Being Mama: Maria Dueñas Jacobs
Equal parts glam and grit, Maria Dueñas Jacobs is the Founder of Super Smalls, Director of Brand Development at Stitch Fix, a total style icon and our newest girl crush. Honest, resilient and inspiring, Maria shares what it has been like to welcome three little women into her beautiful New York world while also healing from the loss of two pregnancies.
Born in Madrid, raised in Miami and now a resident of the West Village in New York City, Maria’s dream to work in fashion came to fruition when she landed a job at Glamour Magazine in 2005. As a journalist, her reputation for influencing trends and pushing boundaries led her to the role of Accessories Director at Elle and the eventually to Stitch Fix, a personal styling company for men, women and children. A total go-getter, Maria managed to build all of this before even turning 30. But that’s Maria for you – she plans and executes.
Now a mama of three, Maria recently founded Super Smalls, an ornate kids-centric accessories line that takes the decadent pieces adults love and translates them for kids. Think total statement pieces simply fit for an evening at the opera aka the living room. While Maria’s ventures may all seem to have happened easily, sometimes things don’t always go to plan. Especially when it comes to having children.
After Maria married her husband, they soon began trying for a baby. Elated, they learned that they were pregnant on their second try. Just as excitement took over, they were completely shocked and devastated when at their three-month checkup they learned that there wasn’t a heartbeat. Maria felt confused, angry, empty and truly distraught. It took 18 months before they had a positive pregnancy test again. But thankfully, nine months later their first daughter, Luna, entered the world. But again, not exactly to plan.
“When I was pregnant with Luna, it was wonderful and worrisome at the same time. I felt like magic was happening in my body and I was so incredibly excited to be “growing” my future daughter in my belly. My way to prepare was to make an effort to listen to my body and NOT push myself too much. I followed the rule, ‘If there is a doubt, there is no doubt.’ If I felt like the four-block walk was too much on my feet and back I would take an Uber. If the thought of attending an event made me anxious, I would excuse myself and not attend. By putting my baby first I was putting myself first and it felt like the right thing to do for both of us.
The worrying part came from a condition I learned I had called Cholestasis. At the beginning of my third trimester I began compulsively itching all over and I didn’t know what was happening. Cholestasis is a condition that slows the normal flow of bile, the digestive fluid made in the liver that helps your digestive system break down fats. Instead of leaving the liver, bile builds up in the organ. It’s dangerous for the baby and I had to be closely monitored and eventually induced at 38 weeks. The crazy part is that as soon as Luna was born all the intense itching disappeared. The pain of our first miscarriage also came extra appreciation for our healthy, sweet Luna.”
When asked how her world changed when she entered motherhood, Maria says, “Luna brought so much joy and love into our home, but she also shook things up in a big way – our budget, our space and most of all, our independency and spontaneity was totally changed. We were ready though, super ready actually.”
The thing Maria wasn’t ready for was another miscarriage. Just like the first time, she was blindsided when she experienced the loss of another baby. Baffled because her body had already done it successfully once, she persevered and kept trying. In 2015, Maria and her husband found out they were pregnant. But this time with: TWINS.
“I was completely in disbelief that I was carrying two babies. I was warned that the equivalent of the 12-week mark with one baby is 20 weeks with twins so I spent the first five months worried and hiding my pregnancy from friends and coworkers. I was too scared to share my news until I got the green light from the doctor and once I did it’s as if the babies knew and my belly popped! There was no more hiding and for a couple months I felt really amazing! My belly was much larger this time around and I had crazy things happen all the time like bloody noses, bad headaches and of course my Cholestasis came back with a vengeance and I barely slept the last 2-3 months because the itching, tiny bladder and giant belly kept me up all night. But finally in April 2016, I got to meet my twin girls, Isa and Silvi. And just like that we were a family of five.”
For Maria, experiencing the devastating loss of two pregnancies has instilled a sense of gratitude that cannot be shaken. While she arguably had a harder time than most when it came to her pregnancies, she admits she would do it again in a heartbeat as her children are totally worth it.
“Motherhood is the biggest love I’ve ever felt. I am totally obsessed and in love with my girls.”
While twins sound like they’d be the biggest adjustment, Maria admits, “I still feel like becoming a mother for the first time with Luna was more intense and the biggest change. I had Luna two days after I turned 30 and looking back I think October 14th (her birthday) is the first day I truly felt like a real grown-up. Learning to take care of a little human makes you grow up and gives you new perspective on most parts of life. Becoming a mother has changed me in ways I couldn’t have imagined and I like myself much more now than I did in my teens/twenties because I’m more mindful of my actions, decisions and overall a more empathetic person thanks to my daughters.”
Fast Five with Maria:
#1 How do you juggle your career with your family life?
Juggle is the operative word. I juggle as best I can and sometimes I drop all the balls. It’s ok though – I pick them up and get better at juggling!
#2 What is one piece of advice your mother gave you that has really resonated in your life?
My mom is Buddhist and she gives very good advice. The advice that resonates most with me is to take deep breaths, lower my shoulders and know that all problems have a solution.
#3 Hardest thing about motherhood?
There are a lot of little frustrating parts that can drive you crazy. For example, when you make them a delicious meal and they throw it on the ground. When they draw on walls etc.
#4 What’s your proudest mom moment so far?
I love how united the girls are as sisters. My heart melts when the three of them hug and yell “Hermanas!” (Sisters in Spanish)
#5 Tips for those expecting multiples?
First off, I want to say that feeling overwhelmed by the news is totally normal. I cried for days when I first learned I was having twins. I couldn’t stop asking myself what this would mean for our family dynamic, my career, my body and our home. Logistically we had to make so many adjustments. However, slowly and patiently we figured it all out and those nine months gave me enough time to prepare.
Follow Maria on Instagram @mduenasjacobs
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