The dashing Christina Deshayes, Levi (3), and Micah (10 months).
Christina's motherhood journey started with a traumatic experience at her first birth, and has progressed with significant healing and growth since. Her first pregnancy was healthy, but labor was very long. She wasn't progressing as the doctors felt she should be, and was bullied and demeaned during labor. Her son had aspirated meconium during the last stage of labor and spent a week in the NICU. She experienced postpartum depression, anxiety, and PTSD as a result. As a survivor of previous sexual abuse, the circumstances she navigated during her birth were a very similar violation. To top it off, Levi was a colicky baby who slept very little and cried almost nonstop.
"I slowly began to dig myself out, and when my son was almost 1, I decided to go to nursing school to be a nurse. My plan is eventually to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife. I started my first necessary prerequisite for nursing school on my son's first birthday".
Very contrary to her first birth, Christina had a wonderful doula and midwife and felt supported and in control during her second labor and birth. She had healed emotionally from her first birth before she even became pregnant again, but was graciously given the opportunity to experience the stark contrast of how empowering and peaceful a birth can be when mom is supported and respected. "My journey in womanhood has involved me changing from a person who was terrified to ever speak up for myself to a confident, assured human. I am comfortable in my identity for the first time in my life. This has been a long time in the making; but my motherhood journey has been no small part of it. Motherhood is a journey in itself. I never feel like I have the balance between "mom" and "woman" - in many ways they are the same, but they are also quite different. I am a recovering perfectionist, and motherhood, like life, can never be done perfectly - I have come to peace with that but still have days".
"It has taken the vast majority of my life for me to be comfortable in my own skin. This project is such a beautiful representation of motherhood and womanhood, and how much different, and better, life can be if we show love to those around us and to ourselves. I chose to participate because I hope that when I look at my final pictures I will see a representation of my story thus far, and my intense love for my family. I also want to share my story because, after my first birth, I have never felt so alone. I felt abandoned, beat down, invisible, and like a failure to everyone around me, including myself. I hope that sharing my story will be both healing for me and healing for someone else who needs to know they are not alone."