Caitlin Montague (38) and Augusta Faith (18 months)
Utqiagvik (Barrow), Alaska | Photographed in Missoula, Montana
Caitlin shares -
"Before I got pregnant I was in the best shape of my life and felt physically strong. Some times people commented on my weight loss. As I moved further and further along in my pregnancy it felt almost like I had completely surrendered my body to other people, almost as if now that I was growing a tiny human, other people felt that they had implicit permission to comment on, and touch my body. Most people told me that I didn’t look “pregnant enough” which just made me confused. I had one coworker who met me at the stairs everyday and said “You look so BIG!” I also lacked a supportive doctor and so I really struggled with my body - what it was “supposed to” look like, and how everyone felt entitled to make comments. After my daughter was born, I lost weight quickly which seemed to be another topic for people to talk about. I constantly felt that everyone was evaluating my physical appearance until my daughter was around one or so.
The moment my daughter was born, I immediately started laughing with joy. I was so happy to see her and her long arms and legs. After a long labor I was so exhausted, and elated, and felt like everything was just surreal. I struggled immensely with breastfeeding. It was, and is, so very import to me to breastfeed my daughter and it feels like I have just had to fight to make it happen. My main issue has been low supply, so Faith is a frequent feeder. For the first four or five months, she nursed through the night, every two hours, and I was pumping up to five times a day at work. There were times I felt like I was either nursing a baby or attached to a machine at all times. I attended meetings at work via phone so I could pump, and eventually my coworkers just became accustomed to seeing me pumping at my desk.
Breastfeeding has been the hardest thing I have done, but it also makes me the proudest. It makes me feel the best about myself, and the bond I have with my child. I wasn’t expecting it to be such a challenge, but it certainly has been. I’ve only had to supplement a couple times, during those early growth spurts, and my saving grace had been my best friend. She had a baby five weeks before I did and literally put a shopping bag full of frozen breast milk on a plane and sent it to me. To be honest, having her support has also been one of the greatest gifts motherhood has brought me.
I started following the project a while back and have been waiting for a time when my travel schedule and your gathering schedule aligned. I think it’s inspiring to hear other people’s stories and to know that I’m not alone. The idea of building community, even digital community, is important to me and I’m happy to be a part of it.
Whatever you decide, it will be ok. Sometimes it feels like the end of the world, but it’s not. It really helps me to remember that tomorrow is another day, and it’s important to not take the stress and frustrations of today with you into tomorrow. "