Jenna Mitchell and Andrew Joseph (21 months) Jenna also miscarried a pregnancy at 7 weeks in September 2016.
Jenna says that she has wanted to be a mother since a very young age, and was thrilled when she found out she was pregnant just 2 months after her wedding, two cycles after going off the birth control pill. Her pregnancy was fairly uneventful, with only a bout of carpel tunnel syndrome from 20 weeks until the end of the pregnancy. Jenna's due date came and went and she saw her doctor for a routine appointment at 40 weeks 4 days where he stripped her membranes.
At 5am the following day, her water broke and they headed to the hospital. Jenna had fully intended to have a drug and intervention free birth, however, once in labor and delivery they immediately started Pitocin despite her requests. The contractions became so strong and so fast that she decided to have an epidural at 4pm just to get some relief and was able to rest comfortably but was too excited to sleep. She started to push at 1:30am and there was very little progress. She pushed for three hours before they had her stop for an hour to let the baby get further into the birth canal. By this point, the epidural was no longer working and she was in so much discomfort.
After 23 hours in labor, she was a mess. They suggested the vacuum and she was warned of the risk of needing a cesarean but she was so exhausted that she just needed the baby to come out so she went for it. Finally, Andrew Joseph entered the world at 8 pounds 12 ounces. Jenna tore on her own and felt every stitch sewing her back up. She had every intention to breast feed, and tried for the first two weeks. Andrew wasn't gaining weight so we went to see a lactation consultant and she was diagnosed with hypoplasia/insufficient glandular tissue. She was on a very strict feed and pump schedule for a week and it made life very difficult. "I felt as though we were so consumed by ounces and formula and pumping, which was made even more difficult by a sleepy baby and non-existent milk production. It was putting a lot of stress on both my relationship with my son and my relationship with my husband. We finally made the decision at 15 days old to exclusively formula feed. I had a lot of guilt but I knew it was the best thing for our family". Andrew started gaining weight and he was a happy, healthy and alert baby.
When he turned 6 weeks old, Jenna became overwhelmed with sadness. She thought constantly about how her maternity leave was half way over and how much she was going to miss him once she went back to work. Once she went back to work she was still so consumed by sadness and dread. She finally realized that she was suffering from postpartum depression. "I worked with my therapist and started on an anti-depressant. I could feel my mood lighten and joy renter my life. I worked with my therapist and 6 months later I was able to stop taking the medication. We found our groove with working and drop offs and pick ups and our routines were going strong".
When Andrew was 17 months old they found out they were pregnant again. The symptoms weren't as strong as with her first, but she just chalked it up to every pregnancy being different. At 7 weeks she started bleeding and had an ultrasound where they found an empty sac. Within the next week everything worked its way out and the pregnancy was over. She was shocked by the intense hormonal shift but feels strengthened by the experience.
"I have had weight and body image issues throughout my whole life, suffering from disordered eating patterns throughout high school and college and even into adulthood. Throughout pregnancy and into motherhood, I have made peace with my body. I have found that since following this project they aren't as intense as they once were, and for that I am grateful. I am proud of my body. I want to promote body positivity and encourage others to be proud of who they are".