Name: Alona Vibe & Kenneth Nguyen
Profession: Alona: photographer, strategy consultant and founder of creative studio Mero Studio. Kenneth: full time photographer.
Home: Nørrebro, Copenhagen
Background: I, Alona, grew up on the country side 1 hour from Copenhagen with my parents and two brothers. After high school and a year of traveling the world, I moved to Copenhagen to study. I picked up photography during my studies and got my first costumers while attending university. Today I have acquired a MSc. in IT, and instead of getting a job I decided to work full time as a consultant and photographer and founded the creative studio Mero with fellow creative Monica Steffensen.
And I, Kenneth, grew up in Jutland - but have lived in all the major cities in Denmark. My parents are boat refugees from the Vietnam war and came to Denmark in the early 80’s. My career started in 2007 when I covered a violent protest, I later attended art school for photography, but decided to drop out to pursue presented work opportunities. I have now worked as a freelance photographer for over 10 years for clients such as Mercedes-Benz, Netflix and Adidas.
Family: Kenneth, Alona and baby Nova, who was born in early July 2020.
Right now: Kenneth works full time – primarily for Mercedes Benz as in-house photographer, and with his social channels @kennethnguyen and YouTube e.g. creating content for Boob. Alona is on part time leave with Nova. When she works it is mainly for Mero and newly founded Dulcet and on freelance gigs related to her social channel @alonavibe.
Instagram: @kennethnguyen and @alonavibe
Alona and Kenneth, hello. This is a first for us – Couples We Love! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. You’re new parents to sweet baby Nova. How are you feeling at this moment?
Thank you for having us - we’re super excited to partake in the series! Overall, we’re really enjoying life as a (new) family of three. Becoming parents is obviously a tremendously big transformation – in all facets of life. It can be very tiring at times especially when the little one struggles to sleep, but most days we are asking ourselves why we waited ‘so long’ to start this chapter.
Any early parenting discoveries that caught you by surprise?
Several, but to name two: first, how short the newborn phase actually is. Nova was already ‘present’ and able to hold her head within 3-4 weeks, and before we knew it she was more a baby than a newborn. Secondly, just how much time you actually spend putting babies to sleep - bouncing, walking and singing 2/3 of the day - in our case that is.
Backing up a little, tell us about your love story. How did you meet?
So we’ve known each other for 9 years and our love story consists of two parts. Part one: we ‘met’ through Instagram back in 2012. Nowadays it seems quite normal, but back then it wasn’t common to meet through IG as it was still a rather unknown app to many. We commented flirty things on each other’s images (no DM’s at the time), until we met randomly a night in town. A couple of weeks after we went on a walk together and ended up dating the next 6 months. It was a bit dramatic, haha, and it wasn’t our time, so we split. Part two: a few years after the split we met again randomly on a bike ride in central Copenhagen and started talking again. This time around it just felt right and we became a couple quite fast. The following years we spent working and traveling together and finally, after 4 years of being a couple, our little love baby, Nova, arrived.
As a family of freelancers that often work together, can you talk about how you’re dividing parental leave and work?
Due to the nature of our jobs it’s been more fluid, and without a plan as such, compared to what’s probably the case in most families. The downside of freelance work is that it’s often quite hard to plan much in advance, so we knew we would have to adjust along the way. A huge advantage is, however, the increased flexibility, so even if Alona has been on 100% leave the first 6 months, as Nova is primarily breastfed, Kenneth has worked a lot from home and been with us more than what is probably considered normal. As Nova starts to eat more real food, we’re planning a setup that allows Alona to work part-time, which means we will cover for each other.
Alona, you’ve been so transparent about the hormonal shifts that come along with giving birth. What are some self-care rituals you have in place during this time?
I don’t have any rituals per se, but I take the time to shower for more than 5 minutes, I am conscious about my breathing at least once a day, and I go to bed early – all of which helps grounding myself.
Talking a bit about the pregnancy, aside from the obvious physical differences, how did you both experience this magical time in your lives?
Separating mind and body when talking about the experience of pregnancy is almost impossible in my (Alona) opinion, as I believe the bodily experience has a huge impact on the mental experience. We were lucky that I had a completely uncomplicated pregnancy and didn’t suffer from bad pregnancy symptoms. So most of all it was such a cozy time full of imaginations of what she would be like. We both think it passed so quickly and hope we are lucky enough to experience it again one day!
Given the uncertainty in the world today, how are you balancing the joys of new parenthood with the realities of a changing world?
While 2020 was a tough year to say the least, with covid-19 as the main changing factor, it was also the best year of our personal lives because of our new titles; “mom” and “dad”. There are obviously many negatives weighting down, but we decided to look for the positives in it all. An apparent one is that it has become completely valid to be a homebody, which is perfect for when a baby arrives into your life. Early parenthood requires you to stay home, slow down and just ‘be’ with your little human, and it is probably easier to do so, when the whole world outside the baby bubble spins significantly slower too. Honestly we have always preferred staying at home over going to a party, but the fact that we have all been told to stay more at home made it super stress-free and enabled us to fully enjoy the little things about parenthood.
What are you both hoping to pass along to Nova?
High emotional intelligence and a solid sense of self-worth with which she can approach life and people she meets with kindness, empathy and curiosity.
Some tips or life hacks to share with other expectant or new parents?
It’s a cliché but trust your instincts and intuitive feel. There is really no road map for life with a kid. Also, don’t be afraid to involve your loved ones – they will absolutely love to help. The old African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is still super valid. We asked Alona’s mother to stay with us the first week after Nova’s birth. She cooked nutritious meals, kept things tidy and took care of Nova if we needed a nap. It was such a great gift and special time to share with her.
One wish for 2021?
Good health… and that we can hug our friends without worries.
Read about other Moms We Love here >
As seen on Alona: