Heather Nischke (30), mother to Sam (9), Harper (6), and Penelope (4)
Heather is has previously participated in this project twice. You can view her original photo and story from 2014 here and her follow up from 2015 here.
Heather shares -
“My most recent pregnancy ended in miscarriage. It was an awful period for us. The election had just ended, I'm a survivor of childhood sexual assault and I was in a PTSD triggered state of extreme anxiety. I couldn't leave the house for over a month. I didn't think I could handle a pregnancy at that time, I heavily considered an abortion but ultimately decided that I was going to find some extra support so I could heal and get through the pregnancy and postpartum period. Within a few days of accepting that we were going to become a family of 6 my body started to show signs of an early miscarriage. I held a lot of guilt surrounding my loss but it motivated me to find an incredible therapist who helped me process everything I'd been going through.”
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
Pregnancy and parenthood have helped me heal. I've always been heavier than the average peer because of the side effects of medications. I struggled with how I saw myself and dabbled in eating disorders (both over and under eating). Pregnancy and lactation helped me connect to my body in a new way, it showed me that my body could do incredible things. I can 100% say that I love my body and everything it's been through.
What was your postpartum experience?
Physically my postpartum journeys have been pretty straightforward. I struggled with nursing my first baby but was successful with exclusive pumping, I was also able to exclusively nurse my second baby even with issues in the early weeks, I was also able to donate several thousand ounces of milk. Emotionally speaking, postpartum was really fucking hard. I thought I could do it all, I was raised by a single mom and figured it would be so much easier because I have a partner. I was naive and we had zero support. It was all on us, all the time. It showed me how much of a disservice we're doing to parents.
What is your truth?
I'd say that parenthood is hard, that you're probably going to feel like you're not doing it right. You're probably going to second guess every choice for a long time. And just when you feel like you're getting it they'll change it up on you. You're going to feel like you yell too much only to realize it's because they tune you out most of the time now. The truth is we're all just trying to do our best and we all need a friend or community to lean on during the chaos of life.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I came back because I feel that it's time to show myself as an individual some love. I've talked about my stories surrounding my kids. Now it's time to talk about healing myself and coming out of the haze stronger than I've ever felt. I want others who are dealing with PMADs or mental health issues in general to know that they aren't alone in these struggles. I want others to know that it can get better.