A raw and honest look at postpartum
"This is what 24 hours postpartum looks like. Baby in sling. Skin to skin. Adult diapers. And a rosy glow. My body feels like it ran a marathon and my heart is wide open from yesterday's travels. Birth opens us like an earthquake opens the earth and I am still in the intimate, fragile throes of that opening. I feel raw. Emotional. Different. I feel like I'm on the undulating surface of the rippling ocean being tossed back and forth between happiness, gratitude, melancholy, and grief. 25 hours ago I held life within and 24 hours ago I surged and transformed allowing life to flow through me, into my waiting hands. The emptiness in my womb brings a heavy feeling crashing into reality but then this new little life whimpers, searching for the breast with soft rooting, and I feel whole again. I am still processing the beautiful transition my whole family has traveled through and I am in complete awe of our strength as humans, women, and mothers. This time is simply unlike any other."
I'm sure you all have seen this beautiful image of Erica and her newborn son over the past few weeks after our friends over at Sakurabloom shared it causing the images to go viral online-- but what about the mom in this image? I talked with Erica who contributed a must read article in Issue no.2 this past week to get her thoughts and take a deeper look into this amazing birth worker.
K- How I wish I had an image like this to gaze upon before I gave birth to my first daughter. Reality and whats portrayed in the media is so different, I find this image so raw, real, and refreshing. What advice do you have for new moms and the changes their bodies inevitably go through?
E- New mamas, be gentle and loving to your body. Yes she may look and feel differently but the gift she just helped you to create and the journey she just traveled with you to bring this little soul earthside is paramount. Be easy on yourself. Loving, kind, and nurturing. Be sure to rest and eat well and to stay hydrated. Take time for your body to heal, for your baby to transition, and for you both to bond. Don't rush back to life. Live as long as you can in that dreamy babymoon. This time is short and only experienced a few times in your life. Soak it all up! You will also feel many, many feelings and they will feel BIG! Don't run from them. Sink into them and then let them go. Your heart is open wide during this time, so avoid unneeded drama and negativity. Surround yourself with love and support. Give yourself what you give your baby...security, warmth, love, and the best food!
K- Why was photographing and sharing this image so important to you, and why do you feel so many mothers resonated with it so deeply?
E- I took this image to capture forever that moment, that magic moment of new motherhood. It doesn't matter how many times you become a mother, that look, that glow, that feeling is there. This was the last time I was going to see her & I wanted to remember forever how she looks. To be quite honest, I was shocked that the image resonated so much with so many; however when I really began to think about why it was resonating...I cried. It felt so much bigger than me. To see and hear how almost universal those feelings are. That so many mothers had stood where I was...looking into the eyes of their new self, holding new life, feeling different and sad and happy and amazed at all once was beautiful to me. I found comfort in that, that I wasn't alone in those feelings and I think other mothers did too.
K- I often feel that the pressure to ‘bounce back’ after birth can be unrealistic, especially when the reality is that it took almost ten months to create life, its quite acceptable that it should take some time to heal as well. Why do you think taking the time to do just this in the fourth trimester is so important?
E- I believe so strongly in the fourth trimester. That this time is for allowing you the space to become a new mother (even if it's your sixth baby!) and space for your new baby to transition to life outside the womb. This time facilitates bonding, breastfeeding, routines, and learning the language of each other. Not to mention the space for the mother's body to heal and to rebuild. Taking care of your body during those first 12 weeks by eating, resting, and hydrating well gives you the best foundation to begin focusing on "getting your body back" if that is something you are aiming for. Taking this time also helps to support the health and strength of your pelvic floor greatly reducing the risk of prolapsed uterus and bladder!
K- I admire your confidence and strength in sharing this image with us all, what have you taken away from this experience after it becoming the main topic of internet conversation?
E- Well it seems that what you share with the world is there for the taking. Many outlets just shared the image without ever contacting me. That was an eye-opener. But more importantly that these images need to be shared more often. That us mamas, sisters, women need to (when and if we feel called) to share our true moments, our experiences, our stories. It is a global village now and we can all use more inspiration in life!
K- Many media outlets and publications have asked you many questions about this stunning image, if you could tell our audience here at The Village anything, an answer to a question that you haven’t been asked yet what would it be?
E- I would love for every women to fully embrace her beauty...even during those moments where we feel rugged, drained, anything but beautiful... For those are the moments that often your true beauty shines. Do not hide away after the birth of your baby. Be in the pictures, be proud of yourself and your body, it just brought new life to our world and it truly is a miracle that deserves to be celebrated as do you!
K- Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me and share with The Village. Any exciting plans for this upcoming year?
E- I will be releasing my first book during the spring/summer transition...a book of birth stories from during my apprenticeship. I will be doing a pre-order soon if any mamas would like to read some incredible birth stories told from the perspective of the birth worker.
K- How amazing, I know I'll be ordering myself a copy!
E- Thank you for asking me these wonderful questions and for your love and support! I adore being apart of The Village!
Interview by- Krystal Donovan | Editor in Chief
You can find out more about Erica over at Blooming Lotus Photography.