~Your Age: 21
~Number of pregnancies and births: 1 pregnancy/birth
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: my daughter is 18 months
I hadn’t long turned 19 when I found out I was pregnant. I was absolutely terrified, as me and my partner had only been together 7 months. I felt that I hadn’t achieved anything that I wanted to do before I had children (go to college, get myself a good job, get a nice little house and get married) but nothing ever goes to plan when it comes to me! and there was no way I could ever have a termination. I was scared, but I knew I had to make the most of a ‘bad’ situation.
I started modeling at 18, and I think this had a huge impact on how I saw myself during my pregnancy. I felt huge, didn’t like how my breasts looked when the areola went darker. I just wanted to look the same as I did before, and constantly worried about how I would look after my baby was finished with my body. I’d always had a very low opinion of my body, which is why I started modeling in the first place. It helped a little seeing myself on camera, knowing that I didn’t look quite as bad as I did in my head. Little did I know, during my pregnancy I was suffering quite badly from depression (I’d been suffering from it for many years, but I just hadn’t realized what was wrong with me.) It really ruined my pregnancy for me….any normal mother-to-be would love and embrace their changing, pregnant body…but I just couldn’t wait to get back to normal. My pregnancy wasn’t an easy one anyway, with shocking morning sickness for the first 3 months, and developing Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) in the last 2 months which made it too painful to leave the house.
I started developing stretch marks on the top of my thighs at 6 months. They didn’t bother me too much as there were only one or two each side, and they were small and didn’t have much colour. But I started to get them on my stomach a month before my due date, and I was absolutely gutted. I thought I had avoided them, and it was a cruel thing to happen when I was so close to ‘making it’. I cried, and really did start thinking about how much my life was over, just because of a few stretch marks. It seems so silly and disgustingly shallow saying this now, but at the time it really did affect me in a terrible way.
My daughter was born 6/9/07 at 8.14am. I was in labour for 7 and a half hours, and she was born naturally weighing 8lbs 8oz. The birth went really well, no complications and no need for stitches! She was healthy and beautiful, and as soon as I looked at her I knew she was worth every sacrifice. She instantly became my world!
My breasts were fine through pregnancy, right up until I gave birth and my milk came in. I went from a D cup to a FF cup in the space of 3 days. I only breast fed for 2 weeks, and moved to formula and expressed breast milk after that as I wasn’t getting on very well with breast feeding. I don’t believe that I was doing it correctly and was paranoid that my daughter wasn’t getting enough milk. After the milk went, I was left with C cup deflated balloons! at 19 I found it really difficult to come to terms with the fact that I may never be able to wear a bikini on the beach, or wear slightly daring clothes whilst on nights out ever again. I loved my daughter with all my heart, and would of gone through it all again to have her, but that didn’t make me feel any better about how I looked as a woman.
I hit an all time low a few months after. I hated everything about how I looked and who I was, and was really desperate to get what I had back. I cursed myself for hating what I had before pregnancy, as as far as I was concerned, what I have now was much worse! I put on 2 stone in pregnancy, but lost a stone of it after the birth. The last stone I managed to shed through exercise, and I even managed to lose a stone extra. Being a stone lighter than I was before I got pregnant still didn’t help me feel better…what was the point in being slim when I had stretch marks and saggy boobs? I just wanted to curl up and die at times.
When my daughter was 5 months old I was diagnosed with postnatal depression, and was put on meds to help me cope. I loved my daughter so much, but hated myself just as much. I’d become a real mess, and didn’t know who I was anymore or what my purpose in life was. I felt my daughter deserved a better mother than she had…my opinion of myself was at it’s lowest. After a few months on the meds, I really started to feel better. I had a good long look at my life, and got my priorities straight. My daughter was way more important than how I looked, and I really needed to start spending more time having fun with her, and less time worrying about myself. I knew that I was lucky, I had a gorgeous, healthy child who was thriving and coming along brilliantly, and not every parent had been that lucky. I started to feel ashamed of how much I obsessed over how I looked, and started seeing past my imperfections I even started feeling a little bit proud of how I looked! My partner saw how much I’d come along, and offered to pay for breast augmentation surgery, although he didn’t think I needed it. I thought about it long and hard…I knew it was a risk, and maybe a little bit shallow, but why not take the chance to feel a little bit better about yourself? I had my surgery in February 2008. The surgery, combined with my medication and hard work repairing my mental health really lifted my confidence from the floor…I finally felt I had a body to be proud of, stretch marks or no stretch marks (although they’re very faded now, you can only see them in certain lights)!! I started modeling again in May 2008, and although I do have to explain the stretch marks to photographers, most of them are fine with it and find ways to work around it.
My daughter is now 18 months old. I love her so much, and can’t believe I wasted so much time fretting over how I looked instead of having as much fun as possible with her and feeling lucky that I have such a happy, healthy child. But I also realize that I can’t blame myself for it, PND is something that affects alot of women, and it made the first few months of my baby’s life a very dark time for me. I’m doing all I can to make it up to her now :) she is my inspiration for everything I do.
All my pics are completely unedited so you can see what I look like!
Modeling before pregnancy
Stomach before pregnancy
9 months pregnant
Modeling after pregnancy
Stomach after Pregnancy
Me and my little girl Cadey