This month, mothers will be celebrated and spoiled for all the support, care, and love they have provided for their children. Though it often seems that they know just about everything, it’s important to remember that they were once given the challenge that all mothers face: learning how to care for their first-born child. Michelle Gramza of Lake Forest sought to ease the challenging transition to first-time motherhood with the creation of her company, Together With Baby, which produces educational programs to instruct new mothers on the basics of infant and toddler care.
The idea for Together With Baby was sparked nine and a half years ago, after Michelle had her first child. Prior to becoming a mother, she had been traveling extensively for business, so the transition to being a stay-at-home mom was an understandably tough one. As with most first-time mothers, the delivery of her son was a whirlwind. And by the time she arrived home from the hospital, she had forgotten most of the nurses’ instructions on how to care for her baby. “They sent me home with a little paper manual, and I was trying to feed him and hold this manual at the same time,” Michelle says. “And I remember thinking, ‘There has to be a better way, because I’m an educated person, and I’m having a really difficult time with this. I’m sure there are others in this same situation.’”
As she thought more about the challenges of being a new mom, Michelle realized that it would be beneficial for mothers to be able to watch a DVD visual demonstration on infant care in the comfort of their own homes. She discussed this with her pediatrician, who thought it was a good idea. He then put her in touch with a neurodevelopmental pediatrician who could help develop her concept. Soon, she began pitching this idea to many local hospitals, including Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, and the development and launch of the first product was completed in 2004.
Since its beginning, Together With Baby has grown remarkably and works directly with hospitals, military, and large companies across the country. The Together With Baby programs cover everything from breastfeeding and bottle preparation instructions to diaper change demonstrations and baby-proofing techniques for the home. Michelle and her team are also working on adapting the program for new technology, such as creating applications for tablets and smartphones.
To develop the material for the Together With Baby programs, Michelle works closely with an advisory council composed of healthcare experts in various capacities, such as a lactation consultant, a car seat safety expert, a child injury expert, an obstetrician, and more. Her team also researches the most current information and safety standards regarding infant and toddler care. For instance, in the last few years, there have been major changes in crib and sleep safety; babies are to be placed on their backs, with no other items—not even a blanket—in the crib, according to Michelle. Such standards are constantly evolving, so Michelle and her team update the programs as the standards change.
Looking back on the success of her business over the past decade, Michelle has a simple wish for the Together With Baby programs: that they make the transition into motherhood a little easier for women, so that they have more time to enjoy the experience of being a first-time mom. She also hopes that achieving her dream will inspire other women who hope to start their own successful businesses. “Just because you fail once doesn’t mean you should give up,” she says. “Sometimes it takes a while to get it right.” So whether your dream is to become a loving mother, a successful entrepreneur, or both, hard work and dedication can help you achieve it.
For more information, visit togetherwithbaby.com.
— Jenna Schubert