Kirsten Hagopian (35), Ella (4), and Andrew (3)
Kirsten is a previous project participant. You can view her original photo and story from March 2014 here.
Kirsten shares -
"The emotional rollercoaster of self-love is a wild ride. I wish I would have started it long before becoming a mother, and I am hoping that my kids seeing me love me will help them start their self-love journey off better than mine started. I grew up paying too much attention to my size, staring in the mirror wishing parts of me looked thinner and prettier when I really should have been spending that time enjoying being young. My children will grow up in an environment where we are focused on being healthy and active versus thin and pretty. I want my children to know that worth is not defined by waist line, inches, and clothes sizes. Most importantly I want them to know that self-love comes in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and each one truly is beautiful.
After my daughter was born I found myself hating the way clothes fit, and looking in the mirror being so unhappy with the changes I went through. I didn't see the warrior momma who grew a human and sustained that human with milk made by her. I saw a failed vaginal birth with a giant cesarean scar. I heard too many people say I didn't have "natural birth" (what does that even mean?!). I frequently looked up what "failure to descend" meant and tried to explain to myself why I couldn't push my baby out. As the negativity crept in I knew I had to change something.
I found 4th Tri and a new me was born! I knew I could not let my daughter grow up learning about body shaming from me. I read others stories, admired their lovely pictures and I had to participate. What an incredible experience! The outreach from other mothers going through the same thoughts I was helped me to LOVE me and help show others the way. Little did I know at the time that my second pregnancy was going to wreck all the self-love work I had over almost two years in nine short months.
I was dead set on getting my VBAC, and I was so confident that it was going to happen for me. I had everything in my corner- supportive OBGYN, supportive husband, the right mindset. Then it happened yet again, laboring and pushing with my son for hours, watching his head start to come and traveling right back up my birth canal when I would stop pushing. Another cesarean and “failure to descend” slapped on another hospital record. The second time around was supposed to be different, and here I was with the same results as the first time, feeling like a failure.
I could feel the self-hate rearing its ugly head and I knew I was going to have to work even harder on my mindset. I knew it is just as important for my son to see my loving me as it is for my daughter to. I forced myself to focus on all of the things I did do, and how this little dude was here because I grew him, and he eats because I make milk for him, and that both of my kids will love my squishy belly because they know it was their first home. With time I felt the acceptance come back while also finding that I just didn’t care anymore. I made HUMANS. I FED those humans, one for 9 months, and one for 18 months. That is impressive.
The first time I participated was to help me heal from the self-hate I was going through. This time around is to show that self-hate there is no space for you in our lives, or anyone’s for that matter. We all deserve to love ourselves and I believe it starts with healthy influences showing us how. Hopefully others, especially my children, will see these pictures of me mothering and it will help them to love themselves a little more, too.
You will not be the parent you tell yourself you will be, and that is okay. Find your support circle, and I mean a REALLY SUPPORTIVE circle. There are so many ways to do things as a parent, and none of them are wrong. Don't let others get in your head. The right support circle won't even try to do that to you. Search until you find them, you will find them. Parenthood comes in many forms, and it is important to be inclusive of all of those forms. Really hear other parents and be there for them when needed. Two under two is insane, but you will survive it with a good sense of humor mixed with tears and wine.