Jessica Choy (34), Claire (3.5) and Maggie (6 months)
Jessica shares -
“Growing up, I always felt skinny-fat. My mom was always on a diet and I swore I never wanted to be that way. Before getting pregnant, I was really active. I did high intensity workouts 5 times a week and after a few years of that finally felt like an athlete. During my first pregnancy, I only slowed down a little bit and felt annoyed if people offered to help me carry things. I also felt more beautiful than ever. Then my second pregnancy was way harder. I was tired, gained weight faster, and bled through the first 4+ months due to subchorionic hematoma. I had to be way less active. Now, I'm 6 months postpartum and look in the mirror and see a softer, bigger belly than I've ever had and I'm trying to have compassion for all I've been through and accomplished as a mom.
For my first birth, I didn't have a doula. I thought I could do everything myself. My labor happened fast and we almost didn't make it to the hospital, and I remember a moment where a nurse told me to get in the bed and I couldn't feel my legs. My midwife and nurses lifted me into the bed and i laid on my back to push.
For my second birth, I found my voice and was able to ask for more support. We worked with a doula and I told her I didn't want to be on my back during labor. This time, we really almost didn't make it to the hospital. Again, a nurse told me to get in the bed and I said "no", took of my pants, and started pushing standing up. I remember looking down at my legs and thinking "wow, I'm so strong". During one contraction, my doula said "Jessica, grab your baby" and I reached down and caught Maggie as she was born. No matter how I think I look postpartum, I'll never forget how strong I felt in that moment.
After Claire was born, I still thought I could do everything myself. It scared me to ask anyone else for help. I had pretty serious fears of something bad happening to the baby, or something happening to me and then no one being left to take care of her. I went back to work after 5 months of leave and continued to try to do everything myself--be the best employee, best mom, best wife etc. I lost sight of my own needs in those first six months back. Once Claire started sleeping through the night but my anxiety kept me up for hours from 2am to 6am I knew I needed help. I called my midwife and asked for a referral to a therapist and have been doing weekly therapy for the past 2 and a half years.
Now, Maggie is 6 months old and I'm going back to work next week. This time around I've allowed myself to be vulnerable and ask for help, and as a result I've experienced a full spectrum of emotions. Including absolute joy. And I can actually sleep when the baby sleeps.
You probably can do it all, but that doesn't mean you have to. Asking for help, being vulnerable, shows strength, not weakness.
I wanted a way to memorialize this special time with my daughters.”