Marissa Reinholz (26), Norah (2), and Espen (12 weeks)
Marissa shares -
"At first, I was disappointed that I didn't bounce back to my pre pregnancy size and shape. I gained weight while nursing my daughter and I nursed her through month 6 of her brothers pregnancy (about 22 months), so my body hasn't been 'only mine' since before becoming pregnant with her. Through this, I watched as my body constantly changed to support life either in the womb or through nursing. Over time, I have gained a new respect for my body and I've learned to appreciate the physical changes (stretch marks) that happened as a result of growing two babies.
I had a perfect, worry free pregnancy with Norah up until the last few weeks when I was put on bedrest due to elevated blood pressure. Laying in bed with nothing to do made me incredibly anxious about labor and the impending life changes. Three days past the due date, I was induced. Norah's labor was very quick, but I lost a lot of blood and developed a fever, so I was bedridden 24 hours while I was given antibiotics. Recovery was very difficult physically and nursing was painful until 3 months. With these challenges, I developed postpartum anxiety that persisted until I became pregnant with Espen.
Espen's pregnancy was perfect and he had a smooth birth at a week past his due date. The experience was completely different from being induced and recovery was much easier. I felt much more confident as a mom and our nursing journey has been going wonderfully since his first latch. Overall, the most difficult thing to cope with regarding becoming a parent was how the relationships with my friends have changed. I was the first of my peers to have children, so all of the sudden I was in a different stage of life and we didn't have all that much in common anymore. Maintaining those relationships while navigating new motherhood has been incredibly challenging.
I'm slowly learning how to take care of myself again, both physically and mentally. Coming out of my comfort zone to take these photos feels risky, but it also feels like an important step in building a positive relationship with my body. I want others to see that a woman's body is powerful and that it changes to support new life both during pregnancy and after birth. These changes are physical manifestations of our strength and love. I hope that my children can always feel proud of their bodies and see that I am proud of mine- I have grown, birthed, and nursed two babies. I feel so powerful!
The mom instinct is real- follow it. That little voice is so powerful and it will always lead you in the right direction with your children and yourself.