Natalia Gonzalez and Phoenix (2)
Natalia knew that she wanted to have children but it never felt like the right moment for a variety of reasons - too young, not enough money, then it turned into too much work and focusing on next work milestone, not enough time to dedicate to that but a vague idea that time and age was going to play on my decision. She got together with her husband in her late 20’s and they decided to marry and move continents. She also started having some health issues which were finally diagnosed as PCOS. "I was told that this would make it more complicated to conceive so we moved up our timeline by about 6 months, we did however conceive in the first month of trying".
Natalia was hopeful that it would be straightforward but was apprehensive about the medicalization of pregnancy and birth in the US and found her OB to be very defensive when she asked any questions about cesarean section rates and other information. During the pregnancy she developed gestational diabetes and had to manage it closely with diet, exercise, and insulin injections. This also colored her hospital and birthing experience with an induction, eventual emergency cesarean and then a couple of days in the NICU. "These medical issues really drove home an overwhelming sensation of my body no longer just being my own and by no means under control or maintain its natural order anymore".
Natalia was a thin kid and teenager and just took for granted her body being cooperative for things like sports and dance. "I was one of those people that could just eat whatever, whenever and still maintain a tiny figure. I feel like all that time I was allowed to not worry about my weight didn't prepare me for the health issues I have today that are completely enmeshed with that. Having excessive weight gain and Diastisis Recti means also that I get too many people asking me if I'm pregnant again all the time. When did that ever become ok?"
Moving away from their family and familiar surroundings has forced Natalia to start a fresh with this city. Motherhood has also propelled her into a new social direction to make friends for herself and for her toddler. "There is also the desire to share my son with family but only able to do so over Skype and in short, intense visits. We don't have family close by to pitch in and we don't have outside help yet with Phoenix. An example of this would be when we had to move apartments and timing sucked (coop board timings for new apartment meant we had to move while we were still in hospital). Day of the birth my husband had to go to the interview with the board and 48 hours after a cesarean I found myself alone in my room with my new baby while husband had to spend all night and day packing and moving house. My father passed away the year before we became pregnant and even though we did not see each other much it was still such an intense experience to know that he can never meet my son. We lost my grandmother recently but at least felt good about having had the time to take Phoenix to Spain to visit her often. As my friends and family are geographically far away, it has been a priority of mine to build a community of new friends close by and make the most of what this city has to offer. I really appreciate the spirit people have in this city. It is also a priority to work on my marriage to make sure we can be as supportive as we need to be to each other even though this is not easily said and done."
"I had been following the stories and images on IG for a while and knowing these seemed powerful. It was important to become aware of people's experiences and their struggles to better understand and appreciate my own journey. I feel fortunate for so many things and I can appreciate my struggles for what they are but keep them in perspective. Mainly, I feel fortunate to have conceived so easily the first time and that I am still able to continue breastfeeding Phoenix, hopefully until he is ready to stop. I would like to feel better in my body at its current weight even though weight is now a struggle for me, I don't want it to take over how I see myself."