Amanda Snelson (33), mother to Ren (stillborn on 05.01.13), Iola (miscarried on 07.07.17), and Lee (pictured - born on 12.21.18)
Ozarks, Missouri | Los Angeles, CA
Amanda shares -
“Ren is our son, stillborn at 21 weeks due to pregnancy complications. He rocked my world, shattered my outlook on life, and expanded my perspective in ways that I couldn't have ever imagined. It's been a journey of healing after a traumatic pregnancy with multiple ER visits due to excessive bleeding from placenta previa and subchronic hematoma.
EpWhen I went into labor and went to the hospital, I had multiple infections including sepsis--which meant we needed to deliver immediately. My cervix was relaxed with a drug, I had an epidural (because I didn't want to feel anything), and I delivered Ren vaginally. We held him and took pictures of him, and then collected his ashes and spread them in the Big Sur River.
Years later, after running the LA Marathon and raising $1500 for Every Mother Counts, I was ready to try again for a living baby. Iola grew in my belly in what was a perfect pregnancy up until 16 weeks when my water broke unexpectedly. We went to the hospital, and again I immediately was infected with multiple life-threatening things. This time we decided on a D&E for expediency, which in some ways was more traumatic due to the sterile aspects of the procedure, and my regrets for not asking to see or collect the remains. After that experience, we were still ready to try again for a living baby.
This time I consulted my usual doctor, specialist, and alternative medicine. I have a multiple-page list of things I did to prepare my body, mind, and spirit for pregnancy and labor. Everything went according to plan, with a cervical cerclage, weekly progesterone shots, acupuncture, special diet, and multiple forms of stress management. Lee was born vaginally without any interventions or complications in the same hospital with some of the same midwives and nurses where Ren and Iola were lost. My incomplete circles had been closed by Lee's euphoric arrival. We are so very grateful for her, and will tell her of her big brother and sister that support her in ways she'll never truly know.
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
After my two pregnancy losses, I barely had any bodily changes. Though, after our double rainbow baby, Lee, I am surprised at how much I care about my body image. It has changed so much in the past year. I gained over 50 pounds through my pregnancy due to the high risk and having to limit my activities. After Lee was born, I assumed I wouldn't care about anything but her -- but I found myself weeping over my clothes that wouldn't fit when trying to get dressed for a pediatrician appointment. Overall, I'm very proud of my body and what it has accomplished, but there are moments of vanity that surprise me--when I look in the mirror and discover yet another stretch mark or cellulite dimple. I should be grateful, yet I can't help but click on ads for weight loss. It's a strange feeling.
What was your postpartum experience?
Postpartum with my two losses was absolutely devastating. When my milk came in, I was leaking everywhere, and I had never felt so empty. I wouldn't have cared if I died or lived in those moments after loosing my first two children. With Lee, I mostly cry of overwhelming joy. It's an incredible feeling, to be so happy and so grief stricken at the same time.
What is your truth?
Surrender. Surrender to uncertainty, to imperfect outcomes, to not being in control.
Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
I'm continuously inspired by all of the bodies that birth new life -- the womb and the birth process is sacred. It's a delicate, thin veil between life and death, one that I know all too well. Lifting that veil and sharing each other's stories, however imperfect and joyous and devastatingly beautiful all at once--that is the meaning of life and what keeps me going.