The beautiful Sara Ray Brooks with her son Atticus (1.5 years), also pictured - a photograph of Sara holding the hand of her son Hashim. Sara is also mother to Malachi (16), Justin and William (twins who passed away shortly after birth) and bonus/blended mom to 4 others. Sara's first pregnancy was when she was 17, she carried twin boys to 26 weeks when they were unexpectedly born and passed away just a few days later. Her pregnancy with Malachi was unremarkable and she was able to breastfeed for his first 10 weeks of life before she returned to work as active duty military and switched to formula after not having the support to continue. In the interim Sara divorced her first husband and later married her current husband. They tried for 10-11 years to conceive another child with no success. Sara has struggled with Lupus and other health issues and, in addition, was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Soon after her diagnosis she was able conceive Hashim, quite by surprise. Sadly, Sara went into labor again at 26 weeks and delivered at her local hospital soon after. The hospital was not set up to care for a baby so premature and he passed away after just a few hours of life. Sara lost her Grandmother who she was very close to within months of Hashim's death and slipped into a deep depression. She wanted another chance at motherhood. She and her husband saw a reproductive endocrinologist who was able to manage her care properly and she was able to conceive Atticus on their first IUI attempt with the help of Clomid. From there, Sara's pregnancy was closely managed, she saw both a high risk OB and MFM (Doctor of Maternal and Fetal Medicine) through which she received weekly progesterone shots and steroids as she neared term. At 23 weeks Sara had to have an emergency cerclage placed and undergo amniocentesis to check for infection. She carried Atticus to 35 weeks and while she had hoped for a VBAC with the help of a doula, ended up delivering via repeat cesarean. Atticus was taken to NICU which was scary for Sara but she had specifically chosen the hospital for their ability to provide Level 4 care. She surrounded herself with support after she and Atticus came home and has avoided postpartum depression which she says is nothing short of miraculous. Sara was able to breastfeed Atticus for his first 6 months when she had to wean to resume her Lupus medications. She is learning to accept who she is and wanted to take this opportunity to say to the world that she is happy and accepts herself and perhaps most importantly, she is still here.
The lovely Lynnea Young with her daughter Charlotte (2.5) and son Sebastian (1).
Lynnea and her husband struggled with infertility for about 4 years and had 4 miscarriages before Charlotte's pregnancy. She had been trying Clomid with her regular OB to conceive but after her third miscarriage she was able to see a reproductive endocrinologist who found that one of her ovaries had a large dermoid cyst. They had been planning to try IUI with injectable hormones but were unable to with the cyst present so they scheduled surgery for three weeks out. In that span of time her cyst abscessed and she went septic. She had to have immediate surgery and her ovary removed. While they navigated their fertility difficulties Lynnea and her husband decided to adopt via foster care. They found an agency with a very high placement rate that specialized in attachment parenting and soon became the foster parents of newborn baby girl. The baby's biological mother was not in the picture at all so they spent the better part of a month in the NICU with her before they were able to bring her home. Her first 6 months of life the baby's biological mother continued to be absent and it seemed they would be able to adopt her. The biological mom was eventually arrested and took a plea deal that included taking the services she had been denying, including those to reconnect with her daughter and get her back. They spent the next six months navigating visitation and seeing the biological mother go in and out of rehab. When the baby was 13 months old she was reunified with her biological mother and Lynnea never saw her again.
Lynnea was 23 weeks pregnant with Charlotte when they lost their foster daughter. She was depressed and emotional which led to postpartum depression hitting her very hard after her birth. Charlotte was born in hospital without medication or intervention. and breastfeeding came easy for Lynnea and Charlotte but she had joined a lactation support group to make new friends. Because they'd had such a journey to get Charlotte, she never expected to get pregnant again so easy. However, she conceived again when Charlotte was about a year old. Sebastian's pregnancy was more difficult for her and she was much more tired. She chose to give birth to him at home which was a wonderful experience. Lynnea is tandem breastfeeding both Charlotte and Sebastian today. She says that she has watched this project and in its images sees beauty that she doesn't always see in the mirror. She doesn't want to have the body image concerns she currently has but her body type has changed and it's been a challenge to let go of the body she's had for so long and accept the one she now sees in the mirror. Lynnea hopes that through participating and sharing her story she can see her image as beautiful and powerful as those beside her.