Whitney Light Rutz (40) and Elcy (4)
Richmond, VA | Photographed in Portland, OR
Whitney shares -
"I have experienced two miscarriages. One before Elcy, one after Elcy.
For myself personally, I am really proud of how strong my body was and continues to be in order to grow, birth, and love my child. While I do not have a history of body image issues, most of my adult life (pre-Elcy) I've worked out 5-6 times a week. As a full-time working mom of a busy 4-year old, that isn't always possible. And while my body has changed because of it, I wouldn't change a thing. She is starting to become very aware of how she uses her body to be strong and have fun. I hope that my interest in maintaining a strong body influences her in the right ways. One of my sisters struggled with body image issues for a very long time, so as a mom of a daughter, I am highly aware of how negatively children can be impacted by what they hear and see how their parents talk about their bodies.
In hindsight, I was incredibly anxious until I stopped breastfeeding (13 months postpartum). I felt trapped by breastfeeding and the strict schedule I created for my daughter's sleep habits. While she was a rock star sleeper because of it, we rarely left the house after 6 pm for a good year (unless we had a sitter, which was rare). With breastfeeding, I just felt trapped; I was always looking at the clock, wondering how much time I had to squeeze in something - whether that was cooking, cleaning, working out, sleeping, etc. I watched everyone else around me do things on their own schedule. The positive side to all of this is that I never realized how much I could love. Having Elcy humbled me greatly, and I have never known a greater love than the one I have in my heart for her. That is far from what I feared. One of the reasons I didn't have children sooner was that I thought I wouldn't like my kid. Ha, I was way off on that!
Go easy on yourself; motherhood is the most humbling life experience.
My husband is a portrait painter. Before Elcy was born, he approached me with an idea - he wanted to only draw and paint pictures of Elcy; he didn't want her to see him taking a picture of her. While I was so confused and angry when he first proposed this idea to me, because it meant he wouldn't be taking pictures of me with Elcy, I completely endorse this approach now. When Elcy was two weeks old, my husband painted a life-sized portrait of me holding Elcy after breastfeeding her. It allowed us to spend a couple of hours each day for several weeks focusing on all her little parts, with him painting her and I stroke by stroke. He still has never taken a photo of her, grabbing his sketch book when he sees a moment he wants to document. I have found myself photographing less, which has allowed me to live in the moment, not relying on a photograph to shift the idea of the memory for me. For me, this photo that comes out of this session will not be about the memory of the session, but the image of love between a mother and a daughter."