Jamie Kugelberg (33), Nels (4) , and Bixby (18 months)
Los Angeles, CA
Jamie shares -
“In January of 2017, I lost a baby at 16 weeks pregnant, our Owen. The pregnancy was very traumatic overall, I was spotting throughout the entire thing and felt like we were constantly on the verge of losing him. Going through the loss of a baby was so difficult. There is such an emptiness and ache... I think it will be there forever. “
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
I would say that I have always struggled with my body image. I never played sports or enjoyed outdoor activities, and as a perfectionist, really avoided active things that I felt were not areas of expertise for me. This lead to me feeling very disconnected from my body, and having a lack of confidence in what I could do physically. I think I have carried this somewhat into motherhood. Beating myself up for having to have a cesarean, blaming myself for my miscarriage, and struggling with going into early labor with my daughter. However, I have also faced moments of feeling extreme pride in the capabilities of my body: breastfeeding both of my babies even while working full time outside of the home, feeling the joy and awe of creating life inside of my body, and now the sheer physical accomplishment of keeping toddlers alive day after day. I guess, motherhood has shown me that my body is in fact good - it has to be if it gave me the 2 things I love most in all the world - my kids.
What was your postpartum experience?
Postpartum was such a strange time because you are no longer pregnant, but you are certainly not the same as you were before. I was not expecting the physical recovery from birth to be so difficult. I think after 9 months of pregnancy, you are excited to have your body back to yourself, to eat what you want again, to sleep on your stomach, to not be so uncomfortable. But, the truth is, you are still just as connected to the baby as when they were inside of you. Constant nursing, holding, recovering. It is a full time job! A nurse told me once that you are considered to be postpartum for a year after you give birth - and I believe it. I felt like my body had been through a war - physically and emotionally. There is this constant feeling of being aware that there are so many expectations on you as a mother, and simultaneously being unable to come close to meeting any of them. Postpartum feels a lot like not being enough... losing weight fast enough, not working enough, not being home enough, not breastfeeding enough, not sleeping enough... all around not enough.
What is your truth?
You are the exact parent your baby needs. You as you are right now... not 10 pounds from now, not you with a different job, not you with a different house, or anything else. Just you. They love you just the way you are - maybe you can love yourself that way too.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I have always felt betrayed by my body. Betrayed because of my weight. Betrayed because of my lack of skill in sports or other physical things. Betrayed by having to have an emergency c-section in my first birth. Betrayed because of my miscarriage. Betrayed by my early labor with my daughter and having to watch her go into the NICU. Also, as a mom, I feel a lack of ownership over my body. In pregnancy, my body was the home to my developing babies. While nursing, I was a slave to their hunger, and worse, while working the ever horrible and traumatizing pump! Now, as I chase toddlers, cut up grapes, calm fears in the middle of the night, and change diapers, I belong to them in another way. It is beautiful and wonderful - but utterly and absolutely exhausting. My husband and I are done having children and I feel like this is the time for me to claim my body as my own! I want to be proud of the body that has given me my beautiful children. The body that has walked through the joy and grief of motherhood and loss and is still standing. The body that has carried me through creating an impactful and successful career. I have big dreams for the future, and I am claiming a positive relationship with my body from here on out. I will not let shame, or societal expectations, fear or self doubt hold me back. I want to show the world that this is me! I am proud of who I am and they can look out because I am coming in hot!