Meghan Marie Brady (36), mother to Tyler (18 - not pictured), Emma (13), Mary (11) and Evelyn (2). Meghan has also had one miscarriage before Emma and another miscarriage before Evelyn.
Photographed in San Diego, CA
Meghan shares -
"I am wanting my daughters to focus on their beauty that comes from within and for them to see how beautiful they are as they are naturally. The pressures from peers, makeup and society in general I can see starting to make some impressions and I would like to be an example for them to see that our bodies are all beautiful and that scars from creating a life is an honor to have, even though I more often than not forget that for myself. My body did not change much after my son, I had stretch marks but was quickly back to my old size, with each child it seems that my body image and journey towards pre pregnancy weight has been much harder to accept and achieve.
I feel blessed to have had very lovely postpartum journeys, all of my children nursed and I had a wonderful support from my mother who used to be an OB nurse, who nursed all four of her own children. Even at 17 years old, nursing came naturally to me and I have co-slept with all my children which I swear has helped my moods because I am rested and don't feel that I was sleep deprived. I had my son Tyler when I was 17 years old and I was traveling down that wrong path in life. I always tell him he saved my life and for that I am forever grateful. He is 18 years old now and I cannot believe how fast his childhood flew by, I remember seeing him for the first time and being in awe that I created a human, and he was solely relying on me for everything.
I wanted to have a natural birth just like my mother did, and after 17 hours of labor, he was in posterior position and although I was dilated, labor was not progressing the doctors said. They urged me to have Pitocin, which then progressed my contractions, and did not give him time to breathe so his heart rate accelerated and they determined I needed an emergency cesarean. I felt as though I was told this needed to happen but also always wondered if I had resisted the Pitocin, would I have had a different outcome? He was born healthy at 7 lbs 15 oz and 22 inches long. I was in a room with another mother who was 34 and was also a first time mother. She was having an extremely hard time our second night and so I got out of bed and helped her change her daughters diaper and showed her how to swaddle her again and then she was crying because she wasn't latching with the hold they told her to do and wasn't nursing for 20 mins on both sides. I showed her other ways she could hold the baby to nurse and told her how my mother told me to feed when baby is hungry and sleep when baby sleeps and baby will eat enough. Not to be so stiff about the time she nurses. The lady kindly thanked me and said she felt bad that I knew more than she did, I told her I was lucky enough to be raised around babies and nursing mothers, but later that day when the older nurse was condescending to me because I was in fact only a teen, my fellow new mother stuck up for me because I surely wasn't and defended me to the lady saying I should be treated just as any other mother and not talked down to, and then said that I was helping her with nursing better than the nurses were. I am forever grateful to her because I really felt quite bad for being a teen mother and she gave me pride and compassion when I was at my most vulnerable.
Fast forward five years later - I was married, my husband had adopted Tyler and we decided we wanted to expand our family. My husband was in the military so he was deployed very quickly after 9-11 and did not come back for a very long time. I had been on birth control for the past four years. So we became pregnant and told our close friends and family almost immediately not ever expecting we would have to then turn around 8 weeks later and tell them we lost the baby we had already named Liberty (Libby). I was heartbroken and shocked because I didn't really know how common miscarriages were until my mother and aunts started to share some of their stories. I have a huge family so I have 16 aunts, that have all had multiple babies.
We recovered and grieve and move to Hawaii, and decide we can try again, and this time our baby made it to the 3 month mark which we now waited for before telling our family and friends. This pregnancy was different and my belly was huge, the doctor kept changing my due date saying I was measuring big. I wanted to have a VBAC and was trying to stand firm on this. Though, as my pregnancy progressed my doctor continued to say how big the baby was, even bigger then my son was and how dangerous it could be for me to birth vaginally. Eventually my husband was convinced I couldn't and shouldn't do it, and I was too. I thought, "she is bigger by one pound and I couldn't deliver him, how would I ever deliver her". So we scheduled a cesarean two weeks before my due date because of her size. Emma came out 8 lbs 15 oz and 18 inches long, very healthy and happy. I nursed her and she was amazing as an infant. I nursed her for 16 months until I was 7 months pregnant with Mary.
The doctors told me to stop nursing because I could go into preterm labor and it was dangerous. I listened of course and to this day still kick myself for not going with my instinct and continue nursing her. Mary was born a scheduled c-section five days before my due date weighing in at 7 lbs 12 oz and measuring 18 inches long. She loved nursing as much as all my other ones did and we continued until she self weaned at 2 years old.
Now for Evelyn, I am divorced from Tyler, Emma and Mary's father and am remarried. We both had three children going into our marriage so children were not in our plan. We found out we were pregnant and realized very quickly that we were both overjoyed by this. The first ultrasound, I knew there was a problem, they couldn't find a heartbeat, and sent us to a specialist, who confirmed that the baby was there but there was no heartbeat, I was in my last week of the first trimester. I was again heartbroken and did believe that things happen for a reason. My husband was dealing with a difficult situation for himself so I believe that this happened to show us yes we wanted a child but to give him time to heal before we brought a child into our marriage. Then Evelyn became our reality, she was born a week early by planned c-section, once again measuring ahead, and she weighed 8 lbs 8 oz and measured 20 inches long. Having four c-sections was crazy, frustrating and just not how I would have wanted to bring any of my babies into this world. But this last one I had more knowledge and was also older and more confident in certain things such as skin to skin while they were finishing my operation, which was amazing. My husband did skin to skin as they brought me to recovery where we got to breastfeed so I was more content with how our process went this time around and we felt more in control of our birth.
Evelyn is still breastfeeding and she is by far my baby who loves babas the most. She will be nursing until she self weans at whatever age she decides and I love every moment of it. Emma and Mary are the closest to Evelyn and they are the best sisters and mini mothers a child could ever ask for. She is a very lucky girl to have so much love around her each day.
I had the opportunity to educate freshman in college as I was a graduate student studying child and family development. As a professor I was so thrilled to be able to share my passions with young students entering college for the first year and also got to show documentaries that I thought were worthwhile and the responses I received were quite rewarding. They loved the information and knowledge they received from the videos and it opened up a great dialogue for our students to discuss their own experiences, opinions and thoughts about topics such as birth, cesarean birth, midwifes, water births, breastfeeding, breastfeeding laws, breasts in general.
These were my experiences with each of my births for my children and each was unique and wonderfully full of so much emotions. I loved to share these experiences with the students that I had and was grateful that they seemed to learn and take something away from it. If someone takes something away from me sharing my story then that is awesome, and hopefully myself and my daughters can take away that our bodies are beautiful however they are.
My truth is that our own children do not care what size we are or what scars we have, our children love us unconditionally and we should love ourselves that way too. We love our children that way and yet many times cannot do it for ourself. Also be in the pictures, those memories of mothering are something that are fleeting and in the end you and your children will cherish those pictures.
I am ashamed of my scars, my flabby stomach and my weight, and I wanted so bad to do this shoot two years ago when you came here but chickened out and then at the last minute got my nerve back up and the spots were full, so I signed up this time and I have wanted to back out everyday since thinking that I won't like the pictures but I think I need to do it especially since i told my daughters about it and I want to show them that our bodies are beautiful whatever size we are."