Hey there, ladies! Over the last few weeks, I’ve done a couple of Q&A’s on Instagram and they’ve been so fun! You guys are really loving them, especially those of you who aren’t subscribed to the Ask Alyson Haley newsletter that has been running for the past couple of years. I’ve decided to continue to do these IG story Q&A’s throughout the month because they’re a great way to get back to so many of you on things you may need from me. As I’ve mentioned, I will still be around but I might not be able to tackle as many DM’s as I used to so the Q&A’s will be a great way for me to get back to your question AND anyone else who may have been wondering the same one! So, each month, the team will round up all of those questions here on the blog in case you’ve missed them or prefer to consume content over here! So, yeah … for everyone who has been a loyal subscriber and lover of the Ask Alyson Haley newsletter … THANK YOU! I appreciate you so much! I’m sad to see it go but it’ll be fun to re-vamp my newsletters later this year once life feels a little more manageable! Alright, let’s get to this months’ questions!
Questions About Me
Q: Is your real name Alyson or Haley?
A: Haven’t touched on this in awhile! Alyson is my first name. Haley is my middle name and it’s what I’ve ALWAYS gone by. Shepherd is my last name. I only share that because a lot of people think Haley is my last name. Call me Haley. My IG username was chosen in 2011 and everyone who followed me back then knew me personally and knew I went by Haley and that my first name was Alyson so it didn’t confuse people like it does now but it’s my name and I like it so I’m keeping it as is!
Q: How old are you?
A: I’ll be 35 on 2/25!
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: I went to the University of North Florida. I was a tour guide, in a sorority, on Panhellenic, and overall- loved my college experience! Can’t believe it’s been over 10 years since I graduated.
Q: When is your due date? I forget. I know it is March something!
A: March 8th! Not too much longer!
Q: How are you doing??
A: Thanks for asking! I shared how I’m feeling and doing in this bump date post!
Q: Any cravings right now?
A: Loving Ramen but I’m not like having these undeniable cravings for it. If anything, I’ve just been craving closeness with John and the boys. I’m usually very independent so I find this to be interesting. I just want to be wherever they are at all times.
Q: Did you have any “gender disappointment”- if so how did you get over it?
A: I personally didn’t but I can imagine that is a very real thing for moms out there. People likely don’t talk much about it because … well, for that same reason I almost didn’t share my initial feelings re: my pregnancy. So many are struggling to conceive and it can be misconstrued as being ungrateful. I personally think it’s important to know that there is so much validity to every happiness and struggle before, during and after pregnancy. Just like life, it’s all going to look very different for each of us. I don’t know what your situation is..maybe this is your last child and you wanted a particular gender and I get that. Your feelings are valid as it was clearly something your heart yearned for. I don’t know how to move past those feelings other than to allow yourself to grieve and then do your best to make the best of what you have been given. Ultimately, there’s beauty in both genders and everything will be alright in the end!
Q: Were you planning on having a baby? I keep seeing things saying you were shocked?!
Q: Do you have baby boy’s name picked out?
A: We do..we think! But we aren’t 100% just yet so would actually love your favorite boy name suggestions. Leave them in the comments below for me!
Q: What site / app do you use for the weekly insights to pregnancy?
A: The Bump app! I love that it’s just what you need to know … nothing too overwhelming and gives you a 3D look at baby and your body each week & what the changes are!
Q: Bassinet and crib picks please!
A: Pottery Barn Kids is where we’ll likely get our crib but haven’t made a decision yet as we won’t need it until the Summer. We will be moving in the Summer so we’ll likely decide a month or two before we do so it can come in before then. We’ll likely leave it flat-packed and just set it aside until we move to put it together. It’ll just be nice to have it ready to go versus waiting on it to come in as baby boy is growing out of his bassinet.
Re: bassinets – I am considering bassinets from Design Dua and Charlie Crane Paris at the moment but haven’t made set decisions. I’ll likely have more to share in the next bumpdate!
Q: What stroller and car seat are you going with?
A: I take forever to be “sure” about things like this so I’m still in the midst of the great stroller debate but getting closer. Thankfully, ha! I tackled the options we’re debating in length in this blog post and, again, will likely have more to share in the 36 week bumpdate!
Q: Are you doing anything with Fish & Chips to prepare them for baby?
A: We originally planned on it but most people tell me I won’t be in the hospital long after birth (I know..”you never know”). From what friends, my midwife, and other healthcare professionals have told me, most women are discharged within 6 hours of an uncomplicated birth here. If we do have to/ end up staying longer, then yeah..John will likely go back to out house to grab anything we may need for another night and introduce a blanket the baby has been snuggled up in to the boys. (They will be taken care of while we’re gone, btw. Don’t worry. We have a very safe plan in place for “game day”). But, if we can’t..we will just…introduce the blanket maybe like 10-20 minutes before I come into the house (depending on how my body is doing and little man is doing). I truly think they will be fine. They’ve been around babies before and there was no issue.
Q: Do you plan on introducing Fish and Chips to baby boy right away?
A: Yes! We don’t really have any other choice due to our lockdown. The boy’s aren’t going to be relocated. They’ll be home when we get home and we may put them in another room while we get settled and ready for the introduction. I’ll likely have little man up high in his car seat until we can set up the meeting but, yeah, we’re just gonna go for it.
Q: Are you worried about being able to give Fish & Chips the attention they need after baby comes?
A: No, these boys will still get lots of love. They’ve been through life changes in the past and have always adjusted well, even if it takes a little bit of time. They both love John and he will be giving them just as much love as before. And while I’ll be very busy with baby..I am so so obsessed with them. I won’t forget about them. I know Chips will be up with every middle of the night feed keeping me company. And Fishy has been by my side for every big life change. He’s my constant and will be there when things are feeling overwhelming and tough, giving me the comfort my heart always needs to feel a little better and I’ve always appreciated it.
Q: What purchases have you made for baby so far?
A: I shared a few in my latest bump date post a couple weeks ago!
Q: Most comfortable maternity clothing you have found?
I will be doing a blog post all about the leggings I’ve been loving and the bump-friendly finds that have been rocking my world lately! I don’t feel like I have a well-rounded maternity wardrobe considering I’ve spent half of it in the comfort of my home but yeah, stay tuned for those posts! I feel like they’ll help those of you in this same season!
Q: Is the white mama maternity shirt from H&M see through?
A: I never wear white tops without a tank underneath but I would say this one is on the thicker side so you should be fine without one.
Q: What will you do with all the maternity things after your pregnancy (clothes, etc)
A: I’ve tried to be really selective about maternity clothes. I’ve only really chosen items that are at a low price point that I could easily wear during future pregnancies (plain white tee, blue jeans, black jeans, black leggings, etc). Many of the other items I’ve purchased can be worn during postpartum and even next year (lots of these items aren’t technically maternity but moreso bump-frinedly) SO, I’ll be sorting them away and, if I have another pregnancy (God-willing) in the next couple of years, I don’t have to rebuy (if some part of it is during the Fall/Winter). If not, there’s Depop, Vinted/VintedUK and Facebook marketplace where I can re-home them.
Q: Are you reading any good books currently?
A: Just started the Positive Birth Book as a precursor to take The Positive Birth Company’s hypno-birthing classes this month with John. Also still making my way through the homebirth handbook, which I’m really enjoying but might not be for everyone as I know not everyone is interested in home birth. I’ll be doing a blog post on all of what me and John read to prep for baby closer to our delivery date.
Q: What are you using for stretch marks?
A: First of all, just remember there is a genetic link to stretch marks ( so nothing that I am doing is going to be a 100% guarantee). I use two products everyday:
• I apply Bio Oil, which helps increase the elasticity of your skin and this can help prevent them.
I had a friend recommend Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Oil over Bio Oil as it’s a much cleaner product to use during pregnancy. So, I have used Bio Oil the whole time as have many, many women [it’s a highly recommended product] but, I’ll likely switch to Palmer’s just because, obviously, I want to use things that are as clean as possible.
• I am also a bit neurotic about consistently applying Necassaire lotion to all the areas that are doing a lot of growing ( boobs, bump, bum) twice a day! Again, no guarantees but those are what I’m using to keep everything hydrated as everything grows.
Q: What prenatal vitamins/supplements you have used or recommend?
A: I just got back to taking Ritual vitamins. Their prenatal vitamins were sold out when I first found out I was pregnant so now that they’re back in stock, I decided to use them since I ran out of my original ones a little over a week ago. I will be going into why I love them this week here on stories. I’d say just make sure you’re taking one that has folate versus folic acid in it as it’s the natural form of B9 versus synthetic and easier for the body to absorb. Also, enjoy 10% off your first 3 months with code HALEY10.
Q: Did you take folic acid before getting pregnant?
A: I was on Ritual’s essential vitamin for women 18+ so it wasn’t a prenatal but it DOES have folate in it. Enjoy 10% off your first three months with code HALEY10.
Q: What made you guys decide on a home birth?
A: I’m not having a home birth. I’m just intrigued by them and think it’s important to learn more about different birth options because I don’t think many people realize there are other options. So I’m just in a learning stage ( no need for horror stories to be sent my way..I know they unfortunately happen). I’ll be giving birth in a hospital but in the birthing center, which is the non-medical side of the maternity delivery unit. I’ll have a room with a beed and a pool and I can literally give birth wherever it’s most comfortable for me. Midwife will be with me during delivery (as will John, thankfully). The labor ward is just across the hall so if I want an epidural or want/need any medical interventions during delivery, I’ll transfer over.
Q: So the birth plan is for a natural delivery? Can you share pros for it?
A: Birth plan hasn’t been finalized [or even started lol] but that’s what I’d like at this moment. I don’t think any type of delivery is better than another. Bringing a baby into the world makes you a badass..no matter what. Birth plans shouldn’t even be called a plan because they rarely go exactly how you want them to. It’s just an ideal wishlist for birth. I don’t even really feel comfortable stating pro’s to a delivery type for that reason. And I don’t even think I really can as I haven’t done it yet. I just know that I personally want to do it naturally. That wasn’t always where my heart was but I think that I am more capable of doing what my body was made to do than I thought. I might change my mind. Something might make it so that I need to opt for a medical intervention. And that’s okay. I just want baby to lead the way and to trust my body and those around me to help me make the most informed choices that safely bring baby boy into the world.
Q: Are you nervous about giving birth in London vs. the US?
A: Nope! Well, a little nervous about brith but I think those are nerves I’d have in the US, as well. The UK has amazing midwives in the NHS and they are all highly, highly trained in obstetrics. It’s not just a small paper certificate you get. It’s years of education and training. And, as former nurse, I believe in the education they’ve gone through, the numerous hours they’ve spent helping women through birth, and the process of becoming credentialed to do so. They’re not doctors but OB’s ARE present in the hospital if I were to need one and midwives are trained to know when that would be the case. Also, if I felt I needed an OB or just wanted one..I could request for an OB to deliver my baby but, as long as me and baby are checking out fine, I trust a midwife to do the job. I realize it’s not common to hire/be in contact with a midwife in the states and therefore it might seem confusing or strange that that is who leads the obstetric care here for women who are low risk. OB’s fo exist here..they just mostly focus on high risk pregnancies. You can also privately hire an OB to deliver your baby at a private hospital, if you’d like to go outside of the healthcare system. You just have to pay out of pocket for it. In the states, I would say do your research on midwives before hiring one as there are lots of midwifery programs & certification that allow you to call yourself a midwife. Clinical Nurse Midwives have the most training and a background in nursing.
Style & Beauty Questions
Q: Where was your lighted makeup mirror from?
Q: Is there a non-maternity version of this dress?
A: The retailer usually carries styles in regular, petite, tall and/or maternity. Not every product is made across all size options but it’s always worth copy and pasting the title of the product into the search bar and taking out the piece of the title you don’t want, so ‘maternity’ in this case.
Q: Where are the labels you created for champagne bottles for announcing pregnancy to family?
A: Yes! Those are linked in this Q&A post under the question ‘how did you tell your family?’
Q: Where can I find that green sherpa lined coat from your ultrasound please?!
Q: What is an item of clothing you’ve had for more than 5 years?
A: Love this question! I answered in a Friday five a little over a year ago and I still have and love the items I listed!
Q: Can you do an all-LV bag review post soon please? Need help deciding!
A: I looove doing bag reviews! They do take quite a bit of time so, I’d probably have to say doing an all-LV bag review isn’t something I have the bandwidth for at the moment between prepping for maternity leave and baby’s arrival BUT … I have reviewed the Neverfull MM [compared it to the Goyard St. Louis PM tote] in this post from 2017 and I reviewed my favorite bag of all time, the LV Marignan! [I miss it!! It’s still in Florida]
Q: Any tips for protecting suede shoes?
A: I did a blog post on this in 2016 when I was living in London actually. The links might be old but all the info is still what I do.
Q: What are 5 makeup items you use everyday?
Q: Do you mind sharing your post about your honey lattes?
A: It’s on my IGTV on my main IG profile.
A: I have prepless veneers by The Smile Stylist.
Q: What was that blue sweater you were wearing yesterday? So cute!
A: I linked it here for you! Limited sizes available sadly but it’s on sale and I linked a couple of similar styles in similar colors.
Q: Can you please share the link to the sequin dress you were wearing on your date back in November / December?
A: I linked it in this post from over the holidays when it was on sale! Not sure if it is still available.
Q: Where did you purchase your pink pouf stool that I saw on one of your photos?
A: It’s from Wayfair UK but sadly not available on the US site.
Q: Are you getting the Covid vaccine?
A: I will but it’ll likely be awhile before I’m eligible. Maybe Spring or Summer? Not really sure.
Q: How are the hair extensions + lockdown working out?
A: Ha! They’re still holding strong! They are fine for now as it’s been 6 weeks but pretty concerned with how they’ll be two months from now. My hairdresser is going to be sending me hair color to tackle my roots until lockdown lifts but I need to chat with her about what she advises (John could potentially clip the beads but need to what she says re: how easy it is). I want to keep them but obviously in weird circumstances right now.
My Move To London
Q: What made you decide to move to London permanently?
A: The backstory is so long so I wrote an entire blog post on it in early 2019! It explains everything and this was two months before I met John, which is why he isn’t mentioned. Meeting John just kind of solidified this “feeling” I had about London being where I was suppose to be. Always trust your gut even when there are unanswered questions.
Q: How did you live in London 5 years ago?
A: You don’t have to have a visa to live in the UK if you’re staying less than six months (which I was; but double check me on that rule because, maybe things have changed!) but you will be asked A LOT of questions at the border by a customs agent (proof of where you’ll be living, proof of sufficient funds to live on, purpose of the lengthy stay, etc) so just beware of that!
Q: Did you work in London when you first lived there?
A: No, you can’t work as a visitor so if you come for six months you can’t find a job during that time.
Q: Just moved to London in October and having a hard time adjusting. What worked for you?
A: Ooph … what a time to move to a new country … I KNOW I love this place and I’ve had a hard time adjusting this year so I can completely understand why it’s been hard. October we were in lockdown and now we’re back in one. All I can really say is that it WILL get better and easier! These next few months will likely be tough with the cold and lack of sunshine but..in April, as the days get longer and the sun is out more..and life starts to (hopefully) look different once the vaccine is more widely distributed, you’ll be able to adjust. It’s also tough when you don’t know how to do certain things the way you’re used to but that will also get easier! Feel free to ask me random questions as I know it’s an adjustment. Believe me- I had a meltdown over trying to transfer money in 2016 and other random breakdowns over the years since. Moving countries isn’t for the faint of heart. Biggest piece of advice is to get out of the house and just walk around. Make some hot chocolate, bundle up and get to know the city. It helped me fall in love with this place and made the struggle SO worth it! Hang in there. London is an amazing place but she’s weird right now, ya know?
Q: How long is your visa good for?
A: 3 years
Q: Do you have any advice for pursuing a visa? Long distance relationships are hard ..
A: Ugh, girl. I get it. They definitely are!
My biggest piece of advice is to hire an immigration lawyer as everyone’s situation is so different and they are the ones that should be helping you figure out your best option.
Also, for the record, just in case you thought it might be, my visa isn’t tied to John in any way. I met John after I had already started my visa journey and identified a visa that made sense for me.
Q: Do you think you’ll ever use your nursing license in the UK?
A: No, I have been out of the nursing field for almost exactly as much time as I was in it and, as much as I have so much respect fr the profession and LOVE that I started there before doing what I do not, I don’t feel led to go back. My license will always be up to date out of respect for how much effort, time, money and energy went into achieving it in the first place (not an easy feat) but, I think it’ll always just be a chapter in my story. Under my current Visa, I am unable to work in the healthcare system or otherwise anyway. Plus I’m sure there’s a process for transferring to a UK license and I just have no interest in looking into that even if I could.
Q: How easy/hard was it to get your fur babies over to London? And what service did you use?
A: It was stressful, to say the least. I wrote a whole blog post on the entire process so everything you likely need to know is linked here for you. I also have a highlight on my profile about why it was particularly difficult for us because I was here and couldn’t travel with them along with some covid-induced issues. But they got here safely and did very well, as do MANY pets who travel internationally every day.
Q: Did you use a pet relocation company to help you move the boys?
A: Nope! My assistant, Stacy, and I tag-teamed the effort and did it ourselves! There’s A LOT to wrap your head around but I was really intentional about taking notes so I could share it in a blog post! Pet relocation companies are great if you have a complicated move, or moving your whole life in a short amount of time, etc but they are extremely expensive so I think, if you have the time to plan, just do it yourself. It’s expensive enough as it is to move them abroad so I was glad I was able to save money by just doing it myself.
Questions re: Me & John
Q: Are you and John still wanting to move after baby is born?
A: Yes. It’s not really a matter of wanting to as much as it is needing to. While I’d like to believe I’m JUST that independent young professional, I’m having to quickly realize that (when making these kind of decisions)..I am also now a significant other and mother. What I do for a living requires a room in the house and that’s just the nature of the beast. That baby needs a room. And John works from home almost completely now ( could change in the future) and needs a space for work + home workouts…so, while I aspired to live in London for the last however many years..my story unfolded a little different than I thought (in GREAT WAYS, might I add) and involves more than just me so I need to be realistic about what makes sense for us a family. I’d love to stay in London but there’s a strong change we’ll end up somewhere just outside of the city with easy links in. We’ll likely start looking in May of this year.
Q: When do you guys plan on moving after baby boy is here?
A: Our lease is up at the end of June!
Q: Do you know the neighborhood you’ll move to in the summer?
A: Literally, no idea..I feel like we’ll be casting a wide net and will likely be outside of the areas most people know if they’ve been in to London. Very likely we’ll be outside of Zone 2, which is where we are now.
Q: What do you think of Richmond area? Just curious because also planning on moving.
A: I love the Richmond area. I haven’t been since 2016 but it is absolutely stunning! We would both love to end up there but just depends on if there’s a place that has what we need and in our budget when we are looking. Richmond is a reallly nice area so it’d be great if we found something but also not getting our hopes up!
Q: What are you and John’s love languages?
A: Mine is acts of service and John’s is physical touch.
Q: Do y’all have a joint account? How do you divvy up who pays for what/bills/baby?
A: Yes, we have a joint account and split all our bills down the middle. We each still have our own personal accounts ( I still have my US accounts open and still need to switch some things over to the UK) and don’t nit-pick over other expenses as we do feel it about evens out (ie: he pays for a lot of groceries and I pay for a lot of home stuff).
Q: Did you share what John gave you for Christmas?
A: Nah, gifts aren’t really what make our world go round. I told him that, more than anything, I just want to go places this year (when it’s safe to do so). He knows that, mentally, I’m going to need something that fills me up and helps me connect with “me” (the “me” I haven’t gotten to tap into in awhile). After a few months trying to navigate being a new mom and then moving houses again, especially after a year like 2020 and after being under our current lockdown. We won’t be doing a baby moon at this point or a baby shower. There’ll likely be no end of pregnancy maternity photos and just not a lot of outgoings and social interaction during a really dreary time of year here. lol guys…PLEASE no violins out. Sorry to make this sooo negative but I’m just anticipating a HUGE NEED for sunshine on a beautiful coast somewhere beautiful by August okayyy. It is what it is and we’ll make the best of it but I told John that, more than any gift, I’d like a getaway or two this year … for everyone’s sake! haha
Q: How are you passing time in lockdown?
A: Lockdown started just before Christmas so we’ve kept busy with cooking and baking, watching festive movies, and just spending quality time together. We take the boys on water walks, which is something we both really enjoy and look forward to. I’m still working, like normal, and prepping for maternity leave as well as continuing to slowly but surely chip away at the organization stuff around the house. I have some banking stuff I have on my list to do for my accountant (personal and business) and also have lots of baby stuff to research. Also doing more reading, as well. So … basically, we’re keeping busy!
Q: Is having a big wedding a big deal to you and that’s why you’re waiting to get married.
A: NO. We’re waiting because I’m pregnant and, while we want to marry each other, we don’t feel like we need to rush to the altar [in the middle of a global pandemic] in order to “justify” our relationship to anyone else or “validate” my pregnancy. We are very happy. We are very dedicated to each other, this baby, and our future together and we think our focus and energy should be on staying safe and healthy while prepping for baby right now.
Q: Would you consider yourself to be less religious after moving to London? (Bible’s view on marriage/sex, etc?)
A: I’ve never considered myself religious. I got baptized in 2011 and very much still love with and have faith in Jesus, pray often, and seek Him in all things. I believe He’s the best example for how to live and lead with love, grace and forgiveness. Regarding bible views, marriage & sex. None of us will do this life perfectly or by the book, no matter how hard we try and not even just in regard to marriage and sex. (ie: If you’re gossiping about someone, you’re also going against what the Bible says and, last I checked, there’s no hierarchy of sin).
I hadn’t been with anyone before John in almost ten years. I didn’t wait for marriage and some might say I should have. But I did wait for love and a deep connection and a partner that made me feel safe and protected. Was it a risk? Yeah maybe. Was it wrong? To some, probably. But it was right for me and I’m not asking anyone to agree or even understand if you are someone of faith. It’s between me and the big guy upstairs and I’m alright with where we’re at.
Here’s where I’m at: I would rather love people through their beautifully imperfect lives than try and dissect and make people feel bad about whatever “imperfections” you see through a religious lens. I wouldn’t want that for you because I know what shame feels like and I don’t think that’s how Jesus would roll, either.
I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation but this question seems to creep in and be asked a lot, in one way or another, so this is where I’ll leave it. Let’s put it to bed. And lastly, I came to a lot of these views well before my move.
Q: Are you planning on eloping or waiting until after baby?
A: Don’t you worry about us, you guys! We’re obsessed with each other, our dogs, and excited to bring baby boy into the world in a few short months and we will marry the crap out of each other when the time comes. Also… John isn’t getting out of proposing so let’s – everyone – just calm down about when we’re getting married. How about y’all go ask him when he’s popping the question! I kid I kid but, really, health and safety and baby are top priority for us right now. 😉
Q: Ever been to Portugal?
A: Yep! Here are a few blog posts for you to reference! Sadly never got around to doing my city travel diaries for Porto and Lisbon buuuuut … maybe one day! They’re both amazing. I love Portugal!
Q: Once traveling is safe again, where do you want to go to next?
A: Either Italy or Greece
Alright! That does it for the first edition of the monthly Q&A! Should we call it something different? Let me know if you have any good ideas on what to call it! I’m all ears! Also, have a question? Leave it below and I’ll answer it next month! Thanks for stopping by! xo.