Kate Pavlovsky (27), Titus (3), and Ezekiel (1)
Georgetown, TX | Photographed in Austin, TX
Kate shares -
"I had one abortion in November of 2012. I still wonder about that baby, especially now that I’ve been through the experience of pregnancy and birth twice. We were very irresponsible back then. We engaged in very unhealthy behaviors. We did drugs recreationally. Neither of us were in the mindset of becoming parents. Somehow, though, we knew the morning after we conceived that the deed was done and so we went to the pharmacy and purchased “Plan B.” I took it as directed, but my period never came. I spent an extra few weeks in denial before taking a pregnancy test. When I finally took it and it came up positive I was torn. I loved this man but I was so afraid. I wasn’t acting like an adult. Neither of us were. We had nothing in place- no steady jobs, no degrees, no marriage certificate. I was so worried about the drugs I’d taken, especially the plan B, and what it might’ve done to my baby. I was not well educated on the subject of babies and I made a quick decision to get an abortion.
Eventually, chosing to become a mother boosted my self confidence one million times over. After high school ended, I began to struggle with body image issues. I was constantly preoccupied with my weight. I starved myself and hated eating in front of people because I felt like a pig. I became incredibly unhealthy. When I looked in the mirror or down at my body, all I could see was fat even when there was none there. My health improved quite a bit when I entered a healthy relationship, but the real tipping point was when we decided to try to make a baby.
I had to spend 3 months gaining healthy weight in order to get pregnant. I researched about nutrition for conception, pregnancy, and beyond. This is when I realized just how unhealthy my thoughts and habits had been. I started to see food as nourishment and medicine. I appreciated it and began to LOVE cooking and eating new recipes. After having each of my children, I have been in awe of the power of my body. How it can create new life, birth that life into the world, then recover as if not much had changed. I love my new curves and rarely touch a scale. When I look in the mirror I feel confident and loved- by myself; by my children; by my husband. A few cellulite dimples underneath my buttocks don’t bring me down like they might have years ago because now I feel proud of what my body has created. As a doula, I witness women of all shapes and sizes give birth, and EVERY single time I find myself thinking about how beautiful they are during their labor. Women who are in their element- raw and exposed- are magical, strikingly gorgeous creatures. Having this outside perspective also helps me love myself. We are all meant to be different from one another. It is our differences that make us beautiful, not flawed.
Immediately after birthing my first child (at home, 37 hours of labor), I felt so unqualified to be a mother. I had researched all my options thoroughly l, yet my natural mothering instincts hadn’t kicked in yet... or they had but my overthinking mind was doubting them. An hour after my midwife left, my baby boy woke up and started crying. My husband was passed out next to us in bed since he had been awake for 37 hours caring for me. I shook him awake exclaiming WHAT DO I DO? And in a drowsy stupor he replied “I don’t know... put your boob in his mouth?” Which I did, and it worked, and all was good. It seemed so simple but it hadn’t occurred to me. I just felt so scared that I would mess up this tiny perfect being that I’d worked so hard to bring into the world. He seemed so small and vulnerable.
For months I thought I had a super power that allowed me to see every possible negative outcome before it happened so I could keep it from happening. For example, I’d be walking into the living room and I’d see myself trip and our baby would fly into the air and then crack his head on the table. Like horrible, gruesome stuff. But I thought it was like motherhood superpowers. So one day I was telling my husband about it and he looked at me strange and said, “Babe, I don’t think that’s normal. You need to tell the midwife.” When I told my midwife, she confirmed that it was a form of postpartum anxiety. We went over other symptoms in my life and realized I had a lot of symptoms of postpartum anxiety. I didn’t want to drive for fear it was too dangerous with the baby. That one majorly affected my life. It took about 8 months to completely work through my postpartum anxiety, and it started all over again with the birth of our second son. I was so prepared for so many things but I wasn’t prepared for that. People talk about postpartum depression but not anxiety. As a doula it’s something I always tell my clients about so they know to speak up because they’re not alone.
It’s hard to be a parent in this day and age. Hell, it’s hard to be a human in this time period. We feel so much pressure to be perfect. We have to have perfect bodies to compete with the women who have plastic surgery and the men who are on steroids or the actors and models who have photoshop and cgi sculpted bodies. We have to be conscious of the environment despite the fact that we are creating little humans who need their own resources. We have to be constantly vigilant about the ingredients in our food and about the way our children’s toys have been manufactured so that we can do our best to avoid exposing our babies to toxins even though they’re literally everywhere. It’s incredibly stressful. But I’d like to remind myself and others to stop worrying so much and remember to ENJOY the journey. Because we are in it for the squishy baby snuggles, the first smiles, the laughter, and the love. All the other things in the universe will fall into place if we just do our best and focus on the love and cherish it. It goes by so fast.
I want to celebrate motherhood, and this version of myself. I want to see myself through the eyes of the camera, with my two babies. I want to be frozen in time with them forever; to have a snapshot to look back on when they are grown and I am old and wrinkled.