Unapologetically sexy and super spirited, Marz is an advocate for mothers everywhere. Having come up as a model and in the music industry, this earth-shaker, baby-maker decided to live-stream her home birth and utilize her vast network in support of Black, WOC, and LGBTQ doulas, midwives, mothers, and Amber Isaac’s family.
Here, she talks about the epic experience of sharing her birth publicly during a pandemic, plus, the power of self-acceptance, the importance of having a strong support system, and living life with extraordinary gratitude. @marzylovejoy
Sexy. I know that’s not the typical answer as pregnant women are somehow meant to abandon their sexiness, sexuality, and sensuality. However, the more this concept of being matronly was imposed on me by society and the maternity section of every clothing store, the more I resisted, wanting to show off my beautiful pregnant body.
During my first pregnancy I felt so sexy. I was featured in Vogue, The NY Times, walked 6 months pregnant in 6-inch heels for fashion week, and posed pregnant for Rhianna’s lingerie line Savage X. Since, then I’ve felt a calling to advocate and represent women becoming mothers in a new light, a different, less traditional way.
How are you advocating for mothers?
Outside of showing the world that pregnant women and mothers are sensual, incredible creatures, I’m using my pregnancy and home birth as an educational and awareness tool. Black women and women of color are not being heard and often don’t have the resources or knowhow to advocate for themselves. With COVID this is only getting worse. According to birth workers and pregnant women I speak to, the hospitals are inundated, so they’re rushing births and inducing labors to get women out of the hospitals faster. This treatment of women is unacceptable and has proven fatal.
I’m disheartened for my sisters that are experiencing neglect and anxiety. For most people, until they see something like Amber Isaac, a young, healthy 27-year-old, it doesn’t hit home. Her death has brought to light how real the situation is; people are finally starting to understand the severity.
Preparing for home birth?
I had a home birth in 2018 with my daughter so I’m familiar with the experience. Plus, now that hospitals are overwhelmed, I feel especially confident in my choice to home birth.
At the end of February, we went to Tulum on vacation expecting to be gone for a week. While away, the world closed. Unsure of what to do, we extended our vacation in Mexico and considered sheltering-in-place. However, when the State Department closed the US borders we decided it would be too much of a risk to remain in Tulum and decided to head back to the US.
Instead of going back to NYC, we came to my mother’s home in St. Paul, Minnesota. My family’s had this land for generations and my son will be the fifth generation born in this house, including myself. We’re spending time being still, going back to our roots, and preparing to bring a new baby into the world.
Difference between pregnancies?
This pregnancy has been SO different from my first from my energy levels to the state of the world. Outside of the emotional challenges that accompany being pregnant during a pandemic, I got viral meningitis and found out I have a tumor in my jaw which needs to be removed. All in all, it’s been a lot and I’ve had to work hard to remain positive.
That said, I’ve been trying to stay grounded and remember how fortunate I am to have a strong community filled with love and support. I’m super blessed as so many people have much less from housing to financial stability and supportive relationships. It’s important to understanding keep in perspective your personal privileges.
In the beginning it was tough because I felt very hormonal. However I’ve learned to surrender to pain rather than resists it to come out the other side. Also, I find doing things for others, plus staying present for my toddler and husband allows me to show up for them and stay centered.
Often, as women, people turn to us like we’re superheroes and while that’s nice to be thought of that way, creating a life is big business. It takes a lot of energy, heart work, healing, and recharging. Therefore, I make the time to pray, go for walks, breathe fresh air, feel the sun, take baths, sage the house, and speak up! When I need a moment for myself, I ask for help because I can’t be my best if I’m not getting my rest.
From my first contraction to his birth it was less than an hour. He was born 8 days late at 8lbs, 8oz and is a magical force! While we had elaborate plans to produce an amazing live-stream video, Mars was on his own mission. The entire experience was recorded as a 15-minute live stream from a laptop camera. As the saying goes, “the best laid plans…” The birth with seen around the world with viewers from every continent except for Antarctica. I feel so proud to have used my birth as a tool for awareness in support of black and brown mothers everywhere.
On a mission?
When I started this project I wanted to make it big and involve influential, inspiring black women from my network that would be down to support the cause. I reached out to Erykah Badu who agreed to be my virtual doula, plus Kehlani, and professional doulas like Latham Thomas of Mama Glow. Everyone has gone above and beyond to answer my call. It’s a beautiful thing when people rally in support of an important movement. Having this project and using my home birth as a tool to spread awareness about the severity of these issues has been an incredible experience; I’m extraordinarily grateful.
There are different levels of involvement. For example, Latham and Kehlani went live on IG at different times talking about our efforts, my birth, and new motherhood. Erykah Badu is blessing my birth and giving words of encouragement. While others like Diana Gordon and Ebonee Davis made short videos in support of our shared efforts and mission.
In support of?
How to get involved?
I have a go-fund-me @marzyjane and donations are highly appreciated. I’m working with two organizations in NYC and Minnesota to offer grants for doula training and sponsor mothers in need of financial support. Plus, I’m pledging a $1000 to Amber Isaacs’s family and have an angel donor who’s pledged to fund two mothers through postpartum therapy. We’re working with established organizations that know their communities, to help us choose mothers that need a birth center or postpartum service. Everybody has a story and we’re excited to help where we can.
Through my work, I want women to know they’re not alone. We are a community here to share information, and support one another. Everyone woman should have agency over their body, which is why I’m such a champion of doulas, midwives, birth workers, and nurses. We need to make sure every woman gets the care, love, and attention they deserve.
Also, being a mom is tough work. If you’re a friend of a new mom, show up, come through, bring a meal, and take the baby for bit so mom can have a shower. Forget simply sending a gift from the registry. I mean, that’s nice too, but mostly just show up for them. It takes a community, something I didn’t understand until becoming a parent. A lot of mothers are suffering in silence and haven’t showered in three days, all they want is a break and a good conversation
To women all over the world—how powerful we are to be able to carry this life for such a long time and go through different phases, physically, emotionally, mentally.”