Lisa Votino (39) and Lily (6)
Shinnecock Indian Reservation, Southampton, NY
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
The physical is obvious. I have the typical tummy of having carried a child full-term. Then there is the lack of sleep and then the lack of time. I felt frumpy a lot of the time. As she got older though, I had space to explore who I was now and what that looked like as a mom. I am slowly reclaiming my body as my own and trying to set a good example for her. But I don't sweat the small stuff. This is my body - with all it's good parts and "bad" parts.
What was your postpartum experience?
I had a difficult pregnancy and I absolutely hated being pregnant. The way I got through it was by talking to this tiny little alien inside. She became my best friend before she was even out of the womb. During labor I didn't need anyone but her. We were a team and we were doing this together. And we did. She came out beautiful. But I instinctively knew something was wrong with both of us - she had magnesium poisoning and couldn't breathe and my placenta was stuck and I was hemorrhaging. We both died that day and we both survived that day. We are both pretty bad ass warriors. That only strengthened our bond and it's one that is hard to describe in words, but it is special and unique. I thought being a mom would be difficult. I thought that I probably was going to be awful at it. But I wasn't! I was and am pretty damn good at it! And Lily is my sidekick. The world better watch out....she is me on steroids.
What is your truth?
Trust your instincts. You know what is best for this tiny little human.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I am a community organizer and have made 4 trips in 5 months to Tijuana to volunteer with asylum seekers. I have seen things made of nightmares. Back at home I am also going through a divorce. It is difficult even if it is amicable. My daughter has been my light through all of this. I wanted to show a more intimate side of me and me with her. She is a very confident little girl in her thoughts and her beliefs, but I want her to always be confident and at home in her body, no matter how it develops. I hope she can look back at this and it serves as a little reminder. It is also my first portrait as a soon-to-be divorced mom of an amazing little girl after my work at the border. It felt important to document this time in my life as a personal reminder that I am still me.