The amazing Rebecca McKenzie and her daughter Magdalen (8.5 months). Rebecca chose to participate in this movement for reasons both professional and personal. She gave birth without the option for maternity leave and has struggled with body hatred for most of her life. Rebecca was in graduate school while pregnant and defended her dissertation in her final days of pregnancy. She received the title of "Doctor" just two days before her daughter was born. In her faculty appointment with her university she was not eligible for maternity leave through her employer and she also wasn't eligible for FMLA. Rebecca feels lucky to have a very easy pregnancy and an uneventful vaginal birth because she had to return to work remotely within days of giving birth and was back in the classroom as instructor less than three weeks after her daughter was born. She chose to forgo an epidural for fear it would lead to a cesarean with a recovery time that she simply could not entertain.
Rebecca has faced depression at points in her life but it was well managed when she got pregnant. In late pregnancy and postpartum she struggled with depression and says that the first seven months of her daughters life were marked by her inability to connect with her. To feel present and feel much more than ambivalence. The past month and a half she has come out of the cloud now that she if off work for the summer and able to shift her focus and she's very much enjoying it.
Rebecca's struggle with self-image began as a teen, but while pregnant, she fell in love with her body. She has always hated her stomach, but watching it grow full and round was amazing, especially after she started feeling Magdalen move around inside. She says, "My legs seemed stronger and more toned, my hair grew into delicious lushness. And then I had my baby and the self-loathing came crashing down on me. For me, my body's accomplishment--the feat of natural birth--has been overshadowed by how wrecked my body has looked and felt since then. Because of my fraught relationship to my body, asking to participate in this project feels terrifying--but it also feels absolutely and completely right."
Rebecca hopes to see the day that no woman experiences birth or miscarriage without supported maternity leave. She hopes to "raise awareness about the importance of supported maternity leave, and to help myself reclaim a positive relationship with my maternal body and with motherhood in general."