The phenomenal Sheilah Kean and her youngest Royce (3), Sheilah is also mom to Grace (17) and Cyrus (8).
Sheilah and Grace's father had only been dating for a short time when she conceived Grace and she remained single until she was about 8 months pregnant when they decided to reconnect. Pregnancy and birth went very well for Sheilah and she ended up marrying her daughter's father but things were not healthy. The relationship became very abusive, to the point that she and Grace were held at gun point by him in a moving vehicle before she was able to escape. He was incarcerated and has remained out of their lives ever since. Sheilah's bond with her daughter is amazingly secure and as a single mom for her first 9 years her world revolved her daughter for so long. Grace just graduated high school and Sheilah says it's been a bit of an identity crisis for her. We talk often about the stages and transitions that come with motherhood in the early years but not much is said about this transition that comes as we prepare for our children to leave our homes.
There came a point when Sheilah realized that if she wanted to have more children she needed to consider how and when that was going to happen and she opened herself up to dating again. She met her now husband and they were able to conceive Cyrus without any issues. Pregnancy went well for her but she was rear-ended in her third trimester and she then needed closer monitoring and bed rest. Cyrus was born with Respiratory Distress Syndrome in a Newborn and needed to be taken to NICU right away. He had a chest tube and support but he progressed very typically and as a nurse Sheilah felt capable of understanding his care and trajectory. He was able to come home after 9 days and has been wonderful ever since. Sheliah struggled with postpartum anxiety following her daughters birth and navigated true depressions following Cyrus' birth.
Having a third child was always something that Sheilah and her husband wanted but it just wasn't happening for them and she decided to go ahead and get her tubes tied to prevent any unplanned pregnancies as she got older. Surprisingly, just as she was looking into scheduling the procedure she learned she was pregnant with Royce. Sheilah had hyperemesis gravidarum throughout her pregnancy and Royce too was born with Respiratory Distress Syndrome and unlike his brother had a very hard time of it. He needed a lot of support and there was a time they were not certain what his course would take. Thankfully things turned around and he was able to leave NICU after 19 days. The first year of Royce's life continued to be difficult as they struggled with breastfeeding, lip/tongue ties and his general health, as he had severe asthma. Thankfully things have improved and Sheilah is feeling like she has been able to process and heal from the trauma of it all. Breastfeeding has gone well after initially struggling and Sheilah was able to donate over 1,000 oz of breastmilk to other mothers and babies in need.
Sheilah is a previous project participant, you can view her initial image here, but she felt it important to return and share more of her story now. Watching this community of women and support grow she has felt growth herself and knows that if she can help one woman through sharing some of her story, whether it is a domestic abuse survivor, single mom, NICU mom, or mother going through the transition of an older child leaving home, she knows it's worth. "We are so connected. We are never alone in our journey's. This is why sharing is so important".