Kristin Gallant and Deena Margolin, the dynamic duo and brains behind loved-by-parents-everywhere parenting hub, Big Little Feelings, are on a quest to offer well-founded guidance to caregivers navigating the good, the bad, and the sometimes questionable world of toddlers. Both besties and mothers, their online courses boast a tight-knit community of 400,000+ parents and a whopping 3.3 million followers on IG.
We sat down with Deena, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and Kristin, parent coach and mom of three, to talk about the realities of friendship, feeding, and all the feelings in between.
There’s so much pressure on moms when it comes to feeding. What were your feeding journeys like?
Deena: With my first baby, I was determined to breastfeed. I saw probably like, five different lactation consultants. They’d come to my house during COVID, and I did not give up even though it was so painful. My baby was struggling, I was struggling, but the advice that I got from everyone for ten straight weeks basically was “keep going.” So finally at ten weeks, I was like, this is so bad for my mental health, and finally switched to pumping and just fed him through bottles. Whew, I wish I had done that earlier. And that’s really what I kind of took into having my second baby, which was this commitment to myself this time. If I took care of my mental health, I was gonna be able to show up as a better, happier, more patient mom for my kids.
Kristin: I have never seen a stronger woman or person in my entire life than somebody who’s still bleeding in a diaper, boobs out. For her to have the strength to say no confidently, calmly, just nope, that’s not what’s right for me. That’s not what’s right for him.
Deena: I was able to just like, enjoy him in moments, and it was great for our bond, frankly.
The formula shortage impacted parents everywhere, and you had just had your baby around that time. What was that like?
Deena: Kristin’s baby was diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy, which is just horrible. She was so scared. And it’s hard to watch your friend go through something like that.
Kristin: You could only find the special formula for his allergy in random stores. Because of the shortage, I could get five bottles which lasted five days. I was terrified to stop pumping even though it was taxing. I couldn’t stop in good consciousness because I didn’t know if it was going to be sold out.
Deena: After work, I would do a sweep of all the Targets in town, text her the pictures, like, “Okay, they got this one. I’m gonna buy it for you.” Just out running around town trying to get what might work.
Kristin: The shortage really takes away that backup plan, you have to kind of grit through which is terrifying, and until I switched to formula, it got to a really dark place. I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis— that’s how bad it was.
What was it like to go through such a difficult time with someone you grew up with?
Deena: It was very, very hard to watch. And, so aside from just being next to her, I was ordering every formula and doing the research with her. I was like “Okay, we’ve got four options we could try. I’m gonna order you a case right now.”
Kristin: When I say that she’s an earth angel, that’s one reason why. She can just show up—and that’s what you need.
Deena: Looking back, it’s just showing up with support for each other and being that safe space for somebody to just be like, “Hey, I’m not okay.”
What inspired you to come together and dream up Big Little Feelings?
Deena: We were both so passionate about just helping kids, families, and moms.
Kristin: On Instagram, everything is picture-perfect. When I had postpartum anxiety, I would be scrolling late at night, and be like “I must be the shittiest mom on earth because I don’t look like that. I don’t sound like that. I can barely keep up. My house does not look like that. I’m a good ass mom, but nothing looks like that.” So I was like, [to Deena] “Hear me out. I think we should just show up. I don’t think we should do our hair. I don’t think we should do a selfie ring light.”
Deena: We could just show up and be real and not be perfect.
Kristin: With whatever the struggles may be, just being ourselves. I really think that was what everyone needed to see at that moment. The stuff nobody talks about, that’s where Big Little Feelings came from. It’s like, why doesn’t anybody tell you how to take a pacifier away? Where’s a child therapist there? We were like, how can we meld these two worlds together [professional vs. real life] so that actual moms can get the advice for the actual situation?
Big Little Feelings supports parents regardless of what their journeys look like. As two moms who have been through it all, what advice would you give new parents?
Deena: Some of the advice I would give is if people offer help, accept it. I couldn’t see it when I was in that postpartum dark kind of fog. I felt mostly like a burden when I would ask for help. And be okay with things not being perfect and tidy. It’s totally okay. It’s a season of life. And also, lay down whenever you can.
Kristin: If I were to give advice to anyone who’s going into parenthood for the first time, it would be that when you start to feel instincts of what you might think might be right for you, that right there is the best thing for your kid.
Deena: There’s so much contradicting information around like how to do the newborn phase.
Kristin: It’s not what some documentary says. It’s not what this one midwife or the breastfeeding support group says, because everybody’s gonna have really opposing views.
Deena: Also, close out social media if you need to. I remember scrolling in the early days and seeing all these happy families with their smiling babies, and I’m here with spit up on me. I haven’t showered in four days, and I’ve been crying all day. I’m like “Well, I’m a shitty mom.” If it is making you feel bad and not serving you, close it out. You don’t need it.
What would you say to new parents who don’t feel like they have that sense of community right now?
Kristin: Even if you don’t have the physical support, having one person to text and be like “Hey, I fucked up today.” And they’re like “That’s cool. I’m here for you.”
Kristin: [After I shared about my miscarriage], all these people came out of the woodwork, and they all supported me.
Deena: The isolation starts to turn into connection and comfort and remembering that we’re just human, this is part of the journey.
Stay tuned every month to get the scoop on modern parenthood from our community. And remember, you’re doing amazing.
Photos by Hannah Shea Photo