Carly Burns (30), Tyler Emmanuel (7 - not pictured), Caleb Aaron (5), Robert Elias (3), Eliana Rose (miscarriage at 6 weeks), Daniel Evan (10 months)
Los Angeles, CA
Carly shares -
“It’s been almost 2 years since I miscarried with Ellie. I perpetually think I’m “healed” or that I’m going to hurt less and less, but subtle reminders of the piece of our family that is missing makes fresh waves of grief wash over me. I’m proud that my living children speak about their sister even when I’m afraid to bring it up due to shame or emotional reactions. My husband and I miss her constantly. my biggest hope is that she isn’t forgotten by our friends and family. “
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
Parenthood has put me through the ringer physically. 5 pregnancies in 8 years. Breastfeeding (including tandem breastfeeding) for a total of 7 of those years. I am constantly fighting to see the power in my body rather than shame. But honestly, for someone who is “body positive” I still focus on my weight too much. I poke and prod at my stomach, and I even wear a waist trainer half the time. It’s hard to reconcile but I’m not giving up the fight to love myself where I’m at.
What was your postpartum experience?
I don’t feel like I have totally adjusted postpartum. It feels like I won’t ever be that parent I pictured in my head, and motherhood is the hardest effing thing I’ve ever done. It takes every ounce of me as a person to meet the needs of these people. I have always focused on achievement to validate my worth as a person, and with parenting there are no levels, no trophies, and no awards. Just tiny people that you are responsible for caring for and guiding. It has been nearly impossible to maintain my identity as Carly while meeting the expectations of “mama”. But I’m finally fighting to be my own person with wants, needs, and boundaries and I want my children to see that. I want them to know that motherhood doesn’t mean annihilation of personhood. I matter as much as they matter. And they need me more right now than they ever will again, but I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror in 20 years and not recognize the person looking back at me. I’m worth caring about. I’m worth taking care of.
What is your truth?
You are enough. You are valuable. Achievement does not affect your worthiness as a person.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
Now that we are done growing our family, I wanted to have all 4 living children in one photo honoring my motherhood journey. I can’t say that our family is complete because we will always be missing our Ellie, but I am humbled by the little humans I get to guide through this wild life.