Meet Paige Aponte. Paige shares her experiences today on the blog in motherhood, self care and postpartum depression. She discusses pregnancy loss, grief and healing as well. Paige also talks about her decision to have a home birth with her third child. Paige is the owner of Moon, Fruit + Flower Apothecary and she aims to empower women through wellness products. I hope you grab a cup of tea or your favorite coffee, sit back and enjoy her story.
Tell me a little about yourself (How many children do you have, groups, organizations’)
My name is Paige and I am 29 years old (soon to be 30). I am married. I have three kids, ages five, soon to be three and soon to be one. For many years I was a professional makeup artist and skincare expert. For a long time, I thought that was my passion. I worked for Sephora, Makeup Forever, Dior, Bare Minerals, & First Aid Beauty. I also freelanced doing bridal parties and specialized in brows for a period of time. Once I had my second baby I became a stay at home mom full time. Now my son is in Kindergarten, my daughter goes to daycare and I still stay home with the youngest baby. I am also at the beginning stages of entrepreneurship.
How are you feeling? At this particular moment, are you happy?
Currently, I would say I am overwhelmed. I am like that meme of Cruella Deville that was floating around at one point “Me trying to take care of my family, eat healthy, run a business, etc.” LOL. I cannot believe it has been two years now and we are still dealing with this pandemic so heavily. It’s exhausting. My son is doing school virtually again. I am constantly worried about my babies, husband or myself getting sick. On top of all the regular stressors of being a mom, a wife, an entrepreneur, a person. It’s a lot. Trying to find the balance in it all.
But even so…there are moments of great joy. I hold onto those moments.
I am in love with all of the work you are doing! How did Moon, Fruit + Flower come about? Can you tell us about your company? What is the story behind the name?
I wanted to create a safe space for womben to be educated and speak freely on the things that happen within our bodies.
Moon, Fruit + Flower came to be after I went through a traumatic pregnancy loss. I had an ectopic pregnancy which is extremely scary and could be fatal if it is not caught in time. It is when the pregnancy implants somewhere other than the uterus (for me it was my fallopian tube) and I ended up needing surgery and losing one of my Fallopian tubes completely. I was having an extremely difficult time after the loss. I am someone who is extremely in tune with my body. I connect with my children even before the moment I confirm the pregnancy. So, to feel that connection and then not feel it any more was unbearable for me. In my grief and wondering “why did this happen to me” Moon, Fruit + Flower came to be. I wanted to create a safe space for womben to be educated and speak freely on the things that happen within our bodies. A place where taboos were broken & a place where womben could come to feel empowered. I was in the shower and I was just thinking “when you think of a womban, what do you think of. What symbolizes femininity etc.” And those three words just came to me.
You’ve been open about experiencing pregnancy loss, I can only imagine all that you have gone through. Do you mind sharing that experience and the steps you are taking to heal? What can you share with others that have experienced a loss as well?
This kind of ties in to the question above about Moon, Fruit + Flower. Starting MF+F was extremely healing for me. I had to go through my grief. I had to come to terms with it. I remember specifically one night during a full moon ritual (I believe it was an eclipse) I was taking my spiritual bath and it had been a few months now since the loss but I would still cry terribly. But this night, during my bath, I cried so bad. I just hugged myself. I could feel the energy of the child that I loss so strongly as if they were hugging me too. And in that moment, I accepted it. I released my grief. And my next cycle I got pregnant again. What I would share with others who have experienced a loss is: Feel your grief fully. Don’t be ashamed of it. Even if no one else understands. Even if you had just found out you were pregnant. Even if your doctor says “don’t worry, it’s not like it was a baby or anything yet (the ultrasound tech at the hospital actually told me that). FEEL your grief and honor your loss.
Feel your grief fully. Don’t be ashamed of it. Even if no one else understands.
Did you experience postpartum depression with your child(ren)? If so, when did you realize you were experiencing it and what steps did you take to heal?
I experienced postpartum depression with my daughter. I realized it when I was three months PP and my hair started to come out in clumps. I remember looking in the mirror one day and brushing my hair and thinking “this is going to cause me to spiral”, and I did. For some reason I didn’t remember the shedding being so bad with my son. Some people may think “oh it’s just hair, it will grow back” But imagine it being “just hair” and you also just had a baby and are adjusting to a new life, new body, new relationship dynamic with your partner. So, it was just the cherry on top for me. I was also diagnosed with PMDD at the same time as I was diagnosed with PP depression. PMDD causes severe PMS symptoms. I would get extremely sick before my period, extremely depressed and when my period came it was extremely heavy. I would stand up from sitting and I would bleed down my legs and onto the floor. I had to take antidepressants for a while but what ultimately helped me was Yoga. We lived in a city area at the time and I would walk to yoga and walk back. So I got a lot of time to move my body and clear my head.
What is something you remember about giving birth to your child(ren)? How did you feel? How did people around you make you feel? (Whether a doctor, family member, spouse..) How was a home birth different from giving birth in a hospital?
Whew. All of my births were completely different. I remember them all so vividly. My first didn’t want to come. Me not knowing anything, I begged my PA to let me go in and get induced before 41 weeks. I was just so excited to meet him and finally have him here. I was induced at 41 weeks and he still wasn’t ready. He decided he wasn’t going to come until the next day. I was in labor for 25hours. The main thing I remember about that is… my birth plan completely going to shit. The Dr didn’t even look at it. I had Medicaid so I didn’t know who would deliver my baby before they walked in the room. I had never met them. She was great though. I gave birth at a teaching hospital so there were about 10 students in the room staring up my vagina. One even practiced their sutures on me. I had a pretty rough pregnancy as far as sickness went. I was soooo sick all the way up until I gave birth.
I had heavy bleeding after I had him so they had to give me a shot. Guess what the side effects were? Nausea and diarrhea. So after over a day of not eating anything. I threw up my first meal before it even reached my mouth…and then had diarrhea on my fresh stitches and torn vagina. That was fun (I am cracking up typing this).
The main thing I remember about that is… my birth plan completely going to shit.
The Dr didn’t even look at it.
My second was breech for my entire pregnancy. The doctor was almost certain that she would turn since I had so much fluid all the way up until the end of my pregnancy which made room for her to turn. When I first found out I was pregnant, I was completely unhappy with the first doctor I had gone too. I left her office crying one day. The irony is that she was also pregnant. So, for her to be so unsympathetic and have such terrible bed side manner was weird. I ended up going to a practice that was recommended by a friend. I think I was 16 or 17 weeks when I switched. Well, it just so happens that the new doctor was the only doctor in NJ that did breech vaginal deliveries.
The plan was for me to have her vaginally. He never tried to turn her because he was so convinced that he would turn herself. I went in at 39 weeks and she was still breech. He said “I’m going out of town this weekend so I want to do this tomorrow”. Tomorrow was my birthday and my husband had the flu. So, at 6am on my birthday I went in to have my daughter. I was terrified. They made it very clear that at any moment labor and delivery could turn into an emergency c section. I had to sign papers and everything. There were so many risks involved. They broke my waters and from that moment forward I was bedridden. I couldn’t get up because if her umbilical cord fell out it would be an emergency c section. It was so much. I remember the nurse saying to me “do you want to have a lot of kids? Because if not, why don’t you just have a c section? You know this is dangerous right?” As if I wasn’t already terrified enough. (On a lighter note, remember I mentioned all of the fluid the doctor kept saying I had? Well, after they broke my water, with each contraction the fluid was gushing out.
Being that this was my second birth I knew what it felt like after your water broke but this was excessive. I told the nurse and she said “Okay I’m sure its fine ill just change your bed pad” and she turned around shocked to see that it was spilling out of the bed all over the floor (LOL) Anyway, everyone was so excited that she would be born on my birthday but after 25 hours labor with my first, I wasn’t convinced.
She was though. She was born perfectly fine in only a few pushes, on my birthday. With both of my inductions I had an epidural. When I found out I was pregnant again after the loss, I had experienced so much trauma and had so much fear that I almost didn’t seek out a midwife and go for the home birth that I always dreamed of with my third. But I said you know what…this might be my last baby so I am going to go for it.
The first midwife that I went to was awful. I expressed my fears of the baby being breech again and she did nothing to settle those fears. She basically said “yeah you’re right, you never know…so let’s shoot for a hospital birth”. She didn’t make me feel comfortable so I sought out another practice (there I found out that the first midwife was not approved to do home births that’s why she tried to sway my interests). The practice that I settled on was fantastic. They practiced as true midwives. Allowing me full autonomy over my pregnancy and my body. Leading up to the birth I was nervous. I would think things like “what if it’s an extremely long labor? What if I can’t handle the pain?” But I would just pray and talk to my baby. I even wrote myself affirmation cards.
When I was 37 weeks, my midwife said that I would insert evening primrose supplements into my vagina and it would soften my cervix and prep my body for labor. For a few weeks I was having contractions and I would think to myself “this is it” but they wouldn’t progress. It was annoying. The day before my due date I remember I felt similar to how I had been feeling but different somehow. I knew the baby was going to come. I was having contractions all night. This was all new to me because my first two were inductions with no signs of coming on their own before I was induced. I really didn’t know what to expect I trusted my body though. I didn’t get any sleep that night. I woke my husband up the next morning and I told him that this was it. Laying down, my contractions were about seven minutes apart. When I stood up they would speed up to two minutes apart. He called the midwives and I called my mom to come over. The whole time I’m thinking “shit..what if this is like all the times before and my mom called out of work and the midwives are driving all the way over here for nothing”.
Soon as the first midwife got here, my contractions completely stopped. Then the other came and the whole time they were in my home, NOTHING. But she kept saying “as soon as we leave, your contractions will start again. Your body is just being shy right now” so they set up and did everything they had to do.
She checked me and I was already four centimeters dilated before they left. She said,
“Have your husband call or text when your contractions are more intense and closer together.” No sooner than they walked out the door, my contractions started again. I’m thinking to myself, “I’m not even going to call them until my water breaks because I don’t want to waste anyone’s time” But they got really intense really fast and my husband called anyway. It must had been a couple of hours, if that. My kids are just running around like it’s a normal day the whole time. Doing what they do. Hearing them playing and laughing was so beautiful. It helped me through my contractions.
My biggest baby. My rainbow baby. Born at home. On our bed. I will keep this mattress FOREVER.
I showered. My husband held me. The midwives came back and they were just kind of taking my lead. I remember hearing one of the midwives say “she’s close” and I was thinking to myself “she’s bugging there’s no way it’s going to happen this soon”. I was fully in active labor. Once I got in the birthing pool, I must have had only 4 or 5 contractions before the midwife said “okay, your baby is going to come now” and good thing I didn’t wait until my water broke because it broke only a few contractions before he came out. I didn’t give birth in the pool. I couldn’t stand the feeling over the water on my skin through that intensity. In one contraction, I jumped out and started screaming “I CAN’T DO THIS”. I got on my bed, in my husband’s arms, and my body just started pushing on its own. Then he was here. My biggest baby. My rainbow baby. Born at home. On our bed. I will keep this mattress FOREVER.
There are times when our children can teach us so much about ourselves. Can you tell me about a time in which you learned something about yourself while parenting your children?
Omg. Being a parent is a constant learning experience. I think growing up there are things that we say we will “never” do like our parents did but then we realize how much that is instilled in us whether we like it or not and it is just in our nature to do those things. I am constantly learning to UNLEARN those things, constantly learning what triggers my own behaviors and reactions to what my children are doing. Every day I am learning more and more about myself by being their mother. It’s difficult but at the same time it is very rewarding to break generational habits that will hopefully have a good impact on my children’s lives, wellbeing and the parents that they become (should they choose to become parents one day)
How do you show up for yourself vs how do you show up for your family?
Honestly, I am still trying to fully differentiate between the two. I find myself revisiting my inner child a lot. That has helped me show up for myself but also my children because it allows me to relate to them more and kind of remind myself of what I may have needed at that time so I can give that to them.
How do you stay encouraged and inspired?
Encouragement and inspiration come in waves for me. I try to honor that and not put too much pressure on myself to STAY in that mind frame. I get into ruts often. With all of the juggling and lack of balance. When I feel a spark I act on it and ride the wave for as long as I can.
What are your five favorite ways to take care of yourself especially during this pandemic?
Smoking weed. I have a new found love for journaling. Eating well. Late night trips to target ALONE. & doing any type of grooming for myself.
What advice would you give a new mom?
My advice would be: forget everything you “think” you know, forget everything anyone tells of how you “should” parent and move with love and intuition. No one knows what’s best for you and your family, only you know that. (And your partner) Lower your expectations…. like a lot. And then lower them even more.
What advice did you receive when you became a mother?
I honestly don’t remember lol. Probably the basic stuff that doesn’t really make any sense like “sleep when the baby sleeps”
What does self-care mean to you?
Self-care means keeping myself afloat. It’s 100% necessary for me to be present for my family. I cannot pour from an empty cup.
You can find Moon, Fruit + Flower on instagram at: @moonfruitandflower
You can also check out the website: https://moonfruitandflower.com/