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It was dark when I woke from a deep, dreamless fog. I used all of my strength to look to my left, because I aptly sensed someone beside me, and I knew who it was before I saw him. My husband sat on the edge of that chair they give guests, which is meant to be something you can sleep on, but is the most uncomfortable comfort-device in the modern world.


His eyes were so intensely focused on me, that he didn’t fully register I was awake at first. He had been praying, though at the time, I didn’t know what for. I guess it must be something to see your prayer answered almost immediately, because he gripped my hand harder than he meant to and cursed between apologies. I gave him a weak smile and, before I could ask what happened, I slid under again.

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Two weeks before then, we began the long process of induction to welcome our daughter into the world. It took almost three boring days to really get labor going. Until that point, we watched countless families go in, have babies, and leave, like they had some VIP access to childbirth that we weren’t cool enough to get.

I was on and off the monitor to make sure contractions were still happening, and the baby was healthy. But other than that, I had free reign of the maternity ward. “Oh, you’re still here?” people would constantly ask, as I walked my usual laps with my husband, still visibly pregnant.

“If someone asks me that one more time, it’s their head on a plate,” I promised my husband on more than one occasion. I knew labor was some intense shit, but so far it was starting to advertise itself as a dull event.

Finally, after a membrane sweep, my water broke, launching me into two intense hours of active labor. I ended up having an intervention-free delivery, because there just wasn’t time for an epidural. My pain was overruled by determination right before pushing, and she came in one long push with no tearing. It was actually a very beautiful experience, and something I hold onto today.

It wasn’t until a few minutes later when everything went south.

While my husband and the doctors conducted routine vitals and cleaning of the babe, the nurse stood me up to pee. As soon as I was on my feet, two clots – one as big as a child-size soccer ball – fell out of me with a rush of blood. I shouted at my husband not to look, and the nurse laid me back on the bed.

My midwife performed a crude, emergency D&C (dilation and curettage, done to remove excess tissue or placenta) without any anesthesia. She apologized profusely as I bit down on my lip so hard it also bled. I cried out in pain. I have never experienced something so excruciating in my life, including the med-free labor I had just endured.

After my blood count climbed back up, they decided against a transfusion. The excitement ended two days later, and we went home. Life was as it should be with a new baby: exhausting, blissful, beautiful, and exhausting again. But after about a week and-a-half of heavy bleeding and abdominal and pelvic pain, I returned to the hospital for another D&C when an ultrasound found retained products.

At 9 p.m., after reassuring my husband in the same way doctors had reassured me, I went in for what was supposed to be a 10-minute routine procedure. My friend had been with me while I waited to go into surgery, because my husband needed to be at home with the kids. He was miserable and desperate to be with me, but I promised him it would be fast, and that I would be home a couple hours later.

We were wrong.

From 9 p.m. until the next morning, everything is grey smoke clouding my vision. I get snapshots of images or conversations, but when I try to hold onto them, it goes grey again. My friend said I rambled to her after my procedure – the 10-minute one that took me three hours to wake from only briefly.

They called my husband and told him he needed to be there with me. So around 5 a.m., his parents took the kids. That’s when I woke briefly to see him on my left, praying and watching and cursing his strong grip.

When I came to again, he was lightly sleeping on the edge of my bed, looking weary and aged. I saw tracks on his cheeks from tears I didn’t understand and shadows under his eyes that you could swim in. I had a hard time using my voice from the surgery’s intubation, but managed, “That was some party, I guess.”

He woke almost immediately and wrapped me so tight in his arms, I started coughing before more cursed apologies. I didn’t know I needed it, but being held by him felt like a long drink after days in the desert. He stroked my hair gently and asked if I was okay.

“I have to pee,” I managed. A nurse came in, removed my catheter (when was that put in?), and after five very slow minutes to the washroom four feet away, I was held over the toilet so I could go to the bathroom because motherhood is glamorous.

I barely made it back into the bed when the nurse said, “You’re ghost-white,” and I slid under again.

I was finally fully coherent by 11 a.m. I felt tired, but it seemed like passing out was finally done with. My husband was awake and more calm, and his face broke out into the brightest smile as he moved to the bed to ask how I was feeling. “I’m okay. Are you okay? Is Luna okay?”

He promised me everything was fine. “I’m okay because you are.”

“What happened?” I sat up slowly. My head throbbed.

“I don’t know. No one will tell me much, other than something about the D&C going wrong and your heart.” He looked worried again, but paged the nurse and asked her to find the doctor. About three nurses came in and out over the course of two hours, promising we would see the specialist soon. During that time, I was given an EKG (apparently my second one) and bland hospital food.

“You need to eat,” I told him.

It made him laugh then, because “Even when you’re like this, you’re still worried about us. I don’t get you.” After I nagged him, he finally said he would find hot food for the two of us, and left after handing me my phone. It was full of so many notifications, I just turned it off and tossed it on the counter.

When he returned, the runaround by the nurses continued. My frustration peaked to the point where I threatened to discharge myself and leave if I didn’t get any answers. Twenty minutes later, the specialist magically appeared.

“I’m the cardiologist on call. You have some questions for me?” His scrubs looked too nice for me to accept his ER-was-busy excuse.

“What happened to me?”

That’s when I finally learned everything. At some point during my 10-minute, in-and-out D&C, I hemorrhaged again. They couldn’t get it to stop at first, my heart rate spiked before crashing, and I hung out with my heart working at half capacity – 30 beats per minute, sometimes less.

“We were ready for you to go into cardiac arrest. I still don’t know how your heart made it.” The cardiologist reassured me that my heart rate, as of 9 a.m., was finally stable and climbing. I sat in bed, stunned, feeling shock slowly wash over me as my husband held my hand and tried processing how close we came.

“It’s a miracle you’re here,” the cardiologist said before leaving. “You gave all of us quite the fright.”

My husband and I prayed, and he called his parents after we spent an hour alone in the quiet together, soaking in what we learned. His parents needed help with the kids, so he very regretfully had to leave, but at that point I was fine and just wanted to sleep.

When I was stable for long enough much later on, they sent me home, but only after I pushed them into it. I needed to be at home with my baby, I insisted. Friends picked me up because they lived down the road, and I found myself downplaying what happened because I wasn’t ready to process it all. It remains this miracle – almost dying after giving life.

Three months of strict bed rest and constant visits by a cardiologist, a hematologist, an OB, and my own primary doctor passed. I was impatient and hormonal, weakened by everything and extremely low in iron. My husband and I went through a period where all we did was argue, then pray, because all of these issues were on top of the usual postpartum hell.

I struggled with depressive cycles, especially – as the hematologist explained – because extremely low hemoglobin levels can cause anxiety and lows. I tried to find the energy to be a mom to my toddler and newborn. I’m an athlete who runs, works out, and likes to keep moving.

A whole pregnancy of problems, 20 weeks of bed rest, postpartum complications, and three more months of rest all felt so insurmountable at times that I doubted whether they would end. It wreaked havoc on me physically and mentally.

So I kept talking. I saw a postpartum therapist, who coached me through it, and my husband and I focused hard on God and our love throughout the storm. And I’ve somehow come out the other side.

I write this seven months later. It’s incredible how much has changed. I should not be here. I should not be here. But I am.

My iron is still too low. They say it’ll take months for me to fully bounce back from everything that happened. During recovery, I had to be careful not to tax my heart, because it’s so fragile and weak. Even lifting laundry posed a risk. But now, I go jogging and take the kids on long walks. I’m on month three of my workout program, and have started hiking again.

I spend moments just appreciating and soaking in the love I have for my two girls. My husband and I are closer than we’ve ever been. I can lift heavy objects again, but exhaust more quickly because of my low iron. I’m still working on finding that delicate balance of caution and strength. So far, so good. My doctors have cleared us to safely conceive again in the future, but that’s a question we will leave unanswered for now.

Sometimes when I sleep, I can see the bed rails from the operating room as they wheeled me out after my procedure. Most of what I see is darkness, with a blurry spot of light where my hand reaches out to someone. I can’t make out who it is, but their grip feels soft and strong, warm and comforting around mine.

The image is so visceral that I’m sometimes convinced that it’s the thing that kept me alive – that it was me, having given life, reaching out and striving to hang onto my own.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.


Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"


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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)

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Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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