Jill O'Donohue (36), Henrik (4.5), and Angus (11 months)
Jill is a previous project participant, you can view her previous photo and story from 2016 here.
Winnipeg, Canada | Minneapolis, MN
Jill shares -
“I have never felt comfortable in my body, always wishing for something I am not. But, after seeing the incredible tiny people my body grew, I am slowly becoming more comfortable and proud of my own skin. My babies have changed my body (shrunk some parts, "expanded" other parts, stretched, marked...), it is not the change I always longed for, but it is the change I needed. I will always struggle with the "why am I not smaller, fitter, flatter...?" but when I have these moments of doubt or shame, I now try to step back and look at the lives created and remind myself that THIS body did that. Chubby as it may be, perfection is not too far off. I have the pictures from the first time I participated in 4TBP hanging up in our bedroom. They remind me that my body is mine, and I can be proud of that. If my kids can look at me with no judgement and love, I need to do that for myself too. Slowly but surely, I will get there.
Getting pregnant with our first son Henrik, happened faster than I ever though possible, so when it took us about a year to conceive Angus, I secretly struggled with disappointment month after month. On the outside I was so laid back and easily answered the well-meaning friends "when will you have another baby?" question with "oh who knows, maybe one day!" But inside, I wanted to be pregnant so badly. I knew my body could do it, so it was hard to have no control or the ability to make it happen, as I wanted. I can now see, that when I did get pregnant, is was exactly when I was supposed to. I love the age gap between my boys and wouldn't have it any other way. If only the disappointed me could have know that all those months.
Angus was born by cesarean. It was a planned cesarean because my first (long) labour ended in cesarean. I struggled with the decision to have a planned second cesarean. It felt selfish. I think because of the social pressure to have "natural" birth. I knew in my heart, because of how my first labour went, that my pelvis was not designed as a baby exit, but worried that people would think less of me. It was a strange mix of emotions because I am not at all ashamed of my first cesarean, I am proud of my scar, but somehow the word "elective" caused me great guilt. At 36(ish) weeks, when Angus flipped his little bum into a breech position, it was like he and my body knew - let's make it so this mama has no choice. Cesarean birth is birth, when it's the safe way for this baby to enter the outside world and it's the way it should be.
Low milk supply made breastfeeding a challenge with my first son (SNS feeds, medication, pumping...). It was easily the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt tremendous pressure to exclusively breastfeed, and the decision to supplement felt like such a failure. As he grew, and thrived, I was able to see that our "dual feeding system" was ideal. He got the benefits of breast milk and the supplement formula made for a mom who wasn't stressed. We breastfed for 15 months and it was awesome.
Although I was ready to supplement (again) with my second, there was a glimmer of hope, "maybe this time will be different" in the back of my mind. I don't think the pressure to exclusively nurse ever really goes away. We quickly realized that my milk supply was similar the second time around and he too would need the benefits that supplement formula could provide. At 7 months he decided himself he was done with the breast. I of course wish he would have wanted to nurse longer, but I was proud of our breastfeeding journey and he too is thriving!
I chose to participate in this movement for the second time, because I have been inspired over and over by the images and stories shared. I want to show the world that being a mom takes strength, imperfections and love. I am in love with this this journey, honoured to say "I am Henrik and Angus' mom" and I am proud of the person I am."