My whole life I wanted to be a mom. I knew I wanted at least 2 kids--I was open to more. However, I also knew that I wanted to marry young and wait until I was in my late 20’s to have babies. I wanted to travel, I wanted to experience life.
When I was 20 my husband and I got engaged, shortly after we were told we may not be able to have children of our own, and that if doing so was important to us, we should get started right away. I had gone to the doctor to go over the blood test results to figure out why I hadn’t had a period in almost a year, I left with a prescription for Clomid, a blotchy, tear-stained face, and a terrified fiancé.
The next few months were filled with lots of tears and disappointment. Longing stares in the grocery store at women who were visibly showing and an in depth internet search into what other options we had if this didn’t work. Things were rough, hormones were strong and our relationship was getting weaker--but a month after our wedding, we finally got those two pink lines we had been praying for. We had no idea that over the next 6 years we would be blessed with the ability to have 3 more children and 2 miscarriages without the help of fertility drugs.
I threw everything I had into being a mom. I just knew that this was what I was meant to do with my life. I was given the chance to be a mom and I was going to do it to the best of my ability. I studied pregnancy; I had a deep need to know everything I could. I rocked my maternity jeans with pride. I rocked my babies to sleep. I nursed as long as my body and babies would let me, I learned all I could about breastfeeding, I gave in when my body stopped making milk and said “fed is best” even though selfishly it was not what I wanted and marched into the store and bought formula and bottles when I could no longer nurse. I dove into cloth diapering my third and gave it up when it didn’t work for the last baby. I changed a little as a mom with each baby. We started out doing it by the book, and we ended up doing what worked for us. I experienced Post-Partum Depression and Post-Partum Anxiety: really they experienced me. Some days Depression and Anxiety won, some days I did, but we were a team; one I didn’t want to be on anymore.
I spent my spare time lifting up other moms; I loved being the one that they came to when they had questions. I loved sharing my experience with my friends who had children a few years after me and I loved reassuring them that they were doing a great job, because no matter what they felt in that moment they needed to know that they were. I knew what it felt like to just know deep down everything you were doing was wrong, and I made it my mission to make sure those around me didn’t go a day feeling that way without knowing they could do it, they could survive.
I made myself a promise that I would never be one of those moms that looked like she had her entire life together when I didn’t; I would be honest with my kids and honest with my friends because the world needed a bit more of that. Honesty. Transparency.
Just after I got pregnant with baby number 4, I had to take my kids shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding. It was December, two days before the wedding, temperature in the low 20’s and I had a 2 year old, a 4 year old and a 6 year old. We were in and out of the van, in and out of coats, and in and out of stores. I had hyperemesis and hot flashes, I was weak, tired, past my nap time, the kids were probably past theirs as well, but I had nothing to wear and my husband was working overtime. About 10 stores, 30 dresses and 8 billion melt downs between myself and the kids later, I called it quits in the Target dressing room. The final straw was a teenage girl complaining because she couldn’t fit into her size 0 jeans while she was on her period, meanwhile I am staring at myself in the mirror, stretch marks, sagging breasts, swollen and struggling to fit my size 12’s with one kid who is screaming, another asking me for candy for the 14th time in the last 5 minutes and one trying to escape the dressing room.
I cried, loudly, while my children stared.
I went home and cried some more. I ended up leaving early for the wedding and buying a dress around the corner from the wedding venue. By this time the wheels were turning. Fast. Non Stop. There has to be a better way. Why is this the only option? Why did I just spend $60 on this dress? I better be able to wear it again. Why can’t shopping online be easier? Why were there not more ‘Buy Online, Pick Up In Store’ options? Why do all the dressing rooms suck? Where are the chairs in the stores? Is a water fountain really that much to ask for? Why are the bathrooms so gross? Why do all the maternity clothes in this town look like they were designed 15 years ago, when my mom was still having kids?
After about a month I finally told my husband. I was terrified to put the words into the atmosphere because if I knew anything about my husband it was that he will never close the cabinets after putting away the dishes and he will never let me quit when I tell him I have a dream, but I had a dream. And suddenly all those times that I would be driving down the road and think to myself, it would be cool to have a store, but what would I sell? Or, I would love to own a business, that space would be gorgeous with some clothing racks, I should really do something that supports moms… They all came together for one big TA-DA moment and I closed my eyes and blurted out “I want to open a new and used maternity store. I want it to be downtown, and I want to offer more than just clothing, I want to offer a safe space that helps moms feel good”
I expected surprise. I expected a “How would you even do that?” or maybe even a “Why?”, instead he said “What’s it called?” and that is where 2 Hearts 1 Dress left my mind and became real. We hit a bump when my son was born at 34 weeks. We had a stint in the NICU and the depression and anxiety train parked over my house for a while. But one day I got a text from a friend about a business plan competition and I decided it was now or never. It was time to turn this dream into reality. It was time for something new.
It took about 18 months to get into a space, get the idea fully together and open the doors, but 2 Hearts 1 Dress opened up on Caroline Street in Downtown Fredericksburg, VA in July of 2017. The past 18 months have been a learning experience and an adjustment, both for the store and for my family. I get to wake up every day and come to a place that supports moms, offers reasonably priced and beautiful clothing and talk to customers like they are my best friends. It has been an amazing journey, one that has pushed and pulled me in a direction I never could have imagined myself going in. It has taken my love for women to a whole new level, and put to use all those things that I knew were part of why I was created in a way that helps other moms too.
2 Hearts 1 Dress now offers more than just maternity clothing. We carry a large selection of Maternity and Nursing clothing, a line of Mama Wear and some baby accessories. We carry both new and used, and offer our customers Store Credit or Cash in hand for selling us their gently used clothing at designated times. We are one of the only local boutiques that carry Baltic Amber and we also carry a variety of Silicone Teething Accessories. We strive to offer styles and brands not available in this area, while still supporting local businesses for most of our accessories, and U.S. based small businesses for what we can’t find here in the Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania area. We offer events, classes and a safe and comfortable environment to change your baby or nurse. We have hot and cold water available at all times, we offer a ‘buy online, pick up in store’ option at no cost and are happy to ship anywhere in the world. We welcome direct messages to see if we offer a certain item or style in store and we have made it our mission to make sure that every woman that walks through our door feels beautiful, both inside and out. We strive to offer resources, opinions (we are full of those), and connections for all things motherhood.
I still have a bigger dream in mind for the direction of 2 Hearts 1 Dress, and slowly I can see that dream get a little closer, but I am very proud of where it stands right now. It has been an honor to watch so many babies grow both inside and out of the belly and to be a small part of those maternity, nursing & family pictures that our customers share on social media. I take pride in knowing that the clothing purchased here has helped you feel like a million bucks in your pictures, at your events, when you leave your home, and the conversations had inside the store have given you confidence as a mother and friend. I adore your birth stories, and your funny mom moments, it warms my heart to be tagged in your posts on social media, both as a business and personally. I love hearing things like “What a cute name for a store.”, or “Hey we should tell so and so about this store.”, and most of all I love when you walk in the door just to say hello, and leave 45 minutes later feeling lighter.
It is my sincerest hope that, one day, we will have a location large enough to offer classes during store hours, consultations, and to incorporate our online baby store, Bundle of Grace as an everyday part of the store. Until then, it would be my honor and privilege to help you in any way I can. We greatly appreciate every like, share and follow on Facebook and Instagram. We would love to provide your gift for a baby shower, your outfit for everything from a play date to a wedding, and any accessory that you may come across needing from nursing pillows to earrings.
“Welcome to Motherhood, I hope you like chicken nuggets and destruction.”
Stacey Thomas, Owner of 2 Hearts 1 Dress & Bundle of Grace.