The stunning Celeste Johnson, Lily (5), and Mila (3)
Celeste says that she had dreamed for years of birthing a daughter that looked exactly like her father, long before she even considered getting pregnant. She feels incredibly lucky to have conceived on the very first try without any protection and never doubted that it was the girl she had been dreaming about.
Her name was Lily Echo and she was born at 40 weeks 4 days after Celeste was induced with Pitocin and had her water broken manually. Labor was 17.5 hrs; long and stressful. Her body kept stalling and she had to push for 2 long hours. She was determined to let her body tear instead of having a episiotomy but her body wouldn't tear! "I clearly remember my OB telling me we could keep going another hour or more or let her cut me and we'd have a baby in under 10 minutes. I consented because I felt my body couldn't take anymore". Lily was born a few minutes later with the assistance of the episiotomy and a vacuum. She came out with the cord around her neck and was unresponsive due to being in the birth canal too long. She took several minutes to come around and it was found she had low oxygen and blood sugar.
While the birth was difficult, Celeste says that her biggest heartbreak was breastfeeding. "I thought it would be easy for me but Lily wasn't interested. After a day of refusing to nurse I sobbed my way to the store to buy formula. It was more important to make sure she ate so we had formula until I could pump enough. I pumped exclusively until she was 4 months then we went back to formula. I was working full time and couldn't pump enough to meet her needs".
27 months later, Mila Rebecca was born and it was such an amazing and empowering birth compared to her first. Her water broke at home and she decided to shower and get her older daughter to day care before going into the hospital. She was able to walk, use the birth ball and feel in control of getting her body ready.
Unfortunately, things moved slowly and the contractions stopped and started even with Pitocin. She became so exhausted they stopped everything until she could get some rest. Mila was born after 24.5 hrs with vacuum assistance and an episiotomy. She was hell-bent to breastfeed this time and Mila was a champ. They breastfed until she was 17 months and even now she's still obsessed with her breasts.
"Parenthood is exhausting and endlessly rewarding. I loathe the mommy wars and do my best to support other mother's and not judge. I work full time and while I love my job I miss kids. I'm torn between feeling guilty for not wanting to be with them 24-7 and relief at the break and fulfillment I get from working".
"I have severe body issues and spend a lot of time hating myself for the way I look. I don't want to pass that to my girls. I think the project is amazing and a good way to get some catharsis - hopefully."