Lynn Schell (39) and Lincoln (2 years, 4 months)
Alaska | Photographed in Portland, OR
Lynn shares -
"I've had a miscarriage and mourned the loss of my fertility. When you are diagnosed or experience infertility there is great loss and grief around not being able to make a family the "normal" way. This grief you carry forever.
I basically don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t hate my body. At best, I maybe tried to ignore my body and at worst really beat it up physically or emotionally because I dislike it so much. And still, it takes A LOT of hard work not to negative self talk every minute of the day because my body doesn’t look the way I “want/wish/hope/whatever” it would. Pregnancy helped a tad for a little bit. Growing a human is a super power and for a while, I felt like a goddess. But then I had heart burn and incontinence and I thought to myself…if my body were just (whatever) I wouldn’t have these issues. Then I got pre-eclampsia and had to deliver 4 weeks early and I was really mad at my body for betraying me and my baby. So let’s just say I wasn’t much into body love BEFORE parenthood so I didn’t have high expectations of getting “back into my body” AFTER parenthood.
However, I was greatly surprised postpartum on how my body image concerns changed. It was a small and subtle but important shift. For instance, I make a concerted effort to show my son bodies of all different shapes and sizes and never feel ashamed of him seeing my body. I want to do the best I can to help teach him that body shape or ability does NOT equal value, as much as our culture would like us to think it does. And when it comes to self-awareness and body confidence it has been almost a “fake it till you make it” strategy. We talk with our son about loving and protecting your body and treating it with respect and in two years of verbalizing this stuff for my son I actually think I have started believing it myself.
I was not expecting the amount of grief I would feel after having my baby. I feel that during the pregnancy I did a lot of processing of anticipated/expected postpartum depression, general exhaustion, disconnection, and loneliness. I was familiar with all of those possibilities and had plans in place to support those emotions and situations. What I was not anticipating and what seemed to come out of nowhere was the grief. I have experienced crushing grief having lost my own mom in 2008, so I am intimate with the feeling of profound loss and how different it feels than depression or blues. I did not know that grief was part of the postpartum journey. I did not realize how much I was losing while gaining so much at the same time. It continues to take a long time to process grief and parse out joy of rebirth while still honoring what was lost.
Honestly, I think “we” are all trying our best when we tell other parents that “you aren’t alone” and that is the “right” and compassionate thing to say. However, in reality I think it is important to know that you actually really ARE alone, a lot of the time. Nobody, not your partner, not your old friends, new friends, family, none of them can get inside that fear and anxiety and overwhelming joy that you are feeling postpartum. However, the important part is to know that even though you are alone…IT’S OK, YOU’VE GOT THIS! You are a strong an amazing person who has faced all your life’s challenges and you WILL succeed in this one too. In addition, all those people are right by your side trying to help and understand they best they can and they WILL help with all their hearts. So it is ok to feel alone, you won’t be forever but while you feel please be confident in knowing that you can make it through to the other side. You are doing a really good job and you are getting really good at this.
I truly don’t know yet but it (this project) was something I was drawn to do. For now I don’t think it is so much for me but maybe for somebody else out there."