Kumiko Nixon (24), Rocket (2 years 11 months - not pictured), and Luna (3 months)
Kristina shares -
“I've experienced two miscarriages and one medically necessary termination. The termination was the most difficult because of the timing, and my yearning for another baby. I was only 2 months post chemo when I conceived that baby, and 11 months postpartum. My husband and I grieved, it was the hardest thing we've done in our marriage to this day. We chose to find the silver lining, to know that we would have the chance to conceive again and when we did, it would be the right time when I was healthy.
My body image has been poor since childhood. Before conceiving Rocket, my weight was at an all time high. Depression, steroids, and chemotherapy morphed my body in to something out of control so I didn't have many expectations postpartum. I was induced at 38 weeks due to high blood pressure, and though I planned on an unmedicated birth - succumbed to an epidural after 15 hours of painful, Pitocin induced contractions. I was disappointed in my body, disappointed I couldn't deliver the way I wanted to, that my birth plan went out the window. Disappointed that I didn't make it to the year mark for breastfeeding. I felt like a failure.
Then I conceived Luna. We almost lost her during a tumultuous first trimester. I had low progesterone from the get-go, and then I started to bleed in the latter part of my first trimester after experiencing a very stressful 24 hour shift in the trauma bay following the Route 91 Mass Shooting. I hated this body of mine that couldn't carry babies the "right way", and my body image was the lowest it had ever been. Just when I started to submit to this idea of my body failing me, my labor with Luna began quietly on its own. She was delivered without assistance, nor medication, after 4 hours of contractions induced by my body alone.
I'm 3 months postpartum and I'm still on this emotional high, I've never loved my body more - never been more amazed and proud of what it can do, how it adapts, and how it provides. Parenthood has made me fall in love with my body and taught me its value.
With my eldest daughter, I was unprepared for the wave of emotions I would feel about myself and my postpartum body. No one told me you'll still look 6 months pregnant after you deliver, that you may need to pack maternity clothes for your departure from the hospital. My expectations reflected that of a first time mother, and there was a commonality in these thoughts among many other first time moms I found out later on. As the months started to pass, I found myself growing moodier, more emotional, more... unstable. Postpartum depression crept up on me like a sneak attack. This was yet another thing I was uneducated about and unprepared for. My pregnancy was beautiful and I was in love with it, but the postpartum journey almost broke me.
With my second child, it was the opposite. Antepartum depression controlled my life and my pregnancy as I dealt with PTSD. There were days I wasn't sure I was going to make it, but I did and my labor and delivery of Luna was a welcomed opportunity to change the direction of my mental state. Postpartum this time around, I took no chances. I advocated for anti-depressants, I made sure to ask for help when I needed it, and I feel all the better now. I had better expectations this time, and I realize now how important it is to make sure you care for yourself during the postpartum time period. To be aware of yourself and any changes, and act on it quickly before it gets out of hand.
One thing I wish I had been told as a new parent was to ask for help when you need it, to rest, to be consciously aware of yourself. Too many women die from postpartum complications whether it be hemorrhage, infection, or suicide. Never feel bad about needing help, find a strong support system whether its from friends, family, or local community resources. You will be spoiled during your pregnancy, but people often forget that you need help during the postpartum period too.
I've followed 4th Tri Bodies since before I was pregnant with Rocket, dreaming of the day I'd be able to participate. I view this opportunity as a chance to find peace within myself, and to heal mind, body, and soul from the negative thoughts and emotions I've carried as a mother by sharing my story.”