The dashing Daphne Donahue and John (8 months).
Daphne has been struck by how difficult her postpartum self-image is. She expected to feel as beautiful as she had while pregnant but it has been difficult to transition into her new shape and body. She thought she would treat herself with more grace than she's able to but doesn't want to judge her appearance so harshly. She realizes that a lot of that is because of the world she operates within but also that these ideals we are seeking to change have no base in reality. She wants to be real and focus on how beautiful the imperfections are rather than how we have to strive to be more beautiful.
Daphne got pregnant while on birth control a couple of times during her first year of law school. She was young, in law school and was in not so great relationships at the time so the decision was easy for her to make, however, she got very sick after each termination and was bed ridden for weeks afterward so it was still a very difficult time. The following year, she decided to move home and met her now husband. They dated for a year, got engaged and she was still on birth control but got pregnant again just a few months before her wedding, graduation and bar exam and her fiance was still in law school as well. This time she took the ru486 pill to terminate her pregnancy and it was a very intense and insanely painful experience. She was upset that the framework for this procedure meant that she had to be in pain as if she had transgressed in some way. She got really sick after this termination as well. Once again, while it was an easy choice for her to make it was difficult for her physically afterward.
Daphne got married and they decided to wait about 5 years before starting their family but she says that after two years she felt like she was ready to be a mother. Daphne had wanted to be a mother her whole life but the time had never been quite right before then and having conceived on every birth control she'd ever tried, she felt confirmed that it was her biological imperative to become a mom. They started trying and got pregnant with John after just a couple months. She was really ill with morning sickness and the first trimester was hard not knowing how things would go.
At week 26 she fainted and went to her doctor, the OB who her mom had used for her siblings births. He sat down with her and told her that she had gained 8lbs in two months and was simply eating too much. He said she was going to eat her way into a cesarean and was putting her baby at risk. He delivered the information so matter of fact and she said it was brutal, the toughest part of pregnancy was hearing that she was endangering her baby. Daphne changed doctors and did end up gaining 50lbs, more weight than what she was eating could add. She wouldn't learn until 4 months postpartum that she had developed severe hypothyroidism that had her previous provider could have caught.
John's birth was amazing for Daphne. She had been diagnosed with Group B Strep but she very much wanted to labor at home. Her doula educated them and supported their decision. Her water broke in the morning and she labored at home throughout the day. While laboring she found that she wanted to be alone and retreat within herself. All of the fears she'd had about birth, fell completely away and she found it to be amazing and beautiful. They went to the hospital later that afternoon and she was 7cms. She progressed to 9cms before she requested an epidural after really feeling like she had hit a wall. She had to do some convincing with her husband and doula but was proud of the work she'd done and knew she needed some help.
She was able to rest before pushing for 2.5 hours. As he started crowning they realized his cord was around his neck and wanted her to get him out right away. She pushed him out but ended up with a fourth degree tear that led to a very difficult and painful recover. She was in surgery for a couple hours while she and her husband were able to have skin to skin time with John. The injury was unexpected however and it was nearly 4 months before she could walk or move without being in pain. She felt like her body didn't do what it was supposed to do and has since been told she should consider a cesarean for future births.
Daphne says that her pregnancy, birthing and motherhood are the time in her life when she as a women has felt the most marginalized but has also put her back in touch with her feminism. She acknowledges her privilege universally as a white woman but finds that through mothering, many feel that they are allowed to tell her what to do with her life, her family, her body. She has a new purpose to address the ways in which we marginalize women as well as the need to face how to raise a man who knows he is privileged but also chooses to help change the power structures that are at work in our lives.