Jenna Jakubek (27). Mother to Londyn Faith born still at 29 weeks, and Ruth Louise (7 months - pictured).
Royal Oak, MI | Photographed in Detroit, MI
Jenna shares -
"I got pregnant in college (20 years old) and decided to keep the baby. Making that decision was hard. Telling my religious family that I was pregnant to a man I wasn't married to was hard. Staying in school was hard. Dealing with the judgement that came with getting pregnant "like that" was hard. Going to doctors appointments alone was hard. Dealing with my changing emotions and body was hard. Everything about the whole situation was terribly hard, but I loved that baby and knew she was meant to be mine. All the hard that came with it was totally worth it.
The whole pregnancy was normal until I showed up to a routine appointment (around 29 weeks) and they couldn't find her heartbeat. Everything after that was a blur. I was induced, spent around 32 hours in labor, and then my sweet Londyn Faith was born still. She was perfect and still is perfect. Too perfect for this broken world. She will forever be my first baby.
I never loved my body before motherhood. Never even really liked it, if I'm being completely honest. I was always able to find something wrong with how I looked. Even at my thinnest and fittest, I still found so much flaw in what I saw because I was always comparing myself to someone else. It's heartbreaking to think about, really. I was so hard on myself.
My perspective did shift some when I became a mama. I mean, how couldn't it? Look at what my body did and then continues to do through breastfeeding! Look at what I made! I'm finally able to see past my stretch marks, cellulite, and double digit pant sizes. - But positive body image will always be a work in progress for me and that's okay. Some days are more difficult than others. Some days I feel beautiful and strong naturally and then other days I have to remind myself of all this body has done. I just try very hard to be kind to myself and remember I'm more than what I see in the mirror. I also know that my daughter sees everything I do and more than anything, I want her to grow up with a good example of self-love.
Life postpartum looked a lot different than I thought it would - mostly in terms of breastfeeding. I always pictured nursing my baby to be an easy, beautiful, bonding experience. It wasn't. It was so hard and painful. I spent 4 months with terribly cracked, bloody nipples. I dreaded every single feed and it caused a ton of anxiety for me. I was so desperate to breastfeed though and my husband was incredibly encouraging, so I pushed through. It just never looked the way I thought it would. It wasn't the beautiful bonding experience I imagined. - I was also pretty surprised that the 50 pounds I gained during pregnancy didn't just fall off. I thought that's what happened when you breastfed. Instead I found myself hungry all of the time, eating a ton, and losing minimal weight. With the body image issues I've had in the past, it was sort of tough for me to come to terms with. - I'm only 7 months postpartum and definitely still adjusting to my new world and that's ok! It's a process!
Motherhood looks so different on everyone and it's beautiful in every form. It was important for me to be here today to give another representation of what it can look like.
I wish I could tell my former self - and every new mother - to do away with any expectations. It's going to all look and feel so much different than you plan anyway, so don't burden yourself with setting them.