The stunning Deanna Seymour and Ruby Jean (6 months)
Deanna says that in the past 15 months, through her pregnancy and daughter's life, she has grown so much. "I feel much more confident in some ways, and in some ways feel like I have so much to learn. Mostly I'm learning to let go of control". She saw a midwife, hired a doula, went to classes, watched documentaries, and says that she never considered birthing via cesarean until they were packing for the hospital and she printed birthing affirmations to hang in her delivery room. "I said to my husband, "Maybe I'll just print the handout about a family centered cesarian, even though we won't need it." Turns out I was wrong".
Deanna's water broke at home and there was meconium present. She had been to an appointment earlier that day and mentioned that Ruby wasn't moving as much as she was used to but they said she was getting bigger and had less room to move, so she shouldn't worry about it. However, when Deanna mentioned meconium to her midwife they said she should come in right away even though she wasn't contracting at all. When they arrived, they decided to start Pitocin but after laboring for hours, she wasn't dilating and Ruby wasn't moving down. Around the 16th hour they decided to try all the doula and midwife tricks to get her to rotate and move down but Deanna was exhausted.
Deanna decided to get an epidural so that she could rest and hopefully continued to progress. About 24 hours in, she developed a fever and they began to fear infection. Things were starting to feel stressful, and she just wanted her baby girl to be born healthy. They began to discuss delivering via cesarean and Deanna wrestled with the idea while her midwife stalled. She decided to go for it and is grateful her instincts were right. She did have an infection that spread to her placenta and Ruby's cord had a true knot. "I'm glad that I didn't let my original birth plan get in the way of my mama instincts. For a second I thought I would feel ashamed if I had the c-section. I even felt a little like a failure when I decided to get the epidural. But now, as I look back on the epic 27 hours it took from the time we left our home to head to the hospital until I was holding Ruby in my arms, I know that that was my plan. I'm not always in charge of the plan. I don't always get to write the plan. There's something really terrifying about that, and something really calming. I look at my scar as a trophy. I mean, it's badass. Someone cut me open and pulled another human out of my body. That's insane when you think about it. There's a part of me that still wonders what it would have been like if I could have stuck to my plan and had her completely naturally and felt that rush that the cocktail of love hormones they talk about. But I didn't and I wouldn't change a thing about the day we met, because to do so I think in a way would disrespect my whole journey over the past 15 months. My body did what it did, and maybe it wasn't a perfect system, but it produced a perfect baby girl for our family".
Deanna has struggled with body image her whole life and remembers dieting as early as the 3rd grade. Along the way she developed a habit of making self self-deprecating jokes about herself to cope. Pregnancy was freeing for her in that she finally felt comfortable in her skin. Her belly felt purposed and she felt like she could proudly wear shirts that were snug and show it off. "The belly I had before Ruby was more of a mistake or a failure, but my pregnant belly was something to be proud of". Now, six months after Ruby's birth, she is fighting the urge to go back to my old habits. "My belly is bigger. It's mushy. I have stretch marks. I'm pretty sure my butt is a completely different shape now. And my thighs aren't getting any smaller either. I always told myself that if or when I had kids I wouldn't talk negatively about my body in front of them. Now that I have a kid, and a girl at that, I want her to love her body no matter what it looks like. So I'm here today to put my money where my mouth is. I've been resisting the urge to crash diet in preparation for my shoot, since that would be entirely against the point, but the urge is still there. All I can do is just try to correct myself when I have the negative thoughts, and be thankful that I was able to carry a pregnancy to term and get those stretch marks. When I think my thighs are too fat, I just think about the people who can't use their legs and it feels so incredibly petty to worry about their circumference. I'm just taking it one step at a time until maybe...hopefully, I'll feel as proud of my body every day as I did when I was pregnant. I want to be an amazing role model for Ruby, and it just felt like this was a step in the right direction."