Actress Mickey Sumner, one of Sting's children, is raising a son with special needs with her former partner, Chris Kantrowitz. Motherhood has been unexpected from day one.
When "Frances Ha" star Mickey Sumner was pregnant, she and her ex-husband, Chris Kantrowitz, didn't want to know the baby's gender. One day, she thought her ob-gyn accidentally revealed it was a girl.
For months, Sumner was sure it was a girl. When the midwife handed her a boy, she was surprised. Since then, everything she thought she knew about motherhood changed.
Mickey Sumner and her son, Akira, in May 2021 | Photo: Instagram.com/sumnermickey
BECOMING A STAR
Born in January 1984, Sumner is Sting and Trudie Styler's daughter. She fell in love with acting at a young age, but she never told anyone about it because she didn't think it was possible.
After getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Sumner told her family she wanted to follow in her mother's footsteps and be an actress. Her dream came true in 2006 when she made her acting debut in the short film "We're Going to the Zoo."
Since then, she has starred in a few projects, including "Low Winter Sun." Her collaborations with actress and filmmaker Greta Gerwig in the critically acclaimed "Frances Ha" and "Mistress America" skyrocketed her career.
Mickey Sumner on September 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
Nowadays, Mickey Sumner is best known for "Snowpiercer." She married tech CEO and gaming entrepreneur Chris Kantrowitz in Tuscany in July 2017.
The actress wore a show-stopper Giambattista Valli Haute Couture gown for her wedding. Bazaar's Best Planner Bash Please designed the event, and she posted a few photos of it on social media.
Unfortunately, their relationship was short-lived. In December 2021, after only four years of marriage, Sumner filed for divorce in Los Angeles County Court. The details of their separation are unknown.
Chris Kantrowitz and Mickey Sumner on January 17, 2018 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
Six months before tying the knot, Mickey Sumner and Chris Kantrowitz welcomed a son, Akira. Parenting has been more challenging than expected, primarily because of Akira's condition.
Sumner gave birth to Akira in Sting's home on December 31, 2016, two weeks before her due date. When the midwife handed Akira to the actress, she noticed something wasn't okay.
The next time Sumner saw her baby, he was lying in an incubator under blue light.
He was a bit "floppy" and didn't cry or latch, something unusual for newborns. She asked the midwife if everything was okay, and she said he just needed time because he was born two weeks early.
However, Sumner's mom was not convinced. She saw that the baby came out still and blue, but the pediatrician later checked Akira and said he was fine.
They ordered the family to put some clothes on him because he was a bit cold, though. The following day, Akira wouldn't latch, and anxiety kicked in.
The lactation specialist told Sumner they should wait another day, but Mickey Sumner and Chris Kantrowitz rushed Akira to the hospital three days after his birth.
During all that time, Akira didn't latch. He was still floppy and had turned yellow. The ER doctors noticed he was hypothermic and immediately admitted him to the NICU.
The next time Sumner saw her baby, he was lying in an incubator under blue light. White gauze bandage covered his eyes, and wires, sensors, and patches were everywhere.
Seeing her son in such a frail condition (his vitals would frequently drop off and come back up) was so hard that she thought she would lose her mind, be taken away, and tranquilized. However, a voice in her head said:
"You're a mother now. You can't go anywhere. You have to stay. Regardless of how awful it gets. Your baby needs you to stay."
She called motherhood the combination between her "primal urge to protect and nurture" her son and the "visceral" sense of responsibility she felt at that point.
AKIRA'S RARE GENETIC CONDITION
After three weeks in the NICU, doctors couldn't determine why Akira was not developing like most children. They told Sumner he had a rare generic unbalanced translocated chromosome that had nothing to do with his difficult home birth.
Still, the "Marriage Story" actress kept thinking about his home birth, wondering if things could have been better had she done some things differently.
[Sumner] grieves for what she thought her and Akira's life would be like.
Akira also received other wrong diagnoses, including he had a virus, a degenerative brain disease, and a damaged optic nerve. Kantrowitz needed another medical opinion, so he found two doctors who dismissed his previous diagnoses.
They agreed he had an uncommon genetic condition, but it was not what the other doctors said. Unfortunately, nobody has given a name to Akira's health issues.
As of April 2021, Akira was four years old and could not talk or walk, hear properly, and had global delays. Even with all those issues, he connects with others so deeply that people keep telling Sumner they have a special relationship. She explained:
"Everyone who meets Akira pulls me aside and whispers, 'I think Akira and I have a really special bond.' I bite my tongue and want to say, 'I hate to tell you, but it's not just you!'
Sting's daughter pointed out that making others feel special in his presence was one of Akira's gifts. She even described him as "a sunshine" and her "tiny mighty sun."
Over the years, Sumner learned that her child was not a project. He doesn't need to be fixed, and she loves him for who he is. Still, she grieves for what she thought her and Akira's life would be like.
Sumner added that her experience of motherhood was nothing like the blissfully positive picture people show on social media. It's been a "rollercoaster of emotions and mental health challenges," and she was diagnosed with postpartum OCD and anxiety.
Things got better after sending Akira to a program for children with disabilities. He made friends, and Sumner met other parents going through similar situations. It was a pivotal moment in her life because she felt understood and less lonely.
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