Christy opened up about her path to do-gooder-ness, which started with her own traumatic postpartum complications, and shared her insights on a balanced marriage and staying in shape – inside and out. This supermodel’s stories are straight ahead…
I had a picture-perfect pregnancy – I was healthy and felt great. I also had a beautiful delivery in a birthing center with a doula, midwife, and a supportive OB as backup. I was nursing Grace right after giving birth and suddenly saw the tone in the room shift. Most people go into the fourth stage of labor, delivering the placenta, at this point, but mine had grown attached to my uterine wall (something you can’t screen or test for) and needed to be extracted. The doctor had to intervene and literally tear it out of me. It was so unexpected and excruciatingly painful (like more so than giving birth without drugs). I was rocked to my core.
I had a postpartum doula (but no baby nurse) who is one of my favorite people on the planet. I lost a lot of blood, so she made sure I was given the right nutrition and got the proper bonding with my daughter – she totally took care of me, and I am eternally grateful to her.
Down The Rabbit Hole
Shortly thereafter, I jumped onto Google and discovered that 530,000 or so women were dying per year from delivery complications and postpartum hemorrhages. I had no idea that women still died in pregnancy and childbirth in the 21st century. I thought that only happened in rare instances. I was determined to raise awareness for the many women who do not have basic care to save their lives if this happens to them.
On A Mission
A year and a half later, when I was 6 months pregnant with my son, I went on a humanitarian trip with CARE to El Salvador. CARE has been around for 50 years and does their work quietly, which intrigued me. I spent the last day with women who were also pregnant at a well. They were coming to retrieve water, and CARE had prenatal care set up onsite, so the women could receive it without missing work (a big reason many don’t get medical care). I saw this program in effect and working.
When I got home, it really hit me then that if I didn’t have the fortune and resources I do – if I had been in a village like the one I visited – I could have died. Maternal health has to be a priority. I was so eager to do something.
On The Ground
I reached out to CARE to see how I could get more involved. Next I went to Peru and visited an area where they had successfully reduced high mortality rates. When I left, I wanted to share what I was seeing and learning, so I got inspired to make a film, and that’s where No Woman, No Cry came from.
Telling The Story
I wanted people to see the vast differences in maternity care around the world. We shot the film in Tanzania, Guatemala, Bangladesh, and the U.S., and it really put a face behind all the statistics, which is so powerful.
Keep It Going
Now, my nonprofit Every Mother Counts (dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother) lets people actually get to work and directly affect change. By purchasing a product, donating an old cell phone, or even running a race, you provide tangible things – transportation vouchers in Uganda, training for birth attendants in Haiti, and solar-power to clinics in Malawi – that are desperately needed. On the site people can see the impact they’ve made via short films, photos, and blog posts, bringing it all full circle.
I’m training for my fourth marathon – I’ve gotten obsessed because it’s connected to the work I’m doing, so it’s become symbolic. I’m hooked! I run without music, it’s become my quiet time to clear my thoughts.
Christy’s Sister Married Eddie’s Brother
My sisters are my best friends, and Eddie’s brothers are his best friends. My sister Kelly is mutual friends with one of his friends, so she’s sorta how we met, and then she met his brother Brian through us, and they got married at our house 8 years ago! We have kids around the same age, making them double cousins! It’s so cool, they’re blood donors for each other – perfect matches on all these different levels, and they sense it themselves. I see my sister 3-4 times a week, and her kids are always at our apartment. It’s such a nice arrangement.
My daughter is starting middle school, and I’m excited but also like oh god! such a huge step. She’s such a strong, confident, independent child who was born ready for the world. I’m nervous about how fast it goes, and I know the jump from 10-20 goes in a nanosecond.
Boys vs. Girls
I’m one of 3 sisters, so I’m really glad I have a boy. He’s such a gentle, emotional guy. I love watching his interactions with his male friends – they’re so sweet and tender with each other. It’s changed my perception of boys and girls because my daughter is the tough one and my son is the emotional one. They balance each other out and can teach each other a lot.
Our goal as parents is to show the kids what a balanced relationship looks like. I want them to see us equally share the responsibilities of work and child rearing. That’s much easier when they are older.
3 Hours Alone, No Kids, No Work
You’d find me at a yoga workshop, where you can go deeper than a regular class – it would give me physical exercise, mental clarity, and the benefits of massage.
Date Night With Mr. Burns
My husband likes to go to the movies, but I prefer dinner and a walk on the beach because that’s what we did all the time when we first met.