Isabella Valderrama (30), Lena (5) and William (2.75)
San Francisco, CA | Photographed in Portland, OR
Isabella shares -
"When I became pregnant I was so excited to be one of those cute pregnant women with nothing but belly but that was never me. I gained 40lbs in each of my pregnancies and after my second birth I didn't "bounce back" like people would have you believe is ideal or normal. More recently I've learned to embrace my body, what it's been through as well as what it's given me: 2 fantastic kids. I never want my kids to criticize or belittle themselves so I do my very best to show them that all bodies are beautiful and should be loved, especially our own! I'm a work in progress and I'm still not where I want to be physically but I try to give myself grace and not compare myself to others.
Before I had Lena I was so scared that I wouldn't connect with her or love her. That never happened but I was consumed with tracking every moment of her day that I didn't allow myself any time alone to unwind or just relax. I felt so alone. I wasn't alone, my husband was there, but in my mind I felt misunderstood and alone. I felt like I was the only person who could give Lena what she needed. It was definitely not what I expected and it was hard and it was beautiful because I gave all of myself to raising Lena and she's an incredible, kind, intelligent person.
When I got pregnant with William, I was so excited and I felt like I had a second chance to have the homebirth I wanted and the support I needed. But when all that suddenly fell through at 38 weeks, I spiraled deeper into the dark, sleepless nights and the long, lonely days. I made some hard and necessary decisions when William was about 5 months old and left Chicago; I saved myself. It wasn't easy, I'm still saving myself but now I'm not alone. Now I'm home in Portland.
Go home. Wherever that is. Go to the place where your heart lies and where you don't have to explain yourself because you'll already be heard and understood. Go to the place where you don't need to quiet who you are to please others. You were not meant to do this alone; you deserve to go home.
Besides wanting an incredible photo of me and my kids, I chose to participate in this project because I want to be seen. I want to share my truth so others know they're not alone. I want to tell them this: wherever you are in your darkness, when it seems like you can't go on and you couldn't possibly achieve your dreams or make it to tomorrow because you're drowning under the weight of your pain and responsibilities, YOU, your light and your heart and the love you are capable of giving, will guide you to the place where you can breathe again and feel the warmth of the love that you deserve to feel everyday. It gets better.