Vanessa Young (31), Tristram (3 years), and Oriana (11 months)
Milwaukee, WI | Washington, DC
Vanessa shares -
"Becoming a mom has given me more respect and gratitude towards my body. Before kids I got caught up with the image in the mirror or how I looked in certain clothes, especially as a professional musician and yoga teacher. After having given birth I feel empowered in my body and its ability to roar a being into this world. I still have moments of feeling self-conscious of my now soft belly or the subtle stripes on my thighs and breasts that grew larger when pregnant. I am brought back to gratitude though when my son rests his sweet head on my belly or my daughter hugs onto my breast while feeding or my strong thighs are used to lift them both up into my arms. Having a daughter has changed my body image even further, as I am challenged to see and comment on my body positively to be that role model for her of embracing the bodies we have been given.
My son, my first baby, was born prematurely at 34 weeks surprising us all days after my baby shower and with both grandmas-to-be still in town. Adjusting to parenthood was a challenge while navigating having a baby in the NICU and terrifying once we could finally bring him home. Although it took me a year to finally see a therapist, I think I always knew I was struggling with postpartum anxiety from the moment he was born as my entire expectation for birth, breastfeeding and transition to motherhood was shattered the moment my water broke early. Therapy helped me immensely to figure out ways to stop the spiral of anxious, worried and unrealistic thoughts, as well as overcome my fear of another premature birth. My son has taught me so much about resiliency, letting go and strength from day one.
The second postpartum experience was far easier emotionally with a term baby and the birth center birth we envisioned the first time. I rode the high for a good week after her birth of being able to go home with my baby a mere 5 hours after giving birth. However physically my second time was more challenging I think partially from a rapid 4 hour birth, having birthed a full term baby and having a toddler to tend to as well. Adjusting to life with two little ones was easier than I expected at the beginning, but as my daughter’s personality began to emerge more I found it (and continue to find it) a tricky juggling act of mothering both kids in the unique way they each need me to be their mama. With her I have learned patience the most- everything from her whirlwind birth to easing into a mama to two. In general every expectation I had prior to being a mom has been tossed out the window as I learn each child has a need different than what I could ever expect. Both times finding a balance in caring for myself and for my children has been difficult within the first year, as I feel I am just now starting to find it again as my daughter is about to turn one. My body tends to take on the stress of not prioritizing self care as a mama leading to health issues toward the end of the first year of both kids that serves as my wake up call to make time for me, even if its simply sitting to meditate for a few minutes at the end of the day.
I found 4th Trimester Bodies Project after having my first baby and it helped me immensely in embracing my postpartum body. I wanted to be a part of this movement the moment I stumbled upon in postpartum for my children. I want them to grow up embracing the beauty of birth and all that comes with that, including (and most importantly) postpartum."