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For a lot of mothers, the way they become mothers is different from how they imagined, and for House of Card's Kate Mara that was true. Her journey wasn't exactly how she pictured it, but it is one so many mothers can relate to.

Mara recently opened up about how her first pregnancy ended in an miscarriage, and her second ended with an emergency C-section and a blood transfusion. In a two-part interview for the Informed Pregnancy podcast, Mara told prenatal chiropractor, childbirth educator and labor doula Dr. Elliot Berlin about her experience, and it is definitely a story about the strength of mothers.

Kate Mara is refreshingly honest about her misscarriage 

Mara explains that she first told her husband, fellow actor Jamie Bell, about her pregnancy when they were stopped at a red light. "I turned to him and I was like, 'Is now a bad time to show you this?' " she tells Berlin. "I showed him the [test] stick. He was at a stop light, and he just burst out laughing and was like, 'Oh, my God. How is that possible?'"

"It was the first time I've ever been pregnant, and I've never had that excitement and shock of being an almost mom," says Mara.

She continues: "That just was such a special sort of reveal."

Unfortunately, about eight weeks into her pregnancy Mara learned something was wrong. Eventually, she was diagnosed with a blighted ovum, a type of early miscarriage where a fertilized egg doesn't continue to develop into an embryo.
Weeks later, the pregnancy officially ended with a miscarriage. "Everything just took so much time, by the time it was all over. It just dragged out forever," Mara explains.

Kate Mara's birth story didn't go as planned (but she wouldn't change it) 

After her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, Mara did get pregnant again but was diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis, a liver condition that can make mothers extremely itchy in late pregnancy and can result in complications as serious as stillbirth.

Mara's medical team determined the safest thing to do was induce her a month early, dashing her dreams of an unmedicated home birth. Instead, she spent several days laboring at the hospital and did get an epidural. Eventually, though, things took a serious turn as her temperature spiked to unmanageable levels and she needed to be rushed to the OR for a C-section.

"Right before I went in for the C-section, that's when I sort of [felt] the devastation of it and the disappointment of not being able to experience a birth any way that I had hoped," Mara tells Berlin.

She goes on: "I was so scared to have the C-section, to have this surgery. I was genuinely terrified of what that meant and what could happen and all of these things, and then of course just being tired made me that much more scared, I think."

Once her baby girl was born and safe, it became clear that Mara was not. She'd needed a blood transfusion during the operation and was experiencing something a lot of C-section mamas know all too well—the post-surgery shakes. These tremors kept her from holding her baby.

"My husband brought her over to me and he kind of held her on my chest and it was amazing, but it was not at all what I imagined it would be. I could barely keep my eyes open to look at her."

Mara was sad that day because her birth experience didn't go as she'd hoped, but she also says that looking back, she wouldn't do a thing differently. Everything that was done was done for really serious medical reasons and her baby girl ended up with the best outcome.

It's okay to feel either sad, happy (or both) when your birth plans change 

Kate Mara's C-section story is like a lot of moms', and her feelings are totally valid, say experts.

According to the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, C-sections are super common, representing about 32% of all births in the United States, but emergency cesareans can be so stressful. "The emergency nature of C-sections leads [some mothers] to feel out of control, as well as fear that there will be harm to the baby or themselves," Dr. Sarah Allen, a Chicago psychologist and director of the Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune.

Mara's worst fears did not come true that day, but her dream of motherhood did. And that is why she doesn't look back on her birth and regret the interventions. She was scared, but she was so strong and she's telling her story in the hopes of lending some strength to other mamas.

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It may have been hard to imagine just a few weeks ago, but life with your baby is probably starting to feel like the new normal. From establishing sweet rituals throughout the day to finding ways to carve out that all-important time for yourself, you are really doing great, mama!

Your baby is also getting the hang of life on the outside, too. Especially if you two waged a battle against colic together, this is the point where you are probably claiming victory, which means interactions are getting all that much sweeter. As your baby feels more comfortable with their new world, you will probably notice that some new routines are falling into place, which makes this a good time to reinforce some healthy habits around nap time and bedtime.

With more reliable sleep schedules, you two might also have more energy to take on some stimulating at-home activities. If returning to work is also on the radar, whether in a home office or in a workplace, you might be wondering how you will balance it all. Trust us when we say that you can and will figure it out, just like millions of mamas and babies before you. Thankfully, you can also learn some of the best tips and tricks from them, too.

As you continue to settle into this exciting phase, here are some of our 3-month essentials for you and baby:

To takealong a favorite toy anywhere: Infantino Playtime Pal

Infantino Play Toy

Now that your baby is awake for longer stretches of time, a tactile toy can help keep their focus while you cross tasks off the list around the house.

$14.99

To keep organized: GO by Goldbug stroller organizer

stroller organizer

Why is it that blow-out diapers happen at the worst times?! Keep everything you need organized and within reach with a stroller organizer so you don't spend precious time searching for the wipes.

$16.99

To bottle-feed with ease: Dr. Brown’s bottle set

Dr. Browns

Cleaning bottles can feel like a part-time job, so make it as simple as possible for yourself with a set that is easy to clean. (A bottle-specific brush helps, too!)

$39.99

To offer tummy-friendly formula: Up&Up gentle formula

Babies often arrive in this world with mighty sensitive stomachs. If you are formula or combo-feeding, finding an option you both feel good about can do wonders.

$19.99

To entertain your mini Mozart: Baby Einstein ocean orchestra

baby einstein

Piano lessons might still be years in the future, but it's never too soon to start fostering your baby's music appreciation! By stimulating multiple senses during playtime, research shows babies experience even stronger cognitive benefits.

$19.99

To simplify pumping breaks: Spectra breast pump

breast pump

Whether you are going back to a job outside the home or simply want to help your baby get comfortable with an occasional bottle, breastfeeding mamas are going to want a workhorse pump that makes those pumping sessions as easy as possible.

$200

To keep breakfast simple: KIND breakfast bars

Kind bars

Gone are the days of taking your time to get ready in the morning. Make sure you always have breakfast covered with a supply of nutritious bars you can eat while multitasking.

$2.99

To get past the midday slump: Keurig k-mini single serve

Keurig

Unfortunately, multiple wake-ups during the night doesn't mean you'll get to sleep in longer. If the alarm went off too early, it can help to have a midday coffee break (or two).

$89.99

To protect your lobes from a grabby baby: A New Day stud earrings

New Day earrings

If dangling earrings are suddenly feeling like quite a hazard in the proximity of a handsy baby, swap them out for some stylish new studs. Your ears will thank you!

$7.99

To manage your day: The Time Factory mom life planner

mom life planner

Show mom brain who is boss by keeping all of your tasks and commitments together in one place. Now you'll know exactly what you're supposed to do on any given day.

$8.19

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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