The amazing Erin and Jessica Mitchell with their daughters Maeve Madora (4 months) and Jude McGovern (almost three).
Erin feels like she never really accepted her body until she got pregnant. She found pregnancy to be the most amazing gift: feeling, knowing and growing. Erin and Jessica conceived both of their daughters with sperm from a known donor and self inseminated. Everything was very personal and intimate between she and her wife and she wasn't certain going into her marriage that she'd be able to have that. She says it's very important for same sex couples to know it can be just as personal and just as intimate; it doesn't have to be a sterile environment. It was so powerful for them to create these lives together out of their love.
Erin had the typical illness that comes with first trimester's with Jude and then transitioned into a blissful alternate reality where everyone was gorgeous and beautiful and lovely and life was very happy. She went into her birth a little trepidatious but expecting it to be as beautiful as her pregnancy had been. While her birth was beautiful in it's own right, it wasn't what they had expected. She labored for about 24 hours and was able to turn away all interventions. Jude waited until her due date to arrive, which was also Thanksgiving day. They were concerned that she had ingested meconium and when she came out. They gave her to Erin ever so briefly before they took her away and everyone left her room. Erin was left alone with her doula to deliver the placenta and she realized before getting pregnant again she had to dive into the feelings of abandonment she had felt.
Maeve was born at home and Erin describes the experience as redemptive, spiritual, and primal. They were scared again that she had ingested meconium but she was just fine and there wasn't the need for separation. After this birth, Erin suffered a serious bout of postpartum anxiety because she didn't want to be away from her. The safest she feels now ever, is in her bed with her wife and her daughters and never leaving which she thinks is where she felt the safest and most vulnerable while giving birth to Maeve. This birth she says, didn't "happen to her" like Jude's birth did. Jude's birth happened to her and this birth was sheer partnership and celebration.
Erin says that the day Maeve was born is the strongest she has ever felt. Yet she realized she was afraid to move past that, to lose the baby belly, because the further she gets from that day the less strong she feels. Motherhood has made her a better person, friend, daughter - as a whole it is the coolest thing that's ever happened to her. She has been able to accept her body now and just loves the person and mother she is.
When Jude was taken away to special care for 7 hours it delayed Erin's ability to nurse her. Once she was able to feed her and hold her skin to skin, Jude stabilized and began to thrive. She was able to nurse her for two years, but every step of the way was difficult. She wonders if she hadn't been taken away, if things would have gone differently. Nursing this time has been epic. Erin pumps six times a day while working, has established a strong supply, and has found the experience of breastfeeding this time to be much more blissful.
Having overcome a life full of discomfort in her body, years of disordered eating and lack of confidence in her physical self even though she was an athlete, pregnancy has shifted that for Erin. She is grateful for the fellowship and community that is motherhood. She thinks it so important for women to find pride in themselves and what they've created regardless of how they come to motherhood, whether they've carried their children or not.
Jessica was always concerned going to motherhood that if she wasn't the birth mom, she wouldn't feel as much a part of the family. It was very empowering when her first daughter was born and they naturally gravitated towards one another. Any fear that she wasn't part of the unit because of genetics has completely faded away. While they didn't feel lacking of anything, adding another child has made them feel even more complete as a family. While it has taken more time to connect with Maeve she has the trust now to know that it's starting and it will come.
Jessica's wife has continually pushed her out of her comfort zone with all things related to pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. She's learned to trust those gentle nudges of Erin's intuition with these things and was honored to join in sharing her self, her story and her experience.