Sarah Hinnenkamp (33), Alivia (6) and Emily (3.5)
Photographed in Seattle, Washington
Sarah shares -
"I realize more and more every single day how awesome my body is. I may not look like I did in a bikini when I was 20 but I can tell you - I still rock a 2 piece with confidence - cellulite and all. To me, it is so much more than what my body looks like. I have a deep respect and love for my body and how it serves me and my family daily.
I was one of the first of my friends to get pregnant so I didn't really have anyone to talk to first hand about pregnancy and motherhood. I had this idea in my head of what it would be like while I was pregnant. And I had an idea of what I thought it would be like once our baby was here. My pregnancy was similar to what I had envisioned. It was amazing, almost pure bliss. I could not think of anything better than being lucky enough to grow a human. While pregnant, I worked 40 hours a week on my feet and still had a glow. I even went in to labor while at work and stayed until the end of my shift.
But once labor started, that is where my expectations and my reality started to vary greatly. I had a birth plan, so of course, things were going to go as I had planned. I was going to labor without an epidural and have my baby girl in a bathtub. Of course, I was going to breastfeed until my baby was 1 - isn't that what all moms do? I didn't realize at the time the expectations I was putting on myself. I just thought that's how things went.
Instead, I ended up with an epidural, a delivery that ended in a cesarean and I stopped nursing after 6 weeks. It was really difficult for me after the birth of my oldest. I felt like a failure for a long time. I was disappointed with myself that my body couldn't do what it was made to do. It took me a very long time to come to terms with my birth story. Sometimes I felt silly for being so upset with the way things ended up. Nothing tragic happened, why was I so upset?
Motherhood has helped me learn to really work through my feelings. To sit with them and accept them. It's ok to not be ok. I was disappointed and it was ok to feel that. We are all on our own journey. There is no need to compare myself, my story, my kids, my life to someone else.
When I got pregnant with my second I had completely changed my mindset. I decided to have a scheduled cesarean. I also decided to set no expectations around breast feeding. At first I felt weird, uncomfortable, having my husband and I pick our baby's birthday. But it ended up being a wonderful decision for my family. I was so stressed about adding another child to our family (how could I possibly love a second child as much?), that scheduling a cesarean really helped give me closure to our family of three.
As for breastfeeding, I removed the pressure I had unknowingly put on myself the first time around. If breast feeding did not work the second time either, I knew my daughter would be ok. We would still be able to bond and she could still be happy and healthy with formula. Society has such a way of putting pressures on us, it's ridiculous. It often feels like everyone has an opinion and we can do nothing right, no matter how we decide to parent. After Emily was born I worked and I worked and I worked at breastfeeding, but this time, it was without the fear of failure. Then one day it wasn't work anymore. It became one of the favorite parts of my day. It felt surreal for awhile. With Alivia, breast feeding was one of the most stressful parts for me. And this time around, it became one of the most peaceful.
Oh, the things I have learned since becoming a mother. Some things, I've known for years but since becoming a mother has made it mean so much more. I don't need to fit into a box. And I don't need to put other people in a box either, especially my kids.
Self care. The world cannot function if people aren't first taking care of themselves. I used to think that was such a selfish way of thinking. But I can tell you I have learned I am the best mom I can be when I have filled my cup first. Some days that means I went to the bathroom alone, even if it upset my kids. Some days that means I took a shower and put some lipstick on. Some days that means I let my kids watch tv all day so I could get some crafting done. It is often a small daily task but I have become intentional about doing something for myself every. single. day. I deserve it. Everyone does. I have also learned to be intentional about keeping my memories. Time goes by so quickly. And it only seems to go be going by faster and faster. I write things down. I print pictures off my phone and have them all around my house. I hang artwork my kids make. Because sometimes some days seem so long that I don't want to ever forget the everyday ordinary beautiful moments.
Motherhood has also taught me to lighten up. Sometimes things go the way you want. And sometimes your 3 year old is screaming at the top of their lungs as you try and finish your grocery shopping. That's motherhood. It's crazy and it's messy. It's exhausting and more work that I ever imagined possible. But damn. There is nothing better. The last thing I would want to pass on is that it's a beautiful discovery to know I am enough. You are enough. If you could do more, give more, be more, you would. So be at peace at the end of each day, knowing you are doing everything you can, every single day. Each day it might look different. But everyday you are giving it your all. Some days we just don't have a lot to give, and that's ok.
I believe every person, every story, deserves to be celebrated. The happy, the sad, the everyday ordinary. We are all connected and intertwined and fluid with each other. So to be part of a movement where we are celebrated for being ourselves and being met where we are in our journey through life in a non judgmental way is a truly magical thing."