Support: to give approval, comfort, or encouragement to. To be actively interested in and concerned for the success of…
synonyms: comfort, encourage, sustain, buoy up, hearten, fortify, console, solace, reassure
Before I had my son, during my pregnancy, I felt that I had very little support…don’t get me wrong, I had A LOT of people that were excited for us, happy for us, people that couldn’t wait to squeeze our precious baby and shower us with gifts. But the people I needed, the people/women/mothers that I worked hard to find we’re ultimately the ones that would get me through my pregnancy, birth, postpartum and Motherhood as it is today.
These are amazing women that know the struggles, both emotionally and physically of entering into Motherhood, who show compassion and support all because they are passionate about it and want to see others have a great experience. Sometimes, a better experience than they did.
I was the first of my close friend group to be having a baby, I was one of the very few women in my family planning to breastfeed ( neither my mother, her mother or my husband’s mother had ever breastfed) and I was the first to be attempting a home birth. For all of these realities, I needed to look out of my “box” for support. I was suddenly flooded with friends with kids that I had known from the past or just met, I started joining groups like Le Leche League for breastfeeding support and gaining knowledge from my midwife about birth and breastfeeding. My husband of course was tremendously supportive of all of my wants, needs and plans. But when it really came down to it, I needed more. I discovered online support like Birth Without Fear where I was able to read hundreds of stories of women that had traumatic births, beautiful births, loss and joy and everything in between. It helped me learn that no experience was the same and we all have our unique story to tell. Most of all I learned that I could go through all this and feel more than ordinary doing it, I could feel empowered as a women and enter into Motherhood with strength and confidence.
My due date came and passed.
These resources became even more important now, going post-dates was very normal. I waited confidently that my baby would come on his own time.
At 41 weeks +3 days, I was starting to lose it. I scheduled a visit with my back up OB and got an ultrasound to make sure everything was looking normal. He was perfect and estimated to be 9lbs. I thought…”ok, no problem…these are usually over estimated by a pound or more”. We all agreed ( including my midwife) that we were not going past 42 weeks. My induction was scheduled for later in the week.
The next days were very emotional for me as I felt my home birth slipping away. But the morning of our scheduled induction I went into labor on my own. 14 hours of early labor at home, a check-up from my midwife and a long relaxing day resulted in slow progress. We decided to head to the hospital. I thank God that I was in active labor when I arrived and labored naturally and fairly quickly for 18 hours. I was fully dilated for 7.5 hours with no pressure, no need to push and my boy was not in the least bit interested in moving down. I consented to a C-section and immediately started to grieve the birth I wanted but didn’t get to have. I had an amazing, strong and beautiful boy at 9 lbs 8 oz and 23″ long. For that I will always be grateful. I certainly can’t argue with success but I pray for a VBAC with our next baby.
Shortly after shedding the weight of an almost 10 lb baby and nursing was going great, I lost the majority of the weight I had gained. But my body was revealing to be much different. I would see my body in the mirror, see my scar, my stretch marks and all of the loose skin that was once stretched around my son. I had never felt more beautiful in my skin than when i was pregnant. Now, I wasn’t sure what to feel about it, but I knew I didn’t feel confident anymore and I didn’t feel beautiful or sexy anymore. Thinking about anyone seeing it, even my husband, was down right embarrassing. I realized I was never prepared for this part, I had never found my support for this part.
Thankfully, I found Ashlee Wells Jackson and her amazing calling, The 4th Trimester Bodies Project. I would find myself reading the stories and scrolling the gallery of pictures of real, raw, beautiful mothers daily. My confidence began to grow again. My self-worth began to increase again. I wasn’t the ONLY mother out there that looked, felt and WAS different now. I felt supported in this new body of mine. This project truly inspired me and I knew I needed to be a part of it in hopes to help grow the project and help inspire others as well.
I was blessed to participate in the project on March 8th, 2014 which was so special to me because it was my son’s actual due date. Meeting Ashlee, her daughter Nova and her business partner and make-up artist Laura Weetzie Wilson was such an exciting honor. Our session was very relaxed, comfortable and focused on myself, my son and our story. We chatted casually about natural skin care and healthy lifestyle while my son and Nova played and I was pampered with hair and make-up. The shoot itself was quick and my interview was a fantastic way for me to tell our story. I only wish I would have prepared myself better for it…once the camera was on I sort of froze up. I know that I have my own unique experience to tell, but I also know there are many women with much more painful stories than mine and many with very healing and joyful stories.
This is the picture chosen for the gallery and eventually the book.
I had a hard time choosing an image out of the many that Ashlee took. Mainly because I am still struggling to see my body look the way it does now. I look at this image and wish I would have looked confidently at the camera, in a “look at my body now! Look at what it did!” kind of way. Instead, I see a women that is confident in mothering but is still hiding herself. I am thankful to see that, it’s the reality that I am still on a journey of self-discovery and of self-love. I don’t know how a few months, more pregnancies and births or years will impact my body in the future. But I know now that there is support there for me to turn to.
Thank you Ashlee for your support, for spending your time dedicated to this message and for spreading love and empathy among women.