Stephanie met her husband Duane, in April 2008 when she was a first year resident physician and they were working at the same hospital. He was a single dad which she found most admirable. They began dating and when things continued to go well, Duane and Brendan, moved in with her. Stephanie thought that mothering a 3 year old would come naturally but admits she had no idea what she was doing. She says she made so many mistakes as Brendan's new mom but tried to role model what she remembered her own mother doing with her and attempted to channel her patience, kindness, and calm manner, with varying degrees of success.
Stephanie learned that despite her faults, Brendan loved her anyway. After a few short months, he went from calling her "Mommy Stephanie" to "Mom" and in 2014 she legally adopted him, although she has always considered him to be her son.
Stephanie and her husband decided to add another child in 2013 but it took some time to conceive. She took one round of Clomid, was able to get pregnant and went on to have an uneventful pregnancy. Stephanie went into labor at 40+5, but didn't recognize labor at first because she was having back labor and felt no contractions at all in her abdomen or sides. Over the next few hours the pain became more intense and she knew she was in labor. Around 6AM, Stephanie called her OB who was extremely dismissive of her symptoms and told her she wasn't really in labor. Her instincts told her otherwise so she waited until there was a new doctor on who told her to come into the hospital.
Stephanie always knew she wanted an epidural, and asked for one right away but it didn't help her contractions at all; what she realized over 2 years later was that her nurse had her sitting too upright in bed, so that the anesthesia was sinking to her bum and not taking effect at the spinal level that it was supposed to. Fortunately, the epidural successfully numbed her perineum, and the actual delivery was painless. Ava arrived after less than 12 hours of labor and only about 25 minutes of pushing - Stephanie says she is a remarkably spirited, intelligent, empathic, and curious little girl.
Stephanie and her husband conceived unexpectedly in July 2014, but miscarried at 11 weeks. There was some suspicion that the fetus would miscarry based on ultrasound results a few weeks before, but her cycles were unpredictable so there was also a small chance that her dates were miscalculated and the fetus was simply younger than they originally thought. She was holding out hope but unfortunately, started spotting and then experienced a miscarriage four days later. The miscarriage experience itself was quite traumatic because she was at work when it happened. She locked herself in a bathroom and tried to get control of the bleeding while two friends/colleagues discreetly brought her a change of clothes and some towels. Ultimately, she had to go to the ER for tachycardia related to blood loss, and the final stages of the miscarriage occurred there. Stephanie struggled with a depth of sadness that she hadn't experienced before, with pulses of guilt, inadequacy, and shame despite logically knowing that the miscarriage was not her fault.
Despite some fear of conceiving again and having another miscarriage, they got pregnant again in February 2015. The kids were thrilled to have a little brother on the way and the pregnancy went well. Stephanie went into labor the day before her due date with irregular contractions. She arrived at 3cms but progressed rapidly and was admitted at 8cms an hour later. She got her epidural and Carter made his way into the world after only 4 pushes.
Stephanie says that their trio of kids mean the world to them. Her husband is a stay-at-home dad while Stephanie works 50-70 hrs per week, their parents live locally and provide lots of support and love along the way. Stephanie says while their stereotypical role reversal is increasingly common in the US it still feels like something they have to explain. Her husband often doesn't get a lot of credit and being a working mom is difficult. There are days she leaves for work before they wake up and comes home after they go to bed but on the flip side hopes that her dedication to her profession is modeling for her children a degree of responsibility, organization, and dedication to caring for others which they might emulate in their own adult lives.
"I have been on a slow yet steady journey of body positivity for the last few years, as I mature and come to grips with the reality that I will never, ever wear a single-digit size of clothing but, in spite of that, I am a beautiful and curvy woman with a strong and healthy body. I grew up with some negative influences in my extended family who would often and openly body shame overweight people, and this affected my sisters and I tremendously. One of things in the forefront of my mind as the mother of a young girl is that I need to teach her and show her body positive messages from an early age so she can internalize them before the drama of adolescence, and participating in this project is part of that message to her. My sons should not be excluded from this message though, because body positivity and respect for bodies of all shapes and sizes should know no gender bounds. I also want to capture in time this moment in the life of our family. I spend a LOT of time at work, and I constantly feel like I am missing out on my kids' growth and development and daily joys. I would love to be able to look back at this snapshot and remember them just as they were, my amazing children"