I love my big sister like a friend and look up to her enormously. She's a nurse in labor and delivery and is a mother of 3 great kids. I think because of my relationship with her, I'm fond of other women who are close with their sisters. I first met Kelly Turlington Burns on a breakfast date with our mutual friend, Karen. During that meeting, Kelly talked fondly about her sister, Christy, and her organization, Every Mother Counts. It resonated for two reasons: her relationship to her sister, as well as the fact that the organization was devoted to maternal healthcare - an issue, as a mother I could relate to and also knew that it was very close to my sister's life's work. That same day, Kelly put me in touch with Alex Newbold
, head of partnerships at EMC, and we had a meeting the next day to discuss how Clare V. could work with EMC. Our first project with them was the Maman Je T'aime tote
. This tote has been a great success for us and we've given close to $20,000 back to them to date, equaling 100% of all proceeds. After that collab, Christy invited me to the November, 2015 opening of the mid-wives clinic in Cabestor, Haiti that EMC had funded. When they asked me if I'd like to join them on the trip, I said "yes" immediately, my only follow-up question was, "Can I bring my sister?" They said, "of course," and we had a wonderful trip with Christy and the group. We are pleased to have recently introduced our second collaboration with them - the Maman Sait Mieux t-shirt
, as part of their Orange Rose campaign in time for Mother's Day, and below is an interview with Christy about her incredible work with the organization. xcv
(Christy after running her latest race, the Boston Marathon, for Every Mother Counts)
How did Every Mother Counts come to fruition? How did you get involved in this work? Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safer for every mother, everywhere. I founded Every Mother Counts in 2010 after completing my first documentary film, “No Woman, No Cry.” I was compelled to learn as much as I could after experiencing a serious childbirth complication following the delivery of my daughter in 2003. At that time, it was estimated that 530,000 girls and women died each year from pregnancy or childbirth related complications and that up to 98% of those deaths are preventable. I became so motivated to do all I could to raise awareness and lessen the number of preventable maternal deaths.
Tell us about the mothers that your organization supports and the way that it’s impacting their lives. Every mother-to-be is a mother we hope to reach. Too many women enter this stage of their life not knowing their options or how to prepare for this pivotal role. My hope is that every woman who wishes to become a mother can do so with the support needed before, during and after delivering her child.
What can our audience do to help your cause? We are working to educate moms and the people who love and depend on them by inviting them to be a part of the solution. We offer opportunities to engage in meaningful ways; you can purchase a product to benefit EMC, join a race to raise awareness and funds for the programs we support, or sign our change.org petition asking for Medicaid reimbursement for midwives and doulas in all 50 states. Overall, we want our community to know how important they are and how much they can help by simply using their voice and power.
How has motherhood pushed you to evolve and grow? Motherhood is something I never took lightly, but it continues to surprise me in ways I could never have expected. Even when you choose this role and feel prepared going in, there is only so much you can do to feel fully equipped for the job. The fact that motherhood has taken me down this path of starting Every Mother Counts, is yet another example of how we can never know what awaits us on the other side of childbirth.
(Greta and I with Christy and her sister, Kelly)
What are the key essentials that see you through as a mother? For instance, a framed photo of your children that energizes you during a long day of work or a weekly tradition you have with your children. Time is the most important thing, but it's all about quality versus quantity in my mind. My children are busy people too, so it’s about being there for them on the big days, but also everything in between.
What is your favorite memory as a mother thus far? There are too many to name! From the day they were each born to now, there are thousands! Today, my daughter had her first horse show with a new pony and won champion. This is just one recent example of when I was able to witness her confidence, strength and hard work to get her the result she wanted.
What advice would you give to other mothers out there? It would depend on what advice other mothers were looking for. Firstly, never offer a mother advice she hasn't asked for! Sometimes we don't want advice, we just want someone to listen or have empathy. I try not to judge. We do the best we can.
How do you incorporate the “fewer, better” philosophy into your life as a mom? I have always been a "less is more" kind of gal, so "fewer, better" makes good sense to me. More is not more!
What did Mother’s Day look like for you last year? How did you celebrate? Mother's Day is such a busy time of year for Every Mother Counts. I usually like to take it easy. If I can sleep in, get a run or yoga class in, then I'm good. I feel loved by my family every day so I don't need much to feel appreciated. Anything else is icing.
Tell us about the Orange Rose campaign and collection? This year we are introducing a new symbol for safer motherhood, the Orange Rose. We worked with a few partners to curate a collection of perfect Mother's Day gifts that each benefit Every Mother Counts and tie into the Orange Rose campaign. Clare V. is one of our partners and we are thrilled to have the lovely "Maman Sait Mieux” T-Shirt, translated in English to “Mother Knows Best,” where 100% of the proceeds benefit Every Mother Counts.