LaBon Fonssagrives-Behm (26) and Louellen Rebecca "Luna" (2) and Rosalie Mia "Rosie" (6 weeks)
Little Rock, Arkansas. Photographed in San Diego, CA
LaBon shares -
"Motherhood has helped me be more forgiving towards my body and has removed the shame I felt before. I'm proud of what my body can do. I love my body for nursing my daughters. I now realize how strong my body is and that I can do anything I set my mind to after having an unmedicated VBAC.
After I had my first daughter, I had a lot of self hate towards my body. I had gained 45-50 lbs in my pregnancy and hated the postpartum body I was left with. I felt fat and disgusting. My stomach was covered in stretch marks from my large pregnant belly and stretch marks also appeared on my thighs from being over flooded with IV fluid during my birth experience. I hated myself. I expected the weight to melt off, and it did eventually but SO SLOWLY. It took almost a year before I felt like I was my regular size, yet I still hated my wrinkly stretch marked stomach.
Aside from my body image issues, after my first daughter I was incredibly upset about how her birth had ended in a cesarean. I felt like a failure, like something must be wrong with me for not going into labor and then for my body not wanting to stay in labor during my induction. I punished myself by only taking the bare minimum amount painkillers to function. I couldn't look at my scar and I avoided touching it at all costs. It was a reminder of my failure. I wanted more than anything that wonderful moment when they put the baby on your chest after you've pushed them out and I couldn't get over that I'd lost that. I felt (and even sometimes now) uneasy calling my daughter's cesarean a birth. She was born, but I didn't give birth.
I wanted to get pregnant again so I could have a second chance at giving birth. It wasn't until I was 6 months pregnant with my second daughter at a VBAC class when someone said "this isn't a birth redo" that I realized I had been looking at this all wrong. My older daughter had had her birth. I had been disappointed, even depressed, about how it had turned out, but it was OUR story - Luna's and my experience. And now this new baby and I were going to have our own unique experience. I couldn't cheat her out of the birth she deserves because I was hung up on her sister's not meeting my expectations.
I'm only 6 weeks into my postpartum journey from my second, but this time is night and day to the last. I gained almost as much weight this time as last, but now the stretch marks feel like mine. I don't feel disgusting and I have confidence that eventually I will feel like I have my "normal" body again. I think the different mindset has a lot to do with the never ending love and support of my husband, finding this project, my doula (I used one in my second pregnancy), and having a successful VBAC.
I wish I'd heard that my second child's birth wasn't a redo for my first earlier. Even if your child's birth story isn't what you wanted, you can still learn to love it.
I started searching #postpartum on Instagram when I was hating my body. That's when I came across the 4th Trimester Bodies Project and I was hooked. Here there were real women of all sizes and stories. I finally felt empowered and like I wasn't alone. I still struggle sometimes with insecurities, but I'm no longer embarrassed by it and even love it. Since finding the 4TBP I have wanted to participate. I'm so happy you've decided to come back to San Diego."