The stunning Shanna Spencer, currently 37 weeks pregnant, with Noah (7), Lillie (5) and Ari (14 months). Shanna says that motherhood came very natural to her, despite having an absent mother growing up. Her mother became an alcoholic when she was in second grade and says that her moms alcohol abuse caused her to grow up way faster than she should have. She gives her aunt, her mothers twin, all of the credit in the world for the kind of mother she is and says that her aunt was her was my biggest supporter and teacher in life.
Shanna got pregnant for the first time when she was just 20. She had a very rough go of her pregnancy and introduction to motherhood after passing gall stones and going into pancreatic failure. She was able to deliver Noah vaginally with the assistance of forceps but just after he was born she went into organ failure and had to be taken to ICU. Shanna had really hoped to be able to breastfeed but was so sick she wasn't able to. After spending the next four months in the hospital and having most of her pancreas removed, she was able to finally able to come home but the transition was understandably difficult as was the road to wellness. When Noah was about 18 months old she got pregnant with Lilli and was able to healthy pregnancy, birth and her first breastfeeding experience. While things went well physically, having the firsts with her daughter that she missed out on with her son was difficult and brought her back to another hard place.
Between Lillie and Ari, Shanna and her husband conceived another child during a very transitional time of their lives. They had just sold their house and only had 30 days to find another. Things didn't come together in time so her husband had to stay with friends and she and the kids had to live with her in-laws in a different state. Soon after Shanna learned that she had lost the baby. Following her loss, Shanna's aunt was her biggest supporter and once they decided to get pregnant again was her biggest cheerleader. She passed away only two weeks after Shanna found out she was pregnant with Ari. It devastated her and made for an isolating pregnancy. She cut out contact with her mom during the last few months of her pregnancy up until November of 2014 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer and only given a few weeks left to live. Her mother passed away a few days after Christmas. Shanna also developed gestational diabetes during her pregnancy which she knew was a risk with her pancreas but she was able to manage with diet. Her delivery was without complication and the pair have a wonderful breastfeeding relationship. Ari was only 5 months old when she conceived again so it's been a gift to still nurse and she's looking forward to tandem nursing.
Shanna says that her current pregnancy has been flawless physically, but emotionally the hardest one. She says, "I don't have a mom to ask for advice or to share pregnancy stuff with. My mother in law is great, but she's not my mom."
Shanna had a difficult time with the changes in her body postpartum. She didn't have any stretch marks through her pregnancy but swelled from 130 to 200 lbs during her hospitalization following Noah's birth which left her covered. It's been quite a process to find a place where she's comfortable in her skin, and continually working to get there. She wants to be able to provide an example of positive body image for her children.