until 12/13 weeks, and then I literally woke up one morning and was completely fine. I really only got sick one or two times, but felt nauseous all day every day for a couple of months. The only things that would help was gum, sour candy like Preggie Pop Drops, crackers, and Sprite.  You know...all of the really healthy stuff. There was one night in November that I got SO sick that I actually had to go to the hospital for an IV. They still aren't sure if it was food poisoning or the 24 hour stomach flu that was going around at the time, but that was a night I will never forget.

family, baby, pregnancy, photography

Q: How are you going to dress your baby?

I'm not sure yet but it is seriously so fun to look at little boy and little girl clothes. One thing I do know is that I'm not really a collared shirt and pearls kind of girl when it comes to style, but who knows how I'll feel when the baby gets here.

Q: Did you get pregnant on purpose or by accident?

Not that this is a bad question, but I've actually been asked it more times than I would have ever imagined, and it still makes me laugh every time. (I don't know why) I think it's because we've spent our entire lives trying to NOT get pregnant, that it is so normal to think that it would be an accident. I definitely wanted to be a mom and I was not not trying if that makes sense. I had done a pretty good job for 27 years of not getting pregnant, but this baby was not an accident! haha. I am going to do another blog post soon about my experience with getting pregnant.  I had a complication in the beginning of the pregnancy that was very scary and that many people may not know about, so I am happy to talk about it to help anyone else who is going through that now. More to come on that later...

DM me or comment on this post any other questions you have that you want me to answer in the next post! xoxo PS if you missed my baby post from yesterday on my favorite products click {here}
family, baby, pregnancy, photography

family, baby, pregnancy, photography

photography c/o {Rachel B Photo Studio}


Baby Gifts

Shopping for babies is pretty addicting whether you have kids or not. I have looked for any excuse to browse the baby departments probably starting in High School. Above are some of my favorite picks and they all make really good gifts. You can click on the images directly above or shop the links below.


The business of blogging

Looking to start a blog or enhance one that you've already started in 2018? I'm definitely no expert or by any means one of the best, but I've been doing this for 7+ years now and would love to help you all in any way that I can. 

1. Find your niche: This sounds so easy, yet it's what bloggers and influencers struggle with most. While you should most definitely define your focus off the bat (whether it be fashion, beauty, lifestyle, fitness, food, etc.), you have to make it flow naturally with your lifestyle or you are going to set yourself up for failure. Trust your own voice, and create content that fits with your daily life. The second you start creating content for other people, you'll lose your voice.

2. Aesthetics: Yes your mother is right - looks aren't everything.  However, we all know making a killer first impression is key. The look and feel of your platform is what is going to initially attract followers, and then your content is what will hook them. This is something that I had struggled with for SO long.  I would try using the same regular Instagram filter on every picture, yet my account did not seem to flow at all.  I was using pictures with different colors, at different times of the day, and using various cameras/devices and expected it to all blend together using a simple "mayfair" filter. One of my friends (whose account you will see below) gave me the best advice I had ever gotten on branding my account. PRESET filters. That's it. That's the key, and that's what all of the accounts that I've idolized for so long are doing. For the life of me, I couldn't understand how they were making the two most drastically different photos flow one after the other. Thanks Hilary (Vibetribe Creative)! You've made my life a lot easier. If you take a look at my Instagram account, I've started doing this with the last 9 photos.  I still have a long way to go as I am still playing around with the program and getting to know my preset filter. There are still photos that just aren't going to go with the look of my account, which is why I've had to learn to be selective with what I post.  The preset filters are life changing. I've attached 3 of my favorite accounts who master the preset look below. When brands look to work with influencers, the consistency, flow, and overall feel of the page is one of the very first things they will look for.

3. BE PICKY! When I first started my blog in 2011, I would get SO excited when a brand or company would ask to work with me that I would work with ANYONE and EVERYONE that asked me.  However, as I became less of a rookie, I realized that in order to attract the audience that I wanted, I had to only work with companies and promote products that were authentic to my blog (and myself). Why would someone take my advice on a skincare product if I didn't actually try it and use it myself? Although you may feel "rude" turning down collaborations, partnerships, or even paid posts, it's more beneficial in the long run to stay true to yourself and the brand you are creating. Taking on too much and spreading yourself too thin will almost always come off as fake. This will not only turn off followers, but will also be a deterrent to more ideal brands that may want to work with you in the future. 

4. Authenticity: When a brand wants to work with me, they typically ask me for my media kit. One of the most important sections a brand will look for are your stats + engagement. On the other hand, when an account asks to work with me, authenticity is one of the first things I will look for in them as well. Accounts that have a high number of followers or "likes" but very little engagement is a huge red flag for brands + companies. Companies will look for a photo's "likes" and comments to coincide with each other. For example, on average, a photo's number of comments should be 5-10% of the number of "likes" they got.  If a photo gets 500 "likes", it should get somewhere between 25 and 50 comments. Of course, this is just an AVERAGE, so there will be photos that get way more or way less (especially depending on the time and day it is posted).  In general, this is what companies and brands will be looking out for. Also, "likes" should typically be around 6-10% of a brand's total follower count. Again, this is just an average number so there will always be outlier photos.  When the numbers don't add up, that can mean this brand uses bots, or fake, followers or likes. If you are authentic and still struggling to get your numbers to balance, try to comment on accounts similar to yours, and "like" photos under hashtags that relate to your niche, such as #fashion, #ootd, #style, etc. 

5. Engagement: This is one section where I really need to start practicing what I preach. User engagement is critical to the success of your blog or influencing platform.  This is done through responding to people's comments, liking their comments, asking questions, starting conversations, doing Instagram live sessions, Q + A's, etc. Your audience and followers want to feel like they know you, and can connect with you, and vice versa. Aside from the business end of this, I've genuinely formed relationships and friendships with people within my social media platform. As fortunate or as unfortunate as this may be, it's no secret that in 2018 social media will be a driving force behind not only businesses, but most relationships as well. When I "like" someone's post, it can be a way of saying "your baby is so cute", "congrats on your wedding", "I'm sorry about your grandpa", "great family photo", etc.  Use this to your advantage, and you never know the real life friendships, relationships, or business partnerships that can evolve from user engagement. 

6. Monetizing your account: 

Once again, when I first started my blog in 2011,  I was actually embarrassing with how excited I would be to do anything and everything that could make my blog a dollar. It felt so good to put so much work into something and be able to see a return on the investment, regardless of it being extremely minimal. However, what I didn't realize was that I was working against myself. I would post a dress and confuse the F out of my audience by giving them 10 different platforms to go through to try to find and then purchase the dress. At that point, it became a lot easier for them to just google "Gold Dress from Cusp" themselves and bypass my affiliate links altogether. 

Don't get me wrong, I am ALL for monetizing your blog or platform, you just have to do it right. If you are putting in the work and want to make it a business, you without a doubt deserve to be paid, just like anyone else is for the work they do.  For my blog and Instagram account, I stick exclusively to rewardStyle and independent sponsored posts. Mostly everything else you see is a collaboration of brands that I just genuinely want to work with, or actual lifestyle posts. Just remember, it's not about a quick paycheck or having tons of collaborations/partnerships under your belt, but more so about constantly adhering to the model of your brand. 

For those of you who are interested, rewardStyle is what all of my "LikeToKnowit" Instagram posts are through. It is the first and largest invitation-only end-to-end content monetization platform for top-tier digital style influencers and brands around the world. To date, it's the only platform that measures and monetizes the influence of content on a global scale, across owned and social channels, powering influencer compensation. Essentially, rewardStyle is my agency that pre-negotiates commission rates with over 4,000 retailers and more than one million brands worldwide. Pretty cool, right?  This is why I've stayed extremely loyal to rewardStyle over the last 7 years, and exclusively use them as my form of monetizing all things fashion on my blog. 

7. Simplify EVERYTHING: RewardStyle is a perfect example of this. The gold dress I've posted above is so easy to find on the internet if you really tried. This is why putting it all in one place and spelling it out of your audience is the only way to get them to purchase things through you. I put a link to the dress, a couple different places you can get it, different colors and styles it comes in AND even went as far as to put similar dresses they may like if you know they like this one. The second they leave your page you lose them to Google (no offense, I don't know anyone that can compete with Google) which is why you want to make everything as simple as possible for them to navigate on your page. Below is an example of what I can do with each and every outfit I link to through rewardStyle. 

8.  How do you pick a blog name? Funny you should ask. What I chose as a blog name 7 years ago, Celebritized in Chicago, just no longer felt very fitting to my brand.  I don't remember how I chose it, but I remember thinking of the title of one of my favorite TV shows "Sex and The City" and thinking how I could turn it into a fashion blog title. Somehow, I got to Celebritized in Chicago. It's ironic because that title was so fitting for who I was at the time. I was a 21/22 year old girl who had just graduated from college and was all over the place in every aspect of my life, trying to make it in Chicago. I was a preschool teacher going to grad school for Sign Language Interpreting for the deaf while partially blogging on the side.  I was all over the place in my love life (we can save that for another blog post - ok or two).  Some of my friendships were a disaster and drama-filled, and I was living at my parents' house while trying to be cool and fit in in the big city Friday-Sunday. 

I started to evolve as a person and as a brand.  I wanted to continue this business and have it be all inclusive...of my family, friends, my dog Dash, getting married, starting a family one day, my other full time business Shadow Social,  and pursuing other dreams in the fashion industry.  I knew I would have to think of an all encompassing name. I came to the conclusion that going forward,  I want to be "byShanna". 

Okay, so now on to helping you guys think of a name. It's really hard, but my biggest piece of advice is to choose something that is short and catchy.  The title should serve as a thesis statement for your work, but can tangent out into every single aspect of your life. Some brands that did a really great job of this are "Cupcakes and Cashmere", "Gal Meets Glam", "Sincerely Jules", "Mama and Tata", etc. Pick a name that's not limiting or in any way restricting to what you want to achieve.  Make sure you can always relate your lifestyle content back to your brand, and then you should be good to go!

You guys can always DM me on Instagram @shanlakes!  I am no expert, but I am happy to help in any way I can. Cheers to a happy, healthy, and  successful 2018! 


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