Ashley Graham Credits A “True Miracle” For Surviving Her Near-Death Birth Experience

"What I went through with childbirth has reshaped my relationship with my body."

Back in January, Ashley Graham and her husband, Justin Ervin, welcomed the birth of their twin sons. But what many might not know is the traumatic event that took place during their arrival.

In a new essay for Glamour, Graham revealed that it was a “true miracle” she survived her most recent birth experience, as well as sharing that she experienced a miscarriage in early 2021.

Recounting the near-death experience in the essay, she explained that after she gave birth to her twin sons, Roman and Malachi, she began to haemorrhage.

“The next thing you know, I looked at my midwife and I said, ‘I don’t feel good. I think I need to lay down,’ and then I blacked out,” she wrote.

“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 recalled, adding, “And I remember seeing darkness and what seemed like stars”.

Once she woke up, Graham had lost a significant amount of blood, but was assured by the hospital staff that she was “fine”.

“They just kept saying to me, ‘You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine.’ They didn’t want to tell me, right then, that I’d lost litres of blood,” she said.

Ashley Graham
(Credit: @ashleygraham)

She continued, “They didn’t want to tell me that one of the midwives had to flip me over, press her finger down right above my vagina bone to try and stop the bleeding. And they didn’t want to tell me that the vein in my arm kept collapsing and they couldn’t get the needle in for the Pitocin, so they had to put it in my hand.”

“But even though they didn’t want to go into the details at that moment, I looked around the room, saw blood literally everywhere and let out this deep, visceral cry—an emotional release from the chaos I had just experienced.”

After waking from the ordeal, Graham revealed that she was unable to “sit up or even crawl”, explaining that she was confined to her bed for four days straight and could not walk for one week.

“My midwives checked in on me every day. I think they thought I was going to be triggered by how severe the events had been, but I kept telling them, ‘You all saved me. God saved me. This is a true miracle’,” she wrote.

“Like so many women, 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 the window.”

However, prior to her pregnancy with her twins, Graham revealed that she and her husband had to face the tragedy of a miscarriage.

“I’ve not shared this until now, but I fell pregnant in January of 2021, on my husband’s birthday. Because it was my second pregnancy, I started to show early, and we were so excited,” she shared. “But at the end of February, I had a miscarriage. It was devastating; it felt like one of the biggest losses I had ever had in my life to date.”

Ashley Graham
(Credit: @ashleygraham)

For Graham, the loss made her truly understand the stigma that surrounds miscarriage and how difficult the grief from the trauma is to navigate.

“And I understood, at that point, what so many other mothers have gone through. I had a child already, and looking at him was the only way to ease my pain, and yet the loss was so acute.”

Graham continued, “I cannot even fathom how heartbreaking it must be for women who have not yet had children, and for those who have been through miscarriages multiple times. And yet, the world expects us to move on and handle our grief with grace.”

“I just remember breaking down more than a few times, just at random, and thinking, ‘How do women across the world do this?’ Because my story is no bigger than anyone else’s.” 

Aside from the emotional and physical trauma that her pregnancy and birthing experience saw her endure, the model also struggled to adjust to her physical changes.

“I couldn’t walk properly for a long time, let alone exercise,” she explained, adding, “I would shake, I didn’t feel like myself physically or emotionally”.

“I had planned to be back at work after eight weeks, but I was a wreck, and when I saw myself in the mirror, I still felt like I looked pregnant,” she wrote.

Ashley Graham
(Credit: @ashleygraham)

And as a result, the changes to her lifestyle saw her confidence take a hit, and she explained that working in an industry that holds high expectations for mothers to bounce back left her feeling worse.

“I work in an industry that expects me to return to work in a body that has ‘snapped back’—a pressure that no woman, in any industry, deserves to feel,” she said.

“I have always fought against unfair and unrealistic standards, and yet, if I am being completely honest, here I was, expecting myself to snap back. And fast.”

So, to release herself from the pressure that society puts on women, she partnered with lingerie brand, Knix, to launch a campaign called, ‘Reveal Yourself’.

“I look at the stretch marks that still exist and will forever exist on my stomach, and I think, ‘God, why did you have to go up above my belly button? I’m a lingerie model, for God’s sake. This is not what lingerie models look like’,” she said.

“But then I remind myself, ‘Well, I’ve never been the norm of what a typical lingerie model looks like’.”

In the end, Graham wants the world to know that her experiences may have been traumatic and shaken her confidence, but she’s learning how to love herself again.

“I’m proud to share the story behind the images and the campaign that you see. The truth that this wasn’t easy for me. This was messy. This was emotional. And it included me reteaching myself the affirmations that I have taught many—that I am bold, I am brilliant, I am beautiful—and that we all are.”

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