The amazing Meidlinger family, Peter (35) with son Severin (2 years and 6 months) and wife Katie (35), Michaela Waisman (37) with son Dax (19 months), Jane (65), Talia (32) with wife MJ (30) and daughter Ruthea (4 months).
Jane is the mother of three - Peter, Michaela, Talia and grandmother to three Severin, Dax and Ruthea.
When Jane and her husband married he wasn't sure he wanted to have children but on their honeymoon he announced he had changed his mind. They waited four years to conceive and it took some time, about 9 months of trying, before it happened. Pregnancy went well, and once labor began they made the 30 minute drive to the hospital where she delivered Michaela sunny side up with forceps under the watch of a doctor she thinks was inebriated at the time. The birth was fairly traumatic and they had to stay in hospital for six days before they were allowed to go home.
Jane had always wanted to be a mother, partly because her own mother was so wonderful, creative, active and supported by her father. She wasn't your typical women of the 50's and Jane felt empowered by staying home to raise her own children with her husbands support. When they decided to have a second child, Jane's husband was on internship and they were grateful to have insurance at the time. Michaela's birth had cost them $600 without insurance which seemed astronomical back then. While her pregnancy went well, Jane's doctor made her feel horrible at every appointment and at 7 months along she found an amazing woman who was willing to take over her care. She had a wonderful experience and loved being pregnant. Her husband was allowed to sit up on the bed behind her and they didn't break her water, just allowed her baby to be born. Jane also nursed babies in a time where there wasn't a lot of support.
They decided to have a third and Talia arrived surrounded with so much love. Jane says that she always thought your children just came out perfect and you added love and there you are. But they have brought her humility and respect for the strong, individual people they are. "They teach you a lot if you let them". She feels fortunate to have had a partner and husband who added a lot of fun and humor to being a parent. Even when your kids are grown you don't stop being their mother, she says. "I'm lucky to have an adult relationship with my children that if I could, I would have picked them as friends." She loves that they love talking to her and coming home. It's hard to think about the day she has to leave the story line but she loves being their mom.
"Watching your kids become parents is the best part. It makes me hope that I was able to give them something that was passed to me, and is now passed along generation to generations. They are all bright, funny, socially conscious. They are good people doing good things with their lives".
"Having grandchildren is amazing. You can have fun with them and check out when you grow tired. Being a parent is hard but being a grandparent is fun. They all bring such richness to our lives. Rue is the buddha, Dax is the cautious one, Severin is the dancer. It's so much fun."
Katie, mother to Severin, is a previous project participant. You can view her previous image and story here.
We had the privilege of working with Katie just a few months ago, she joined us again with some difficulty to share that she recently had a second miscarriage. Her first felt like she could grieve openly and this time she feels more exhausted. She's surprised by how different it is and she feels like she needs more space and quiet to process for herself.
Katie chose to come back in support of Jane and her family and also because of her belief in how important it is to normalize the human body. "We need to teach consent staring at birth and show all the depictions of what it is to be human. Our girls and our boys need to value their own bodies and other people's bodies too, all people need to learn this regardless of their gender".
Michaela, mother to Dax, is also a previous project participant. You can view her previous image and story here.
We had the opportunity to work with Michaela, in Denver just a few months ago. In the time since Michaela has enjoyed watching Dax grow. She's continually trying to find balance between her career and her family. She joined us again to bring her family together and capture this moment with her mother.
Talia and MJ, mother's to Ruthea.
Talia acknowledges that becoming parents is really difficult when you only have one set of the parts to do so. It was a struggle to conceive but she and MJ have grown closer in the process and she says that motherhood is the best thing that she's done in life so far and she's so grateful to have her daughter.
They started trying to have a baby in 2013 with a known donor and inseminated three times before conceiving. They learned via ultrasound that MJ was pregnant with triplets but the pregnancy was not viable. Coping with the loss was really hard and traveling to inseminate with their known donor became emotionally exhausting. They tried one more time after their loss and then took a break for about a year. In the meantime, the laws in Iowa changed so that she and her wife could both have spousal presumption without having to adopt as long as they used an anonymous donor. They decided to find an anonymous donor and began to try IUI. After 8 difficult months and 5 attempts, they conceived Ruthea.
Pregnancy was uncomplicated and birth went very well. They chose to deliver in hospital and things went fairly quickly. After laboring through the night at home they went into the hospital where they were told to come back in a few hours or when her water broke, so of course as soon as they got home, her water broke. From there, things went quickly. MJ chose to have an epidural which was amazing and Ruthea was born in just three contractions and 15 minutes of pushing. Breastfeeding is going well and MJ is grateful to have the support of a friend who is a lactation consultant
It was important for Talia and MJ to share their stories and document this time in their lives that has been so positive.