Lisabet Huntsman (39) and Sibyll (15 months)
Southern California | Photographed in Seattle, Washington
Lisabet shares -
"It's been a long road the last 18 months (including pregnancy) and I am still working to accept it...
My postpartum journey has been a bit rough. First of all, I am a single mother by choice, and then I had a traumatic birth experience to start this new journey. It started with a prolonged labor of 33 hours (plus 3 hours of pushing), an emergency cesarean, my precious daughter being whisked off to NICU for her first 36 hours of life, and a week later, another emergency surgery for me, re-opening my original cesarean incision and leaving it open to drain a massive infection.
I didn't just go home from the hospital with a newborn, I went home with a newborn and a machine to continually suck drainage from my open abdomen. I will never forget the pain and anxiety of dressing changes (the removal and replacement of foam stuffed in my abdomen down to the muscles, taped in place, and attached to suction) three times a week with my helpless newborn daughter in her rocker next to me and giving myself IV antibiotics through the PICC line that I also went home with. It took nearly 6 months for my incision to close.
On the bright side, after the second surgery, I lost all of my baby-weight and then some and went home almost looking like I hadn't been pregnant at all. I've been heavy most of my life, and my motto has been that I'd rather be fat and happy than skinny and miserable. It's been a bit of a struggle to accept the post-baby changes in my body, but I am gradually learning to accept my new abdomen. The "flab" that just doesn't seem to hang right is now a long-standing part of my life, and I am learning to love it... it's my consolation prize for going through hell and back to finally learn the incomprehensible and unconditional love that I have for my daughter, and well worth it!
There's really no way I can think of to prepare to be a new parent! From diaper bags (I've gone through 3 trying to figure out what works best!), to emotional/hormonal changes after baby (the tears were too numerous to count and for both positive an negative feelings!), the skin and fat that gets stretched and redistributed and doesn't quite go back where it was before pregnancy, the "postpartum shed" that nobody really warns you about (I lost about half my hair), it's all so very much worth it to be promoted to the best job title in the world, MUM!!!
Women are shamed too often for having a little extra weight or being too skinny, or breasts too big or small, or breastfeeding in public. I don't think it's fair for society, men, or other women to judge, nobody knows everything about someone else's story, and we need to start accepting and loving (or not) ourselves and other people for who they are and not based on what they look like."