Ashley Woolsey (29), Peyton (8), Holden (4), and Virginia (2)
Falls Church, VA | Washington, DC
Ashley is a previous project participant. You can view her original photo and story here.
Ashley shares -
"I don’t think that I’ve ever been overtly obsessed with my body image but that’s not to say that it’s not something that I was, and still am, constantly aware of. I had my first daughter pretty young. I was only 20 and I think that was really hard for me. All of my friends were in their prime and I had just gained 40+ lbs and I had this entirely new body that I absolutely hated. I was in school full time and didn’t have any time for myself. I couldn’t exercise. I was eating poor college kid food. It was miserable. But as soon as I graduated I was able to start getting healthy. And I think that’s one of the biggest things that’s changed for me through motherhood and also just age. I’m not focused on getting fit, or thin, or the numbers on the scale. I just want to be healthy. When I start to feel myself getting down on my body image it’s because I know I haven’t been taking care of myself. So the eating well, the exercise, all of that makes me feel healthier and THATS what makes my body feel good. That’s what I strive for. I’m human, so of course I have days where I stare in the mirror and criticize myself, but I’d like to think that an overwhelming majority of the time I’m just really happy and proud of my body and the amazing things it’s done and continues to do.
I participated about three years ago in this project. At the time I didn’t know that I was two months pregnant with my third baby. I chose to do it then because I had such a hard time recovering from my first birth. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. It took a really long time for me to love myself again and feel comfortable in my own body. But I discovered the power of social media and all of the birth and body positive accounts, and of course, this project. They really helped me heal and grow to love myself and my postpartum body and I wanted to help by sharing my story with others.
Since the last time I was here I had my third baby. Her birth was an unmediated hospital birth that for the most part went smoothly. But towards the end of my seven hour labor there was a moment when I knew she was ready to be born, and my nurse was telling me that I wasn't allowed to push. She essentially scared me into holding my baby in for 20-30 minutes that felt like an eternity. My doctor was in surgery and the only person I had to look to was this nurse who wouldn’t listen to me. It was the most intense internal struggle I’d ever been through. I genuinely thought I was being ripped apart from the inside. After having about three other nurses shove their hands in my cervix, I was finally ‘allowed’ to start pushing (although I’d already involuntary started to). An on call resident rushed in and after less than two full pushes my daughter was earth side. I left that birth knowing that I never wanted anyone else to ever feel so out of control and unheard in their labors and I quickly took the steps needed to become a labor doula.
For the past two years I’ve been helping educate and support other women and families through their births and it’s been really healing. I still wanted to do more though, and I realized from my clients, friends, and personal experiences, that there are so many taboo subjects when it comes to motherhood, birth, and postpartum. I wanted to create a space where people could come share their stories on these subjects so that other people dealing with the same things would know they aren’t alone. I created a blog and Instagram account called Motherhood Tabutiful. Its still in the early stages, but I’ve already had so many amazing stories be told. My goal is to be able to create this one stop resource for any and all taboo subjects in motherhood. I think there is this amazing medicine in solace and sharing our stories and that’s why I love this project so much!
I'm really proud of my body and I'm not going to apologize anymore for not living up to this false idea that we need to undo what birth has done to us. Our body is on a journey and these scars and these soft spots are the pages of one truly incredible story and I for one, would hate to erase them."