Erica Padilla (36), Nathaniel Maddox (11), Ezra Harrison (9 months,) and 8 weeks pregnant with Gabriel Jude.
Charlotte, NC | Photographed in Richmond, VA
Erica shares -
"I experienced two miscarriages in December 2014 and July 2015. They were two of the hardest experiences I have ever been through. My first was when my husband and I had only been married exactly twenty days. It brought us closer together rather than apart but the first six months of our marriage were really marked with a lot of heartache and sadness. It made me feel as though somehow my body was broken and I was not able to have more children. It didn’t help that I didn’t feel as though I was medically supported by my team at the time. No one could figure out why I was miscarrying and that made it even worse. I desperately wanted to tell me it was somehow my fault, so at least I knew what I could fix or do to stop it from happening again.
I am someone who has struggled with disordered eating my whole life and both pregnancy and being a mother has really gone a long way to helping me on my journey to healing. When I am pregnant I want to fuel my body the best I can so I am also keeping my child healthy. I want to be an example to my sons that even when times are hard and tough, you can still pull through and do the best your can to love yourself. And some days you just might not, and that’s okay too.
Breastfeeding my second son has been something that has been incredibly cathartic for me. It didn’t work out with my oldest. I was much younger and I didn’t have the support system I have now. I really wanted a solid breastfeeding relationship and I worked hard to get it. We have been going for nine months strong now and I fully plan to tandem feed with Ezra and Gabe. As far as motherhood, it is something that has been the most beautiful journey of my life. I didn’t grow up aspiring to motherhood at all but it came to me suddenly and surprisingly when I was only twenty-four and I am glad that I took that chance. I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing at first at all, but I trusted myself and my instincts and it has taught me so much about humility, patience, and love.
I feel as though this is a celebration to how I have come full circle. I am now approaching my later 30’s and I feel stronger and more beautiful than I ever have. It has taken me so long to realize that a thin body isn’t what is going to bring me peace, or stability, or control. It was really important to me to capture this moment in time so I can show my sons one day that you can persevere and prevail, especially as I am navigating raising Black men in the climate that we are in.
No matter what happens, no matter what anyone tells you or that they say, know you are doing the best you can with what you’ve got. A lot of people will try to get in your ear, but just trust yourself. Love yourself. Advocate for yourself.