The beautiful Brielle Billig-Lenihan and Weston (23 months).
Brielle says that she never felt a desire to do anything other than be a mother. Parenthood was her "career ambition". "I felt no desire to throw myself into any career before I had children because I knew that once I became a mother, that would be my full time career. My husband wanted a full time stay at home mom with his children, and so he was thrilled that our ideals matched up."
It was incredibly difficult to learn then, that the road to parenthood wouldn't be an easy one for Brielle and her husband. "We had a lot of roadblocks. I was in a car accident which left me with chronic neck and back pain, and I had to have multiple procedures and ultimately surgery on my neck. Once that was finally dealt with, we finally went to a reproductive endocrinologist and started the testing and everything needed to proceed with fertility treatment. And then I was diagnosed with melanoma. Not only did I need surgery, but getting pregnant had to be tabled for 9 months".
Finally they were able to start again, and after 7 months, unsuccessful attempts to conceive with clomid and IUI, they conceived Weston with their first IVF. Brielle says that Weston healed so much of her heart and made everything she had gone through worth it. "I truly believe that he was sent directly to me, meant to be my child". Pregnancy was difficult, with sickness and cholestasis and his birth was traumatic for Brielle. Weston was born via cesarean, not breathing and had to be rushed to the NICU. She didn't get to see him until 15 hours after he was born and didn't get to hold him until a day after that. "I was really traumatized for a long time, even though I had this beautiful boy, I was so so sad at what I had lost. That I would never have that moment where they place your first baby on your chest, the golden hour, any of it. It took me a long time to move on from it".
Brielle believes that her struggles and experience have given her a greater appreciation for what being Weston's parent means. She feels infinitely patient with him and truly wants to be with him all the time. They have been actively going through IVF for 7 months trying to give him a sibling and have so far had three unsuccessful embryo transfers. "I know having 2 children will be difficult, stressful, overwhelming... But I will have that deep appreciation born out of my struggles".
"So much of my birth story made me feel less than but I know that doesn't define me as a mother. The love I have for my child does, the love I have for myself for bringing this beautiful soul into the world does. For a long time, I felt so betrayed by my body...But now I know it was nothing I did, it was just how the chips fell for me. My body doesn't look like what it used to, but I couldn't care less. I am here because I want to be a part of women proudly showing off their postpartum bodies and stories and making sure other women know that no matter what they have gone through or what they look like, they are strong, capable, gorgeous women."