Abby Rosenbaum (38 - she/her), Mabel (5) and Julian (3 months)
Ann Arbor, MI
Abby is a previous project participant, you can view her photo and story from 2016 here.
“I had an abortion at age 16. It was a (obviously) an unplanned pregnancy - I'd barely been penetrated and actually still considered myself a virgin! So of course I was shocked to discover I was pregnant, especially as I was due to leave on a semester abroad program in just a few weeks. I am grateful I had supportive parents and safe access, and I have NEVER regretted that abortion. It allowed me to go to college, start a career, and, yes, become a mother when the time was right. I think it's important that women talk about their abortions. There's so much shame and stigma which is crazy when you think about how many women have them. Now more than ever, it's important to share our stories and fight to preserve access.”
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
Body image is an ongoing struggle. I am grateful that my body gave me my children, but I've definitely had a hard time accepting my loose stomach and larger weight. So many women in my circle seem to have "bounced back" to thin bodies/flat stomachs very quickly postpartum, and it's hard to not compare. There's a lot of idealized imagery out there when it comes to mothers' bodies. I hate that it's such an issue for me, as a smart, progressive feminist who is body positive. I am working to extend that same grace to myself.
What was your postpartum experience?
I had two very different postpartum experiences. With Mabel, I was completely traumatized, not only by a difficult labor that ended with an unplanned cesarian, but also by the whole transition to parenthood. I was utterly unprepared for how challenging breastfeeding would be, and suffered through a month of cracked, bleeding nipples. I was (and still am!) so in love with my daughter, but when I look back on that time, I remember an overwhelming feeling of sadness and isolation. I can see now how depressed I was. I also went back to work at just 8 weeks postpartum, which was too soon, both physically and emotionally. With Julian, it's been a completely different experience. I did struggle with some pretty serious perinatal depression during my pregnancy, but I went on meds in my third trimester and they helped immensely. My immediate postpartum experience was amazing - the happiest I've ever been. I had a successful unmedicated VBAC was was tremendously healing. Nursing got off to a much smoother start and I've enjoyed it so much more. Of course there have been difficult moments, but overall it's been such a wonderful time. Julian is a dream baby. We are now at 3 months postpartum, and while my mood is beginning to come back down to earth, we are still in a pretty great place.
What is your truth?
With sleep, all things are possible. don't abandon your self-care for your baby, taking care of yourself will make you a better parent. Also, hang in there, because it all gets easier.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I participated in the project after I had Mabel, and I treasure the images. I also think it's just so important for women to gather and share their experiences around birth and motherhood. Modern motherhood can be so isolating. As I talked about above, there's a lot of idealized imagery out there about women and mother's bodies. I've always loved this project for the diversity of bodies profiled. It's affirming to see bodies that look like mine.