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By Kaitlin Johnstone

Kindness is...

Birth story + Pics + Help us create our next tee!! 👇

Each year, millions of people across America decide upon a resolution to better themselves in the upcoming 365 days, often times giving up on that goal prior to the start of February. I am certainly guilty of this in my personal life. However, in thinking of how we can continue to shape Kind Cotton into a company we can be proud of, we found it extremely important to sit down and come up with goals that are not only attainable but are intrinsically motivating. We could’ve easily said we want to sell a certain number of shirts, or hit a goal of followers on social media, but like the masses of people hitting the treadmill January 1st, we’d be out of the race by the end of the month because such goals lack substance. So, we opted to focus on why we started Kind Cotton in the first place; to develop an inclusive brand that provides authentic reading opportunities for children. Not only is early literacy extremely important to us but creating a culture in which true kindness is discussed and spread among our customers is at the forefront of our mission. Our brand isn’t a simple book donation or a message on a shirt. We strive to make an impact through developing relationships with the children in our reading program and with our customers. But what is true kindness? Sure, it’s easy to say holding a door for someone, or using your manners in the grocery line is kind, but it’s more than just that. Kindness is deep and our goal this year is to take the time to uncover it’s many layers. Our birth story has provided us with our first attempt:

December 23rd, 3 days past my due date I went to the doctor and had my membranes stripped in hopes of giving our baby girl the little push she needed to finally make her appearance. By 3:30PM, while bouncing on a yoga ball, I began having contractions. This was nothing new. I had been having them for weeks! We continued about our day and by the time 8:00PM rolled around, I knew something was different. All I ever wanted when I went into labor was to watch the episode of The Office when Pam gives birth to their first daughter.

I thought laughter would be the best medicine to fight through the pain. Kevin turned the TV on and created a comfortable space for me. As the pain increased in intensity and duration I took a deep breath and told myself kindness is knowing what someone needs without having to ask.

Shortly thereafter, we made our way to the hospital. I was 4cm dilated at this point with contractions coming every two minutes. We called our moms on the way and in true only-children-mom fashion, they were there by the time we were. We strolled the hallways, stopping every 30 feet or so to lean on the wall and breathe. They were there every step of the way. Kindness is showing up.

As we slowly made our way to the labor and delivery room all I can remember is not opening my eyes for hours. Being able to escape within myself and focus on the beautiful outcome that would soon be our baby girl helped me cope with the external pain. At this point, the nurses thought my labor was picking up and fast. I quickly had to decide whether I was going to have an epidural. Me, the girl who can’t decide if I want a banana or blueberries in my cereal in the morning, had to decide if I wanted pain medications pumped into my spine or not. I opted for it and realized that kindness is decisiveness. It is standing by your choices and allowing yourself the grace to accept that you made the best choice for you. As I sat in stillness while they prepared for the procedure, my eyes slowly opened and focused immediately on my husband. He gave me strength and reassurance during a time I needed him most. Kindness is quiet encouragement.

My labor slowed, hours went by, which oddly enough only seemed like minutes and it was finally time to push! All my midwife ever told me was that some women with their first child will have to push for two hours, so in my mind, I had hope. Hope that I would hold my little rainbow baby in my arms very soon. I was determined to give this all I had. The finish line was in sight and at the end we would receive the best trophy of all. An hour of pushing with the nurse turned into breaks filled with oxygen and constant repositioning, only to be told we needed to rest. As I looked into the eyes of the nurse, my husband, and birth photographer Ashly, I felt that something wasn’t right, but their words told me differently. They reassured me, praised my efforts, and convinced me I could get through this. Kindness is comfort. Knowing that someone is hurting and providing them with a safe space to feel at ease is crucial.

Our midwife walked in and a feeling of relief ran through my body unlike I’ve felt in years. Similar to that of when you hand in that last final paper in college and it was time to party. The time was here. She assured me we’d get this done and cheered me on every step on the way. I never felt so strong, so determined. As time went on, Kenzie’s heart rate continued to drop. Inevitably, we had to stop. Holli (my midwife) said, "ok it’s time to have a baby now Kaitlin." I knew this meant c-section, but she didn’t say those words exactly. I went from feeling on top of the world, to thinking I failed my baby. All that time, all my dreams of holding her right away were painfully being washed away faster than my mind could process what was happening. Through it all, everyone reminded me that I was brave and that we would both be ok.  Kindness is strength. It’s perseverance, even in the toughest of times.

As they wheeled me into a room with at least 15 people frantically running around searching for instruments and talking amongst one another, I had never felt so alone. It’s funny how, even in a space full of others, one can feel extremely isolated. At this point, Kev had to leave for them to prep the room. As I lie there shaking as if you placed me in the middle of an igloo with no clothes on, I closed my eyes and cried. I wanted my birth to be “perfect”. I wanted to slow dance between contractions the way they do in those birthing class videos. I wanted to have my husband by my side the entire day, not fearfully getting dressed in scrubs alone wondering what was going to happen next. Most of all I wanted to know she was ok. I can’t tell you the exact details of what came following, all I know is that hearing her cry while Kev held me was the most love I had ever felt in my lifetime. As Kenzie was put on my chest, I knew she was meant to be ours. With tears filling in both our eyes, I felt at peace. Kindness is pure joy.

Although the last 3+ weeks have been full of the most incredible love and positive emotions, I am also here to keep it real and let you know that it has also been the scariest time of our lives, complete with three trips to the emergency room and many sleepless nights. Through it all, Kev has loved me and Kenzie in a way I never knew possible. Kindness is unconditional love.

With all these thoughts on kindness and what it means to us, we recently decided that we want to create something special with our next product. We want it to speak to our incredible community of customers and we want you to be involved! Our plan is to make a new tee. One that stands out and doesn’t simply tell you to be kind, but explains what kindness is. This is where we need you!

We want to hear from you. What does kindness mean in your life? Is it thoughtfulness, love, empathy? Is it justice, fighting for what’s right? Whatever it may be, we want to know and in 2020, we want you to be a part of our creative process.

Help us in creating our "Kindness is..." tee on FACEBOOK or INSTAGRAM


  • Yes she does, Tracey!! Thank you!!

    Kaitlin on

  • Your baby looks like Kevin! Doesn’t matter how she got here only that she’s here! And looking adorable.

    Tracey on

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