Kari Coe (35) and Keeva (2)
Photographed in Seattle, Washington
Kari shares -
"I never saw myself as a mother. I spent my 20's getting married, divorced and fighting to discover what I loved about myself. During this time I often picked apart my body, never quite feeling good enough or beautiful or free. When I was 29 I had an ah-ha moment at a yoga workshop, decided my life with my dog Oscar was kick ass and started really liking myself - a month or so later I started dating my husband. However, I didn't escape the broken record of feeling fat until I brought Keeva into this world. Struggling through breastfeeding and carrying a lot of extra weight after giving birth was close to pushing me into a body shame spiral, but I realized I have a daughter who was born on International Women's Day and I refuse to focus on weight when there is so much else to show her in this world. So I've learned to stop and celebrate what my body can DO - not what it looks like.
One of my clearest memories from the hospital is my husband sleeping on the couch in our room, 60 minutes playing on the TV, Keeva asleep on my chest and me realizing holy cow this is my human, my responsibility, what did I get myself into?! Once we got home reality completely sunk in, Keeva wouldn't latch and was screaming out of hunger and we didn't pick up a breast pump pre birth. I felt like a total failure as my husband hand expressed milk into a spoon for our daughter, I cried in the lactation nurse's office, I desperately reached out for nursing help from my friends with new babies and put myself on an intense pumping/nursing with a nipple shield schedule. I had never seen a woman breastfeed in real life, I was so confused and frustrated - but determined - so we didn't leave the house much for 2 weeks or so until K and I figured nursing out! In the early months after K's birth, I often found myself jealous of moms who were able to have unmedicated births - feeling not good enough because I had an epidural. At 34 weeks my midwives started keeping a very close eye on my blood pressure, with weekly urine tests, ultrasounds and stress tests. I was induced at 38.5 weeks and my blood pressure stayed high until my midwife recommended I get an epidural. I practiced yoga several times a week during my pregnancy, completed a yoga teacher training, and pretty much only read books that talked about natural births and believing in my body's power- when that didn't pan out for me, I felt like I was starting out like a failure.
I discovered this project through many late night newborn feeding sessions and it made me feel a sense of belonging, a joy, a connection to people who don't see a stereotype- but see a mother/father/child in an authentic way rarely talked about in mainstream media. I also want my daughter to know how freaking proud I am of this body where she grew and I want her to take this picture with to college."