The radiant Raven Dibble, her mother Jessica DeFilippo and her daughter Harlow (5 months).
Raven is also the mother to Phoenix (3) and Jessica is mother to David (36), Jonathan (33), Raven (29) and Jackie (26). She is also grandmother to five aged 5 months to 10 years old.
Raven had a surprise pregnancy that ended in an early miscarriage. Through that experience she was surprised that though her doctor knew what was happening, no one seemed to care. She missed her next appointment and there was no follow up to see that she was okay. Her mother is a midwife so she grew up with a very different idea of what maternal health care should be. She's so grateful that her mother was there to walk her through both the physical and emotional process but she was still surprised that there was a labor component, contractions and pain, to the loss of this baby. She found the emotions of her loss greater than she had anticipated as well.
Her pregnancy with Phoenix was planned and progressed smoothly. She had been nervous about this pregnancy but before her father passed he told her that her next pregnancy was going to go well and it did. She had planned a home birth and went into labor without issue. Everything was very straight forward but about 15 hours in, his heart started to decell. They didn't feel that he was in danger but decided to transfer to the hospital just in case. Within about 15 minutes he was delivered with vacuum assistance. While Phoenix was healthy, the experience wasn't what Raven had wanted and she struggled with it quite a bit afterwards.
Raven felt like she had lost part of a dream, part of her identity, after not delivering at home. She always just imagined after being born at home herself and wanting to birth at home, that there wasn't any other option for her. Modern medicine was always a last resort and she had a lot of fear surrounding the hospital environment.
When she conceived Harlow she tried to work through a lot of the fear she still carried. She read 'Birthing From Within' which was extremely helpful to investigate and process what she was feeling. She planned another home birth and advocated for the support she wanted. She told her husband that there would come a point she would say she couldn't do it but in that moment rather than take her to the hospital she needed him to be her confidence and tell her that she could. She gave birth perched on her couch feeling very connected to those around her. She felt great afterwards, like it was possible for her to do it.
Raven's father had passed just after Phoenix was born, she had miscarried just before his pregnancy, and her birth hadn't gone as planned which lead to a difficult postpartum period. She had encapsulated her placenta and found it helpful though realized she felt like she HAD to take it to feel okay. With Harlow she was in a much different space and found her postpartum journey much easier. She encapsulated her placenta again but felt very even keeled.
She says, so much of our society tells us what we should look like and how we should feel. There is so much that is made invisible from breastfeeding in public, to what postpartum bodies look like, it saddens her that these things that should be normal and commonplace are things that we're made to feel ashamed of. As she recognizes this societal problem she also realizes that she embodies this shame to a degree. She wants to instead celebrate her body, to frame this photo that has created, nourished and birthed life. She wants to celebrate and be part of this movement encouraging other women to see just that.
Jessica DeFilippo, is mother to David (36), Jonathan (33), Raven (29) and Jackie (26). She is also grandmother to five aged 5 months to 10 years old.
Jessica was a teenaged mother, pregnant to her first son at just 15. Her mother was driving the decisions at that point in her life and decided that marriage was imperative. She gave birth to her son in a military hospital, with a midwife, but still with all the bells and whistles of hospital birth at that time. When she arrived she was already 7 cms dilated which eliminated some intervention but was still given an enema, IV and was shaved - anything they could get done quickly. She started pushing and gave birth with a huge episiotomy. It wasn't until later, when she retold her birth story, that she realized she had been strapped down and handcuffed during her birth. She was in full leg stirrups with straps, her hands restrained with padded leather handcuffs around her wrists, with grab bars to hold on to while pushing.
Things began to change a bit in birth culture some between her first two children. Fathers were sometimes allowed in delivery rooms and such but hospital birth still wasn't very mother friendly. When she was about 6 weeks away from giving birth to her second son, she bumped into a midwife who gasped in horror when she told her she was going to deliver at another military hospital. She invited Jessica back to her home to get some literature on birth options. After a long weekend, she told her then husband that she was going to have a home birth and she did. Both of Jessica's daughters were also born at home without complication. All were varying lengths but lovely. She was able to hang out at home, eat, walk, listen to music and it was all part of what felt like real, normal, everyday life yet very intimate.
Becoming a grandmother has been a delightful and profound experience for Jessica, as well. She can enjoy the time with them without enforcing as many rules. On this side of parenthood she can realize that your children make decisions as to who they are and regardless of the social constructs you teach them, if you give them love and raise them with love, they grow into these amazing beautiful people, she says. That's the delight in it, that she doesn't have to be so serious, that she can sit and play and enjoy without time constraints.
In the process of exploring her own birthing options, Jessica realized her calling and began studying midwifery at the age of 19. Her daughter invited her to share in this experience and she both cherishes that and realizes the gravity it has for the moms she works with. She's worked with hundreds of bodies for prenatals, intrapartum, postpartum, moms for well-women care and she is struck by how we are programmed to believe that our bodies should be one way yet our bodies perform so amazingly and so powerfully and yet so nurturing in bringing forth life. She sees women in the throes of their lives whether it is growing a baby, birthing or nursing - nourishing, and yet there is this unrealistic expectation that our bodies are somehow supposed to fit in to societies ideals. It is unfair and causes us to be very unkind to ourselves. She hopes to help women change the concerns they have about their body image, not only verbally but through the visual component that is even more powerful than words.