Karina Saviers (25) and Thane (3), Leighton, age 1.5 Lex, age 2 months
Juneau, Alaska | Olympia, Washington | Photographed in Portland, OR
Karina shares -
"I had an abortion when I was in high school and it was a very traumatic experience for me. For many years after, I suffered from intense feelings of shame, and self-hate that manifested itself in punishment of my physical body. I struggled with self harm, anorexia, bulimia, and suicide. It took a long time for me to believe in my inherent self worth and come to a place of self-acceptance. Many days I still struggle.
When Leighton was only a few months old, I unexpectedly got pregnant again, and suffered a miscarriage shortly after. My miscarriage brought up a lot of the traumatic memories from my abortion, and I felt like I was being punished. It was an intensely dark and lonely time me. I began to really doubt my worth and capability as a mother and a person.
Parenthood has changed my body image (and my body!) in every way imaginable. Before I had my babies, I never felt true love or appreciation for my body beyond it's aesthetic appeal. I now see so much beauty in my body, not because of how it looks, but because of what it has accomplished. My body survived tremendous abuse, starvation, and suffering, and somehow went on to grow, birth, and nurture three perfect human beings. Motherhood has shown me that my body - regardless of size or imperfection - is nothing short of miraculous.
After Thane was born, I struggled immensely with body image. I was a new mom, constantly doubting my abilities, and pushing myself to do everything perfectly. I fell into a lapse with my eating disorder as I struggled to cope with new motherhood. When Leighton was born, I was more gentle with myself. I was more prepared for the struggles of postpartum and put a lot less pressure on myself. But after my miscarriage, I had a hard time being emotionally present. I was fixated on my desire to have another baby to help ease the hurt of the baby we lost. I struggled to connect as easily with Leighton as I had with Thane because of everything I was dealing with emotionally. Now? I feel happy. I truly just feel so happy and so at peace. Lex is such an easy, joyous baby, and it seems impossible not to smile with him around. This last pregnancy was very hard, and very emotional. Lex's birth was a healing experience for me, and having him here with us has been the greatest and most incredible blessing. I feel complete and I am the happiest I have ever been.
Breathe. Just breathe. Go easy on yourself. Be gentle and forgiving and let go of all those perceived expectations.
Over the years, I have caused myself so much pain by keeping everything inside. There is something healing and liberating about being able to tell my story freely, without the shame and self-hate I've held onto for so long. I'm always shocked to find that, despite all of my mistakes and flaws, I am overwhelmingly loved. I am met most always, with forgiveness and compassion, and I deserve those things."