Inspiration, entrepreneur, and new mama Christene Barberich, Co-Founder and Editor in Chief Of Refinery29, took time moments before she gave birth to her daughter to chat with us on her decade-long journey to motherhood. Herein she shares how miscarriages and pregnancy taught her to never stop believing, plus the power of love and support, and why it’s important not to sweat the small stuff. As poetry goes, just as her daughter, Rafaela “Raffi” Rose Baxter, was born, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” was playing in the background. @christenebarberich
What is your current state of mind?
Anticipation. I’ve waited a long time to be a mom, and I couldn’t be more excited to have this experience.
What has been your journey to pregnancy?
Honestly, it’s been both a struggle but also an awakening, too. My husband and I spent the better part of a decade trying to have a child, and while the ups and downs were often devastating and hard to recover from, we did recover. And found the strength and the courage to move forward. I thought many times that I might not try again. That maybe becoming a mother wasn’t part of my destiny. But the desire and the wondering never really went away. Occasionally, I will forget that I’m pregnant, and when I remember it and feel my belly, a wave of love and reassurance just sort of washes over me. It’s the only way to describe it. It’s not the path I expected, but it’s brought us to this place, to this child, and for that, I will forever be grateful.
What was your experience with community both online and off in trying to get pregnant?
For the most part, it was positive. But I did find it hard to engage with people that used words like “preggers”…I think because it felt a bit flip or even arrogant to me, and I never wanted to take being pregnant for granted. And when I shared my experiences with miscarriage and eventually becoming pregnant on my website, Refinery29 here, it opened up a whole community and dialogue around the challenges lots of families have around the world experience with trying to conceive. Fertility struggles don’t discriminate, so I think it’s really important we can be open with each other about our hopes and fears when it comes to such topics.
How did you emotionally handle so much uncertainty regarding getting pregnant?
My husband and doctor—Dr. Jeffrey Braverman—helped me every step of the way. They never stopped believing we could have a child, even when I did, and I think that’s what kept me going. We all need a bullet-proof support group for experiences like this because of the disappointment of pregnancy loss and uncertainty can be emotionally crippling and very tough to recover from. But we can recover and we can get to the family we dream of…we just need each other’s love and support to do it.
Any rituals you’ve had throughout pregnancy?
When I became pregnant and realized it was a healthy pregnancy, I made a “dream” board with images of babies that looked familiar to me, old modernist houses and wild English gardens….all the images that helped me to imagine what was manifesting—not just the baby, but the whole life and experience being born around us, too. It was super comforting to make and to return to every day. Whenever I felt scared or low, I spent time staring at that board or writing in my journal to my baby. It was incredibly therapeutic.
What does a regular day of eating (plus, any cravings) look like to you?
I had pretty awful nausea for the first 20 weeks…strangely, classic deli potato salad was my go-to. I craved it constantly….and peanut butter and broccoli. Go figure!
What has been your go-to pregnancy style?
I’ve really loved being pregnant and watching my body change in all these magical ways. I love it all, even the swelling (well, not really the swelling!). Most of my everyday clothes are cut more oversized so I haven’t really had to buy any maternity wear, with the exception of some maternity bras, leggings, and some Hatch essential, of course.
What’s been your number one wellness secret throughout pregnancy?
Water, rest, and not sweating the small stuff. It’s so important.
If your pregnancy were a song what would it be?
So many! The Waiting by Tom Petty, Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, My Love by Paul McCartney, Let’s Dance by David Bowie, One Big Love by Patti Griffin, Let My Love Open the Door by Pete Townsend….my pregnancy playlist is endless!
What are you most looking forward to about becoming a mother?
Honestly, just being open to anything….to how I will change and how this beautiful soul in our lives will impact our lives, in all the ways I’ve been craving. I can’t wait to learn from her and to experience a new dimension of love and family. And, really, to see my husband become a father….will be one of the greatest gifts of all of this.
Advice for women who are trying to get pregnant?
Spend time with yourself. Ask yourself what you really want, what will fulfill you, and if having a child is really a big part of your master plan, then make it happen. Because, no matter what, you can. Find the support you need—doctors, friends, books, people who’ve gone through it, too, to coach you to the next step, and then the next. Even when it feels impossible, there is hope and a way forward…just keep going. And remember, all of us out here who’ve been through it or are going through it, we’re rooting for you. You have a community and sisterhood supporting you, behind the scenes, every step of the way. 🙂