Andrea Pardo (33), Talia Cruz (4) and Noemi Inez (5 months)
Photographed in Seattle, Washington
Andrea shares -
"I lost a baby early on in pregnancy, on OCT 15 - national infant loss awareness day. It gave me comfort while going through my loss, but also felt like an extra layer of unfairness.
I think parenthood has made me more aware of how fragile our self esteem can be, and how it can be built or broken by our early experiences. I feel my body's strength in carrying my children, and remember feeling fear about giving birth when I was pregnant with Talia. I told myself over and over that one way or another my baby would be born and that my body was meant for this. Eventually I started to believe it and I had a wonderful vaginal delivery with her. I remember feeling very proud that I had made my daughter, and birthed her with joy. Pregnancy is very hard on my body, but the birth experience is fantastic.
I look at my body now and think its definitely different than before, but it feels like home. With Noemi, things were very uncertain. My husband had voluntarily left the country to return to Mexico so that we could try and resolve his immigration status. He was brought to the country as a child, and we wanted him to have Legal Permanent Residency - and eventually citizenship - so this is part of the process that we had to go through. Because he was brought to the US as a child, we thought he may only be gone from the country for a week or so and return with his green card. It turned out to be 14 months.
At some point, I quit my job here, cashed out my 401K and moved to Mexico with my daughter Talia. It was too much to be apart. I ended up getting pregnant with Noemi in August of 2016, and contracted both Dengue and Zika Virus. Seeing an OB in Mexico was quite a different experience. The doctor there literally told me he was more concerned with my weight than me having been exposed to a virus whose consequences are still not fully understood. As you might imagine, I worried my entire pregnancy and did all that I could to learn and prepare for her, and how to advocate for her once she arrived. She ended up coming via emergency c section after my water broke and her cord compressed and wasn't getting enough oxygen. So far, she has hit every milestone early or on time, does not have microcephaly and seems like she is unaffected. Rational or not, I feel like my body protected her. I feel lucky, I feel strong. I am proud of my body.
Postpartum was up and down with my first child. I remember feeling like I was a pretty relaxed first time parent, but then also feeling saddled with bouts of anger and intense anxiety. I planned the most relaxing laid back first birthday party for her, and I ended up having a panic attack and going to see my doctor shortly after to discuss anti-depressants for anxiety. That helped me tremendously. I felt like I could enjoy things more. I could face problems with more steady emotion and I was not as angry. I expected things to be a lot smoother, but especially with a first child, there is a big learning curve, and lots of things you don't expect - even if you've seen someone close go through it.
With my second daughter, I was also dealing with being the primary caregiver for my father, who passed in August 2017 from ALS. I cared for him throughout my pregnancy and after. He was thrilled to meet his 9th grandchild. Emotionally, it was hard taking care of two people and being on maternity leave and making that balance work. I was far better prepared though this time around and felt much more confidant in my mothering. It was a beautiful experience to be able to say goodbye to my father and to welcome my daughter in to our lives, after all the stress and anxiety of our experiences in the last two years.
Honor and trust yourself. Honor your children, their voice, their unique and precious presence in this world. They are gifts.
I have loved these photos and stories since I started following the page after I had my first daughter. Women's bodies are magic and I want to celebrate that."