Colorful and oh-so-chic, Claire Olshan, the founder of DADA (one of our fave healthy snack brands that totally defies “healthy food” rules), has a toddler at home and a second on the way.
This month, DADA launches their Boob Truffles, benefitting Carriage House Birth’s scholarship program, which sponsors doula education and helps supply doulas to families in need.
Claire talks to Babe about maternal health injustices, her unexpected path to pregnancy, and her personal approach to maternity leave (she calls them maternity “hours”). Plus, craving chocolate, of course.
My second pregnancy has been entirely different from the first. While still just as godly and crazy to create a little person in your body, this experience has been the opposite in every way from how I got pregnant to how I felt. With my first, it was all so romantic. Every moment was a discovery, a twinkling new experience
From the start, I worked 15 months to get pregnant with Maxwell, and this time, it happened easily, after a series of unexpected challenges. With the first, I was super-indulgent; I had so much time to stop, relax, take a nap, and journal every day. I recently reread those old journals and must have been taking “happy pills.” While I still write in my journal every day, it’s less sing-songy and, more matter of fact.
With Maxwell, the minute I got our positive test results back, I was shouting it from the rooftops, “I am pregnant, world, here we go. I am a goddess!” And now, having been cooped up at home through Covid, I was much more nauseous and didn’t see anyone for the first three months, so it went by SUPER slow. At six months pregnant, I’ve barely told anyone I’m pregnant outside of my immediate friends and family; about 90% of the people in my life will find out that I am expecting through this article.
All this to say, while number two has been beautiful, it’s just very different. I have a 2.5-year-old plus a business; there’s no time for naps, massages, focusing on myself or my body’s transition.
My pregnancy story has been a journey, to say the least. It took us a little over a year with my son to get pregnant and was an emotional roller coaster. I went through all the classic ups and downs and personal doubt: “Am I broken? Is this ever going to happen? Why isn’t it working?” I spun myself into a tizzy doing acupuncture and seeing fertility doctors, to the point of complete and utter exhaustion.
SO, I gave up. I decided to have the best summer of my life and resolved to LIVE, drink, be free, and do everything I was not going to be able to do while pregnant, in excess. Of course, that’s when it happened, as soon as I let go. After 15 months of trying, I got pregnant at the beginning of August.
After we had Maxwell, I kept saying to myself, “when Maxwell turns one, maybe I’ll be ready to try for a second.” Then he did, but I didn’t feel ready. Summer came and went, then fall to follow, and still, I wasn’t ready to try again. I really listened to my body and resisted the urge to make a plan. Instead, I lived my life knowing the baby would come when the time was right.
This past New Year, we were in California, and suddenly, something clicked. I looked at my husband and was like, “let’s do this baby thing.” I’m not sure what shifted, but it felt right. Of course, we got pregnant that week, but I didn’t even know it, nor did I take a pregnancy test. Seeing as it took so long to get pregnant with the first, I assumed it would be the same for the second. I thought it would take at least six months and had zero emotional ties to whether I was pregnant or not.
Then, I started bleeding and figured it was my period because I still had no idea I was pregnant! But it didn’t feel like a period. Something was off. I went to my OB, who declared it a miscarriage. Yet, we both agreed it seemed like more than that, and something was seriously wrong. Afterwhich, she sent me to 10 doctors, and no one could figure it out until, the last physician diagnosed it as an early stage ectopic pregnancy. I was terrified as I’d never even heard of this.
From the minute they were able to determine what was wrong, things escalated quickly, and I never went home. My OB diligently walked me through my options but ultimately urged me to remove the Fallopian tube immediately (otherwise, there was a chance I could die). With a plan in place, I was sent to Cornell Hospital. My mind was spinning; I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was going into surgery, let alone that I’d gotten pregnant so quickly and with such ease! Everyone was consolatory that I was having a miscarriage, yet all I could think about was the fact that I had worked so long to get pregnant with my son, and this time, I did it on the first try, in 12 minutes. I knew we were going to be ok.
Mid-surgery, something went wrong and they accidentally clipped an artery. I ended up having a two-hour stomach surgery with a week’s recovery in the hospital. Mind you; this was all happening in February, at which point, Coronavirus was far away. But, they kept testing me for this “random virus” while I was at the hospital, and I thought it was super weird. Three weeks later, I didn’t realize I was leaving NYC for the foreseeable future.
Recovery and pregnant during Covid?
After this crazy stomach surgery, Covid happened, and we moved to East Hampton; the last thing on my mind was getting pregnant. The idea of my stomach stretching was almost unbearable and utterly traumatizing. Of course, as luck would have it, three weeks post-surgery, I got pregnant. But again, I was like, “WHAT’s happening?” My body went from “broken” to “I can’t stop getting pregnant.”
So here I am, a little scared, with my husband, son, and a scar from my ribs to my pelvis bone living out in the country. The doctors kept insisting it would be alright but in my gut it just didn’t feel right. Eight weeks in, I miscarried again. It was a very special time for me to have all of this happen because I was alone with my thoughts. There were no distractions, I couldn’t go for dinner with friends, or otherwise. I had to deal and heal. Normally, living in NYC, when you don’t want to deal, it’s easy to distract. When you don’t have all the stimulants, you have to deal which was the greatest thing for me.
After you miscarry, you’re super fertile (hear that, ladies?), and so of course, I got pregnant again! Now, I’m just finishing my 5th month and have technically been pregnant since January. Perhaps, all of this has something to do with why it’s less romantic for me; part of me is a little wary of getting too close to something that has not come through for me in the past few months.
Through all of this, I’m utterly grateful. I feel stable and confident in my body, which is weird because most people would probably look at my situation and say, “your body failed you so many times.” But I look at it like, “my body has a phenomenal filtering system.” I just kept thinking that the glass is half full, and I have so much to be grateful for. I knew the one that would stick is the one that is going to be our exceptional, wonderful child, as much a blessing as our first.
Maternity leave founder?
Work/life balance is a myth. It doesn’t get easier, I have just become more efficient. I always say that I am really good at compartmentalizing my life. When I am working, I am working and when I am a mom, I’m a mom. Plus, I love working, it’s part of who I am; I don’t take maternity leave, instead I take maternity hours.
You’re launching Boob Truffles this week, tell us everything…
One of my closest friend’s is a doula and launching a documentary called Born Free, about injustices for maternal health in this country. Through her, I have learned so much and wanted to raise money to educate women, so they feel empowered and informed when going into labor.
At DADA we partnered with Carriage House Birth to help support their scholarship program via the sales of our new vegan milk-chocolate Boob Truffles. We’ll be funding all things birthing plus pregnancy education, and prioritizing Black women and families. Additionally, we’re sponsoring doulas for single mothers that don’t have anyone advocating or supporting them in the hospital room. True to DADA’s spirit, happy and joyful by nature, we’re bringing beauty and design into lives while also educating on the harsh realities in this country. 100% of proceeds from the first week of sales of the Boob Truffles are going to the CHB scholarship program, and then 10% of all proceeds going forward after week one will go to the program to sponsor doula education and supplying doulas to families in need.
Of course, I’m craving endless chocolate, therefore it’s Boob Truffles on the regular at my house! That, and avocado sushi on repeat.
Work on yourself, and do what makes you happy. There’s so much chatter around when things are supposed to happen and when they’re not, but everyone has their own journey. Tune out the noise and have faith that everything in the universe unfolds as it’s meant to.
“Women are amazing, no matter what and there’s an unspoken faith and confidence that comes from being a mother.”