Marie (32 - she/her) and Oliver (16 weeks old)
“Before getting pregnant with Oliver, I had a miscarriage towards the end of my first trimester. I found out at the doctor's appointment where I was supposed to hear a heartbeat, and instead heard and felt a loud, deep emptiness that lingered for months and still continues in its own way. When I finally did get pregnant again, it impacted my entire pregnancy both emotionally and physically. I didn't want to tell or share my news, to talk to others about being pregnant, or let people in about my experience. I was so excited and terrified, hesitant to be and feel too much in any direction. I didn't feel comfortable with talking about being pregnant or appearing physically pregnant for a long time. Now I can talk about it and want to talk and share with others, especially since it is such a shared but quiet experience. But it's hard to share when you are in it. The tears are very strong. I suppose the term "rainbow baby" is fitting. And I have a beautiful rainbow baby.”
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
In so many ways. I am an athlete and distance runner, and before getting pregnant was very active and training at a high intensity for running. My running evolved while pregnant as I kept running - slowing the pace, respecting my body and its limits. Now I see my body, how it functions, what it is capable of, and how to use it in so many different ways - ways that I am still processing and figuring out. I have an unexpected c-section scar, a "gooshy" stomach, the tightest hips, butt and back muscles that ache asymmetrically along with the asymmetry of holding a baby and breastfeeding. My hair is falling out more and my skin appears different to me. In the mirror I don't see an athlete or a put together professional woman. Right now it doesn't upset me as I might have imagined it would. I feel a different power, intensity, curiosity and awe in what the female body can do after giving birth. The hormones, thirst, sleep deprivation, hunger - to name a few - are a different sort of athletic training and accomplishment.
What was your postpartum experience?
I went into my postpartum journey striving to not have specific expectations of myself or how it would be; I knew doing that would only lead to frustration and disappointment. This has really helped me adjust, be curious with myself and my son, and enjoy each week for how my body is healing and how my son is developmentally. Getting outside, walking, and being around other mothers with babies has really helped me. I have days that I feel lost, confused, and sad. Others I feel bright, connected to my son, and energized. As my son gets older, I think I will process more deeply my experience being mothered, what it means for me to be a mother, and how I experience my motherhood identity. Right now, I enjoy the "simpler" daily activities and just getting through the day for what it is in that moment with my baby.
What is your truth?
Love transcends any and all hard moments, beautiful moments, and unexpected moments. Slow down; be prepared to appreciate a small way of daily living with your baby, and how long and laborious the smallest things can be. Get on the floor, roll around, and don't rush to wash the spit off your shirt.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I have been following and appreciating this movement for some time, and greatly value its mission and accomplishments. When this opportunity to join alongside several Moms and babies from my Mom support group, I was more confident and excited to participate with them and with my son.