Ahnika Johnson (33), Svea (6), Mila (4), Arya (2), and Vera (4 months)
Ahnika shares -
“After having my first two babies, my body snapped back very quickly, but suddenly I had boobs too! I felt confidence in my body in a way I never imagined I would after giving birth. I felt sexy, but I was also sustaining a life with my body. I realize this may not be the experience most women have after giving birth, but it honestly made me feel like I could do anything. then I had my third and fourth babies and my body has not gone back to where I thought I would be.
Even on the days when I don't feel super confident in my postpartum body, I try to give myself grace. I'm raising four girls and they HAVE to see and hear me love my body as it is, otherwise I'm doing a major disservice to their own self esteem. I grew up thinking that having confidence in your body and self image was prideful, but it's not. loving yourself fully, including the body you were given, can only help manifest a greater love for others.
My first three babies were born in a hospital with an epidural. I had every intention to go "drug free" with my first birth, but a long labor through the night and lack of confidence in the endurance of my body brought me to the epidural. Once I experienced that kind of birth I didn't feel a need to do it any other way. Half way through my fourth pregnancy (and after a lot of encouragement from friends and family who had unmedicated births), I decided I wanted to try giving birth at a birth center. I felt confident after giving birth three times that my body could do it on it's own, without the help of drugs. So I did it. It was the hardest and most rewarding experience.
I knew that I wanted to stay home with my children and that has been my full time job for 6 years now. My husband and I agree that going from 0 to 1 child is the hardest. Everything is new. You're adjusting to a lack of sleep that you never knew you could survive on. You have to work harder on your partnership and have more patience and forgiveness with one another. The judgement of other parents has to (at least mostly) go away because everyone does it differently and that's ok. parenting is messy, good, hard work. It's also the most rewarding thing I'll ever experience.
I am here because I want my children to have a visual representation of how much I love them and how much I love my body that carried, birthed and sustained them.”