Alex Van Putten (29), Miles (2) and David (4 days old)
Portland, OR | Photographed in Seattle, WA
Alex shares -
"My strength has always been one of the most important aspects of my self-image and my confidence. I enjoy using my body, I enjoy being a fit person, and I have always dedicated physical, intellectual, and spiritual energy towards living an active life. For me, my lifestyle has not only been about living life to the fullest and appreciating the abled body that I have been given, but it has also been an intentional effort for me to feel safe – I’m a rather small woman and I’ve spent most of my life being aware of my vulnerabilities.
During my first pregnancy, vulnerable is all that I felt. Suddenly, I was too tired to be active. When I did find the energy, my body couldn’t respond how it used to. My brain couldn’t remember how to engage in any of the intellectual or spiritual activities that I had previously enjoyed. I felt depressed, I felt unsafe everywhere I went, I felt grief for the loss of myself. This grief possessed me for a long time after my son was born. Once I started emerging slightly from the fog, I came to realize that my husband had been grieving too and we doubled down on working to repair us.
With our second child, I hope that we are stronger and more prepared for the emotional instability, the lack of intimacy, the winding and crisscrossing paths of self-realization that we now know we need to be walking together. This second pregnancy has been healthier for all of us. My body is still weak and fragile, but I am a stronger person despite it. My toddler and my husband have helped me to stay focused on who I am and what’s important in this short, wonderful life and I can’t wait for us to share and grow in our love as a family.
I have been following this project for several months and I appreciate that the conversation includes so much that I think society prefers new parents to not talk about. I love the art and I love the dedication to providing a voice to those who feel silenced, isolated, confused. I have had a hard time connecting with women through motherhood yet I have felt a primal need to feel this connection. I want to show my son what strength and beauty look like and I am excited to have photographs to remind me of my own strength, my own beauty, my own struggles.
The emotions, the hormones, the relationships - all of these will be affected and all will change in ways you can't possibly imagine. Being prepared is simply not possible, but how you respond to the unexpected has a far reaching impact. Brace yourself against the tides, focus on who and what is important in your life, understand that you may not have much control and work with what you're given to make the best of it. Lean on those who love you, love as passionately as you can muster, and never forget about loving yourself.