Nassar survivor honored as ‘Mother of the Year’

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Larry Nassar survivor was named “Mother of the Year” by a volunteer organization dedicated to helping mothers struggling with postpartum depression. 

Marta Stern, who lives in Grand Rapids, was eight months pregnant when she spoke during Nassar’s highly publicized sentencing in January 2018.

“Your treatments became the same each time,” Stern said to her abuser during her victim impact statement. “I would come in and lay on the table and you would digitally penetrate me until I was sore.”

Stern said the strength to testify came from within, as she was determined to make the world a safer place for her unborn daughter. 

“She gave me that mama bear strength to fight and go through it,” she said. 

The stress from reliving the experience caused complications in Stern’s pregnancy.

The worst was yet to come, as the invasive nature of giving birth retriggered the trauma in ways she never imagined. 

Stern said experiencing trauma during her pregnancy increased her risk of experiencing postpartum depression. Immediately after delivering her daughter, Rosie, the symptoms began to surface.

“When they put the baby on my chest, I remember thinking, ‘Oh dear God, take her away I don’t want to hold her,’” a tearful Stern said. “That’s not an experience a mom should ever have.”

After six weeks of suffering, Stern turned to MomsBloom for help. The organization sent one of their volunteers to support Stern in her struggle with postpartum depression. 

Stern credits much of her recovery to her volunteer, Donna. 

“I just kind of spilled it all,” Stern said about first meeting Donna. “I was like ‘This is where I’m at and I’m not OK.’”

Donna’s nurturing response gave Stern reassurance and hope.

“(Donna) just looked at me and was like ‘Marta, I’m going to watch Rosie, go upstairs and sleep for two hours and come down.”

For the weeks and months to come, Donna would help Stern along her path to recovery. Soon, Donna or ‘Grandma Donna’ became like family. 

Donna, along with Stern’s husband and daughter, stood by her side Friday morning as MomsBloom awarded her ‘Mother of the Year’. 

Later that day, Stern spoke to News 8 about the battle still ahead. 

She said she would go back and change the victim impact statement she read to Nassar if she could, as she has since realized how his abuse robbed her of bonding with her newborn baby. 

“The most precious days of my life were gone,” she said. 

Now the mother of a toddler, Stern realizes there will never be a cure to the trauma. 

“It’s every detail of every day that impacts me as a mother,” Stern said. “Every day I ask [Rosie], ‘Can I wash your bottom?’ because I want her to know from this age about consent and what makes her feels safe and what doesn’t.”  

More information about MomsBloom can be found online.

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