Aimee Hadleigh (36), Harlan (7), Narah (6), Easton (5), and Loa (4 months)
Aimee shares -
“My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. It was particularly difficult as early on the doctors had noticed it was not continuing to develop and there was no heartbeat, but they recommended that I let the miscarriage happen naturally. It was probably a month before this happened. I felt like I was walking around like a zombie knowing my child was no longer alive and growing inside me. Me, waiting for this dreadful moment. Though I am thankful to have had the experience at home with my partner.
I go through waves of shifting body image with each pregnancy. There's those initial moments postpartum when I realize nothing I own actually fits on me. The moment when this little one is no longer in there and that space is now occupied by something else entirely that's strictly my own. There is a definite sadness for that loss, despite having the baby to now hold. Once I give in to what my body now is and buy clothes that actually fit, I feel like I embrace what once was and can feel the connection of my womb, the extra skin, the space and my children who once lived there. And there is a strength in that. Though the rest of the world can't see or feel this. They just see the postpartum belly, the tiredness, etc..
Each of my postpartum journeys has be remarkable different with each child. My first was in the NICU and had a host of medical problems. My story really centers around my failure to breastfeed and to advocate for my son in the hospital. I didn't know to request, or demand, opportunity to nurse in the NICU and they never offered, not once. At home, my son stopped breathing and was readmitted. Over this time my pumping abilities deteriorated in light of the terror of this sweet baby now pumped full and bloated from IV fluids who struggled to breathe.
I was less concerned about my postpartum body but struggled with negative emotions when trying to pump and flat out depression when I tried to nurse him and he screamed. We later came to realize his face was paralyzed on one side and couldn't latch. It felt like a journey of loss for my breastfeeding dreams and a disconnect with my body as I was thrust into the medical realm for my baby. Despite this experience, I was thrilled to have this little life before me and was soon pregnant again.
The birth of my first daughter was much simpler, though I spent weeks on bedrest for preterm labour. She made it full term. My postpartum memory is pretty hazy as the two babies were only thirteen months apart and our lives were consumed by therapies and medical appointments for my older son. Still I went on to have yet another.
After eight weeks on bedrest in the hospital for repeated hemorrhages, I gave in to an emergency cesarean after losing too much blood and having a very low placenta. My little one spent another seven weeks in the NICU and I really struggled to recover from the surgery. I spent at least the first week visiting him in a wheelchair. The cesarean was much more difficult than expected. My body was weak, my blood pressure low, and it was agonizing building the strength to hold my son and produce milk to nourish him.
My most recent birth has come full circle and is both a tearing apart and healing process. I planned a beautiful home birth that was anything but supportive or beautiful. Unfortunately, I had a retained placenta which caused major hemorrhage. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital. By then I had already lost consciousness and ended up having my placenta removed surgically and a massive blood transfusion. While I planned to have this amazing bonding time at home, I spent the first week separated from my baby in the ICU. However, once home, we began an amazing journey reconnecting and breastfeeding. I've had a harder time coping with the change in my body after this last birth. I've felt rushed to get back to normal in an effort to care for the rest of my children and the new baby. Yet, my determination to breastfeed is driving me to let go of my body and focus on nourishing it to feed my daughter. With all the medical trauma surrounding my births and postpartum experiences, I struggle to connect to my own body and accept all the experiences it has gone through.
I choose to participate in an effort to support women's experiences and bodies as well as a way for me to reconnect to my body and begin a healing process.”