Elisabeth Williams (38 - currently pregnant), Charlotte (11) and Alice Jane (5); Violet Grace (stillborn 20 weeks) and Sirius Oak (late miscarriage 16 weeks).
Elisabeth is a previous project participant. You can view her original photo and story from 2014 here.
Virginia | Phoenix, AZ
Elisabeth shares -
“In August 2017, my daughter Violet Grace was stillborn at 20 weeks 2 days. Because of my age, we decided to try to conceive relatively soon after she died. I had three early miscarriages in November 2017, March 2018 and April 2018. I got pregnant again in May 2018 but in August, exactly a year after Violet died, my son Sirius Oak died in utero at 16 weeks. Despite extensive testing, neither of my late losses have a known cause.”
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
“Overall, I think parenthood has given me a more positive body image. I want to show my children that bodies aren't about "fat" or "thin" but about how we move through this world. I've been very careful to not criticize my body, or the bodies of others, and simply hold up my body as a vessel that lets me run, read, swim, enjoy eating and snuggle them. It's also been hard to see my body as not a failure since losing two babies. I've definitely had those thoughts of "what's wrong with me that I can't carry a baby to term any longer?" That's been hard to deal with.”
What was your experience?
“My most recent postpartum experiences after two late losses were particularly difficult. Your body doesn't know there is no baby but the postpartum process is still very much the same--the hormonal drops, bleeding, aching breasts, etc. Understanding that the postpartum period is real even when there is no baby was somewhat of an unexpected shock on top of the shock of my babies suddenly dying. It's important to know that there are as many different postpartum periods as individual babies born.”
What is your truth?
“Learn to give up control. So much of pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing is outside of our control but we believe we control it. I've run through every decision and thing I did before my babies died, trying to figure out what I did to cause them to die. Was it the pop tarts I ate? Did I not drink enough water? Did I unknowingly sleep on my back? But, as my five-year old tells people, "Sometimes babies just die" and it's true. And it's no one's fault.”
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
“I've followed 4th Trimester Bodies Project for a long time. I appreciate the inclusivity and the attention that gets paid to all types of parents and building family: parents of color, LGBTQ+ parents, transgender parents, loss parents, adoptive parents. All of our bodies and lives are shaped and changed by our experience of having children and I am honored to participate in this documentation of family.”