The beautiful Emily Bochman, currently 35 weeks pregnant, and Avery Louise (17 months).
Emily had a healthy pregnancy with Avery and went into labor at 38 weeks and 5 days. She'd practiced Hypnobirthing techniques from 24 weeks on and was able to give birth without the use of pain medications in her home under the care of a midwife. Her water broke around 7pm on a Friday night and contractions began slowly in the hours after. She helped ease the discomfort and progress the labor by walking and taking warm showers. By 6 a.m. the next morning the contractions had grown stronger and were about 4 minutes apart. She got into the birthing tub around 7:30a.m. and baby Avery was born at 9:26 a.m.
Emily struggled with breastfeeding and says that she was not prepared for the awkwardness of the whole process. "I assumed it was just going to happen naturally and easily. I struggled to find a position that was comfortable for me and my baby, her latch wasn't very deep and despite pumping and trying other milk enhancing supplements, I was not able to supply enough to exclusively breastfeed her and wound up making the difficult decision to use formula only. It took some time to stop feeling guilty about this decision and I vowed to be better prepared and knowledgeable about breastfeeding with my next baby in hopes it will bring me more success and less despair".
Emily is currently 35 weeks pregnant with another girl and this pregnancy has been significantly different than her first. With her first, she did not have many physical ailments other than headaches early on and didn't really get uncomfortable until close to 37 weeks. With this pregnancy, her mind and body have been more stressed. "After the sudden death of my boss and the stress of moving to a new house in a new town around my 27th week of pregnancy, and keeping up with a toddler, I began to have some pretty debilitating anxiety which lead to depression. I was constantly in fear and worried about death of my loved ones or the baby growing inside of me, stacked on top of trying to get my new house to feel like home, navigate a new town and deal with the everyday stressors of full time work and a family. I was plagued by intense, intrusive thoughts and I didn't talk about what was going on inside my head because I was afraid to admit that something was seriously wrong. I would cry at the drop of a hat and call my husband at work begging him to come home because I couldn't handle my daily routine anymore. I wasn't present when I was with my family and would get agitated easily with my husband or daughter because my mind was so overwhelmed with other things".
Emily works in the mental health field and found it incredibly difficult to leave all these feelings and go to work to support clients who were dealing with their own battles and processing their own grief. Finally, she called her midwife and explained all that had been going on. Her midwife helped Emily create a plan of action that included therapy for postpartum/antenatal anxiety and grief plus a low dose medication. "I was very hesitant to take a prescription medication due to worries about how it could affect my baby; I did research and thought on it for an entire week. I ultimately decided that a temporary use of medication could mean a healthier environment for my unborn baby and a healthier mom to my daughter and wife to my husband. I am 35 weeks along now and feeling like the weight is slowly lifting". She's doing conscious work towards easing anxieties and the medication is helping her to find the energy and clarity that her mind and body need to do so.
Emily is planning on having another home water birth with this baby and is doing all she can to appreciate the simple moments she has with her daughter and husband and find time to also bond with my unborn baby.
"I started following 4TBP on Instagram shortly after the birth of my daughter and it really helped me to accept my body and it's shortcomings, especially my struggle to breastfeed. During my pregnancy I was able to appreciate the changes I was seeing and feeling in my body, knowing it was doing something amazing. I felt somewhat betrayed afterwards when I wasn't able to successfully breastfeed my daughter and was left with a squishy belly and stretch marks. Reading stories from woman who have participated in the project helped me accept my new body and appreciate it in all of it's glory. I decided to participate to challenge my own discomfort with being vulnerable and also to hopefully empower some other women. My body may not have breastfed but my squishy belly is a pretty comfy pillow for my daughter when we snuggle, my larger hips allow me to hold her securely against me, and my stretch marks are like battle scars, to remind me that I am a mother and therefore, a warrior.