How soon is too soon to leave your baby?
That was the topic of discussion during Tuesday night’s episode of Bravo’s Ladies of London.
As fans of the show know, series regular Marissa Hermer (an American mom of three based in London) had just endured a very difficult pregnancy and labor. Two months later, her daughter Sadie was hospitalized with a brief health scare. The audience watched with concern as Hermer dissolved into tears in her husband Matt’s arms — broken down by the stress of such an ongoing ordeal.
But, thankfully, Sadie quickly bounced back and was released from the hospital, given the all-clear from her pediatrician. And four days later, Hermer and her husband packed for a weekend trip to the Hamptons to celebrate Matt’s mother’s 80th birthday with their oldest son Max, 5 — leaving Sadie (2 months at the time) and Jake, 2, home with their nannies.
In the very next scene, viewers watched as her cast mates gathered to discuss her decision — and loudly proclaimed that they would never make that choice themselves. And just like that, it seemed that their unconditional support and concern for her dissolved.
Speaking to Babble after the episode aired, Hermer opens up about what it was like to have a very personal decision be criticized on national television by both current and former friends, and how no mom is truly blameless (even herself) when it comes to “mommy shaming.”
“It is awful to leave a child for the first time,” says Hermer. “It was a very hard choice for me to make — and I can understand why some wouldn’t make that decision. My wish is that people would think, ‘Okay, Marissa is a good mom, she knows what is right for her family, I’m going to give her this moment where I have zero idea what is going on and that she is doing the right thing.’ But this never happens in life.”
What wasn’t fully explained to viewers is that Sadie wasn’t just left with a nanny; she was left with Patricia, a trained, registered nurse who has cared for all of the Hermer children. Jake was being taken care of by his own nanny. In addition, Sadie’s godmother came every day to spend time with the kids. Sadie was also in the care of her pediatrician, a long-time family friend who checked in daily. In fact, the doctor fully encouraged the Hermers to take their trip and assured them that Sadie was in perfect health.
Another contributing factor to Hermer’s decision was her son Max. As any parent of more than one child knows — the relationship you have with each child is sacred. Just as it is important (vital, even) to maintain a healthy relationship with your partner, you also need to put in the time with each child to make them feel special.
But that is, of course, easier said than done.
It can be difficult to carve out that individual time when you’re balancing so much (in Hermer’s case: motherhood, marriage, a reality TV show, a cookbook, and a number of restaurants and nightclubs across Europe). That’s part of the reason why she felt it was important to follow through with her promise to Max to take him to see his family in New York.
“[While I was in the hospital and on bedrest] both Max and Jake missed out on their ‘Mommy Time’ a lot,” Hermer explains. “Matt and I told them both that we would take them each away for a weekend — with just Mommy and Daddy. Max had been looking forward to this weekend for months. My deep desire to fulfill my promise to our 5-year-old son outweighed my own need to be with my baby for a few days.
It was not an easy choice, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Max had the time of his life with his cousins, he felt secure again that his Mummy was going to be okay, and my husband felt like he had his wife back, after fearing for my life for so long. It was all worth it. We all needed that time away desperately.”
Hermer is very aware that her situation is both similar and also very different than other moms. While every mother will be the subject of criticism at one point or another, they don’t all have the support system that she is fortunate enough to have.
“I worry about those moms who are in it on their own,” she says. “Who don’t have incredibly supportive husbands, or a skilled maternity nurse, and who have to deal with mom shaming that can profoundly affect a woman’s emotions and her own self-care post-birth.”
For her part, Hermer says that even she is guilty of judging other moms at times, and it is something that she is working on.
“I saw a mom riding her bike down the street the other day wearing a baby carrier strapped to her chest and I FREAKED OUT! I was like, ‘THIS WOMAN IS INSANE SHE IS PUTTING HER CHILD’S LIFE IN DANGER SHE IS A BAD MOM!’ So while I preach and soapbox about this mom shaming — please, it is natural and it happens. I just wish (and I’m doing it myself) we all took a second more to think that we have NO idea what each other is going through and why we are making the decisions we are making.”
In the end, Hermer says that she is not angry with Juliet Angus — her former friend and fellow Ladies of London cast member who led the charge in criticizing her choice. “Though I certainly wish [Juliet] had been more supportive of me trying to juggle my family, it isn’t the end of the world. I am okay. My husband is okay. My children are okay.”
Hermer simply wishes that moving forward, her story will help other moms see how incredibly important it is to be each other’s cheerleaders, instead of tearing each other down. While she has not yet heard from Juliet, many of her cast mates have reached out to her and she has received tons of supportive messages from fans.
“We owe our fellow moms more,” says Hermer. “We owe them love and support — because we know how hard it all can be to juggle being a mom and a wife. As moms, we are in it together — raising the future. We are a tribe of future makers. So let’s support each other.”