Rebecca Shoaf Kozak (34), Luca (5), Joaquin, (3), and Matías (10 months)
Boston. Photographed in West Springfield, Mass.
Rebecca shares -
"I had a miscarriage before I had Luca in 2011. My husband and I went for the first ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. We were devastated.
In June of 2012, after almost 40 hours of labor, my daughter Luca was born, but no cry was heard. The nurses told me that she would be "fine", and that she just needed to get some "air", but her loud cry never came. The nurses and doctor whisked her away to the NICU to find that she had neonatal pneumonia. Although I am told this is a common occurrence for babies, and the cause is unknown, I felt exhausted and worried. Luca went straight to Children's Hospital of Boston and spent ten days there: five in the NICU receiving treatment and then five on the floor. I was able to spend time with her and stay the night, but she went through lots of pricking and prodding in those ten days. I was so grateful for a supportive community of friends, a wonderful partner and a great family, all who came to visit to shower love onto Luca and I while in the hospital.
On July 10th, 2012, ten days after Luca was born, we went home. The experience taught me that, as much as we like to try and plan our birth, transition home and all the details in between in regards to parenthood, we don't have control over so much of what happens. After a miscarriage and then a rocky start for my first newborn baby, I relied on my faith and my practitioners to help me through whatever experience I had. Was I nervous? Of course! Was I excited? Hell yes! I just had to hold all of my experiences at the same time. This mentality helped me relax during my subsequent pregnancies and deliveries. I trusted the midwives and nurses who surrounded me, as well as my body, to deliver. While I knew anything was possible between creating a baby, growing a baby and then laboring and delivering a baby, I maintained the mantra, "this is out of my control; I can only do what I can do".
When parents, specifically mothers, ask me about pregnancy, delivery and parenthood, I try and be honest. My truth is that delivering a baby, nursing a baby, being a mother and a partner and every other role expected of us is hard and beautiful; amazing and wild; extremely exhausting and energy-giving!
My aunts says that "motherhood is the hardest job you'll ever love". I couldn't agree more! I remind myself, and other mothers in my circle, that we are doing a great job. That parenting is hard and no one has all the answers. Lastly, I encourage others not to be too hard on themselves. We need each other to do this job that is parenting.
Our world is one of misogyny and patriarchy. We women are taught to be feminine but not too feminine, thin and muscular, to wear makeup and to shave and to be strong but not too strong, have a voice but one that doesn't speak too loudly. There are so many messages which hurt our gender and this is a movement which invites women to come together and embrace who we are, as mothers, sisters, wives, partners and professionals. This movement is a beautiful thing."