When it comes to pregnancy and childbirth, no matter how much effort you put into your birth plan, sometimes things just don’t work out as expected. Ashley Graham learned that the hard way with the birth of her twin sons Roman and Malachi earlier this year. In a candid essay for Glamour, the 34-year-old model has revealed that immediately following labour and delivery, she almost died.
The mother of three wasn’t new to home births when she had her twins in January. In 2019, it was smooth sailing when she delivered her first son, Isaac, at home. “It took six hours, I didn’t tear, and he was born smiling into the world,” she recalls in her essay.
She invited the same team of midwives from her first birth to help with her second delivery and planned another home birth. It was an unusually speedy delivery, lasting only three and a half hours. Malachi came out first, followed by Roman a little over two hours later. Both babies were healthy and the family collectively let out a sigh of relief.
And then things went very wrong.
“I looked at my midwife and I said, ‘I don’t feel good. I think I need to lay down,’ and I blacked out,” Ashley recalled. She went on to hemorrhage, losing a dangerous amount of blood. Her midwives had to take drastic measures to stop it. “One of the midwives had to flip me over, press her finger down right above my vagina bone to try and stop the bleeding,” wrote Ashley.
The blackout created a scene of chaos around Ashley that she could only vaguely perceive. “All I can remember is feeling a light touch on my cheek, which I found out later was actually somebody smacking the crap out of my cheek, someone holding my hand, my husband Justin in my ear, praying, and someone jabbing me with a needle in my arm,” she explained.
When Ashley finally woke up, her husband and midwives tried to keep her calm, but they couldn’t hide the horrifying scene that had unfolded while she was out cold. “I looked around the room, saw blood literally everywhere.” The scene left Ashley in a panic, and it didn’t help that she was left completely immobile. Ashley’s midwives had to use twin-sized bedsheets to move her to a different room to rest and recover, it was there that she stayed for four days, unable to sit up or even crawl.
It took her two months after the birth to be able to leave her house, and much longer to be emotionally ready to model again, she revealed. “What I went through with childbirth has reshaped my relationship with my body—and I say this knowing that I am the person who has been shouting from the rooftops to you all, ‘Love the skin you’re in.’ Yet for me, the births of all my three children threw a lot of that out of the window.”
As a lingerie model, Ashley struggled to accept her new stretch marks that expanded beyond her belly. But that didn’t stop her from proudly sharing a snap of them with her 18.1 million Instagram followers. She hopes that her work and her story will continue to “create spaces for women to feel fearless and beautiful and vulnerable, all at the same time.”
We’re in awe of Ashley’s strength and brilliance and the bravery it took her to share this difficult story with the world. And if you’re a mom struggling with accepting your new postpartum body, just know that you are not alone. The road to healing may be long, but you’ll get there.