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Cotton Stories

The artist Caroline Eklöf
What type of mother are you? 1024 683 Cotton Stories

What type of mother are you?

Do you remember how clear your image was before having children? How you thought you knew every dos and don’ts regarding being a parent? 

Neither do I. It is like a part of your brain gets deleted after giving birth and suddenly you don’t have a clue on how it is done. I promised myself I would never ever yell at my kids since yelling itself doesn’t really solve anything, all it does is making everything worse. And you should never yell at a child for expressing his/her feelings. 

Reality kicked me in the face

This was before my daughter turned 3. Id say it is fairly easy being a mother when your children look up to you and think you rule the world. But when they realize that you don’t…Well, that’s when things get more tricky. I always said that I would let my children express every feeling they had, good or bad, since I do think it is important that they know that no matter what they feel, they have the right to express it and that I am always there for them. But…Here’s where reality kicked me in the face.

Turns out they have a lot of feelings in one day. Even in one hour, there are like 10 different stages, I was not prepared for the emotional rollercoaster a toddler goes through in 24 hours. And as the years go by, the bigger the feelings, the bigger the tantrums and I find myself counting to ten at least 5 times a day.

And then it hits me. I’ve become that type of mother that I swore I would not become.

So when it is time to get my 4-year-old to bed and I’ve tried to put on her pajamas for 45 minutes I can’t count to ten one more time and everything I’ve always said I wouldn’t do, I do. I hear myself making empty threats that are doomed from the beginning, and when that doesn’t work either, I yell. I yell because I am tired, I yell because I don’t see why it is so extremely hard to just do as I say for ONCE.

And then it hits me. I’ve become that type of mother that screams at her kids. The one I swore I would not become. I wish I could say that I only screamed that one time, and after that, I pulled myself together and never lost it again, but that’s not the case. I did, however, realize one thing.

If I want my children to learn to share their feelings, I need to show them that I do too. Because kids don’t do as they are told, they do as you do. They need to know when I’ve had enough. They need to see that their way of acting can also make someone else angry or sad and that it is important for them to see that even a mother has her limits. So when people ask me, what type of mother I wanted to be, and what type of mother I’ve become, the answer is – I am a real one.

Painting of a lost one. 1024 683 Cotton Stories

Painting of a lost one.

One of our most emotional artwork is the sonogram paintings of a lost one. It can be from an early miscarriage or someone who’s gone through a stillbirth. It is devastating to realize how many parents there is that lose their baby before birth, or shortly after. A pain no parent ever should have to go through.

I had just about to enter my third trimester and was feeling pretty sick of being pregnant. Everything hurt and felt uncomfortable. As I sat by my desk and went through my mailbox I could feel the baby stretching making it almost impossible to sit comfortably. I remember thinking “can’t wait until this is over”. Then I opened an email that changed my way of thinking, forever. 

A mother, who was just as far along as I had just been through the unthinkable.

For the next 20 minutes, I just sat there. Staring at the screen tearing up over what I just read. A mother, who was just as far along as I had just been through the unthinkable. Her baby was stillborn at 29 weeks. It’s unbelievable how fast an emotional mindset can change from one moment to the next. At that very moment, I remember I put my hand on my belly as if I wanted to hug the baby, letting him know I loved him more than anything and that I was never to complain about his movement ever again because the thought of not being able to feel him anymore was just…heartbreaking. 

As I read the stories of parents that go through miscarriage and stillbirth I’ve noticed how incredibly important the grieving process is for each individual, and that the outcome of the painting reflects the parent’s way of keeping the memory of their baby close. Some describe the sonogram picture to be the only real thing they have left from their past that once was supposed to be a part of their future. 

I have created paintings for families where the artwork helps to process grief or when it is a memory of a beautiful time inside the womb or short time in life. And since the request for these honorable paintings got bigger we realized that it wasn’t just a beautiful piece of art, it was a part of their grieving process. And to be able to be part of something that big and emotional is something we are very humble and proud over. 

No sonogram painting is the same, and we take the time to make each painting be just as you want it to be. 

We feel honored to be able to create a piece of art to cherish the little life that is just as loved but forever missed. For some, we’ve created paintings with a dot of red paint, symbolizing the heart that once beat in the womb. The one place where the mother could feel the life of her baby. And for others, we’ve added wings to honor the angel baby. No sonogram painting is the same, and we take the time to make each painting be just as you want it to be. 

The woman that lost her baby at 29 weeks later got back to me to let me know that she was glad she turned her sonogram image into a painting. It had helped her in the grieving process and could now look at the sonogram painting differently. She had turned it into something beautiful, just as her baby. She wanted me to discreetly add angel wings to her image with I did and that reminded her that she didn’t lose her child, it just turned into an angel that she now carried in her heart forever. 

We’ve learned that the loss of a child is the hardest thing to go through, no matter if you lose the baby at 6 or 36 weeks. The love you feel for your child is endless from the day you found out you were expecting and the first time you get to see your baby is a moment we want to keep forever. The sonogram image may be the only picture of those tiny little feet that never got to run around on your kitchen floor, or that beautiful face you will never forget. Therefore we put a lot of heart I honoring the life of a loved one with our sonogram keepsake painting.

You are not crazy, you are scared. 1024 683 Cotton Stories

You are not crazy, you are scared.

I was screaming and crying at the same time. I was exhausted and begged for him to make it all go away.

“You are not crazy, you are scared” were the words I heard from the doctors, sitting across from me in the emergency room as I was screaming and crying at the same time. I was exhausted and begged for him to make it all go away. I had just had my baby 6 days earlier. This was not the place I expected myself to be six days after giving birth. Where were all those pink fluffy moments everyone had told me about? Where were the endless love for my child, and the instinct to just feel at ease with everything? All I felt was…fear. 

A few months earlier, all I could think about was the time that lay ahead. When she finally would be here in my arms. The child I had longed for, for so long. My daughter. My beautiful baby girl that was all I ever wished for. I was looking forward to all the sleepless nights, and night feeds and dirty diapers. I just couldn’t wait. And everybody told me about how amazing the first few weeks are when you just live in your baby bubble where everything is just pink and unicorns. That’s what they tell you, but that is not what I had. Not even close. Being a first-time mom was scary. Everything was new. All I ever knew got put out of proportions and I felt so many feelings I didn’t even know I had. And I felt a whole new level of fear. Fear for what can happen, what could have happened. Fear for all the dangers that lurk in the shadows. Fear for the insane amount of years that I am responsible for another human being and not just legally, but emotionally. Having a child is by far the biggest quest I’ve taken.

I was scared, ashamed, filled with anxiety and guilt for not feeling the way everybody else did.

“You are not crazy, you are scared”. I wish someone would have told me earlier about all the feelings that can come with having a child. For me, it would have made my first 9 months as a mother a whole other story that what my start was. I was scared, ashamed, filled with anxiety and guilt for not feeling the way everybody else did. What was wrong with me? Why was I so scared of being alone with my child? Why couldn’t I look at her and feel nothing but joy and love? Why was all I could think of the horrible things that could happen to my baby if I wasn’t there to protect her? 

The answer is – because nobody talks about the uncomfortable stuff. You don’t tell a dying person about death, you don’t tell a pregnant lady about miscarriage, and you don’t tell a mom to be about all the baby blues or postpartum depression. Instead, we talk about what we know is safe. We talk about hope, love and “something” because that makes people feel safe. And we all want to feel safe and that we got this. 

I tried my hardest to find something to keep me sane

When reality hits you in a different way than you expect, we all find ways to keep us sane. To keep us focused and we do our best to not lose it. For me, it was extremely hard to look forward when everything was confusing. So I tried my hardest to find something to keep me sane, to keep me from losing track of what was most important. My baby. Everybody told me that one day it would all be better, but until that day, I needed something to hold on to and to remind me what was important when the anxiety was too strong. 

That was when I found my old sonogram images of my daughter. That became my comfort. Every time I felt that motherhood was too scary to deal with, I went back to my desk, dug out the sonogram image and just remembered. I remembered all those feelings I had when I found out I was expecting a baby girl. That day was the greatest day of my life. From that day the sonogram image was something I looked at every day, longing for the moment I could hold her in my arms. 

There are so many emotions in that very first image.

And even to this day, every time I see a sonogram image I can’t help but smile. There are so many emotions in that very first image. Your carry your child for 9 months, loving someone you’ve never ever met. You have no idea who’s in there, but you know one thing. That tiny little human is the greatest love of your life. That very first picture is the most precious thing that I kept on my desk for months. Until one day, when I realized I wanted to cherish that picture forever, so I dug out my brush and watercolors and created my very first sonogram painting that now no longer hides away in my baby book, but are beautifully displayed in the center of our home. A memory to look at every day to remember the start of my biggest journey, and to realize that I was not crazy, I loved beyond everything I’ve ever loved before, and that was scary. 

The constant feeling of guilt. 1024 767 Cotton Stories

The constant feeling of guilt.

And there I was, sitting at my local coffee shop crying as quietly as I could while trying to keep my baby asleep and sipping that cold cup of coffee… I couldn’t hold it in any longer. All that was left after weeks of struggle was… guilt.

When you find yourself in time were you doubt absolutely everything. From the choice of coffee in the morning to the profession you have. It is very hard to be the best version of yourself. I try my hardest to teach my children to believe in themselves, yet I can’t even believe in me for 10 minutes on days where I doubt myself from the very beginning.

That feeling every single mother feel…guilt

I am that kind of person that now and then questions everything, especially the things that I am very passionate about. When I was younger I had a hard time dealing with the frustration that comes along with the feeling of “doubt”, what is it? Why is it here? Why do I question the things that use to be so certain? Why do I have this constant feeling that it’s not good enough, or that I’m doing it wrong? That I can do it differently? If I had the answer I probably wouldn’t have a single doubt left in my life, but that’s not what it’s about. For me, doubt is my some kind of evaluation of my life. Do I like what I do? Am I doing the best I can or can I do something differently? And as I grew up, I learned to deal with the frustration in a different way, to take the time and sit down and just…go through my life.

As I’m writing this I’ve been having a few rough weeks dealing with motherhood and running a business alongside with raising two kids. AND managing to have some sort of loving relationship with my partner and not just go on “survival mode”. When you only have 24 hours a day and you are on call for your children all those hours it’s hard to manage to take care of all the things you cherish in life. Obviously my kids come in first hand. And after that, I want to say Robert, but it’s not… Cotton takes up every single minute that left between diaper change and night feeds. Which leaves one big part of my life a little left out. It’s okay for a short time, but as the days turn to weeks, and weeks to months its creeps up on you. That feeling every single mother feel…guilt. I wish I could be a better partner, a better parent, a better businesswoman. 

You failed and for the 6th time this week you go to bed questioning your whole existence. 

And here we have it… doubt. Am I a good parent? Am I neglecting my partner? Am I doing the best I can? And each morning I promise myself that tonight I will do something differently, I will cook that meal, I will light some candles and sit down and just ask him about his day. And then reality hits you. Your 4-year-old doesn’t like pasta even though it’s the only thing she’s been eating the past week. Your baby decides not to sleep longer than 20 minutes tops. And all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of world war 3 trying to get one child to bed and the other one to just for once brush her own teeth. That’s when you realize you haven’t even brushed your own teeth today. Or had a shower, when did you have that shower? Yesterday? A week ago? And in the middle of all this, you realize that you won’t have the time or energy to fix that romantic dinner you promised yourself you would prioritize today. You failed and for the 6th time this week you go to bed questioning your whole existence. 

I wish I had more patience. I should have been more effective at work. I wish I was more loving towards my partner. I wish I was all that, but I’m not. 

In loving memory 150 150 Cotton Stories

In loving memory

One of our most heartbreaking, but also warming paintings we get to create are the sonogram paintings of a lost one. Every now and then parents reach out to us, asking us to create a painting in memory of their lost baby. Its devastating to realize how many parents there is that looses their baby before birth, or shortly after. A pain no parent ever should have to go trough. And since the request for these honorable paintings gets bigger we decided to ad this option when we launch Cotton 3.0.

I do feel very honored to be able to create a piece of art to cherish the little life that is just as loved but forever missed. For some, I’ve created paintings with a dot of red paint, symbolizing the heart that beated in the womb. The one place where the mother could feel the heartbeat of her baby. And for others, I’ve added wings to honor the angel baby.

Since I began making these I realized that we do talk to little about the loss of a child. Its almost like people want to hush it since it can be uncomfortable to get into it. Which I understand in a way. We all greif differently and for some, a sonogram painting might trigger pain, but for others it might be just the kind of thing you need to ease that pain. I do get many emails from loved ones wondering if its a good idea to give away a sonogram painting like this one. To be honest I cant think of a more nicer or loving gesture. This might be the only picture you have of your baby, and its probably more important if it’s the only one You’ll ever have. I’ve created “Angel sonogram paintings” from sonograms as early as 9 weeks which I think is so beautiful. Because no matter what, that baby of yours is loved unconditionally since day one, either you lost you child at 6 or 36 weeks. And that is something you want to cherish and honor forever.

These paintings, are by far the most precious piece of art I’ll ever get to create and it’s an honor to be able to do it.

Xoxo

Caroline

It’s all about the details. 150 150 Cotton Stories

It’s all about the details.

Last week was so much fun. We had a super exciting meetings that resulted in a new location to hang our paintings, and we had a super creative workshop to get one step closer to our main goal – Cotton 3.0.

Ive gotten som email from you asking if we will change the design of the paintings and I can assure you we will not. They will look the same except that we will be changing a few things like Size options and prices. But mainly the whole change will be everything that goes on before the end results. Like the choose of our paper, colors, packaging shipping etc. There is a lot of details to go trough so for us it is a ton of work but for the audience I guess its not that much that will be seen. except for the website and visual things. We have an Art director that does a whole new graphical profile which feels so luxurious since she has an eye for details that I can assure you I don’t have. The things we’ve been discussing has made me realize that you do need some professional eyes on your brand if you want it to look flawless and professional. I’ve just been doing what I think is good for a really long time and thats fine, but I really like it when people that know more than you do, point you in the right direction.

One thing thats been really fun during this journey has been the search for the right materials to work with. As an artist you have you favorite things that you’ve worked with for ages. I am one of those to stick to the tings I know and rarely try new things since its scary to go into the unknown world of colors and pencils. At least thats how I felt before I started to try out new materials I realized I have been missing out on soooo much. Just the choice of the perfect pencil. What is a perfect pencil? Does it really matter? I was very skeptical when I was going to try out one of the “fancy brushes” as my dad would call it, but let me tell you It totally blew my mind. I have never felt so in control of the amount of water or color as I did with this magical brush. The same thing with paper. I don’t believe in cheap paper, we’ve all been there, when the paper just doesn’t work! So I’ve actually been quite picky when it comes to the chose of watercolor paper. But as always, I found something that worked and stuck to it, never really looking for something better.

The search for the perfect watercolor paper has probably been the hardest part. Where do you even begin? When we found a brand we liked, they didn’t have the sizes we wanted, and if another brand did, the quality wasn’t up to our needs. This resulted in a huge search for the perfect paper and now we are down to 3 options. I’ve found one that I really like since it is a Swedish brand and its handmade so the paper factory will make the papers as we wish. So now I just need to try them out to see how I like them and hopefully I do.

We also have a new addition to our paintings. We will launch our 3D paintings along with Cotton 3.0 and to be honest this was something I never thought I’d do since its a whole new level of artwork. But the requests have been getting so big that I thought I’d give it a try, and I am so glad I did cause this is something out of the ordinary. Its more artistic and artsy which will make a great addition to the family. Lets give you a little sneak peak of how they’ll look. Im still working out a few details but it’ll be something like this.

3D sonogram painting from last weeks workshop

What do you guys think?

xoxo
Caroline

The change 974 1001 Cotton Stories

The change

As I mentioned before Cotton has been going trough some changes during the last few months. It has all been very exciting but also exhausting. A few months back I took a harsh decision after many weeks of going trough solutions that just didn’t ad up. Sometimes things just doesn’t work out in the long run, and you have to choose between letting go or move on. I decided to move on. Im pretty sure a lot of you have realized that me and Josephine are no longer working together. We decided to go our separate ways after working together for nearly 2 years. When something isn’t working out the way you thought it would, it is very important to do something about it. Even if it means ending something.

I’ve learned a lot about myself during the last few years, but running a business really makes you get to know your self on a whole new level. You are responsible for every little thing regarding you company. I’ve always seen myself as kind of a shy not so tuff person, but I’ve realized that I do have some balls when it comes to it. If I want something, I tend to get it. It may take a while but when I look back I realize that I do get shit done. And if something isn’t working, I do something about it.

But let me tell you that it does not come for free. You have to sacrifice a few things on the way and I’ve probably been crying my eyes out for 10 years to come, but it has left me with one huge insight, I need to stop taking everything so personal. As Robert once told me, “You will get screwed over so many times, and people will always want to tare you down, you just have to learn not to break down every time shit hits the fan”. He litterly told me this after I’ve been crying over a situation a little longer than he thought was necessary. But that made me realize he was right. So I gently told him to let me cry this one out and then I would stop. And I did, and to be honest I felt at ease after. Like something really just dropped of my shoulders. May sound weird but since that day, I think I actually mentally changed my way of thinking.

I am an artist, and I tend to put my heart down in everything a create. Thats probably why I react so strong to bumps in the road and especially since I am walking on very unknown grounds. I know my way with the brushes, but I have no clue about marketing/sales or how to build a brand, So my main mission was to find someone to invest in Cotton Stories with their expertise. Someone who could do the things I cant. Thats when I found Madeleine. She’s married to one of my boyfriends clients and I asked her during a dinner if she would be interesting in taking a look at Cotton Stories just to point me in the right direction and let me in on some tricks. We had a lunch a few weeks later and after that she was in. Sometimes it just feels right and she now takes care of everything that goes on behind the scenes, all the details you see, from website to advertising is the mastermind of her skills. She is kind of my other brain, my coordinator and digital guru.

She also makes me do things I normally wouldn’t do. Or maybe I would but it would take me a while to build up the currage to do it. Now she contacts people and set up meetings for us to go to. She’s a doer for sure. And everybody needs one of those in their life. Especially if you want to build something from the ground. And thats what we’re doing right now. We are creating Cotton Stories 3.0 and our plan is to have everything set before the baby gets here ( only 66 days left ) and you know what. We are redesigning everything. the shop, webpage, our graphical profile and all the details behind every aspect of Cotton Stories. Last week we came along way and we actually made some huge progress which we celebrated in the best way. A very long and well earned luxury breakfast!

xoxo
Caroline

30 weeks pregnant! 1024 683 Cotton Stories

30 weeks pregnant!

I’ts been a while since I did a pregnancy update. Time flies and december was the most hectic month of the year. After the holiday rush I felt it was time to take a few days of and just relax. So needed. I’ve been so extremely tired lately, scary tired, the kind of tired that makes it hard to manage to stay awake for a whole day so the last days before Christmas I actually had to take 2 power naps a day to manage everything. This pregnancy has absolutely been nothing like the first one. Maybe its because I have a 3 year old keeping me busy, or maybe its just that no pregnancy is the same. I talked to my midwife about the tiredness and it turned out I had iron deficiency so that explained why I was feeling so extremely weak. It felt good to find a reason why something didn’t feel right, that way you easily can fix it. At least thats what I thought. Turned out I don’t respond very well to the medicine you should eat to get you levels up, so now I am back to vomiting and feeling sick every night. LOVE this. Hopefully my levels will be better in 1 week or 2 and I can get back to feeling normal. Keeping my fingers crossed! My face is currently doing the “vampire look” according to my midwife.

Since its only 10 weeks left until my due date I realized I should start thinking about all the things that needs to be done. There is a lot of things happening now. Cotton is expanding and we are going to take it to the next level in just a few weeks. There is a lot of details yet to be set and we have a ton of work a head of us but it is so exciting.

In the middle of all we finally found a new apartment for us to move in to, me and my family have been living in a small 1 bedroom apartment for over 3 years, and with the baby coming we really need a bigger place. Nothing is settled yet, we are still waiting for the papers to be signed but if all goes well we’ll be moving right in time for the baby to arrive. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the move will be done before the birth, but at the moment it looks like I will be giving birth in the middle of it. yeeeej. But hey, why do things the easy way when you can spice things up bit by making it extra challenging. #Make it work!

Cotton baby at 30 weeks

This baby belly is getting huge, and heavy! He moves around a lot and keeps me up at night for sure. I walk like an old lady and sometimes it feels like he is about to crawl out. I have a strong feeling he will arrive before my due date. I realized when saying that out loud that I need to start preparing mentally for the birth. Last time we had a scheduled C-section since giving birth trough my “Hua” was out of the question, but his time I feel very different and my plan is to let my body decide how this little dude is going to enter the world. I’ll be digging in to this subject more in another post since I find it extremly important to talk about giving every woman a safe delivery, no matter how it looks.

It really feels like everything happening this year and it is so exciting but also very scary, what will this year be like? How will I manage a business and a newborn in the middle of a move (may the force be with me). 2018 was full of surprises and challenges that took some unexpected turns and I will do a year summary for you all to read since you’ve been with us on this journey since day 1.

xoxo
Caroline

Hello from Santas dungen 1024 683 Cotton Stories

Hello from Santas dungen

So the last few weeks has been crazy. I mean CRAZY. I was a little prepared since last years order rush was extrem but this year I totalt lost track of time. The days flew by and all of a sudden I realized I had just 2 more days to finish ALL orders before Christmas, and I had to fix all the paintings that was going to MamaMia last week. I am not the queen of planning or getting things done, well I do get things done, but I am more the kind of person who gets everything done the very last minute! Thankfully my colleague is much more organized and keeps everything in place so I don’t fuck up completely. She is my brain these days and I really don’t know how I could manage Cotton Stories without her. We are expanding, and we are expanding fast so its nice to have a killer lady by my side since I am more of the “chaotic artist ” kinda gal.


If someone would have told me 4 years ago when I was pregnant with Filippa that I would one day be hanging my art work at MamaMia, which is Scandinavias largest women and child health care center, I probably would have laughed. But now, it’s so weird knowing that my art is seen in not only one waiting room, but 4 and we are going to put up more paintings around Sthlm next year. That is just…wow.

We do have some very exciting meetings waiting for us when we get back from the holidays. I have a feeling next year will be the most exciting year so far, and probably the hardest to since Im having a baby in the middle of all this! I do however hope that 2019 will be less dramatic. This past fall has been the hardest one since I had to make some very harsh decisions regarding Cotton Stories that left a lot of hurt feelings and broken friendships behind. I came to a point where I had to listen to my gut and just to what felt right. It was not easy, and it took a lot of courage to be able to do it. Life is not easy, but everything happens for a reason and sometimes you have to just let go to be able to go further, even if it means doing something you never thought you had to do.

xoxo
Caroline

25 weeks pregnant… 1024 683 Cotton Stories

25 weeks pregnant…

…and the pregnancy brain has hit the fan for sure. I’ve seriously been thinking I’ve got 25 weeks left (!?) of this pregnancy so when my mother told me it was only 15 to go, I kind of panicked a bit. 15! thats nothing!? And I haven’t even began to purchase the stuff we need, or think about important stuff like, his name? Ok thats I lie, I do nothing but think of what to name this little guy since I cant find the perfect name just yet. I do have a few favorites that we go back and forth from but it doesn’t have that “thats it” feeling that you want to achieve.

I’ve actually started to like the name Filippa has given him, which is Pelle, but Robert is not as keen on it as I am. And when I say it out load I can hear half of our family going “Thats not a name” but its cute though. And my grandfathers name was Pelle (Per) so I guess that has something to do with it as well. 

In moments like this, I kinda wish babies would come with a name. Who are you? What do you look like? Are you a Noah or Pelle? Lennon or Elliot? Since we found out it was a boy the name Noah has been in the back of my head. I think its neutral, calm and fits all ages. So if I should name him today. It would probably be Noah, and I am pretty sure I will look at him and see if he is a Noah the moment he is on my chest and If he isn’t? well….than Im lost and he will be called “the baby” for the next few weeks. 

She’s gonna be the best sister ever to this little man.

Since Roberts is extremely tired of me asking him for baby names, I got a bit creative and decided to ask the one place where there should be an answer. Instagram 😉 Help us name this little fella before the Swedish state goes in and gives him a name. 

xoxo
Caroline

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