Shelley Florence (33), Zoe (3), and Ava (14 months)
Tulsa, OK | Photographed in Austin, TX
Shelley shares -
"I have experienced one abortion, two miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy. I had an abortion when I was 24 years old. I became pregnant unintentionally with someone I was casually dating. From the moment I saw a positive pregnancy test, I knew this was not right for me at the time. Even though I was an adult and had a great job and could financially support a child, I didn't want one then. Once at the abortion clinic, I had second thoughts. I met with a counselor there (one of the last steps) and had not filled out any paperwork. We just talked and I cried and explained my thinking that I had no reason other than I did not want this for my life at the time. I ended up going home. Immediately after getting home I knew I still wanted the abortion. I called back and scheduled another appointment to come in the next day and was much more confident in my decision.
I was able to apply for graduate school the following year and finished up my master's degree in 2011. I feel like that decision helped in every way for my life to become what it is today and I am so happy for that and the ability to have a choice in my reproductive life. I met my husband in 2009 and we decided to start a family in 2013. It took us 5 months to get pregnant and I found out on my birthday! At our first ultrasound at 8 weeks, we found out there was no pregnancy, but a blighted ovum. I was devastated. It felt like I would never get pregnant again. I ended up having a D&C and 3 weeks later my period came back. I got pregnant the next cycle with my 3 year old Zoe.
When Zoe was 14 months old, I got pregnant with Ava on the first try! It was a bit shocking and unexpected. Both of my pregnancies were uncomplicated and I stayed active throughout. I had both of my girls at a birth center which I loved.
Most recently, I became pregnant unexpectedly. I had taken a Plan B after the unprotected sex and thought I had a period at the normal time. After my period I began bleeding and cramping and figured out I was pregnant. I actually had two pregnancies which made things a bit difficult to diagnose. One pregnancy miscarried from the uterus and the other one they could not find, but my HCG kept rising even after the miscarriage. After a methotrexate shot, my HCG finally started coming down. Two weeks later I ended up in the ER in intense pain and a couple hours later was in surgery for ectopic pregnancy with a ruptured fallopian tube. I lost my left fallopian tube, but it saved my life. After 7 weeks of bleeding, 2 ER visits, 1 shot of chemo and emergency surgery I was finally on the mend. My cycle is back and I hope to have one more child next year.
Parenthood has been the first time in my life I have ever been discouraged or not confident in how my body looked. I grew up a gymnast and was always fit. I am an active person and workout regularly. During pregnancy is when it first started - It was like I had no control over what was happening to my body. It was rough and something people don't really talk about because you should be happy and excited. After my first, the weight melted off quickly and probably was even skinnier than before while breastfeeding. I stopped breastfeeding at a year and soon became pregnant with my second. I started off around the same weight and ended only 2lbs heavier than with my first. After my second I have struggled. Most of the weight came off but my body is different. Its shape is different. I have a mom pooch, my butt is flatter. I have made a big effort in the last 6 months to promote a positive image for myself and I think its slowly working. I still am not completely satisfied with where my body is at and i will keep staying active and eating healthy to get there, but I am also working on being happy with who I am today.
Postpartum was so different for each of my pregnancies. The first time I felt hopeless, lost, confused, alone at times. My baby and I were learning each other while I was also learning to take care of a baby. Breastfeeding was tough. I got thrush in the first month, cracked/bleeding nipples almost immediately, then mastitis when i went back to work full time and was over pumping because I was worried I wouldn't have enough. With my second, I knew what I was doing but then I also had this 2 year old running around who required my attention. The days of nursing and napping with the newborn were over. Luckily my second was a very chill baby and made it easy to split my time, but there is still always that mom guilt. I was a lot more tired than I thought I would be and recently I heard a podcast about new motherhood and partners and it described how exhausting just being needed all the time is and it finally dawned on me that was what was so tiring to me. Even after the babies are in bed for the night then its my spouse that "needs" me or wants some time with me. Once i realized this I have tried to find more of a balance for time just alone.
I have been following more body positive and postpartum accounts on Instagram lately and less fitness accounts in hopes to help myself accept who I am today while also keeping realistic fitness goals for the future. This experience is so exciting and so terrifying all in one."