Kristen Jata (34) and Ruby (17 Months). Kristen was 31 weeks pregnant at the time of her photograph and has since delivered her new babe, Lily Grey.
Long Island, NY | Brooklyn, NY
Kristen shares -
"We suffered a loss after trying for over a year. The pregnancy was ectopic and rocked us to the core. I was "conservatively managed" which just means it was a long and drawn out process of wait and see - would I need surgery? Would I need chemo? The options were scary as were the constant doctor visits, ultrasounds, blood draws. In the end, we were so lucky to not have to go through any serious interventions - so, so lucky. The loss, albeit early at 7 weeks, really rocked us and it wasn't until we conceived Ruby were we able to fully move on. I still think about that baby often and wonder who they would have been.
I have struggled with good body image my entire life, it has always been a struggle even at what I would consider my peak of physical fitness - I have always been my own worst critic. Being pregnant and bringing a child earth side changed a lot of that. Sure, there are plenty of days I look in the mirror and wonder who that person looking back at me, especially now with my ever growing belly but this journey has given me a new appreciation for this body. We struggled for a long time to conceive, which catapulted us into a journey of fertility and health. Navigating the fertility journey for so long, going through a miscarriage, experiencing a term pregnancy, giving life to that baby and sustaining that life on the outside with only my body, and then being entrusted once again to bring another soul earth side has allowed me to see my body in a new light.
Maybe its a lack of time, but I allow myself to be kinder to my body. Most times, I've given myself a pass to be whomever it is I'm supposed to be in this moment. I'm not perfect and I often have moments where I slip back into older patterns but I'm also extremely cognizant of the fact my daughter is watching me at all times - the good, the bad, and everything in between. She sees it all and will pick up on the way in which I view myself and the way in which I speak of myself and I will do whatever I can to make sure she grows up knowing that her size will not dictate her worth.
I honestly cannot remember if I had any specific expectations of the postpartum period. I knew I didn't want to have any preconceived notions on what I would accomplish or not. We were lucky to have my husband home for 4 weeks of paternity leave, which was life changing for all of us! It was such a special time and it really allowed me the time I needed to physically heal and gave our newly expanded family unit time to bond and learn each other. I remember worrying before Ruby arrived about the realities of postpartum depression and anxiety. Having a history of both I realized it was something I would maybe have to tackle and was afraid that I wouldn't be able to recognize it in myself. My husband and I spoke at great length about it and my concerns and he assured me we would do whatever we had to do to take it on together. Aside from feeling foggy and a little disconnected I'd say I came out of it relatively unscathed and for the better. The journey of becoming a mother isn't an easy one and its riddled with all sorts of obstacles. I was lucky to have the love and support of my family and friends to carry me through any difficulties I experienced.
In hindsight, one thing I do sort of regret is not taking more time for myself after Ruby was born including keeping very close to home and asking for more help from family. With visitors in and out I often felt the need to clean and organize, or stressing while my husband handled it. I didn't realize it at the time but you never get that time back. Those quiet moments when it's just the three of you, that is what it's about. It's something that is glaringly obvious to me now as we prepare to bring home Baby Sister, I realize that this new postpartum experience will be drastically different. Not better or worse, but different and maybe a little bit more busy.
I am feeling especially sentimental about my time alone with Ruby coming to a close. Bringing another baby into the world is a true honor but at the same time it has been so hard to savor all of the wonders of this pregnancy while the days are so fully with so many other things. I wanted this opportunity to memorialize this time if my life, a time of great uncertainty and transformation and at the same time find a beautiful way to honor this body which has come so far and has been through so much. I am a work in progress when it comes to body imagine and as the weeks go I find it to be harder and harder to keep that positive perspective and I hope these pictures serve as a reminder of how beautiful my body is. This moment will not happen again, having the opportunity to love my babies both on the outside and on the inside at the very same time - it is truly a remarkable experience.