The Tale of Lauren Hastings & Monroe Hastings Plumb



As the mother of two premature girls, this is a story very close to my heart...

We recently had the pleasure of photographing LA-based model mama Lauren Hastings and her beautiful blonde-haired two-year-old daughter Monroe Hastings Plumb. Monroe was born at 26 weeks, after Hastings went into labour unexpectedly after a prenatal massage. Hastings is not only blessed with killer genes in the looks department but also warm, honest and kind. Here she shares her moving story with us, and talks openly about her experience in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, life as a single mother, living in LA, her career and why she’s so proud of her little girl…

Photography: Julie Adams Hair and makeup: Elsa Morgan 


I'm lucky my best friend is a child therapist…

So I’ve been given tons of good advice along the way. To be honest no advice given to me could have prepared me for the journey of being a mother to a preemie born at 26 weeks.


I was born in San José, California and then grew up in a city called Clovis…

I loved where I grew up. It’s a small town. I have a little sister and we are really close in age. We had a giant pool in our backyard with a rock waterfall and a diving board! I remember always being in the pool in the summer. We were also not too far away from Yosemite National Park and a lot of lakes. I had a blast growing up.


The best part of being pregnant was being able to eat anything I wanted all the time…

As a model/actress I’ve always had to watch my figure, but not while I was pregnant! In fact when Monroe was born at 26 weeks I had already gained about 30-35 pounds. They said she was big for her gestational age. As far as cravings, it was a lot of meat, potatoes, burgers and fries. I also loved knowing I was growing this little girl in my belly. Her nose, her toes, her ears! I loved thinking about it!


The hardest part of pregnancy was not making it to full term…

I never even made it to my third trimester. For a long time I felt sad and guilty and ashamed and confused. I wondered why I couldn’t protect her and keep her in my belly? Why couldn’t I carry her? Why didn’t she feel safe? Why did she come early? What was wrong with my body? Even typing this makes me start to cry again. That was really hard… it’s still really hard.


I consider myself lucky when it comes to modeling considering my lack of height and now my age…

I was really busy before I fell pregnant. That came to a quick halt with the birth of my preemie. She was hospitalized for over four months and when she finally came home she was on oxygen 24 hours, seven days a week and was also being fed though a feeding tube in her belly called a gastrostomy tube (also called a G-tube). So work was non-existent. I worked one or two jobs in 2015. It has just started to pick up for me! Thank god!


It's hard to describe what having a premature baby was like...

I was scared, I was sad, I was terrified, I was angry – I was every emotion all at once. But I was strong, I was her protector, I was her mother. There were moments (a lot of moments) that were scary, especially the thought went through my head of ‘will she make it?’. It was a life and death situation. But I always came back to hell ha she will, she’s a fighter and so is her momma. She will make it. She has to make it. She was born at 26 weeks and three days weighing 2 pounds 2 ounces.


My labour started on a Thursday when I went to get a prenatal massage (mothers be very careful who you decided to see for these) - within less than 24 hours after getting the prenatal massage I started to cramp…

I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I was never told or talked to about preterm birth, I wasn’t even aware that it could happen. Not to sound naive, but I just didn’t know. I told Mike (my daughter’s father) that I was cramping. He had just had his wisdom teeth pulled out that morning and was recovering and said ‘you’re fine don’t worry’. We woke up Friday morning and my cramps, which were contractions had increased. We told his mother who said not to worry and that it was probably Braxton Hicks. I went to take my morning pee and when I wiped there was blood everywhere. I was then rushed to the emergency room and they said I was three centimeters dilated and that they were going to try and slow/stop the contractions. I was put on magnesium and got a steroid shot in my butt. Steroids help a baby’s lungs to start to work. You need two of these shots and can only get one a day. I now know that lungs are one of last things to develop in the womb. The plan was to keep me on bed rest for as long as we could. Three days later which was all a blur for me (the magnesium makes you feel like you have the flu but 10 times worse) my daughter came at 6.01am via emergency c-section.


The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is like a roller coaster full of ups and downs…

A lot of high highs and really bad lows. Monroe was born and taken away from me instantly. I’ll never forget being awake while having my c-section and asking Mike “what’s that smell” and he was like “holy shit… ah nothing”. It was my skin being “cauterized”. That is, stopping a bleeding wound by burning it shut. I will never forget that smell. Sorry if that’s a bit much, but it’s my story and I want to share it. Monroe had a lot of complications. She was born with a murmur. They tried to treat it with medication, it failed and she had a yucky reaction to it and swelled up. Hard to see your two pound baby so swollen and frustrating the medication didn’t work. The only alternative to was prefrontal surgery a “pda ligation”. Here is the definition: in PDA, abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart. Before birth, the two major arteries – the aorta and the pulmonary (PULL-mun-ary) artery are connected by a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. This vessel is an essential part of fetal blood circulation. So surgery it was. They made about a 2 inch incision between Monroe’s ribs and closed it. However during that surgery they paralyzed her left vocal chord and nicked her left lung leaving her with a tube to drain and complete paralysis of her left vocal chord. This meant breast-feeding was no longer an option because she could asphyxiate on my breast.


Hearing I couldn’t breastfeed was a really hard thing to hear…

I was devastated that I wasn’t going to be able to bond with her that way. So I pumped and pumped and she got my miracle milk! From there I’d like to say it got better and was only up hill but there were many more complications along the way. There were many times she was extubated then intubated minutes or sometimes hours later. I could go on and on but I’ll tell you how we finally got out of the NICU. She wasn’t taking much orally and she was now past full term, almost 44 weeks now. They mentioned a gastrostomy tube (also called a G-tube) which is inserted through the abdomen and delivers nutrition directly to the stomach. I said yes please, anything to get her home with me! I wanted her out, I wanted her home. I had only two overnights with her in the hospital under care. I wanted her home! So a few days later she went into surgery for a G-tube and also for an umbilical hernia. Then within the next week she was home on oxygen and a feeding tube with a machine that fed her but my baby, my badass baby was home.


My advice to women who have had premature babies or are experiencing difficulties with their pregnancy is to…

Stay strong!!!!! If I could do it all over again, the only thing I would change is that I would have been stronger. I would have not let the negative scary thoughts creep into my head as much. I would advise speaking to another mother who has had a preemie baby. Having a good support system is crucial when going though this.


Monroe is in a Center Based Program now…

It’s like pre-school but with occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists. Three days a week she’s there. Then there’s ballet class and play dates with her best friend who is also a preemie! She splits her time between me and her father so that allows me to have time to audition and work. Luckily we both have flexible schedules so we can constantly cover for each other if need be.


I’m a jeans and T-shirt kinda girl…

So it’s a pair of vintage Levi’s and a vintage soft T-shirt. And if it’s too hot for jeans, it’s my vintage Levi shorts. Super easy. And I never wear make up unless I have too. So most days I am make up free. My style essentials are: denim, vintage concert T-shirts and my Gucci loafers (so easy to slide on and go).


When it comes to taking care of my skin…

I have an apothecary of products thanks to my friend Alex (she’s Monroe’s godmother). She’s actually just started a blog about beauty called Under The Skinfluence. Most of the products I use are there. For body, I do Pilates and for my hair, I do a lot of hair treatments.


In the morning, I start my beauty routine by washing my face with…

Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. I follow with a rose water toner then either the SK-II’s Facial Treatment Oil or Sunday Riley Flora Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil followed with Dr. Jart Ceramidin cream and Coola sunscreen. At night, the same face wash and toner but then onto the Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment with Luna Sleeping Night Oil or the Hourglass Equilibrium Biomimetic Skin Active Serum. Then the Bionic Anti-Ageing Cream, again from Sunday Riley. I switch it up every few days. But this whole process takes three minutes. I never blow dry my hair. So I can shower, apply face and body and a quick comb though my hair and be out the door in 15 minutes.


My mom is the most amazing, kind and patient woman…

She taught me patience and unconditional love. God knows I wasn’t the easiest teenager to deal with. Haha! Sorry momma I love you! And thank you for always being there for me.


I call my mom every night…

Also my best friend Jeanell and my daughter’s godmother Alex. I wouldn’t be me without them.


The last time I really laughed hysterically was…

The other day Monroe was in the bath and she was asking for more bubbles so I made the bath as bubbly as possible and as she was throwing bubbles at me she farted! And she heard it and started laughing hysterically and I started laughing hysterically it was the best! Like our first time really laughing together and at each other! She’s funny. She’s always smiling and always laughing. It’s rare that she’s not.


Being a single mom is by far the hardest most challenging thing I do…

I’m still learning everyday. Luckily now Mike and I have a decent relationship and can call on each other to help with Monroe. My friends have been there for me last minute when I get a same day audition. Or my family help a lot when they are in town visiting. My advice to other single mothers is again try to have a really good support system and to try to take time for yourself. It’s so important to do that. You need to be the best version of yourself in order to be there for them. It was hard at first to share some time with her father. I hated it at first and I cried every night she was gone and didn’t know how to fill my time without her. It’s still just as hard now, but I have learned to keep myself busy and spend time with friends and do nice things for myself.


I love raising a child in LA…

Monroe and my special place is ballet. She loves going to class with her bestie! It’s good weather most of the year in LA so we spend a lot of time in the park. She also loves the Zoo and is obsessed with monkeys! We love The Natural History Museum, because she loves dinosaurs! Then there’s the beach, movies, you name it. It’s a great place to raise a kid.


Lauren’s little list of loves:

Vintage Levis
Gucci loafers
My new cookbook for Monroe
My Rodin perfume and body oil. Anything from Rodin actually.
My new turtle neck from the line the woods http://the-woods.fr can’t wait for sweater weather.
Monroe’s Mini Melissa cat shoes!


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