Posts tagged pregnancy
From Barren to Bikini Babe

I’ve never felt such a compelling energy of excitement and joy as when I knew I had babies on the way.  New life.  NEW LIFE! New life formed from a love and a lust that I was so lucky to have shared with my partner.  When you become a mother your heart opens to the purest form of love that exists in the universe.  However, at the same time, when you become a mother you become vulnerable, open to the possibility of the greatest pain imaginable and this is true far before your children are ever born. 

I have never cried so hard as when I lost my baby. So hard.  Guttural and raw and broken.  It’s an endless weeping that has echoed in every beat of my heart since that day 4 years ago.   I clutched my knees and laid barren in the darkest part of my life.  And when I dried my tears and finally came out into the light of the world, the darkness came along and followed me around as I recovered.   

Alone and lost and filled with anger; there is so much to be mad about in the days that follow any kind of loss, but a loss in which you feel your body is the one who failed, who do you have to hate but yourself? Again and again and again.  My body failed my babies. My body failed me.

“It wasn’t meant to be.  Move forward,” they said.  And I did my best to do so.  Again and again and again.

When you struggle to get pregnant, each cycle is a lifetime of emotion, too often ending in the familiar depths of disappointment and brokenness.   I was fortunate in that my reluctant journey with infertility lasted just over two years long which pales in comparison to the arduous bout that other families have endured.  In the end it was blocked fallopian tubes that had prevented fertilization.  Tubes likely blocked from the miscarriage itself—as if salt could ever sit more readily in a wound. 

But after all that, I was at last with child. 

The pregnancy was riddled with hyperemisis gravidarum and insulin dependent gestational diabetes.  But I didn’t care.  I learned to throw up in a cup while driving and overcame my fear of needles.  New life was gifted to me and I was extremely grateful.

And in the end, (or beginning), we were blessed with a beautiful and wild little boy.  Just like that it was over, and things were beginning anew. 

But I found that I still hated my body.  As much as I had the opportunity to be “over it,” I just wasn’t.  A deep resentment continued towards my physical form despite the happy outcome. 

When you hate your body, you don’t treat it very well.  You don’t nourish it or strengthen it or more importantly, send it positive messages.  It’s a pitiful place to be, really.  Add to that baby weight and it’s the suckiest thing ever.  There’s just no eloquent way to put it.

But I was trying. 

It’s funny how the promise of self-love is always just a few pounds away.  Along with that self-care we all very much need.  We tell ourselves that if we lose x-amount of weight, we will be deserving of a day at a hair salon or a flattering outfit.  And in the same breath, we punish ourselves, we withhold.  “No beach days until skinny!” was a big one for me. 

So my roots grew out, my clothes went rugged and my tan faded.  I further disliked what I saw in the mirror and in the process what I felt within myself.  Again and again and again.

But I discovered a little secret.

Without losing a single inch, a single pound, I grew to love myself immensely and was satisfied with what I witnessed in reflection... by simply deciding I’m worthy.  

Worthy of a fresh ‘do, a flattering bikini and a beach day, in the sun, with my beautiful blessings.  They deserved it, as did I.

Self love grows so readily from a planted seed.  Like a wild flower my happiness blossomed and caught on to all of my daily movements.  How I treated myself improved and in turn, my physical and emotional health increased.  Once I decided that I was worthy of being and feeling beautiful and sexy and comfortable in my own skin, I lost weight easier.  Once I saw myself as pretty-enough, I carried myself as such and others responded to me as more appealing.  Once people found me appealing, I felt more appealing. 

I've devoted many of my writings to this very subject.  And as the vines of growth stretch out in the sun I've become somewhat of a role model, having been featured for designer swimlines and various swimwear retailers and even a media outlet.  It's incredibly flattering and humbling at the same time.  People have reached out and thanked me for boldly sharing my body and my heart.  I've watched women step into the loving light of their own self-perception and embraced their bodies, finding a positive change in the process.  But possibly the most important individuals that I could inspire are my children, nieces and nephews.  They now see me love myself and hopefully they know it's okay to love themselves through all the physical changes they may encounter as they enter adolescence.  It isn’t boastful or conceited, because everyone is worthy of appreciating their self worth.

I look at the woman in the pictures and at times I feel disconnected from her.  She is beautiful and bold.  She is flawed but happy.  Sometimes I even think she's a total babe.  Yet the camera can't capture what the mirror often does: the darkness.  It’s still there.  Like the thread that runs through me; a permanent and essential stitch in my soul.  A part of me will always live in that space, and I’ve come to terms with that.  I’ve accepted that it was simply meant to be.  My baby was meant to come and meant to go.  Perhaps it was to launch myself and my family this new direction.  I will never know.  I do know that while my body may have failed me but my body did its best, as did I. 

And my body still deserves love. 

As do I.    

As do you. 

Written by Kelly Estrella

The Mother Behind The Picture: An Interview

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.

The Power of Hope

I have hoped for a lot of things in my life. The best and the biggest thing I have hoped for is my baby, my Rowan. 

I have been forced to see hope differently, being sick can do that to you. I have delved deep into a relationship with hope. I have pushed it away and begged and beckoned it back, like a lover. And like so, it has broken my heart, but rarely has it left me in my darkest hour or my greatest need. Hope and I, we have been intimate for awhile now. 

I had cancer when I was nineteen and there were a lot times that I shouldn’t have had hope, but I did. It was a constant companion during those times. My mom hoped for my future and my future children, because I was nineteen and those thoughts hadn’t occurred to me. I hoped for long hair, and my eyebrows to return. 

I have been sad a lot in my life, but there was one specific time that I was so sad I would cry myself to sleep every night. I hoped for things I shouldn’t have hoped for and I was blessed with my hope deferred.

When I tried to get pregnant, I hoped harder than I have ever hoped before. I pleaded with God and asked Him to make me the mother I knew I was in my heart. There were so many times I wanted to give up, but my hope didn’t abandoned me. For two years this hope was my devoted friend.

I read this book about a doctor talking about the power of hope. He found, through his research, patients whose doctors gave them false hope when there was no real hope to be found, that those terminal patients did not make it. The terminal patients that were given the correct prognosis, and told that there was not much that could be done, those were the patients that were more apt to survive. He credited it to hope.

I found out I was pregnant on a snowy Monday evening and I sat on my bed and wept. After pouring my body and soul into believing him into existence, he was here. I wept for the beauty of the dream fulfilled, this dream and future dreams that this little being would create. I sat on my bed and shook. I have never been more happy and more humbled by the power of hope than I had in that moment. I had waited for that moment and the magic of that moment changed me. 

There is power in hope. There is power in believing against all the odds. It transcends this world. It aligns our heart, soul, and spirit, it’s otherworldly. There is something in the desperation we feel, the yearning in our bones. There is something in the tears we cry, the blood we shed. 

I hoped for so many things when I was pregnant. I hoped that he was healthy and that he knew, even then, he was loved. I hoped for a good home to bring him home to. I hoped to be a good mother. I hoped to make the world a better place, and I hope that he will too. 

The world is always going to be a sad place, hope is our weapon. I don’t know the answers, and I don’t have a formula, but I believe in the changing power of hope. I believe in the painful birthing of dreams that spiritually mimics the labor of bringing our babies into this world. There is power in childbirth and there is power in laboring our dreams forth, there is power in our hope. 

I want Rowan to be a boy who hopes for his future, and a man that hopes for the unknown. I want him to believe in things unseen. And I pray that he, too, has hope as a constant companion and a devoted friend. 

 

Village Journalist,

Laura Robinson