Melissa Wirt (36), Nathaniel (5), Alexander (4), Caroline (2), and Benjamin (11 weeks). Melissa has also had two early losses.
Photographed in Richmond, VA
Melissa shares -
" I was so excited six years ago to become a mom- I had everything planned out. I couldn’t wait to leave my job and be one of those lunching stay at home moms you see on TV with the happy little, perfectly dressed, baby in tow. And then after months of birth classes, nursery prep, and a meticulously written birth plan, my first was born in the back seat of our old dirty 4 Runner and never slept a night in his crib.
My “welcome basket” to motherhood, was a screamy colicky baby and the confusion and disbelief that this was something that I had asked for. Thankfully, Alex was born 18 short months later, and things were much different. Thanks to the confidence gained from navigating Nathan’s first year and amazing prenatal care, the postparturm period was different. So incredibly different that I was inspired to find a way to support other moms.
The first six months of Alex’s life I spent enjoying a super happy baby and learning all I could about clothing manufacturing. By the time Caroline arrived two years later we were already in our second warehouse but her arrival once again cemented my commitment to doing what I could to help other moms navigate the sometimes tough waters of the postpartum.
Our youngest is 11 weeks, and I’m in the trenches once again for what I assume will be the last time- and I can honestly say that although you may know what to expect, it doesn’t necessarily get any easier. There’s only one way through it, and that’s to get through it... lower expectations, grant yourself a little grace and know that things will get easier.
“Winning” is: finding the happiness and peace to great each day with kindness for yourself and others and do your best to care for those around you.
Growing up I was proud of my larger than “normal” stature and athletic build. It saw me through many hours on the soccer and hockey fields and I always thought being strong was a good thing. My grandmother used to tell me that I would be very proud of my “big German birthing hips” one day. And she was absolutely right. I never felt more confident and proud of my body than after it grew, labored and birthed two beautiful babies without complications or what felt like much effort. That confidence is what led me to start my own company.
Without much thought, we used my body and face to market Latched Mama three years ago when we first began. It was easy and free to just model myself and honestly the company was truly my labor of love and I was so proud to show off what I created. I knew my clothing could help other moms because it was helping me. Ten short months postpartum, I threw my hair in a pony tail, and stood in our living room, white poster board taped to the wall behind me, and we took our first product shots for the website. We launched a successful company that night, but I was also launched into a world that made me question my nativity and forced me to stare vulnerability in the face.
I don’t know exactly what I thought would happen, but I didn’t expect the emails, the comments, and the messages about my face, my body, my hair, and my breasts that followed over the next two years. I didn’t expect people to ask “who’s vagina was used to birth my children” because I looked like a man or “how my breasts still worked at my age” because I looked so old. I wasn’t prepared for people to message that we would “sell more clothing” if our model didn’t look like “a ghost”, knowing without even looking, that they were referring to product shots taken while I was bleeding from an early loss.
I was sent into a spiral of self doubt- one that was stealing joy from all that we were succeeding in getting right. Social media is in so many ways a blessing to parenthood. It creates a sense of community for those who are lacking a village, it makes evidence based research more readily available to all, and it allows us to stay in touch with loved ones. But it can also do so much harm- especially in the vulnerable postpartum period. It is important that the voice of kindness and celebration of the realistic face of motherhood is heard and seen. It is important that hateful behavior is drowned by a stronger community of support and self love. I have pledged to ensure that my little space on the internet will always be a safe and accepting one and I will always and forever support those who do the same."