Amber Zrust (32). Mother to Izzaq (12), Zavery (11), Rozzlyn (6), and Larz (3 - pictured)
Amber is a previous project participant. You can view her previous photo and story from 2014 here.
Amber shares -
“I was actually my smallest (even through high school) AFTER my 3rd child. I worked super hard and felt great. After Larz I put all the weight back on and more. I got the IUD after he was born and in one year of having it I put on 35 pounds. Now I feel totally stuck in this body, overweight and covered in stretch marks.
I work so much and just have very little drive to get back to where I was, yet I am constantly haunted by the feeling of wanting to make the change. Its time. We're done having babies and I know its not just going to magically happen on its own. However, when you are self-employed with four kids and a working husband its very easy to make a million excuses.
Going forward I hope to get in to a routine that includes my daughter in my daily workout. I struggled with weight my whole life and I hope to show her how important it is to eat healthy and be active so it never becomes an issue for her like it always has been for me. I want her to love her body and that a hard lesson to teach when I don't love my own.
My experiences all varied greatly. The first I was 19, had no idea what I was doing or that I had choice. I was induced early due to my "placenta not keeping up" Which I now know was untrue. I had an epidural immediately, felt nothing, and its a miracle I didn't end up in a cesarean.
With my second, I was 21, completely ignored by my provider and nurses, treated terribly, given an epidural that didn't work and completely dismissed when I was crying in pain and begging for help. That was the traumatic birth that changed everything for me. After that I began researching everything.
With my daughter I was determined to have a different experience. I didn't want to be induced and wanted the control and freedom of not having an epidural. Sadly, my husband lost his job right around my due date and due to lack of insurance at the end of the month I was induced two days before the 31st (10 days past my due date). While I was induced, I didn't have an epidural. It was the most excruciating thing I have endured, but I did it. Recovery was faster, attachment was immediate and I felt so powerful. This experience led me to the path of becoming a doula and the desire to have that all natural birth I dreamed of.
Baby #4 came quickly about a week past his due date and all on his own. I labored peacefully in my home and tub until about 7am. We drove through a blizzard to the hospital and got there around 8:05 and he was born about an hour later. Comparing this to birth #2 and #3 was just an entirely different experience. I am so glad that I was able to experience this healing birth. While it doesn't make me forget the others - it definitely helped me find closure in my birthing experiences.
As a doula, I feel like these four different perspectives give me the opportunity to be a well rounded support person and a very real glimpse in to how laboring people can be best supported in all aspects of birth.
Just keep hustling. I have now created three successful businesses that provide for my family. At 19 and pregnant, a college drop out, I would have never expected that 10 years later I would be raising 4 kids, my husband (a high school drop out) almost finished with his Masters degree. and myself supporting our family of 6, debt free and thriving. Just. Keep. Going.No matter how hard it gets, how tired you are... you can do this. You are doing it.”