Erin Kleinberg is the CEO of Métier Creative, a seriously awesome creative agency that works with some of the best brands in the world to inspire creativity, connection, and conversation. Which brands, you ask? Dior, Megababe, The Last Line, and Ouai Haircare just to name a few. When she's not busy building brands with her badass team, she can be found perfecting the art of the caftan, hanging with her mom (who truly deserves her own reality television show), and raising her two beautiful children alongside her hubby Mickey.
When my husband Mickey and I decided we were going to have a baby, I really was just so non-medical that I didn't really know how you even go about doing it. One of my friends suggested I go talk to a specialist. So before we even started trying, we went to this fertility specialist. That’s how uneducated I was regarding any part of the topic.
So, we go into this room—I’m 29-years-old—and say, "Hey! We're ready to have a baby!" The doctor, of course, asks how long we've been trying: "Six months? A year? two years? What are we talking about here?"
We were both like, "Us? No, no, no. We haven't even tried yet!" We looked at the wall and realized we were at a legitimate fertility clinic and immediately thought, “what the hell are we doing here?” It was a very interesting and bizarre experience. But nonetheless, I didn't understand anything about ovulation time or when you are to get pregnant versus when you can't. So, in retrospect, it was a good educational experience. Mickey and I came home from that appointment and watched Magic School Bus episode of "How Sperm Meets the Egg.”
I was very, very lucky. I got pregnant on our second try. When I saw the stick I was truly in shock. I went to buy 10 more sticks and peed on them. When I saw the result, and once it settled in, I was super excited, but also very nervous. I felt like 29 was young and I just didn't understand how I was going to keep a child on a schedule and be organized enough to keep something alive. It was scary. I had mixed emotions, but obviously I was super excited.
Mickey, on the other hand, was super gung-ho. All of his friends already had kids, some maybe were even onto seconds. He is sort of traditional, so to him it made logical sense: "This is the next step and we're going to crush this." I'm a little more obsessive. I was super focused on the details: "We need to think about the schedule! We need to think about the timing! How is it going to work? How are we going fund this?" And he was kind of just like, "We got this." So, it was a good mix of personalities and attitudes.
Very candidly, I did not enjoy being pregnant. I was never a baby person before. Honestly, I rarely held a baby because I was just so nervous that I would, I don't know, drop someone else's baby or something. And while I was obviously thrilled at what I was about to give to the world and give myself and our family, I was miserable pregnant person. It was creepy to think that there was a person inside of me, growing. I was super, super, super nauseas. All I could do was eat bagels all day. I had this thing called dysgeusia, which is a metal taste in your mouth. It tastes like you have a mouth full of pennies every single day. I think that's actually why pregnant women like pickles so much, because the vinegary brine of it sort of counteracts this metal taste in your mouth.
I was dead set on finding out the sex but my entire family really did not want to know. They put so much pressure on me, saying things like, "This is the biggest surprise in life! You need to keep it a surprise! Don't tell us and don't find out!" I really had all this family pressure to not find out. That said, my husband and I did find out and we just didn't tell anyone. It was very hard because we were petrified to leak the "Her."
Of course, all I really was hoping for was a healthy baby, but all of my life, for some reason, when I pictured myself having a kid, I just pictured this skateboarding, long-haired dude-- a boy.
When we went to our 20-week ultrasound and I asked to know the sex, in the lowest voice possible she said, "It's a girl." There was no part of me that had ever pictured having a girl. It just wasn't my vision. But I found out and it was really sweet.
After we found out, my husband and I went to lunch and he started crying because he felt it was a reincarnation of his grandmother who had passed a few years prior. I find having a girl to be the biggest gift. Parker, now four-years-old, is my best friend. I have such a close relationship with my mom.
Parker had something called single umbilical artery. When you are pregnant, there are two veins that are connected between you and your baby. One of them brings in nutrients and food, and the other one takes out all the gross stuff. Parker only had one artery, meaning both of those functions had to happen through this one artery. It happens in about 1% of babies. When my doctor called me, she seemed serious, like something that she was concerned about. That definitely added an element of caution during the pregnancy--and I think that everybody that has a baby has something, whether it's super small or a larger concern that they deal with during pregnancy. It's just a very nerve wracking situation to be pregnant.
I got induced a couple of days before my due date September 21st. At that time, I was trying so hard to do anything to get this baby out: drinking pineapple juice, having sex... you're just so eager to meet this person! I kept thinking, ”Who are you and what are you about? What is this going to feel like?” You're just ready, so I did everything I could.
The night before they were supposed to induce me, my water actually broke. It was so funny because I had always thought the water breaking was going to be this huge, dramatic gush. For me, it was actually this tiny little droplet situation that happened while I was in the shower.
I literally came out of the shower and told Mickey that I thought my water broke. He was in full disbelief: "No, it didn't! Spread your legs! Show me!" So, we just stood there and waited for it to basically trickle onto our wooden floor. That's when he was like, "It's go time!"
We got the bag, headed out to hospital, and called all my family. But while I’m checking in, I’m told I'm 1.5 centimeters dilated and that I should go home. I was like, "What do you mean? We're ready for the main event!" Everyone was there! They all brought their bagels and lox!
Once your water breaks it could take up to 24 hours before you actually start your contractions and give birth. So, we went home. The next morning, we went back and started the whole process all over again.
Luckily, I haven't had a lot of medical events...no surgery, nothing crazy. I had never even had an IV. The IV was a whole process and was very painful. They started the drip and the minute I had a contraction, I was like, "Get me an epidural right now." I was very scared of what would ensue pain wise.
The epidural was fine. It this needle so massive that they tell your partner not to watch because they say it will make them pass out. But the epidural actually worked. It was successful. I would say it froze most of my lower half. My vagina wasn't fully frozen.
It was a long process. It was 18 hours. Once you get the epidural you can't eat, which is challenging because you're pushing with all your might and starving. It's like Yom Kippur!
I had done the classes and the courses and tried to learn as much as I could about everything that was going to happen. I didn't have it like doula or midwife. Looking back, I probably regret that, but I knew that I was going to have a vaginal birth and I didn't want to go into C-section if I didn't need to.
The whole time I was pregnant, I had told Mickey that I wanted my mom in the room. He was not into that idea. He said, "This needs to be something that we, as a couple does together. There's no way she's going to be in the room!" We’re both extremely close to her, but he didn't feel it was appropriate. We fought for a whole nine months about this fact until I finally succumbed and said it was okay for her to not be in the room.
Fast forward to the actual moment I'm ready to push. Mickey looks at me:
"You know what, Erin? I think I should go get your mom."
I looked at him and very firmly said: "No, she's not coming. You're going deal with this. You're gonna do this."
So many people -- doctors, nurses -- came into the room and kept checking on me. They're shoving their fingers in you and telling you how dilated you are. Your vagina is basically a public space for the day. It's so bizarre.
At about five centimeters dilated, they started to realize that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and they needed to be very cautious. They explained to me that since my water broke last night, and it was now 10PM with the cord around her neck, there was a chance I was going to need a C-section.
I was just so exhausted. I was so frustrated that I couldn't push. You watch all of these movies and the woman goes to the hospital and pushes and gets a baby. It was just so prolonged and they kept coming back and giving me these updates and I was really fed up.
The contractions were getting heavier and I just wasn't dilated enough. At 1AM the doctors came back and told me I was nine centimeters dilated. The doctor suggested we try one push. I tried one push and all of a sudden, the lights turn on and it's, like, Grey's Anatomy.
It was so theatrical! On the ceiling, there's a huge light, but it's actually reflective—essentially there's a mirror on the ceiling. I'm staring at this whole process from above. It felt like the hardest SLT class you've ever done. You're starving and everyone around you is yelling at you, "YOU NEED TO PUSH!"
They kept telling me to breath and then telling me to push and then telling me to breath again. I was so confused. I think I pushed for half an hour until the nurse declared "The head is here!" They couldn’t find the doctor so they're basically stalling me until he finally rushes into the room. They tell me the cord is around the neck and that they're going to tell me to push and stop.
"Take my lead and listen to me very clearly," they say.
They kept screaming this push/stop dance at me and I didn't know what was going on. I pushed for a half an hour and then, honestly, froze. I literally watched her come out of me and I saw her shoulders and body emerge. It was so crazy. They pulled her out and then Mickey cut the cord.
Then they informed me they needed to check to see where I would need stitches. There's all this prodding and picking and I could feel everything they were doing. The epidural had worn off and they couldn't give me more. The resident is looking at my vagina, assessing it as if it's a crime scene. All then sudden they ask me if I could feel the stitching. "YES I CAN FUCKING FEEL IT!"
They went to put Parker on my chest. I really wanted to be skin to skin and in love with my child, but someone was sewing my vagina and I could feel every single bit. I was panicking. Ultimately, they had to give me eight needles to freeze me, That was not fun.
I had a level three tear situation. I did not account for that in my plan and that was actually the worst part. I sat on a donut for maybe eight months. I was just mangled. I really couldn't sit. I couldn't function back in society. I was really scarred by the whole process. I just wasn't prepared. I didn't understand what was going to happen to my body. I just didn't know what was about to happen and I think I also had some post-partum stuff that I didn't want to address.
I didn't breastfeed and this is a huge point of contention for the “World Against Erin.” People have really big issues with that decision. As a new business owner, I did not have maternity leave. I literally was working two weeks after I gave birth.
I knew that it would be really challenging me to breastfeed. I also knew my body was going to be in such shambles that I, personally, actually wasn't okay to breastfeed. I just couldn't give more of my body. I know that may sound selfish, but it's so important to know your own limits.
Many millions and billions of people have survived on formula. Mickey was formula-fed and he's a genius. So, that's what I did. It's something that frowned upon and that's unfortunate. You have to choose your own journey.
I felt judged for sure. I felt judged about the breastfeeding. I felt judged about going to L.A. during month two of her life to shoot a Dior campaign. All sorts of people judged me. It took almost two years to fully say to myself, "Your guilt is over. You need to live your own life. You need to be a happy person in order to be happy mom." I just have thrown away the guilt.
As Parker grew up, she was such a loved child. Everybody adores her. And she's such a cool kid with a great head on her shoulders.
The decision to have a second kid was sort of a touchy subject. I come from two and I always think that's a great number. But I've been very caught up with my career and I just enjoyed having Parker so much. I felt so fulfilled with just one. I though, maybe this one-kid thing is okay.
For a year, we talked back and forth about having another one. One morning we had a fight about it. I was really having a panic attack. I honestly didn't know how I was going to manage building a business and having two kids. It just seemed so overwhelming. I was in full tears, crying, everything like that, and all of the sudden I was like, "Fuck it." I knew I was ovulating at the time and I thought that if it were going to happen right then and there, then it was meant to be.
I got pregnant.
It was definitely fate and I am so happy that I did it. It's just so clear to me that that was the right decision. Ford, my son, is a freaking angel. And I just feel so happy and glad that I did it.
Now, Parker is four and Ford is six months.
Going from one to two--my life had already changed so much after having just one. It's not like for the past four years I’ve been enjoying long naps or going wherever I want whenever I want. I'm already in this mindset. And I know that in the long term this is the best thing, because when I'm not this hot-to-trot advertising executive, I'm going to be a dope mom. This is my calling. It's been a lot of self-reflection.
The most important thing for me is that I have my village. I could not do this if I didn't live in the same place as my family. There's no way. I have my mom always here. My dad is super instrumental. I'm around the block from my in-laws. These kids have great grandparents, aunts, uncles, and I have a nanny that lives in my house. Every single day I am super grateful that there are people around me that can support me and believe in what I'm doing.
I learned so much through both of my pregnancies and labors. Our bodies, our minds, we are so powerful. I feel like giving birth made me feel like a queen. I feel like a superhero. And I just think about how many women do it all over the world.
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