Ali Rendulic (33 - currently 19 weeks pregnant) and Connor (5). Ali is a previous project participant. You can view her original photo and story from 2015 here.
“I've lost two pregnancies, almost exactly a year apart...one in 2015 at 5 weeks and one in 2016 at 7 weeks.
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
I have never felt more at home in my body than during my pregnancies. I enjoy being pregnant (for the most part) and am amazed that this body can grow and birth humans. I feel a lot of pride in my body for what it can do since becoming a mother.
The postpartum time with my son was hard, when everything stayed so soft and squishy for more than a year. It was hard to feel sexy about my body and have that part of my identity still there, along with the softness carrying a baby for 40 weeks added.
With my losses, I've also felt that my body failed me...that it didn't do what it was supposed to and there was not a thing I could do to fix that. The two years around my losses were really hard for me with my body, feeling resentment and shame toward it...not in appearance but in function.
As a planner by nature, I spent a lot of my early motherhood planning and imagining how everything should go...getting so hung up on the details that I wasn't very present in the moments to enjoy the mess of it all. It took me longer than I would have liked to really realize that and work on making changes.
Can you share your postpartum journey?
I found myself needing to let go of fitting a kid into my life and building more of my life around my kid. The challenges of toddler-hood were difficult for me...being the person who wasn't always very flexible resulted in a lot of butting heads. Now, having a school age kid has opened a whole new world of parenthood to me. I love how independent he is, how inquisitive he is, watching him become his own human with his own path is quite incredible. I'm honored to be on the journey alongside him, helping guide him along the way.
My two pregnancy losses really knocked me on my ass and took me to a pretty dark place. The year between the two losses was an incredible struggle and after the trauma of the second loss I started going to therapy, which to this day is the best decision I ever made for myself. That first year of therapy was also an incredibly hard year of my life...recognizing my fear, dealing with my anxiety, letting go of my need to control everything, accepting that my losses weren't my fault, recognizing I have no control over what happens in my uterus, and then ultimately accepting myself and letting go of this woman I thought I had to be. The work I've done in that space has allowed me to be more present in my life and especially in my parenting. It's allowed me to be mentally healthy and more able to take care of others with healthy boundaries. It allowed me to seek support for my infertility struggle and survive testing and ultimately a (so far) successful round of IUI. I'm excited and nervous for the postpartum experience with this next baby, and hope to be able to put the lessons I've learned through the highs and lows of my parenting journey thus far to the test.
What is your truth?
That we can be our own worst enemy, particularly with expectations of ourselves. I spent a whole lot of time focusing on what motherhood should look like, on what I should spend my time doing and ended up stretching myself so thin and not reaching out to my partner or village of women to help. So much so that I resented it sometimes. It took me some time to realize I needed to develop my own definition of motherhood for myself, instead of comparing myself to others and what it looked like they were doing or excelling at.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I have been following the 4th Tri Bodies movement for quite some time and participated in 2015 in Pittsburgh. I treasure the experience and photos and love the moment in time they capture...not only the image, but the mother I was then. I've grown and shifted and experienced a lot since that time, and am a different woman and mother now. I want to participate again to capture where I am in my journey now and surround myself with other parents who value this movement.”