Morgan Ethridge (32), Flynn (3.5), and Arlo (10 months)
Maryland | Photographed in Richmond, VA
Morgan shares -
"I always thought I'd be the mom who "bounced" right back after pregnancy. I was in good shape and never had to work too hard to be fit. Yet, my pregnancy was rough, I was nauseous for 6 months straight and the only relief was with eating frequently. My body changed in other ways too. I swear I developed every negative symptom associated with pregnancy--dry skin, acne, skin tags, dark spots, stretch marks (ironically not on my stomach), back pain, etc. I definitely didn't feel the "glow" associated with pregnancy. I lost a lot of weight immediately postpartum, but hung on to 5-10 lbs no matter what I did. The whole "breastfeeding will take it right off" did not apply.
With my second pregnancy, I thought things would be different, but it was exactly the same! Add another 5-10 lbs and here I am today. I wouldn't say I'm comfortable with my body just yet, but I'm working on getting there. I was blessed to have two amazing births that have left me in awe of what the female body is capable of doing. These marks and extra pounds are a result of the best part of my life. I know I will look back on this body 20 years from now and admire its beauty. My goal is to realize its beauty now.
My first birth had me on a high for a few days. I felt like I could do anything, I was wonder woman! But within a few weeks, the sleepless nights and uncertainty rocked my world. I'm really good at appearing calm on the outside when I am questioning everything on the inside. The first few months of my daughter's life were challenging and I think I was too scared or proud to ask for help. So the second time around I made sure to be honest with my providers. I have accepted help and my anxiety has been much more manageable this time around.
I want my kids to know that it's ok to be yourself. It's ok to accept flaws and even better to realize that the flaws are all about perception. I want them to see their mom confident and happy in the body she was given, so that they too can grow comfortable in their own bodies. I want them to be accepting of all bodies and see the beauty in variation.
Take the help. No one knows what they are doing. Everyone is winging it in one way or another. Allow people to help you. Parenthood is challenging, and although you can do it alone, it's a hell of a lot easier and more enjoyable together. And give yourself grace, this is one I am still working on and likely will be working on for the rest of my life. Find grace in the everyday moments.