Erin Bumgarner, Bodin Davis (6), Calista Josephia (3), Aedric Arthur-Sol (7 months)
Erin shares -
"The hardest thing for me to handle, since becoming a mother, is just being able to let things go. I have beat myself up trying to plan and make things perfect and the majority of the time none of it goes the way I think it should or the way I want it to. But the real eye opener is that the majority of the time it just doesn’t matter anyway. Events and moments can be fantastic and also messy and imperfect.
My first child was supposed to be born at home in the water in his nursery. We planned for months and months and I absolutely considered no other options. Well, after two full days of labor at home, we went to the hospital and he was born via cesarean. He was a bit stressed and had jaundice but ultimately he was totally fine. We were in love with him at first sight. Breastfeeding went well and he nursed until he was 3.5 including some tandem nursing with his sister.
The next game changer came a year and a half later when I found myself pregnant with my second child. We were elated! We started planning the future and tell everyone. Finding out others were pregnant too and envisioning the same birth timeline as them. Since I had a c-section with my first, I planned to have this next baby with midwives in the hospital setting. We had our first ultrasound and discovered this baby did not have a heartbeat. I was about 12 weeks along but baby was measuring a lot smaller than that. We were devastated. I had really never heard of anyone having a miscarriage before and had no reference for what to expect. I opted to let the baby come naturally at home. Trying to find a ray of hope in it all, my husband and I lightly joked that I was able to have a homebirth with this child. It was such a bizarre experience. I sat on the toilet for hours cramping with blood filling the toilet. I considered straining all that was coming out of me to possible catch the baby but I just did not do it. I also sat in the shower and let more pour out of me and eventually (what I assumed was my placenta) came out. I kept that and later buried it with my son and my daughter’s placentas under a rose bush in our backyard.
After miscarrying I became obsessed (to put it mildly) with getting pregnant again. I read books and blogs and inquired about other’s experiences. It took about three months and I was pregnant with my daughter. I followed the path I had planned to before I miscarried and decided to work with midwives in the hospital setting. This time the goal was for a vaginal birth after cesarean. I did not consider any other option again. I labored for a day, trying all I could to get her out. I even got as far as pushing but the midwives and doctors were very concerned when I developed a fever. My daughter came via cesarean. I was pretty upset, yet again, to have worked that hard for it to end that way. However, my rainbow baby girl was born and we were so happy to have her safely earthside with us. My daughter nursed until she was 2.5 when my milk pretty much dried up with my next pregnancy.
After having all that occurred with my other three experience, my expectations for my 4th pregnancy were really, really low. I was pretty sure I was in for another cesarean but it just didn’t feel right to automatically sign up for one without trying first. I was going to try for a vaginal birth after two cesareans. My doctor gave me something like a 49% chance for a VBA2C. My labor was long like my other labors but after a lot of hardwork and an episiotomy, my 2nd son was born. I totally did not expect for it to happen so that fact that it did meant the world to me!
Of course there are a lot more details that went in to all of my birthing experiences. I have learned that oftentimes things that seem so intense and important but then a new phase moves in to take its place. Much of what was not that great can be smoothed over by the good stuff. Nothing lasts forever and things change. New experiences can be exciting and can change perspectives.
I have had battles with my weight and body image for many years. As long as I can remember actually. Even as I type this, days before my photoshoot, I am asking myself why I thought I was brave enough to follow through. With a lot of ups and downs, learning about food and exercise, I feel like I’ve done and tried it all. While I am still working on making healthy changes and choices, I am trying to learn not to dwell on my weight and my looks constantly because it is absolutely exhausting.
I have been going through a "blah" phase. I have tried to explain it and I can't really put it into words. There is a lot of time where I feel completely emotionless and then there are times when I experience all the emotions at once. I feel like I am on a rollercoaster trying to balance life and nothing ever seems quite even
I came across the pictures on Instagram and i was totally drawn to all the different shapes and sizes I was seeing. I was in awe and so proud of all these women and their bravery. I could see myself in them. I related to many of the stories I read. I wanted to be a part of it. Specifically, I want people to know how many of us have experienced miscarriages. A miscarriage was not something I had heard of from anyone until it happened to me.
I have this fantastic picture of my mother nursing me about 34 years ago. I love the picture so much. It's not all smiley and perfectly staged but it is a glimpse into one of the many selfless my mother did for me. I want my children to have a nice picture of me doing the same."