Mamaspeak: Rachel Schohn on the Psyche of a Sick Child

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Bay-area entrepreneur and sustainability expert Rachel Schohn is making moves to reduce textile waste in the fashion industry, but “in a fun way” — her company, Petite Marin, upcycles men’s dress shirts into heirloom-quality baby clothes that can be passed down for generations. Her three kids keep her on her toes while she’s deep in the throes of a Kickstarter campaign, now in its final week. 

Screenshot 2015-12-08 13.18.43Rachel Schohn, 37

Mill Valley, CA

Occupation: Co-owner of Petite Marin, a custom children’s clothing line.

What’s been your best mama moment so far?

When my 7-year-old daughter Juliet was hospitalized with an acute autoimmune disorder earlier this year and her lab results came back close to normal, I have never felt more joy in my life!

Her illness came on because of a high fever. She had Immune Thrombocytopenia (or ITP) — it’s a bleeding disorder. She just stopped clotting. She had bruises all over her body and was admitted to the hospital, and was on an intravenous drip for 2 days. I am so thankful to people who donate platelets and blood — that’s how the drip was made. She has been on the road to recovery since!

I was so shocked it happened. You can’t prepare for this. Also, it’s not something you hear more about, like pediatric cancer, or juvenile diabetes. But a blood-clotting disorder? 

This must have been a truly scary thing to go through, as a parent. Do you have advice for other parents who may be dealing with a child going through serious illness?

In hindsight, I wish I had known how disruptive this was all going to be for her. I was obviously upset but more calm than she was because I could talk to the doctors and understand what was happening in her body. When initial results came back, we saw her platelet count was up; I was feeling good about it, and confident things were going to be okay. But she didn’t understand it, even though we all told her. In her mind, she was still very sick. She started acting out quite a bit afterwards. We had thought, “With enough hugs it would go away.” However, we realized we should have started getting her psychological help earlier. It was still so traumatic for her. Too much for her to handle. I misjudged how much she internalized from it. It was immersively shocking for her. 

So, if your kid goes through a hospitalization, whether they break their arm, or has surgery — whatever it’s for — physically they bounce back, but there may be more going on than they let on.

Rachel and Theo

What’s surprised you most about motherhood?

I have three kids, ages 9, 7 and 2, and for a while when the two older ones were small, people kept telling me it would get easier. And, while some things have gotten easier (feeding, sleep issues, tantrums), others have become harder to juggle (homework, after school activities, friendship quarrels, etc.). While none of it should be unexpected, I feel like I’m living in the moment. So, when a girl first had a crush on my son, I realized not only was he not ready, but neither was I!  There are so many moments that I think will happen one day, but then that ‘one day’ arrives unexpectedly.

You were in Berkeley when your first son was born — an entire country-width away from family on the East Coast. How did you handle new motherhood without them close?

I actually joined a support group.  I found one run by a doula who charged $250. There were no free ones I could find. My husband was in law school at the time, and I was working full-time. I needed something! The group met two times a week and I think it really saved me, to be with people who were going through the same thing at the exact same time. It was worth its weight in gold. I would have paid double. 

When do you feel most beautiful?

When I’ve had enough uninterrupted sleep that my skin looks good in the morning, that always helps. And honestly, when I can get my curly hair to behave!

kids on Thanksgiving

Check out Rachel’s Kickstarter campaign for Petite Marin’s first run of upcylced baby and toddler clothes!

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