Julia Kasprzak (25) and Adrian (1)
Julia shares -
“I have not experienced any loses although I had seriously considered getting an abortion with this pregnancy. My partner and I are not married and I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant. We had been together for 4 years at that point and I knew we wanted children eventually but just not that soon. Instead of feeling joy and excitement staring down at the positive pregnancy test, I felt fear and panic. It was always engrained to me that you should be married and then have kids not the other way around, so I think that gave me a lot of shame the first few months.”
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
Becoming a mom has changed my entire perspective on the woman’s body. I am in complete awe of how powerful and knowing our bodies are that we are able to create and give life. It made me respect my body more and be gentler with myself. I was always a slim build growing up, so after Adrian was born seeing my stomach become saggy, soft and jiggle when I walk made me feel extremely self conscious.
Having a cesarean took all of my confidence in my body away, I failed to do what my body was designed to do. I felt like people kept looking at my stomach so I tried to not wear too tight of shirts. I’m slowing accepting that I will most likely never return to that size and I’m okay with that. Bodies are meant to change and women are upheld to ridiculous standards to stay the same size, not have cellulite, not have wrinkles but all of these things are signs of life!
I got rid of all my jeans that didn’t fit after 5 months and bought new ones. People told me don’t worry you’ll fit into them eventually, but honestly I don’t want to, I’m okay with buying bigger sizes now. It’s a daily challenge because you see your body everyday, so I’m trying to love my body instead of criticizing and wishing for it to be different. I’m done hiding! My cellulite, postpartum hair loss, jiggly stomach, c-section scar and stretch marks are here to stay.
What was your postpartum experience?
My pregnancy was relatively easy and uneventful. I think having an unplanned pregnancy was hard because I was trying to do all this research and reading books and listening to podcasts to prepare myself for birth. During one of the prenatal appointments I mentioned to my OB that I was thinking of going to birth center and she immediately said she would have to stop my care and that she has seen babies die at birth centers. I failed to listen to my intuition many times during these appointments but I tried to stand up for myself.
I refused most of the cervical checks later in pregnancy knowing it wasn’t reliable in telling much, to which I received a glare from the nurse. I had my birth plan all set to go and she glanced it over and said it looked fine. I realized now after more time to research that the modern medical system is broken and many doctors haven’t seen a woman fully in her birthing power.
I had 3 days of preterm labor and was so exhausted that I went in and received a morphine shot to just get some rest. The next morning I went in dilated to a 7 thinking I was going to meet my baby in a matter of hours. More than 14 hours in the hospital, an epidural later, 5 hours of pushing and a choice to keep going or have a cesarean was presented to us. At this point all I was allowed to ingest was ice chips and a few sips of apple juice from a sympathetic nurse. With no energy left we decided to do a cesarean. I’ll never forget how it felt waiting for my fiancée to be let into the room and the feeling of the cold table on my arms which were shaking uncontrollably.
He was born and went to the warmer right away due to meconium in the waters, when Irving brought him to me I couldn’t hold him because my arms felt so weak. This ultimately affected my postpartum because I felt angry, violated, sadness at not having an empowering birth and guilt of not giving my baby gentle birthing experience. I couldn’t take a shower, go to the bathroom by myself or bend over due to the incision. I felt like I couldn’t take care of my baby which is the worst feeling for a new parent to feel.
We breastfed within the hour and still are nursing a few times a day. I felt I owed my baby that, even though I never loved breastfeeding, it was painful and I could never get more than an ounce or two from the pump. After my period returned at 5 months I had low supply issues but I refused to give him formula, determined that my body would provide all his nourishment. Eventually, I came to the fact that it didn’t make me any lesser of a mom making sure my baby wasn’t hungry and gave him some formula. It helped me mentally so much. I didn’t ever get diagnosed but I know I had postpartum depression, I had bouts of extreme anger when he nursed and I would feel “touched out” a lot of the time or worry that I would hurt him. I haven’t dove into the trauma I think because I’m afraid of the pain and hurt it will bring up. Healing is a choice you have to make for yourself, no one else can do the work. I think by doing this project it’s a step in the right direction.
What is your truth?
I think one piece of knowledge I would pass along is that while it is difficult, to stop comparing yourself to other parents. It’s so easy to look at social media or a mom at the store and think she has everything together. The truth is no one has it perfectly figured out! I think that’s the whole point of becoming a parent is that you learn as time passes and even if you have multiple children you evolve with each one. Everyone is at a different place in their parenting journey and that’s what is so beautiful. Trust your intuition, that is the most powerful guidance you have, use it. Try to shut all the outside noise out and listen to what your heart is telling you, be confident!
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I chose to participate in this incredible movement to share my story and help show that all postpartum bodies are normal and beautiful. I want to break the societal standards held to postpartum people and show all sides of the journey. I’m hoping by sharing my story and vulnerability that someone will see this and be inspired to love their body instead of hiding it and be empowered by what the human body can do. This is real people, real bodies, and real postpartum. Let’s start talking about it!