Emily Hagenmaier (34), Liam (not pictured) and Rumi (Fraternal Twins - 6) and Esme (2.5)
Emily shares -
"During my twin pregnancy with Liam and Rumi I experienced bleeding, pre-term labor, multiple hospitalizations, and 2 months of bed rest prior to delivery. They were born at 31 weeks, 6 days and spent 7 weeks in the NICU.
Motherhood is a different body, heart, and soul that's for sure. Shortly after Liam and Rumi's birth, I remember crossing a large urban intersection on my way to the NICU, and I felt the sense of my heart expanding in ways I didn't know possible, as if my compassion, empathy, and determination could fill the intersection. Like a uterus growing a baby, a cervix dilating, a vagina opening... our hearts have tremendous capacity to grow and stretch. My bosom certainly isn't as perky after nursing for the past 6 years, but I've also never felt closer to a superhero than when I nursed those tiny, fussy, determined twins or pushed my youngest into being for two hours. I didn't know I had that kind of oomph. And when my toddler jokingly smooshes my boobs together and says a goofy "Cheers mama!" before nursing, I can't help but laugh at the absurdity and wonder and amazing capacity of mama's bodies, minds, and hearts. My body is softer and warmer since becoming a mum. All of me is.
I don't think I've ever known devotion as when I lied still for two months on bedrest or pumped every two hours while the twins were growing in the NICU. I was surprised by my capacity for commitment. I've never felt so motivated in my life. I also went into a kind of survival mode during the twins pregnancy and our first year. They had difficulty regulating, and my husband and I would be up every 45 minutes with one of them. The sleep deprivation was severe, and I kind of became a milk machine who didn't read the paper or take a breather. After the birth of my youngest, I really came to embrace and practice more self-care-- I strongly believe developmental pediatrician Donald Winnicott that "there's no such thing as a baby"... there's a baby and someone. Nurturing ourselves as mamas is essential to our children's growth and development. I gained confidence taking my baby along to do things I wanted to do like a dance class (she loved the music!) or favorite burrito spot (yes, guacamole was one of her first foods) and taking breaks from parenting to nurture my creativity, connect with friends, or pursue my career (I'm a perinatal therapist).
Nurturing ourselves as parents is essential to supporting our kids' development. By connecting with our experience, we can be more present and attuned for our kids.
When I was pregnant with my youngest, I had a lot of anxiety about going into pre-term labor again, I remember Maya Angelou's poem "Still I Rise" coming into my awareness one day and the line "... like I’ve got diamonds/ At the meeting of my thighs?" Dr. Angelou's words gave me courage and faith in my body in a way that it was hard to feel after the trauma of the twin pregnancy. After three kids and some years, I feel so over internal and external judgment about what women's bodies "should" look like. I appreciate how this project celebrates authentic bodies and even more the connections and relationships between them."