Julia Lacy (34), Eleanor (6.5), Dash (4.5), and Huck (15 months - pictured)
Photographed in Seattle, WA
Julia shares -
"I gained 60-70 pounds with each pregnancy and was left completely changed physically and mentally. It wasn't until three days postpartum with my first pregnancy that I felt completely and wholly beautiful and thankful for my wonderful body. I was still around 60 pounds heavier than before I'd conceived, was covered in raw and red stretch marks and was swollen in all sorts of places. My beasts were huge and leaking and I remember stepping out of the shower and feeling so proud and beautiful of what I'd done. I'd grown and created and pushed out a baby (without pain relief) and was now feeding her from my body. It was so freeing to accept myself as physically beautiful. I still feel like that today - 7 years nonstop of pregnancy and breastfeeding (nursed my oldest two until pregnant with their little siblings) and I look very different than when I first started this stage of life, but I have a body image 1000 times more positive.
I had undiagnosed postpartum depression after my second pregnancy - I was not prepared for a premature baby or NICU stay or the realities of parenting two children under the age of two. It wasn't until after my third baby that I felt better mentally.
As a doula, I want all parents to have information and resources available to them, and I'll give my advice only when asked. I might tell a new parent that they should be prepared to experience a level of change beyond their expectations and in so many aspects of life. I'm at the tail end of baby-having and looking back, I feel so much stronger (physically and emotionally), more confident, more exhausted, more capable and more like the person I was probably always meant to be.
I hit rock bottom during my last pregnancy. It was a pregnancy we hadn't anticipated and I didn't enjoy it at all. I suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, relying at one point on IV's for hydration. I was miserable physically and emotionally - prenatal depression is rarely discussed or recognized. I didn't know how this baby would fit into our family, especially feeling like I was already just barely adequate and completely overwhelmed when it came to parenting my older two kids. I even sought wisdom from a prenatal psychologist, who told me she'd tapped into my baby and he'd told her he was coming to heal a trauma he and I had experienced from a past life. I wasn't sure if it was true, but allowing to think of my baby as a person who'd intentionally decided to come and join our family helped me make peace with his imminent arrival.
The best choice I made during my pregnancy was to seek prenatal care with compassionate and skilled out of hospital midwives. I'm a birth doula and had the benefit of seeing so many providers in action, so I was able to handpicked the team I felt was the best of all. Every visit I felt really seen for the first time by a healthcare provider. They took such good, evidence based care of Huck and I - even working in tandem with a high risk clinic when we thought a second preterm labor might be forthcoming (my second baby was born prematurely and spent a couple weeks in the NICU). Luckily I carried to term and was able to have a beautiful & healing homebirth. The ways I've healed and been made whole by his presence, the peace he's given me (even in some of the hardest times) is remarkable.
I didn't know how broken I was until he came. I didn't know how deeply I was suffering - undiagnosed postpartum depression lingering from my second birth, self confidence that needed a boost, hiding brokenness. Huck pieced me back together. Everything - his unexpected conception, my terrible pregnancy, our blissful birth - it is now painfully obvious that our souls were always meant to be together."