Alissa Quade (34), Rosie (5), and Alex (3 months)
Photographed in Madison, WI
Alissa shares -
"I have always felt beautiful during pregnancy but it is hard to feel that way afterwards when you haven't showered or shaved and are covered in breast milk, and your own hastily eaten toast crumbs. With both my children I weighed less then my pre-birth weight immediately following birth due to a strict gestational diabetes diet and long induction births. It is hard to watch those numbers tick back up and the clothes a little tighter as time goes on but being a working parent makes it hard to balance good choices. It is important to me that my daughter and son grow up loving and respecting their bodies. I strive to make good decisions in front of them and refrain from negative talk. With my daughter I work very hard to focus on things other than her looks.
One week after the birth of my first child my mother was diagnosed with Cancer. I was recovering from a long induction, struggling with breast feeding and had no support after my husband went back to work after two weeks. My mom was supposed to be my helper but was completely incapacitated. So while she was being showered with meals and flowers and blankets. I was not sleeping and taking a baby to radiation and chemotherapy appointments. It took a long time for me to forgive my mother even though it obviously was not her fault. I also wish I had the strength at the time to speak up to my family and friends that I was not okay and needed help. The first time around I was so obsessed with the birth process I never realized how hard taking an infant home would feel and how everything was a struggle in those early days. I also had no close friends who had babies at the time.
Second time around I spent a lot of time building up my birth village. I made sure our dog was taken care of. I tasked my newly retired father with staying with us for three weeks to help take care of my daughter. I also budgeted and hired a postpartum doula. While the infant care the second time went well, my body struggled for weeks to feel "normal" again. Longer bleeding time, night sweats, body aches, strong feelings. Second time everything went better but it was by no means easy. Returning to work has been harder the second time.
I don't really do family photos, maternity and post birth sleeping baby pictures. I wanted to finally take a moment to capture a time in my life. Having both a daughter and a son I want to teach them to love and respect bodies especially their own and I think keeping them safe in this world begins with a love of self, physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual.
Your body is a phenomenal machine capable of the greatest gift most people could ever want. You deserve care, self-care and respect. Parenting feels like a never ending challenge but anyone can be successful. Build your village, start early, even people you don't think you are close to could surprise you. Doulas are better than fairy godmothers."