Andrea Leoncavallo (37), Everett (4), and Leigh (1)
New Jersey | Portland, OR
Andrea shares -
"I have always had a very healthy, fit body. Although my self image has always been that I'm too chubby, not pretty. When I look back at myself in photos I'm shocked because I look so much more fit than I even thought I was. After my first pregnancy my body recovered quickly. After my second it hasn't. I've gained weight, I have stretch marks and I don't recognize my body as I once did. I'm trying my best to be comfortable in my own skin. That's a big part of my participation in this project.
I have now had two cesarean births. The first was because of a complete placenta previa. So I came to terms with that as necessary to saving my baby's life and my own. I was able to walk postpartum with him and felt like I got back in shape within a year. My second birth I desperately wanted a home birth VBAC. I interviewed half a dozen midwives to find the team I thought was best for me. My pregnancy was perfect and I thought nothing could stop me from having the natural home birth I always wanted.
Until I never went into labor. At 43 weeks I was forced to go into the hospital for induction and even though I pushed for 4 hours I couldn't birth my baby and ended up with another cesarean. The recovery took 3 months and my body has still not recovered as it did the first time. I feel like I've lost such strength in my core and pelvic floor and I'm determined to find a physical therapist to help me get stronger again. My core is still so flabby and jiggles like jelly. I've had to buy a whole new wardrobe because even shirts that fit me before are now too tight. I'm struggling with my body in a new way because I'm mostly proud of what it's done but I can't fully quiet those voices in my head that tell me it's not pretty anymore and that I'm fat and I need to fix it.
I think this project is so important. I'm deeply inspired and I couldn't not participate when I found out it would be in Portland. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to share my story and for you to photograph me with my children during this time when I'm struggling so hard every day to keep my head above water.
I think my truth is that our society raises us to believe in unattainable standards of beauty (for most people). I don't want to live in that society anymore. I want to tell myself every day that I'm strong. My voice is strong and it matters. I am enough. I am a warrior and fighter and I can do this.