The beautiful Cheryl Bettinardi with her children Ethan (7), Makaio (2.5), Nina (1.5) and Aquinas (4 months). Cheryl says she feels like she was born to breed. She has had very healthy pregnancies and natural deliveries with all of her kids. She was always labeled as low risk until she was pregnant with Aquinas and the stress of being in an abusive relationship led her to be monitored more closely for preterm labor. Her husband was arrested for domestic battery while she was pregnant and has since filed for divorce. Cheryl said that she is very much just beginning the healing process but has been blessed with friends and family that have supported her through the process. She's breastfed all four of her babies but has never made it to her goal of 1 year. So far Aquinas is her best nurser, and she's hopeful she'll be able to get there this time!
The amazing Melanie Ayres with her son Oliver (2) and daughter Josephine (9 months). Melanie wasn't certain that she ever wanted children as she was very career-focused but chose to start a family and was able to get pregnant rather quickly, within 4 months for each of her pregnancies. Her pregnancies were healthy and went relatively smoothly. She struggled a bit with body image each time and had to remind herself that the changes were necessary for the growth of her children. She enjoyed feeling the babies and knowing that she was growing another life. She is a Professor who teaches Developmental Psychology so she was very well versed in birth options and choices but still felt a bit unprepared. She had a 24 hour labor with Oliver, 12 of which she labored at home. She had hoped to go mostly natural but did get fentanyl with each of her deliveries. Josie's labor was only 4 hours. She was pleased with both of her pregnancies and birth experiences, but the physical healing was challenging with both. Her first breastfeeding relationship was challenging at first, but they eventually got the hang of it, and she's still nursing Josephine today. Melanie says that the bond that has come with breastfeeding has been amazing, so much so she can't put into words how rewarding it is.
The stunning Sophia Culpepper with her daughter Francesca (8 mo). Sophia's biggest take away from her pregnancy and birth experience is that she's much stronger than she ever believed. She found healing from past experiences and things that she believed about herself through giving life to Frankie. She had a healthy pregnancy without issue and a natural labor she is very proud of. Motherhood, while full of difficult moments, has been lovely. She says that both she and her wife have had to grow and individuals and as a couple but that it all has been amazing.
The amazing Alyssa Davis with her son James (2.5 years). Alyssa had a fairly typical pregnancy, she switched providers about 3/4 of the way through from an OB to a midwifery practice because she wanted a better standard of personalized care. While she loved her midwives, James turned breech a couple of weeks before he was due and Alyssa had to have a cesarean birth. She said she felt very robbed and had to deal with realizing that she hadn't cheated him from anything. Her physical recovery was easy, it was the emotional healing that she found difficult. She was able to nurse James until he self weaned at 18 months, an experience she found very rewarding. Alyssa reached out to participate in the project at one of her lowest points, after the loss of two family members and difficulty at home. We hope that sharing her journey is a small step in her healing.