The magnificent Jen McLellan. Mother to Braeden (5). Jen also lost a pregnancy to miscarriage in June 2012.
Jen got pregnant at 30 and as a plus size woman didn't know what that would look like. She went online and googled plus size pregnancy only to learn that she was certainly get gestational diabetes, have a cesarean birth and was a really horrible person for wanting to be a mother as a fat person. She's been fat her whole life and wasn't going to let what she read on the internet change how she felt about herself and her ability.
She was already healthy but worked even harder - started water aerobics and hired a doula who asked if she knew about the midwifery model of care. Jen told her doula that she couldn't have a home birth because she was obviously high risk. Her doula laughed and told her she was not high risk, she was not sick, she was healthy and she could have a home birth. Jen met a midwife and switched models of care soon after. She says that her midwife was the first medical person to ever touch her body with compassion and it began to change things for her. She was worried she was going to have a huge baby she couldn't push out herself, again because the internet had told her that's what happens to huge people, but her midwife reassured her that was exactly what her hips were for, she could do it. Eventually, Jen started to believe these women who had more faith in her body than she had.
The positivity built and built and Jen was able to have a wonderful natural childbirth. She gave birth on her knees, her husband caught their baby and it was the most transformative moment of her life. Afterward she became not only a mother, but a whole knew version of herself.
Jen had been so worried her whole pregnancy that her body was going to fail that she never once considered that her baby wasn't going to be this perfect being - plump and pink and healthy. Braedan arrived at 36 weeks, 2 days but did everything that a late term preemie does. He wasn't able to coordinate his sucking and swallowing to nurse well, he was in the NICU for 24 hours and then in and out of the hospital.
Jen says that even though she doesn't own one, she thought postpartum meant a pink robe, balloons and flowers but it wasn't any of that. It was really hard and took a long time to adjust to. She loved her baby but wasn't in love with her baby right away and felt a lot of guilt and emotions about that. When Braedan was around three months old she felt suddenly overwhelmed with love for him. Her midwife had told her that it would come and when it did it was a wonderful flood. She learned through the process that the best thing we can do for our children is to not set expectations because they are on their own journey. We just need to lay a solid foundation of support and love and they will take their own path.
When Braeden was 4 months old, Jen started her blog, Plus Size Mommy Memoirs, because she wanted there to be another narrative out there about what it is to be plus size and pregnant, one that was positive and reassuring. One that shared the truth that you can have a healthy pregnancy and empowered birth and be plus sized.
This journey of self acceptance and body love she's on has been wonderful, and challenging, as she's getting to know herself in a brand new way. "For the first time in my life I love myself and my body. It's empowering and it's amazing. We are led to believe that bodies only come in one size, shape and color. It's not true at all. We all have different marks and bodies and boobs and there is nothing wrong with them. All of our bodies are amazing and we should absolutely love them."