Elaina Bellis, LA-based mother of identical twin girls Quincy Kay and Rowe James, is what you would call endlessly inspiring...
Not only does the ex-model-turned-art-director share an honest portrayal of mum life on social media through her @laylaygibson Instagram page – highlighting everything from her unplanned c-section to her struggles with breastfeeding, she is also movingly raw when it comes to sharing her story about her first-born son, Lincoln James, who she tragically lost to stillbirth in 2014. Elaina’s calm and present approach to motherhood and life have given her the strength and motivation to find pleasure in the simple things, and savour every moment with her little girls, which is why her advice to others who have experienced a similar loss is as heartfelt as it is uplifting: “To just keep trusting that you are taken care of and although this experience doesn’t feel fair, it will bring you gifts that you weren’t expecting, and to try and choose the light over the darkness”. It’s hard not to get incredibly moved by Elaina’s story, but seeing her focus on the joy her twin girls bring and placing her attention on gratitude and meditation instead of tragedy has been the catalyst to live a life filled with love, gratitude and spirituality. Read on for more inspiration from this heartfelt earth mama. Words: Marisa Remond | Photography: Morgan Pansing
What has motherhood taught you?
That the house doesn’t always need to be clean.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To ask for help more often.
Can you tell us about your experience with co-sleeping?
I loved every second we co-slept with our babies. It’s such a precious time when they’re so young, you just want to eat it all up and cuddle as much as possible. We just wanted the babies with us during the night, so they knew they had us and that they were safe.
How has life changed for you since becoming a mother?
I don’t stop moving from 6am until 8pm – my body has ever been so active!
“ I want to teach them about spirituality and how they can have a meditation practice ”
What do you want to teach your girls as they grow up?
That their inner beauty is the most important beauty to focus on. I want to teach them about spirituality and how they can have a meditation practice.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Ever since we did sleep training, we have been on a very tight routine with the girls. Most days I am at home sticking to our routine.
What did your own mother teach you about life and values?
My mom was incredible. She had four children and was a successful realtor. She taught me how you can be fully present with your children and how to put your family first. The most important thing she taught me though was how to love.
What’s your advice to other mothers of twins?
Go easy on yourself, you’re doing the best you can do, the babies are getting exactly what they need. Before we had a routine it was hard. With twins, it’s all about getting on a routine and setting a nap schedule.
Can you tell us about your career path from model to art director? Has your career changed since you became a mother?
I had studied photography while I was modeling and realized I enjoyed the creative side of a photo shoot more than being the one who was photographed. Since becoming a mother, I haven’t worked as I am fully focused on my babies for the time being.
You’re an incredibly strong and inspiring woman. Can you tell us about how you dealt with the grief of losing your son Lincoln?
It’s all a process, it still is. I gathered a lot of “spiritual tools,” that really helped me view the expierence of his death differently. One being reading The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. I started meditating daily and talking to him, it was how I felt most connected to him. There were times I would pretend he was talking back to me, and times I would really hear his spirit talking back to me. Telling me to keep trusting this happened for the right reasons. I trusted him and his choice and still do.
Can you share your birth story with us or any memories you have of the experience? What helped you through this experience?
I had been laboring at home for two days with my doulas. The whole plan was to go to the hospital when I was in transition to push. I had no idea at this point that he wasn’t alive. Once we got to the hospital, they checked to see how far I was dilated and I was at a seven. After checking my dilation, they then took the heart monitor out to check his heart beat (mind you, I was having contractions every minute and didn’t have any pain help). As the nurse starting searching for his heart beat her face drew somber. It was then that I knew. The nurse called in the doctor, he looked, and then they called in the head of the department, who searched. After looking for one second, he delivered the news — they couldn’t find our son’s heartbeat, who I had carried for 38 weeks. As any women would do, I lost it. It’s hard to share this, but it’s also healing in a way sharing it. The more I talk about him, the more I feel him with me, even talking about his birth.
What advice would you give to other women who have gone through a similar experience?
To just keep trusting that you are taken care of and although this experience doesn’t feel fair, it will being you gifts that you weren’t expecting. Try and see the light over the darkness.
How did your experience change your perspective on life?
I learnt that I have no control of any outcome and I needed to learn how to let go.
Are you tidy or messy?
I am a very tidy person. After losing Lincoln, I became more so that way. I am very aware of why I did. I needed to have a clean home to have a clean mind free of cluttered thoughts that would trigger me.
What are your summer fashion essentials?
Dresses that are easy to throw on, light weight and cozy. I love all my Christy Dawn dresses!
What are your top time management tips?
While the girls nap, I prepare their meals and our meals for the day. That’s a huge help for me, so that when they’re awake I can be fully present to them.
Where are your favourite places to go with your girls in LA?
Gjusta, during the week and before their lunch rush! It’s so delicious and the outside seating is perfect for the girls!