Cara Kleinfelder (30 - currently pregnant) and Maxwell
Cara shares -
“I have never had a loving relationship with my body. I’ve picked it apart for years and just hated what I saw in the mirror so much for so long and often still do. But I mostly haven’t minded gaining weight while I am pregnant because I know it is part of the process so I indulge in cravings and eat all the food. When my son was born I was sure I would get back into exercising, which had fallen by the wayside due to sciatic pain and just overall exhaustion from being pregnant.
My son was born via forceps delivery, which caused a pelvic floor injury that made it very uncomfortable for me to run. I tried running several times but just couldn’t do it. After a year I finally was referred to a pelvic floor physical therapist to help me through it and was blown away by the medical bills and never went back. Running was a huge loss for me, but I found that I would generally rather get a little more sleep or spend more time with my family than put aside time to exercise, although I do try to maintain an active lifestyle. I have better health insurance now so I will see where I am at after this pregnancy and may decide to return to physical therapy.
Since becoming a mother, I’ve learned to accept my body in its different forms as it changes from carrying a child to healing from childbirth and breastfeeding. It’s been in a constant cycle of transformation and my weight has fluctuated so much. It took a year to get back to my pre-baby weight and then I cut way back on breastfeeding and I gained a few pounds and then shortly after I stopped breastfeeding I was pregnant again. Knowing the new purpose for my body has helped me to be ok with it because, like motherhood, it always seems to be changing. I will be interested to see how I feel about myself once my child bearing years are through.
I always anticipated that getting pregnant would be a struggle for me because it was a long painful process for my parents. It was something my mother said she wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy. I could foresee years of sadness and lost hope for myself, so the second my husband was on board with trying for a baby I wasted no time because, at 27, I really believed my biological clock was ticking. I feel so incredibly lucky that it was not a challenge for me and that pregnancy was and has been relatively easy so far.
The first 6 weeks postpartum were a blur. My husband returned to work after 2 weeks and I was home alone with my baby and remember how overwhelming it was to even try to leave the house. I couldn't organize my thoughts enough to pack a diaper bag because I felt like I needed to be prepared for every possible situation. I felt so isolated and would just sob because I was so frustrated and depressed.
I finally decided to get myself to the Baby and Me support group offered weekly through my healthcare provider and it truly changed my life. The women and babies I met there are still a huge part of my life. I was able to share my struggles and hear theirs. I learned SO much from them and still rely on them in many ways. I would truly recommend a group like this to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed and isolated after child birth. Having this kind of support saved me from having a much more stressful and lonely postpartum experience.
I wanted to participate in this movement because I always feel empowered and less alone when I see other participants' pictures and read their stories. I also wanted to get a snapshot of this sweet time during my last few months of Maxwell being my only child.
Being a mother has been so much better than I ever could have imagined. Every tough moment is worth it to watch my child grow and to be a part of his journey as he navigates the world.”