MOMS OF LA: Nefra Rolle

The West Jefferson fashion designer discusses raising daughter Jubilee at the high tides of the #MeToo movement, nursing at her office desk, and how LA holds the adventures of many worlds.

Interview and photographs by Rebecca Frances Burns

LENA Menstrual Cup Nefra Rolle
LENA Menstrual Cup Nefra Rolle
LENA Menstrual Cup Nefra Rolle

Tell us about your path to becoming a mother.

Actually, motherhood wasn’t something I was yearning for. I never wanted to have kids, I thought I’d just be the cool aunt, do all the cool things with them – and then (laughs) give them back. Then I met my husband, on the A-train in Brooklyn. I just woke up one day and wanted a baby. And I couldn’t harness the feeling into anything else.

What is it like having a daughter at this particular moment in time for women?

Until I had a child, I never thought about how my body can grow, birth, and sustain another person — that the best thing for her is the milk my body makes. I think over time societies have seen what women can do and they’re frightened by it, because it’s such a powerful thing to bring life into the world. I want Jubilee not just to like herself, but to feel empowered by all the things that make her unique.

"Women are the gatekeepers to this world and that comes with responsibility that can't just be turned off and on like a switch."

How have you developed your approach to motherhood in a city like LA?

I grew up in a small town in Ohio, but I’ve lived in big cities like New York and LA for almost 20 years. My small town roots have given me a great appreciation for nature and the simple things in life. But living in cities like LA feeds your dreams. LA is a unique city because you get the best of both city and small town living. In a few hours you go from the heart of the city to Ojai, Big Bear or Joshua Tree. I'd like my daughter to grow up as a citizen of the world and not be bound to one place, but see the world as her playground.

As for motherhood, there are so many resources for moms in LA it can be kind of overwhelming. Everywhere you turn there's something else that you "must do to be a good mother." But the best advice I've gotten was from my mom. She said, "there's no external manual to motherhood. You have to tune into how your baby communicates, their needs and their personality. Your baby is the manual.

"She is the future I can touch today."

What is your relationship like with your postpartum body?
I didn't tear during my natural birth, but I had postpartum bleeding for about six weeks and then I went back to work. Being with a company that supported me easing back into work life was also such a blessing. For six months Jubilee was coming to work with me. I would nurse her at my desk.

I've always been very fit, but now postpartum I have three fingers of diastasic recti to work on. Yes, I'm wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes, but my body just feels different. I have virtually no core strength. My main focus is on taking care of Jubilee and maintaining my milk supply right now. It's hard as a new mom to go workout, but I've been doing an online workout routine for diastasic recti. I know God made my body to give birth and I didn't grow a big baby belly overnight. So, I can’t expect to be back in shape overnight either. It's going to take time.

Have your feelings about pregnancy and motherhood changed after going through the process?
Absolutely. The media only focuses on how difficult or uncomfortable pregnancy can be — the aches, the swelling, the nausea. I wish someone would have told me just how beautiful it is to have life growing inside of you. It's such a spiritual and inwardly reflective journey. When I look into my daughter’s eyes I can't help but think about it. We shared a body together, our two spirits communing with each other for 10 months. Sharing the same emotions, nutrients and falling in love. Yes, being a mother can be a hard, self-sacrificing, thankless and a never-ending job. But I love her more than life itself. Taking care of her is the most fulfilling thing I've ever done. She is the future I can touch today.


What do you think is the biggest misconception about being a mother?
The idea of losing yourself. I say that because yes, moms do need time to themselves, but the reality is that you will never go back to being the person you were before. Women are the gatekeepers to this world and that comes with responsibility that can't just be turned off and on like a switch. In actuality, you will find a deeper connection with yourself.

LENA Menstrual Cup Nefra Rolle
LENA Menstrual Cup Nefra Rolle
LENA Menstrual Cup Nefra Rolle
  MOMS OF LA is LENA's interview series about motherhood in Los Angeles, a city filled with badass moms of all walks of life.

 




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