britt hueter (34 - she/her), Josephine (3) Samuel (20 months)
Ann Arbor, MI
“Our first pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage just shy of 10 weeks. I remember it like it was yesterday. My husband and I got into a huge fight just two days before it happened. I woke up a couple days later and was bleeding. I spent two days on the couch praying to whoever might be listening to not let this be the end. But it was. The most difficult part to heal from was this idea in my mind that this baby I had waited for and wanted so badly got flushed down a toilet like it never even happened. But eventually I was able to reframe those thoughts and find peace in the miscarriage. When we got to the day that that baby would have been born and realized how frantic and frazzled everything was, I remember feeling a wave of relief that a baby wasn’t thrown into the mix of everything that was going on in our careers and our marriage. I also remember feeling overwhelmed with the weird and wild thought that when we got pregnant again (with Jo) that it was her that we “lost” the first time, only she knew that we weren’t quite ready for her arrival so she waited a few months longer. I know that sounds absolutely insane, but my pregnancy with her felt familiar in an impossible sort of way. Or maybe that’s just the story I sold myself as a means of surviving the painful loss? How do we ever know?
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
I fell in love with my body for the first time after I gave birth, and the arrival of our second child took it up a notch even more. It was hard to grapple with because society kept telling me that I was supposed to hate my body. That I was supposed to mourn the squish and sagging skin and stretched out belly button that would never again look the same. But I loved it. Giving birth changed me and the way I saw my body forever. And in finding that love for my physical body, it allowed me to stretch my mind about loving myself beyond just the physical. I’ve never been more comfortable in my skin in my whole life.
What was your postpartum experience?
I thought of myself as weak before I became a mother. I whined over such things like mosquito bites and paper cuts. I never referred to myself as strong, and was never able to accept any sort of compliment from anyone. In fact, I was convinced that almost everyone in my life was lying to me anytime they said anything kind. I didn’t think my husband saw me as a strong woman, and I felt this almost desperate desire to prove that I could do something I didn’t think I could do. That desire changed the course of my life in ways I never imagined— I had two totally unmedicated childbirths that wound up being the greatest lessons of patience and strength I’ve ever experienced. I was most caught off guard by how primal childbirth is. The noises we make without trying, the way our bodies do things if we just trust and listen to them. They tell us everything we need to know if we believe in ourselves enough to listen.
I gave birth on my hands and knees, and the second time I actually delivered my son myself with the assistance of our midwife holding me up for balance. My son’s eyes were open as I pulled him out and I’ll never forget that split second moment where we saw each other for the first time. I remember feeling absolutely petrified of childbirth, and it’s funny to me that now I wish I could birth babies for the rest of my life. Adjustment? Oy vey. That first year at home with newborn babies is a trip. Engorged breasts, stitches, hemorrhoids, a bad latch, no sleep, and the tethered feeling... I spent so much time preparing myself for birth, when really what I needed was to be more prepared for everything that was to follow. After our daughter was born, I became a certified Doula because I felt like women needed and deserved more information and support from women who have been there. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to pursue that passion as I’d wished, but I feel like that part of my story just hasn’t been written yet.
What is your truth?
My truth is that women are the most magnificent creatures on earth. We aren’t supported or educated enough in what we’re capable of, and we deserve better. We deserve more. We deserve support.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I just believe in women so much, and I support any community or movement that puts women in the light that they deserve. I believe in crushing these old ideas and making sure that I am part of making the world a different place for the future generations. I feel it is the most important duty of my motherhood— to fight like hell for a better future for all people, especially a better future for women.