Danielle Joseph-McKay (41), Avery (14), Linus (11), Nilah (7), Piper (5), and Emmet (20 months)
Danielle shares -
I had an early loss at 8 weeks in 2009. I don’t even know when I conceived, I was totally shocked. But once the initial panic wore off, I began to fall in love with the little person inside me. I had always waited to tell anyone I was pregnant, but for some reason this time, I couldn’t keep the secret. I told several close friends and my parents. I wanted to wait to tell my children until I was a little further along. We went to a birthday party where my friend’s husband said a quiet “congratulations” to me. I remember feeling so happy. I didn’t know it then, but my baby had already passed. I remember feeling so stupid for being happy. How could I not know what was going on? I never did tell my children.
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
I was always a little overweight growing up, maybe about 20 pounds or so. I remember dieting as a kid. As I entered the teenage years, I compared my body to those of my friends, but I never felt uncomfortable enough to do anything to change my size. After having my first child and breastfeeding, the weight fell off me. I was thinner AFTER children than I ever had been before. When I meet people now, they can’t imagine that I was a chubby kid or overweight teenager. As I’ve gotten older and had more children, breastfeeding has helped keep the weight off, but I’ve had to help it along with dietary changes. I am working on accepting that looser skin and flab around my middle will probably never go away. I do love that has grown and nurtured my babies and for that, I am grateful.
What was your postpartum experience?
My postpartum journey was pretty uneventful. I had family support and my husband was able to take time off work after the births of each child. I am a fairly independent person and I do wish that I asked for more help. As independent as I am, I do like to be taken care of. I kind of relish the postpartum period, because for a couple weeks, I feel nurtured.
What is your truth?
You are the number one expert on your child. Lots of people will come at you with well-meaning advice. But no one knows your child like you do. Follow your instincts.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I want to celebrate this family I have created. I never thought I would be HERE. My parenting journey has taken me further than I could have imagined. I never had big dreams of money and a career as a child or young adult. I always wanted a lot of children and I wanted to be home with them. My oldest child is very challenging and for that reason, we ultimately decided two children would be plenty for us to handle. And then I had a surprise pregnancy that ended in a loss. I just couldn’t go out like that. After months of discussion, we decided to try to get pregnant. I conceived right away. Nine long months of kick counts and checking the toilet paper every time I went to the bathroom, and our baby was finally here. Our family was complete!! Twenty one months later, I found out I was pregnant again. Another nine months of feeling and checking. Immediately after Piper’s birth, I told everyone how happy I was that I never had to do that again. And then I did it again, 3 1/2 years later. My children are my sun and moon. When people ask “you have 5 kids?” it dawns in me that 5 kids is a lot - I see what they see. When it’s just us together, though, I don’t see the numbers, just the love.