The joyful Joni Edelman, mother to Jordan (05/25/94), Kelsey (20), Sean (17), Owen (16), Ella (5), and Max (3).
Joni was married at just 19 and very much wanted to have children right away. It took 8 months to conceive her first baby which at the time felt like an eternity. Her pregnancy was going very well but when she went in for her anatomy scan at 21 weeks, she learned that her baby was dead. It was a very different time back then and there wasn't a lot of support surrounding infant loss - there was no internet and not a lot of sensitivity - losing a baby simply wasn't discussed, people just wanted you to move on. Joni had wanted to give birth to her baby but her doctor wanted to put her to sleep and get her out so that's what ended up happening. Joni felt the loss of her child but no one else wanted to talk about it. They instead offered insensitive platitudes and assumed that because she was young she should just move past it. It wasn't until Joni went in for a follow up appointment and her doctor left her chart in the room while he stepped out that Joni was even able to look and see her babies stats and measurements. She named her baby Jordan and everyone else forgot. She didn't forget though, she started writing it all down and every time that date and her due date come around she still remembers, even after 22 years.
Joni started trying to get pregnant again right away. It took 8 months to conceive Kelsey and her pregnancy again was textbook. She was considered high risk because there was no explanation for Jordan's death. She went to the doctor every week and everything was perfect. She carried a week past her due date and had hoped to allow things to continue naturally but her doctor was worried and wanted to induce at 41 weeks. Her induction took and labor progressed. She was 2cms dilated at 14 hours of labor when her doctor went home to sleep and suggested she do the same. However, an hour later she was complete and Kelsey was born without any problems.
Joni went on depo provera as birth control after Kelsey was born but it was horrible so she decided to use a diaphragm. However, no one told her that if you lose or gain weight you need to change your diaphragm and so she made Sean. This pregnancy was hard physically due to sciatic nerve pain. By the end of her pregnancy she was dibilitated and couldn't use her leg so she was induced again and he came out without any problems.
Joni was still breastfeeding Sean, was on the Pill, and hadn't had a period or any sign that she was ovulating until she was in the kitchen cooking and realized she was going to be sick. She isn't a person who throws up and found out the next week that she was actually 11 weeks pregnant with Owen. She had an easy pregnancy with Owen and carried to term. She was induced again and things went so well the doctor told them to watch the baby deliver himself.
In the space between, Joni was divorced and remarried. She was in her mid-thirties at the time so they decided to start trying to concieve thinking it would take a long time but conceived Ella in the first month. Her husband didn't understand why babies were born in hospitals and suggested they have a homebirth before she'd even thought about it. They found a wonderful lay midwife with decades of experiences. Joni is an RN who'd been working labor and delivery and had some fears but she had an amazing pregnancy without any problems. Joni carried to 41 weeks, when her water broke and she labored at home. Her kids were all there and everything was perfect. As she tried to push Ella out, she got stuck badly, one of the worst cases of shoulder dystocia that Joni had seen, even as a nurse. She was in the water, so thankfully, Ella didn't have the urge to breathe. Joni flipped to her hands and knees and after about 5.5 minutes her midwife was able to pull Ella out. Ella was almost 11 lbs and while it took her a little while to get going, she was great.
Thinking again that it would take awhile to conceive, they started trying and conceived Max within the first month. This pregnancy was very trying and Joni dealt with a lot of PTSD that she didn't realized she'd had surrounding Ella's birth. She was very fearful it would happen again and addressed this by being careful and mindful of what she put in her body to try to keep a mental awareness of his size; even through Ella's size may not have had anything to do with her dystocia. She carried a few days post dates and was laboring and laboring with nothing happening. Her water broke but it had been over a day so her midwife suggested she transfer. Joni sobbed and sobbed, she didn't want to deliver in hospital, she didn't want to leave Ella for the first time, it was just not what she wanted. It took a long time to get Max out and her midwife told her she could have a cesarean or keep trying. They tried for 8 more hours with her midwife helping to maneuver his head down. Joni is incredibly grateful for her midwife's assistance because with an OB, she never would have been able to avoid a cesarean. When it was time to push Max came out easily but she struggled with the idea that her body had failed her. Joni had wanted Max's birth to be a reconciliation of what she'd hadn't been able to have with Ella's but it just wasn't and so she's had to instead work to reconcile that instead.
Joni has struggled with eatting disorders and her weight for years and years. After Max was born, she cried to her husband that she felt like a fraud, like false advertisement. He had married a thin woman, she was the thinnest she'd ever been because she had not been eating and was running 35 miles a week. He reassured her that he didn't marry a thin woman, he married her. Joni subsequently wrote an article about her weight and her happiness that went viral - and now that's what she does. Joni gets to tell women every day that their worth is not defined by their size.
Joni feels edified, lifted and supported by the women she works but worries that sometimes there is a lot of pressure that prevents her from feeling like she can not be vulnerable; that her support is somehow shaken in those who look up to her if she admits to being nervous or worrying about her body even though she does, it's inevitable. She still struggles with the pervasive thoughts and instincts that tell her she can just stop eating as a means of control; there is a psychological aspect to disordered eating that still exists even after you decide you don't want to do that anymore.
Joni feels a responsibility to show people you don't have to be a certain size to be happy. And she wants to celebrate the humans that she has created. "It's such an amazing thing that all these people came out of my body and I want them to know, my boys and my girls, that beauty is not just about their body. Their body is only a piece of them and the only way to do that is to show them that this is how I feel about mine"