Caitlin Laurange (29) and Lincoln (2). Caitlin is also mother to Maverick (4).
Canaan, NY. Photographed in West Springfield, Mass.
"At the forefront, I am truly astounded by this incredible body. I want to say that first because it's so mind blowing to me. We create and sustain life! Incredible. As an adult woman I have always felt good about my body, and I have never felt more beautiful than when I was pregnant. But now, 2 years postpartum, I find myself frowning in the mirror. I'm grabbing this and pinching that. Lifting and looking and judging. My large breasts have always been a part of who I am, I've loved them and embraced them, but now they are softer and lower and lopsided. I remind myself that they've nurtured my children, that I am strong and beautiful, and that my husband still thinks my boobs are pretty great-and I should too. I didn't use to need reminding, self love used to come more naturally to me, but I'm working on getting back there.
When I was pregnant with Maverick, I was very nervous about giving birth in the hospital. I wanted a natural birth and I had a preconceived idea that no one would listen to me there. So I made a detailed birth plan and was determined to stand my ground. At 40 weeks + 5 days I had an ultrasound and was told my amniotic fluid was dangerously low, I would need to be induced. First I cried but then I got excited and ready to meet my baby! My labor was excruciatingly long and exhausting, but everyone in the hospital was so wonderful, especially the nurses. Maverick finally arrived, sunny-side up, after hours of pushing.
I had a very hard time breastfeeding and we switched to formula when I returned to work at 6 weeks. I felt such a heavy guilt for that, like a failure. I hadn't even considered that it might not work out for us. I'm a woman and he was a baby and I assumed it would just click. Looking back I wish I had asked for help. I wish I had talked to someone - anyone - about how I felt.
When I was pregnant with Lincoln I felt prepared. I was excited to have a spontaneous labor and my sweet boy obliged, His water broke 2 hours before the dreaded 41 week 1 day ultrasound and he was born 4 hours later. It was exactly the labor and delivery I had wanted. But as soon as he came out the Doctor said, "It's a boy and it looks like he has a cleft lip."
Wham, unprepared. We hadn't seen it on an ultrasound. I had a normal pregnancy, we have no family history. It was a shock. He was my second sweet baby boy, I loved him fiercely and he was perfect, but he wasn't. He had a "defect". Immediately, I started having terrible anxiety. We saw every specialist and had things double checked. I was having vivid day dreams and anxiety, not only about Lincoln but also other family and friends. I woke up screaming because I thought he wasn't breathing. I had never experienced anything like that and at first I didn't even know it was anxiety. Meanwhile, Lincoln had surgery at 4 months old and was doing amazing. I still was not okay, though. I spoke to my doctor, started medication, and within a few weeks I started to feel like myself again.
I want to urge new parents to ask for help. Always. Every time. Before you need it. Even if you don't need it. TALK to your person/people. Be real and honest. Parenting is hard, postpartum can be lonely, and everyone has cellulite.
Imagine what a powerful force women would be if we lifted each other up. If we embraced our greatness instead of fixating on our flaws.