The beautiful Carly Emes with her boys Harrison (3 today!) and Jesse (6 months). Carly has PCOS and while it doesn't affect her on a daily basis, she struggled with infertility as a result. Both of her boys were conceived with the help of fertility hormones on the first cycle, and she had a spontaneous pregnancy that was lost to miscarriage early on between them. She was fortunate to not have any morning sickness in either of her pregnancies but suffered from Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), making it excruciatingly painful to walk or stand near the end of her pregnancies. Carly studied hypnobirthing and had very healthy labors and deliveries with each of her boys. Breastfeeding went very well with Harrison, but Jesse had both a lip and a tongue tie that have been revised, making their nursing relationship a bit of a learning process. Carly is an advocate of body positivity and hopes that her participation helps further that amongst her sisterhood.
The radiant Sylvia Rachid with her daughters Olivia (7), Leila (4) and son Isaac (10 months). Sylvia was the first of her friends to get pregnant and had a difficult time of it. Physically, she remained healthy, but emotionally, she struggled with feeling very alone. She had to be induced but failed to progress and ultimately delivered her daughter through an emergency cesarean. Her pregnancy with Leila was healthy for the most part, and she delivered via cesarean again. Isaac's pregnancy was a surprise and led to a lot of life changes for Sylvia. After two cesareans, her doctors wouldn't allow her to attempt a natural birth, so she delivered via cesarean again. Her recoveries all went very well, which she credits in part to being in shape and enjoying the gym. Her breastfeeding relationships have varied, Leila had a difficult time, and she had to express milk for her but things with Isaac have gone very well.
The amazing Carmel Tziavrangos, mother to Joshua (3.5), Grace (2) and currently 13 weeks pregnant. Carmel also had a miscarriage in January of last year that really shook her. She has a condition known as Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of arthritis, that she has to be medicated for. However, she can't take the medications she typically needs during pregnancy, so she has to switch to steroids to treat her illness. The steroids cause her to eat and gain weight which has been a bit of a battle physically even though she'd never struggled with body image before. She's had severe morning sickness in each of her pregnancies which has just subsided with her current baby. Otherwise, her pregnancies have been relatively uneventful. And both of her labors began as inductions after her waters broke and nothing else happened. Joshua was rather large, and she had to have a forceps-assisted delivery, which took her a lot of time to recover from, he also had to stay in the nursery for a bit due to jaundice. Her second delivery was without complication, and she was able to leave the hospital early and transfer to a hotel where the midwives checked in on her, and Joshua was allowed to stay. Both Joshua and Grace self-weaned at 10 months, which was very difficult for Carmel as she'd hoped to continue breastfeeding.
The lovely Vicki Kramer with her sons Zach (2.5 years) and Henry (10 months). With each of her pregnancies, Vicki lost quite a bit of weight, 10-15kgs each time around. She had a relatively healthy pregnancy with Zach until about 20 weeks, when they learned that he had a Congenital Heart Defect that would require surgery once he was born. Vicki was able to have an uneventful vaginal delivery with induction. After birth, Zach had to have a procedure to stabilize him and was then transported from Adelaide to Melbourne for an open heart surgery when he was 7 days old. Zach has recovered and is good health today other than some learning difficulties. Vicki developed gestational diabetes with her second pregnancy and was induced again. She had another uneventful vaginal delivery. Vicki participated as a scholarship recipient to raise awareness for kids that are born with Congenital Heart Defect (6 babies are born with CHD every day in Australia). For more info on Heartkids, the organization that helped Zach get the treatment he needed to survive, go to http://www.heartkids.org.au/
The wonderful Dana Weaver with her daughter Arya (2) and son Malcolm (6 months). Dana absolutely loved being pregnant with her daughter and says that she would be pregnant forever if that's how it always went. She went post-dates and had to be induced and felt that she lost a bit of control during her labor and delivery. Thankfully, she was able to have a natural birth without complication and initiate breastfeeding. Other than some initial pain and bouts of plugged ducts, they had a wonderful nursing relationship until Arya self-weaned at 12.5 months when she was 3 months pregnant with Malcolm. Dana's pregnancy with Malcolm was a bit more challenging, likely because she was chasing a toddler around as well. She wanted to have a better grasp on her labor this time around, so she took Hypnobirthing classes and found it to be hugely helpful. She said she still felt pain, but was able to manage it without issue and enjoyed her time between contractions, and she was able to laugh and rest. Breastfeeding has been more challenging this time around. Malcolm has a lip tie and posterior tongue tie, as well as a shallow latch that has caused a lot of pain. Dana has struggled with plugged ducts and bouts of mastitis as well but is determined to make it until at least 12 months. She was nervous to participate but wanted to follow through with it, both for herself and for other women who may identify with her image or story just as she has found identification in those who have participated before her.
The beautiful Danni Bugden with her daughter Ava (5.5) and son Hugo (19 months). Danni had two very healthy pregnancies that she was able to enjoy. Her daughter Ava was born naturally in the hospital following an induction for being post-dates, but Danni experienced a third-degree tear that took 12 full months to heal and stop feeling uncomfortable. It was during her first pregnancy that she also developed varicose veins that were later determined to be in her deep veins, causing her pain, discomfort and embarrassment. Danni is a midwife herself, but even though she knew no two births are the same, she had a lot of anxiety over possibly tearing badly again. She decided to give birth to her son at home and was able to have a beautiful water birth with minimal tearing after going into labor naturally just before 40 weeks. Danni's veins continued to be problematic through her second pregnancy and beyond, and she now wears compression stockings to help. Breastfeeding has gone well with each of her children. Ava nursed until 2 1/4 and she hopes to nurse Hugo until at least 2 years as well.
The amazing Teniele Hartmann with her daughters Amaliah (6), Oriah (2) and son Finley (5 months). Teniele was just 19 during her pregnancy with Amaliah, and she found it to be very easy. She had planned to deliver at home and learned that Amaliah had turned breech. She labored for quite some time before her daughter began to experience signs of distress and they made the decision to transfer to a hospital. Thankfully, Amaliah stabilized and was able to be born vaginally without complication. Teniele's second pregnancy was physically much harder for her, but things progressed well, and Oriah was able to be born at home with Amaliah present for the whole thing. Finley's pregnancy was Teniele's most difficult and his delivery was fast and furious. From start to arrival, he came in about an hour and a half before her midwife or family were able to arrive. She says that things happened so fast, it took her a while to process that she'd actually had her baby and that he was hers. Teniele has been able to breastfeed all three of her children without issue. Amaliah for over 2 years, Oriah weaned at 17 months while pregnant with Finley, and he's going strong today.