Jasmine Carlen Cejna (31) and Sophie (9 months)
California | Photographed in Portland, OR
Jasmine shares -
"Giving birth has contributed to immense gratitude for my body. The act of birthing a child with the longevity of my labor and all of the challenges involved in my birthing process was only the beginning of the appreciation I have gained for my body. Nursing, holding, and rocking Sophie through her many growth spurts has completely changed my perspective. Although I perceived my body as resilient, having recovered from an eating disorder, I had never described my body as strong until mothering this baby girl. The changes that have occurred to my form are a sign of life. I notice my widened hips and smaller breasts with fascination and a sense of humor, rather than judgment. These changes enabled me to accomplish the most beautiful goal - and therefore I am grateful.
After 70 hours of labor, I expected my body to need more recuperation than it did, but I felt surprisingly capable from a physical perspective and emotionally present for Sophie. Aside from peeing whenever I sneezed, the nuisance of wearing pads, and the monotony of pumping, the transition into caring for a child felt somewhat natural. The element that took my partner and I by surprise was the impact that introducing a child into the world would have on our relationship. Parenting classes were focused on pre-baby issues and immediate postpartum needs. Everyone talks about the sleep deprivation that goes with parenthood, but no one seemed to talk about effects on a partnership. Prioritizing the relationship while creating a balance in meeting the needs of everyone in our little family continues to be a challenge we navigate on a daily basis.
I am a fat-activist, supporter of woman, and eating disorder counselor. This project embodies the values I hold dear. It allowed me to participate in true body positivity, and in a way that celebrates and honors my journey. This will be the first photoshoot Sophie experiences, and I am hopeful she will be proud of participating in something so empowered when she is older.
If I could, I would pass along the gift of compassion. There is no perfect way to parent, yet the shaming that exists for new moms is seemingly unavoidable. I would have loved for someone to reinforce the message "you are doing the best that you can for yourself and your child."