Kendra Smith (32), Charlotte (5 - pictured), and Carmine (3)
Oak Park, IL
Kendra shares -
“I had a miscarriage prior to the birth of Charlotte. It happened shortly after my husband and I got married. We were so ready to start our family and beyond excited when we found out we were pregnant. My body did not recognize the loss and we did not find out until our 12 week appointment. It was heartbreaking. I remember feeling like my body failed me and for some reason was so embarrassed. While this was happening our families were constantly asking about when we wanted to get pregnant or if I was pregnant. It amplified my feelings of failing. Nobody talked about having a miscarriage and I felt very alone. My husband and I would talk about it, but it wasn’t the same as if I had another woman who had experienced it. It was very isolating. It has since affected all my pregnancies, I am always on edge and fear that each time I go in the doctor will tell me there is no heartbeat.
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
Depends on the day to be honest. Some days I feel so empowered by what my body has been through and what it is capable of. It has provided my with my 2 beautiful children and allowed me to breastfeed both. It is strong and powerful. Yet, other days I could point out everything I dislike about it. Growing up my mom and most women in my life were very focused on body image. So I struggle with that image I see in my head and what I see in the mirror. I try to be more loving toward my body and remind myself of all the incredible things it has done.
What was your postpartum experience?
Each journey postpartum has been different. After Charlotte I really struggled to get the hang of things. I didn’t have a lot of support or help other than my husband. It took several months for me to really adjust to being a mom. At times I felt overwhelmed and scared. Not knowing if I was doing it right or if I could even do it at all. Other times the amount of love I had for this new life was overpowering. My mom passed away when I was 9, so that feeling of a mother’s love really changed me. For the first time in a long time I felt that love again. It changed me forever. I expected for recovering to be a much faster process and it wasn’t. Charlotte’s birth was a bit more than I expected and healing matched that. With Carmine I read more books had a better birth plan and was able to have the birth I envisioned the first time. I healed better and postpartum was a much better experience for me. I was less scared and nervous. More confident in my abilities, not to say 2 kids wasn’t a challenge. I think I knew what could happen so I wasn’t as anxious.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I have been following this project since it started. I was in awe of all the incredible people who participated and their stories. It shows how so many of us have so much in common and are experiencing similar joys and struggles.